Today I would like to take you into the year-long book launch process of one author. Since the middle of last year, I have been working closely with Miranda Beverly-Whittemore on preparing for the May 2014 release of her novel Bittersweet from Crown. We have been sharing our process publicly on a blog about the launch: sharing strategy, tactics, and emotions around preparing to connect with readers. When Therese Walsh mentioned this month’s theme on WriterUnboxed.com was “Inside Publishing,” it was as if the 100+ blog posts from the launch blog existed solely for the preparation of this very article!
What I share here will be taken from that blog and from the many long conversations Miranda and I have had. What I like most about this case study is that Miranda is a fiction author, and has been described as writing “literary fiction.” This is typically the type of writing that many authors worry if typical platform, marketing, and audience engagement rules apply.
We’ll explore that in-depth below. Also: it’s worth noting that Miranda is being published by a “traditional” publisher, and yet, everything that is shared on the blog illustrates how much work she does, and highlights the many other folks involved in the process. Publishing is a team sport (a phrase I believe I have heard Jason Ashlock say more than once.)
(note: because I have a lot of source material to pull from, this post will include a lot of links to the Bittersweet book launch blog. I do not mean for it to be a link-fest, but merely to give you access to more depth on each topic.)
I will break this post out into a few key themes, and then include quotes from Miranda, links to the blog posts where she or I discuss the topic, and then add additional thoughts and context.
THE MOTIVATION FOR A YEAR-LONG BOOK LAUNCH
Miranda has tasted failure (she may explain it that she swallowed failure whole.) Bittersweet is her third novel, and she has been very open about talking about her career thus far. A recap, all quotes from Miranda:
- “My first book was supposed to be a big hit, and was bought for six figures when I was 25, It was, if not deemed a total failure in terms of its sales (it sold somewhere around 14,000 copies), then at least a DISAPPOINTMENT bordering on FAILURE.”
- “My second book,only sold about 2000 copies, and because it was linked to my first book in a two book deal, there was a lot of money riding on it. Its terrible sales record made it, in the eyes of the publishing world, a FAILURE.”
- “I tried to pitch another book to my first publishing house, but they said no way.”
- “Next I tried to sell the first book I’d ever written, but no one would take it.”
- “I thought, I’ll just write a book I can sell! So I did. I wrote another book and then tried to sell it! Did I sell it? Nope. No one wanted it.
- It was starting to dawn on me that I had FAILED so miserably that I might actually just be a FAILURE. That’s when I stopped writing. When I started feeling gloriously sorry for myself. When I started pretending I hadn’t published two books, hadn’t ever had a taste of a career I loved, that I didn’t even love it. You know what makes a writer feel most like a FAILURE? FAILING to write.”