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4 Lessons From Failed Book Launches

Sometimes, no matter how well you think you did everything that was required of you, your book might still not reach its audience. Your “perfect” book launch might still fail. Once the initial excitement of a new book release is gone, your readers have disappeared. All the money you spent on advertising and promoting would seem to have been for a futile cause—but was it really ever futile?

Learning what you did wrong after the failure of your book launch can hit hard, and seem—frankly—counterproductive. Most authors simply give up on their writing career after one book fails, so they never really learn anything from a failed book launch. Here are four lessons from four different authors who plunged through this failure to find success and increased sales—lessons that any indie author can learn without ever having to go through the ordeal of a failed book release.

1. “You sell your book better than anyone else can.”—Ron Vitale (Ahab’s Daughter: The Werewhale Saga)

When Ron Vitale wrote Ahab’s Daughter: The Werewhale Saga, he already had several books under his name. He had a reader-base, email subscribers, and quite a name for himself… and yet, his new book did not gain traction. His advice to indie authors is this: don’t spend money where you don’t have to.

Instead of looking for ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) readers himself, spent $212 on a service that was supposed to have found him ARC readers and a ton of book reviews before the launch. For the two dozen books that were given away, he received exactly zero reviews. “You sell your book better than anyone else can,” he says.

2. “Get some reviews.”—Kristina Adams (What Happens in New York)

Readers are often averse to buying books written by little-known authors, which is why you need to have reviews for your book before your book launch. Kristina Adams reveals that she only started to get reviews once she made her book permafree—and suddenly, readers were willing to download her book and leave reviews for others to see!

For those who don’t want to give their books away for free, there are alternate methods like BookSprout to gain reviews. “BookSprout helps you to find people who are ready and willing to review your book. Reviewers then have a set amount of time to read your book, and they’ll get a notification when it’s ready to review. If someone doesn’t fulfill their review commitment, you can block them from downloading future books by you,” says Adams.

3. “Make sure your cover is genre specific.”—Emma St. Clair (The Billionaire Love Match)

Another reason that your book might not do well on its launch is your cover. This was one of the reasons that Emma St. Clair’s book, The Billionaire Love Match, flopped after its release—readers weren’t really attracted to the cover. Her initial cover featured a handsome, grumpy guy in a tshirt, who didn’t look like a billionaire at all, and the vibe was off.

“Whether or not you think covers matter, they DO. Make sure yours is genre specific. Don’t get emotionally attached or go with what you love. It matters more if your READERS will love it,” says Emma.

4. “Keep talking about the book.”—Jeff Goins (The Art of Work)

When your book fails to hit the charts and the excitement for it eventually fizzles out, authors generally stop talking about it. They feel embarrassed and self-conscious, and begin doubting all their skills. But this is one of the biggest mistakes authors make—they stop talking about it, and inadvertently contribute to the failure of their book. 

“The job of any author is to write good books and try to not get too bored with talking about them. Because as Austin Kleon says, talking about the work is the work. Marketing is part of the job, and if you do it well, you get to write more books,” says Jeff Goins, author of the best-selling book, The Art of Work.

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Sharika Hafeez

Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.

August 28, 2022

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