by Jule Selbo
The title of the new book in my Dee Rommel Mystery Series is 9 DAYS. (It follows 10 DAYS, which came out last September.) The publishers set September 28, 2022 as the release date of 9 DAYS and that’s the date I had in my head. I was trying to work on social media “stuff” for the release date and my nerves hadn’t started to ping yet.
On the morning of August 29, I get an email from the publisher that the paperback was now available on Amazon; that the company had decided on a “soft launch.” Paperback only – not the Kindle version and not the hard cover.
I assume many of the writers/readers of the MCW Blog know exactly what a ‘soft launch’ is. I didn’t.
I had to look it up and Google provided a clue: SOFT LAUNCH is when the book is on sale pre-official release. Availability is only for select people, such as members of the media, bloggers or newsletter subscribers who, hopefully will post preliminary reviews.
Luckily, my publisher assigns a communication person in the company to each author – and ‘mine’ is great about getting back to the un-savvy-about-publishing’s-ins-and-outs writer.
My query to ‘my person’: “9 DAYS is out? What happened to the September 28th thing? I am confused. Not concerned – just confused.”
My contact explained: “Soft launch makes it possible to get you paperback copies for book readings, etc. and for the marketing department to be able to send it out for reviews, for you to tell a small sector of people who then might post a review, and for word of mouth to spread. It was an in-house decision, no one thought to send you a message. Don’t worry, all’s fine.”
Not sure how I’ve gotten this impression – but has Amazon jumped in on this idea and made the ‘soft launch’ popular and easy with some of the small publishers. Do they see it as a way to make sure readers go to them first?
Anyone know about that?
My day was pretty much shot as far as concentration on my work on 8 DAYS, so I kept looking for more information on ‘soft launch’. One site said it was an opportunity to invite friends/fans to be part of the app development process. During the soft launch, you and the publisher can also collect feedback on social media plans.
A quote from another site: (Soft launch) is the secret that most successful authors don’t talk about. Ever wonder why when a famous author releases a book, there are already 200 glowing reviews on Amazon? It’s because the book was already available for sometime but kept on the down-low. A release date doesn’t really mean a book was actually published that day. A release date is more like a push date, where the author and or publishing house are starting their marketing bonanza.”
Another site noted that soft launches are important because having an actual book out can make it easier for the writer/publisher to secure interviews and/or podcast appearances. One internet blog stated: “to have a successful blog tour, or ad blitz you’re going to need to schedule things so when your major launch happens, things will smoothly fall into place.”
A new friend that I met at Killer Nashville wrote back to me about his experience: “Regarding your soft launch, my publisher is doing the same thing. My sequel to Contempt probably could have been available for sale in September, but the release date is November 14th because they’re sending out advance copies and they try to give those readers 60 – 90 days to read it and write a review so that when the book is released, they’ll have some reviews they can attach. Sort of frustrating, although I’ll certainly defer to them. At least usually.”
Who else has experience with soft launches? Would love to hear! Jule
ANOTHER NEW FOR ME: When I was at the Killer Nashville Mystery Writers Conference a few weeks ago, lots of writers there were talking about Hootsuite. I had to look that up too. I found this advice from a writer:
“If you don’t have Hootsuite ( https://www.hootsuite.com) or Buffer (https://buffer.com), I don’t know what you’re doing with your writing career.
These two services offer the ability to auto post during peek hours on your social media accounts. Currently, Hootsuite can link to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, WordPress and LinkedIn. Priceless, for the author who is short on time and energy…”
Ahhh – so much to learn…
Ah, the ins and outs of publishing…and their failure to notify and/or educate authors. A constant source of frustration. I used to use Hootsuite and then fell away. There are so many avenues to pursue and all of them take time from writing. It leaves me torn: spend more time on marketing? Should I even bother to write more books if I don’t spend that time on marketing? Fun to watch your new author enthusiasm. I enjoy it even as I feel like a grouchy old Methuselah.
At Bouchercon now in Minneapolis. Dennis Lehane and Jo Nesbo were on a great panel yesterday with Jeffrey Deaver. The woman who wrote the TRUE BLOOD (HBO) book series was on a panel two days ago – she was hilarious. A lot of amazing writers – of all styles of mysteries – inspiring. Meeting a lot of great people – of course great bar scene.
I’m obviously out of the loop on this since I semi-retired, but it sounds a lot like a variation on the old system of a publisher sending out lots of Advance Reading Copies (ARCs), which were essentially trade paperbacks made up before copy editing so there would be time for review journals like PW to review the book. They carried warnings that there might yet be changes made and also warned that the ARCs weren’t for resale (no one paid any attention to that last part). Publishers started to shift to electronic review copies only (Net Galley and the like) a few years back (maybe more than a few–I’ve lost track) so maybe this is just the lastest iteration. Anyway, congrats on the new book and may you have many positive reviews..
Thank you for posting this! I’m learning all I can about promo and marketing in advance of my March 2023 pub date. My mind is boggled a bit about how and when to do everything. I will be adding “soft launch” to my investigations! Good luck with your new book!