5 Reasons Your Book Takes Forever (and a Day) to Launch

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — writing the book is the easy part. For the past several weeks I have been practically chained to my desk getting Lies & Legacy ready for its big debut. Why does it take so long to publish a book after announcing the manuscript is done? I’m glad you asked.

If you are going to market via the traditional, or in some cases, the small press route, this is because the publishing house only wants to release a certain number of books at any given time so as not to compete against themselves. It’s an understandable concern, but frustrating from both the reader’s and the author’s perspective who are eager to get their hands on the book.

If you are publishing independently, it’s because of the following reasons:

1. Title Setup Forms

To independently sell a book, in a bookshop or online, it needs to first be setup in a retailer’s database. This means there are forms. So many forms. You have to register your book’s ISBN, which is an identification number used in the US and other markets by booksellers to ensure that books with the same title or author name don’t get mixed up on orders.

Then there are retail setup forms that need to be to filled out. If you are feeling masochistic ambitious, you can set up your book on each of the retail platforms individually. WideWizard is a browser extension that can help speed up this process. However, a distributor like Draft2Digital (affiliate link) will do this for you (but some take a portion of your sales, so there’s that).

2. Author Proofs

If you’re only interested in publishing an ebook, you can skip this step. However, if you are like me and want an actual physical book to gaze at lovingly, place on display like a trophy for all the world to see, or simply read, there’s the proof stage.

Technically, you can approve a book on Amazon or IngramSpark without ever actually laying your hands on a physical page, but I don’t particularly recommend it. I’ve learned the hard way that gremlins delight in sneaking in last-minute typos — the type you can’t catch in electronic format, no matter how many times you run your manuscript through editing software.

Unfortunately, this means you have to wait for your book to be printed, bound, packaged, and shipped to your door before you can move on to the next step. That said, there is something magical about receiving that first proof copy — even if it is has a big banner on the cover making it clear the book is ‘not for resale’ or if it does contain more than a few errors.

3. Revisions

As I mentioned, there are gremlins in publishing. I’ve received proofs with my name cut off on the spine, page numbers missing, length too tall, and random blank pages inserted in the middle seemingly with no sense of rhyme or reason. Seriously, NEVER publish a book without requesting a physical proof.

This means your files will require a round of revision. You’ll have to update your files and make sure that this time you REALLY take the time to visually inspect each and every single page (all 300+ of them, in my case). I don’t care how sick you are of reading your own story. DO IT.

4. Buzz Building

Superfans are awesome. Superfans count down the minute to your launch. They add your launch date to their calendars in permanent ink and put in a request to take the day after your launch off of work if only so they can stay up all night reading. Unfortunately, most people aren’t superfans — no matter how much they say they love your work.

excerpt of Lies and LegacyYou have to build excitement while reminding people you have a book coming out. There are a number of ways to do this: post repeatedly on Facebook (but not too much or you can get yourself reported as spam. You can hop around other people’s blogs or post sneak previews on your own. (Psst – You can see an excerpt of Lies & Legacy on mine).

You can pay to get featured in a newsletter or negotiate a swap. You can also signup with a service like BookSweeps.com to be a part of a giveaway. Just note, you often have to schedule these at least six weeks in advance.

5. Reviews

While there’s no one way to launch a book, you’ll have the most success if you have reviews to go with it, as apparently few people (outside of the superfans) enjoy being the first to give your book a try. But it’s getting harder and harder every day to ensure your book has reviews when it is time to go live.

Amazon will flag reviews it deems as coming from a potentially biased connection. Sure, occasionally a real-life friend or acquaintance’s review will still get past Amazon’s quality checks, but I know of reviews being reduced to digital ether simply because the review came from an author’s Facebook page follower.

I’ve reached out to known book bloggers in the past, and will continue to do so in the future, offering an advance copy in the hopes they might provide an honest review. However, they are under no obligation to do so and there is always the risk Amazon won’t accept the review, which is why they also are free to post it when and wherever they want. It’s totally up to them.

This is why I have also started using BookSprout.co to handle my advance review requests. It takes me out of the equation. (It also has a sales report and keyword research tool if you are interested).

All I had to do was give them my ebook files and links where I’d like to see reviews posted. They take care of all the rest.

I worried about pirates the first time I used them, but the site seems to police itself. I also worried about the quality of the reviews, but all I’ve thus far received have been thoughtful and well-written. Unfortunately, they no longer offer a free plan for their services, but its entry-level paid plan is more affordable than what other review services charge.

I just wish they offered the option to purchase one-time review campaigns rather than a monthly subscription as months (or years) can go by between my publications. Even so, I’ve found it to be a worthwhile service overall for people who are trying to get reviews on other distributor sites (not just Amazon) or gain followers on Bookbub.

Speaking of which, you can click on the button below to follow me on Bookbub to see what I’ve been reading in between writing.


Lies & Legacy: Project Gene Assist Book 3 launched March 26, 2020

How not to gain a literary agent

How not to gain a literary agent
background image courtesy of Lissa R and Flickr

Ah, the quest for the elusive literary agent…

For my readers who are not writers, let me explain. You see a literary agent can seem much like a unicorn within the writing world. If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon one, the common belief is that they have the power to carry an inexperienced virgin writer to the doors of a major publishing house with a flick of their mane, and once there, they will have wishes like advances large enough to allow retirement from the day job bestowed upon them.

However, these magical creatures are elusive and prone to shy from abrupt noises or from anyone with less than the purest of hearts. And the quest itself isn’t without peril. Pretenders risk being torn to shreds by the unicorn’s horn and hooves, and that is assuming they find the real thing. There are plenty of other things out there that can destroy the would-be author’s dream, such as trolls hiding under coats of horsehide or fierce gatekeeper dragons.

The source of the unicorn myth likely stems from a misidentified oryx or ancient auroch, and a literary agent’s real powers are about as magical, but writers are dreamers. Over the last several months a few of my writer friends announced, with some trepidation, their intention to seek out potential agents. I understand their fear as I explored this option last year as well. Ultimately, I abandoned my search for reasons related to my goals for that specific project, but that didn’t prevent me from gaining some experience on the subject. So while I may not be in a position to advise on “how to” gain an agent, I thought I would, at least, share what I learned about “how not to.”

For those of you non-writer types reading this, the following tips can apply to job hunting as well. Just insert ‘resume’ for ‘manuscript’ and ‘potential employer’ for ‘agent’.

1. Send blanket queries to everyone in the phone book

Keep in mind that agents are salespeople and best salespeople are those who believe in a product they represent as much as they believe in making a dollar. Therefore, an agent who doesn’t enjoy gory horror isn’t going to appreciate your take on something like Saw. Save yourself some time, aggravation, and potential hope-crushing rejection by only querying those who are a) accepting unsolicited queries and b) into what you are into.

I had the most success looking for potential agents on Twitter. By reading their tweets, I was able to not only see what they were looking for but what kind of person they are as well. As a result, I was not only able to tailor my query letters to individual agents, but was able to rule out entire agencies where I didn’t see a good match.

In short, if you aren’t willing to take the time to get to know them, don’t expect them to take the time to get to know you. [update: If Twitter is not an option for you, alternatives like Mastodon, Discord, and Tumblr also have agents as active users]

2. Ignore the submission requirements

I haven’t stopped following agents on Twitter just because I didn’t sign with one. They have great tips and hint at what trends are selling (and where) which in turn helps me with my marketing. They also let me know about upcoming books to add to my to-be-read pile. However, just as often, they will bemoan about some would-be author who didn’t take the take to read their submission requirements.

Each agency’s requirements are different. Luckily figuring out what each agency needs to make a decision about your work is usually pretty simple. Go to their website and look for their rules. If a “Submission” link isn’t highly visible, it is a good indicator that they aren’t looking for new clients right now and you’d be better off searching elsewhere.

3. Submit an incomplete / unpolished manuscript

This one applies more to fiction than non-fiction.

You might be under the impression that you don’t need to polish your manuscript before submitting it to an interested agent because in addition to your big cash advance will come editorial services when they sell it to a publisher, so why spend the time/money now? This is a mistake. Apparently, no agent worth their commission has time to waste panning for gold with you. They are looking to sell ingots, not mud pies.

However, you can go ahead and start searching (better yet – networking) at any time. That contact you make a cocktail party, book fair, or conference might just remember you enough to spare your work a second glance when you finally are ready to get serious.

4. Protest their response

When my youngest starts to get tired, the rim of his eyes grow red and he tends to flop about on the floor, but the moment you try to pick him up to take him to his bedroom he will cry, kick, and scream about how not sleepy he is and every single time I will tell him that by acting the way he did, he just proved my point.

Agents aren’t going to be any more impressed with tantrums. If anything, you just firmed up their decision not to add you as a client.

5. Give Up

Of course, the best way to not sign with an agent is to simply give up. But Allie, aren’t you being a little hypocritical advising people not to give up when you admitted up top that you abandoned your own search last year?  No. To be clear, I’m not advising one way or another.

Signing with an agent is not for every person or every project. At the end of the day, every writer has to decide what works for them and the project. But regardless of the outcome, I believe querying is something that should be at least tried. Querying helps define your audience, refine pitch, and practice networking and if you are lucky, you may just find a unicorn. Happy hunting.

My First Time

My plan for world domination er I mean literary success continues. Upon hearing of my upcoming launch, Steven Capps was kind enough to feature me on his blog this week. Thank you once again, Steven.

Bard & Books

Hi there guys, for this week I have the honor of introducing the talented Allie Potts onto the blog. Her newest novel, The Fair & Foul, was released earlier this weekIt is a science-fiction story set in the near future where the lines between humanity and technology are beginning to blur.

FairandFoulFullwebHQ_02Juliane Faris, an ambitious programmer, shortcuts the next step in her career by undergoing an experimental surgery fusing her brain with a supercomputer. The procedure grants her unprecedented knowledge and cellular control over her body, but threatens everything she holds dear including her sanity. When others undergo the same modifications it becomes apparent that not everyone can afford the price that this technology demands. After reading her guest post, don’t hesitate to click on the cover and support an amazing author.

My First Time

Get your mind out of the gutter. This is a blog about writing, so of…

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