Launch Week Feels, or, I am a sea turtle

The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday dropped this week, and you all know what that means!

…or maybe you don’t. I am so steeped in the daily minutia of writing and publishing that I sometimes lose sight of an important fact: most of the world does not revolve around the creation & publication of speculative fiction books.

It means:

  • if you bought Sharp Edge in ebook, it’s waiting for you to read it RIGHT NOW!
  • if you ordered a paperback, it should be arriving really soon (I think?)
  • if you read Sharp Edge of Yesterday before release, or have miraculously finished it already, you can now post reviews to Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, or wherever. Not that reviews are life for new books or anything, NO WAIT YES REVIEWS ARE VITAL.
  • if you take pics of your copy of Sharp Edge, I would love for you to please, please share online! I adore seeing pics of my bookbabies thriving in the wild.

It means a lot to me, and, I hope, to others. Sharp Edge is a Real Book Forever ™ now. The week’s been hectic. Best release by far for me. Tuesday was amazing. Meanwhile, for Spouseman, Tuesday was a supremely awful whopper of a bad day. (Nothing permanent or professional, just a SOMETIMES LIFE SUCKS bunch of things coming down at once like a load of bricks.)

Proof the universe leans toward balance, I suppose. But we got through it, and here it is, DAY THREE of Sharp Edge’s life.

Professionally speaking, I should be doing author interviews, readings, release parties, blog hops and generally putting my book out there to Be seen. Realistically, I should have been scheduling such things and recruiting reviewers for months now, so I could take advantage of promotional opportunities that come along only when a book is new-new-new. I should have lined up the book equivalent of playdates and tutoring sessions and all manner of success-building activities.

(Spoiler alert: I do none of those things unless they figuratively fall into my lap.)

Marketing is vital to a book’s financial, commercial “look-it-shiny” survival. But, um. I’m not doing much.

Look. I am not a nurturing, watchful, energetic book mom who can boost her child’s development with every possible enrichment and trumpets its accomplishments to all & sundry. I’m just not able to do that. Kudos to all who can. I salute you.

This new book of mine–about midlife superpowers and the people wrestling with them–it’s a great read. It’s wondrous. I love it enough that I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours with it. It’s a thought-provoking yet entertaining, ride of a story. But…

I am more like a sea turtle mom than a tiger mom. With the help of many others, I invested time, energy, and all my love and substance into my book’s creation. Once the book is uploaded and ready to go (carefully buried in the sand to mature until hatching day) my every instinct urges me to crawl back into the sea to seek out new adventures.

It’s just barely possible for me to keep watch over the nest until hatching day, so to speak. I stick with it. I make sure no one steps on my eggs, nothing bad happens to them, that conditions stay perfect for release. But when it’s done, it’s done.

The Sharp Edge of Yesterday has hatched out of the sand, and it’s headed for the ocean on its own, to sink or swim or be eaten by gulls.

The analogy kinda breaks down because of COURSE I’m still watching over my book, and I VERY MUCH WANT IT TO SUCCEED because it’s an incredible story worth telling & reading…but as far as the Constant Care And Presentation Activities For Success part? Not going to happen.

On any given day, I can choose to write posts online and talk to people about books, or I can write creatively. I cannot do both. No amount of “be proud, self-promote” advice and encouragement can make the work anything but physically exhausting and emotionally taxing to the point of turning my brain to mush.

To keep getting sales I have to keep posting to social media multiple times daily and pursue other marketing possibilities, which means corresponding and interacting with people. And that isn’t going to happen. Not the way it has to be done to drive sales.

Sharp Edge is off to a grand start. A phenomenally successful start. I had opening-day sales, even. (That was my main fear–that no one would want it once it WAS available. But a paperback and a couple more kindle copies sold, so YAY! There’s interest.)

But now…I’m done with it for a bit. Sure, regular reminders will go onto social media for a couple of weeks, but I’m giving myself more and more slack to just…write what I want, where I want it. Like, oh, here.


….For those who like numbers, here’s some full transparency for ya. Sharp Edge on Kindle popped at rank 30,000-something in the whole store, which is the highest any book has debuted for me. (It’s plummeted way down already, but hey. Highest ever. I’ll take it, thank you, Kindle readers!)

On the print side, Ingram tells me 50 pre-ordered paperbacks are going somewhere, and that is a BOGGLING record for single-day sales for any of my titles ever, even without the qualifier of “release day.” (Again, record so far. Never say I lack ambition. I mean, I do lack it, but I still have GOALS. ANYway. Digression achieved!)

I won’t have other ebook numbers for weeks yet, and Kindle is usually king tbh, so I’ll count anything I get there as happy frosting on the happy cake. Mmm, cake.


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Until later!

Mmm, cake w/sprinkles!
(cake doughnuts anyhow)

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My Thunderclap went BOOM!

Victory! I used a free service called  Thunderclap.it to set up a far-reaching free ad post for my last sale. It was a huge hit (by my measurements.) It was also one of my toddler-like “What’s that? It’s shiny! Let’s poke at it and see what happens…” experiences, so I learned a lot by breaking things and doing them all wrong.

Here’s a summary of things I did wrong/ would do differently next time. These are my reminders to myself but are possibly useful to others. Presented without judgment or any claims of Big Knowledge.

  1. Aim low. 100 is the lowest number of supporters Thunderclap will accommodate. HeadTalker is a site I’ll consider for future coordinated post attempts. It has a lower minimum to hit, as low as 25 backers, which takes eases the “Gotta push this!” competitive pressure I feel whenever I do one of these things.
  2. Campaign for supporters for at least a two week run-up before the post date. I would consider a month optimal for a sale post. I tried this on impulse at the last-minute– a ONE week turnaround– to distract myself from other life problems, not with any expectations. It DID succeed; it went off to specyacular effect thanks to an amazing bunch of supporters. But. Getting to the goal line  took a LOT of posting, outreach, and outright begging. I am bowled over with gratitude and delight by the response I got, but I wouldn’t want to push my fans and friends so hard too often.

    People do run Thunderclap sign-up campaigns for much longer than a month, but I don’t know  if that would help a sale post much. My experience with giveaways and sale campaigns is that the best response comes in the first few days and the last. A long, slow build-up makes sense for a new release announcement– support posts are an awareness booster in their own right– but I would keep the time compressed to a month before a sale or a giveaway. Just for my own sanity as much as anything else.

  3. Make at least two catchy graphics. Thunderclap lets you change the graphic for the campaign any time you like during the run-up to the final post itself. And if you’re promoting a sale, for example, or a new release, you have TWO messages to send.

    A. During the run-up, you want a graphic that boosts awareness on why you’re doing a Thunderclap: saying what the Thunderclap will do — to encourage those who see it to join in. This is the graphic that will be seen when your supporters share their “I supported” posts on social media. If I was running a long campaign I  would change up this halfway through (or week to week/month to month, to keep the “please support me” posts looking fresh.

    B. a separate graphic can release with the Thunderclap post itself. Something big as splashy showing an eye-catching background, relevant sale dates, or new release info, author site links etc.

    IMPORTANT: it takes time for Twitter & Facebook image caches to clear, so give any changes  24 hours to show.

  4. Explain exactly what you’re doing in the area provided in the Thunderclap page, and show the final post graphic that will go out as the Thunderclap there so people know what they’re supporting. Remind supporters that they can change up the message and add to it too.

People love numbers, so here are my results:

  • 280 downloads of the free book linked to the Thunderclap post. Half that total occurred on the day the Thunderclap post went out.
  • 14 sales of the 99 cent book shown in the Thunderclap post graphic.
  • Kindle Unlimited reads for the sale title during and after the sale dates.
  • sales & page reads on both titles after the sale.

That’s three times the response for my last free promotion, and almost four times the response to my last countdown sale. And I was significantly less stressed. Overall, it’s a win all around. Got specific questions? Ask away, I’ll answer as best I can.