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  • Writer's pictureJenna Moreci

10 Things No One Tells You About Releasing a Book

HelloOoOo everybody!

A couple of months ago I released my fourth book and my third number one Amazon bestseller. Just saying. And after going through the release process multiple times and speaking with other authors who've gone through the process, I've noticed something: there's a lot of book launch stuff that people don't really talk about. A lot of writers imagine their book release to be a giant celebration. They'll have a party, they'll invite their friends and family, they'll cry over their book baby, and just watch the sales roll in.

That's not what happens. At all.

So today, I figured I'd give you the cold hard truth. I'm breaking down the ten things no one tells you about releasing a book. Some of these points may seem like a downer, but I promise that is not my intention. When writers have inaccurate expectations about their book release, it can be shocking, frustrating, and honestly, really disappointing. But if they go into it realistically, knowing exactly what to expect, what's normal, and what isn’t, it makes the process a lot smoother.

These ten points will not only help you craft reasonable goals, but they’ll also help you avoid common mistakes and let you know which bumps in the road are completely normal. Now I’m breaking down the ten things no one tells you about releasing a book, so let’s get into it.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to also subscribe to my YouTube channel for more writing tips, sarcasm, and of course, more of Princess Butters!


Number 1: Book Release Burnout Is a Thing

When it comes time to release a book a lot of people will ask you, “How are you celebrating?” Sleep! I'm going to bed and I'm never getting out. Book release burnout is real. It takes a lot of time and energy to go through the publishing process and to properly market a book, and that doesn't even include the emotional and mental stress. Because of this, it is incredibly common to burn out once the book is live. In fact, I don't know an author personally who hasn't burnt out after their book release.

This type of burnout can manifest in different ways. Some authors get depressed, others feel impostor syndrome, and some just feel lost and aren't sure what to do next. But the one trait I found to be pretty universal is exhaustion. You're gonna be tired as fuck. This is something I wish someone had told me before the release of my debut novel. Once the burnout hit, I thought “Is something wrong with me? Aren't I supposed to be excited?” It's completely normal to feel out of whack once your book is live, and this can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month. Once the burnout fades, you can get excited and celebrate your great achievement.

Number 2: Book Sale Averages Are Probably Not What You Would Expect Them To Be

This is for the writers who didn't research the industry before writing your book. You done fucked up. I meet a lot of writers who say that their goal is to sell millions of copies during their upcoming release. Millions? Seriously? I’m gonna burst your bubble. Millions of book sales probably, definitely, won't happen. Maybe for a fraction of a percent of authors, but not for the vast majority. And that's okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to sell millions of copies to be a career author, to be a New York Times bestseller, or to make good money as a writer. I am a six-figure author, and I have not sold millions of books.

This brings us to actual book sale averages. Now it can be hard to get good statistics because the industry is constantly changing. But the most recent reliable figure that I found is, wait for it, 200 copies sold in the first year, and 1,000 copies sold during the book's lifetime. Will these numbers make you a six-figure author? Definitely not. But that's the reality for a lot of writers.

Another thing to consider is the 10,000-copy landmark. A very popular goal in the writing community is to shoot for selling 10,000 copies of your book in one year. The reason for this is it’s extremely hard to do. So if you hit this milestone, you're doing great and should be so proud. You've surpassed a whole lot of writers as the aforementioned sales average suggests. But again, 10,000 sales in one year is far from millions of sales. So while it's absolutely possible to have a very successful book launch, you need to get a better idea of what a successful book launch actually looks like.

Number 3: It’s Very Hard To Get on a Bestseller List

This should be common sense. It's called The Bestseller List for a reason. But I'm mentioning this because I've seen multiple writers say, “It seems really easy to become a New York Times bestseller. Aren’t hundreds of books New York Times bestsellers?” Yes, hundreds of books are New York Times bestsellers. Out of the millions of books that have been written.

Let's start with the easiest list to make, which is the Amazon bestseller list. Amazon has a multitude of bestseller lists representing different genres. Like paranormal romance, or teen sci-fi. Now some of the lists are more obscure, like occult astral projecting. Yes, that's an actual list. The more obscure the list, the easier to hit it. But if you want to hit one of the more competitive lists, like epic fantasy, or thriller, then you're going to have to sell hundreds of books in a single day. Especially if you wanna hit number one. And that's not easy to do.

Now we look at the hardest list to make, which is the New York Times bestseller list. The generally accepted estimation is that if you wanna hit the New York Times bestseller list, you need to sell at least 10,000 copies of your book in one week. And those sales have to come from different retailers. Additionally, the New York Times is the only list that takes reputation into consideration. That means even if you sold enough copies to make their list, you might get bumped off so they could feature someone more reputable, which fucking sucks. There's a lot more I could say about this. If you'd like a post on this topic, please let me know in the comments below. But the bottom line is, if you think it's easy to make a list, you might be a wee bit stupid.

Number 4: Just Because They Say They’ll Buy Your Book, Doesn’t Mean They Will

“Why does Amazon say only three people bought my book? My entire family said they’d buy it!”

Oh sweet summer child, that's called a platitude. You know when sometimes you tell a white lie because you wanna be nice, and the truth just, well, isn’t? That's what's happening here. I'm not saying this to suck the wind out of your sails, or to hate on your family or friends. But the truth is a lot of people will promise to buy your book and not follow through. Sometimes they just plain forget. They’ve got their own life and their own obligations, and believe it or not, you are not the center of their universe. Other times they can't afford it right now, or maybe they plan to buy it later.

But a lot of the time they were just saying it to be nice. They wanted to encourage you, and they didn't want to hurt your feelings. Would you have appreciated it if they said, “Wow, you're writing a book. I literally couldn't care less.” Probably not. This is why marketing is so important for your book release. Extend your audience reach as far as possible, and the sales will follow.

Number 5: Just Because They Say They’ll Review the Book, Doesn’t Mean They Will

The general industry estimate is that for every 100 books sold, you can maybe expect one review. That means we're looking at a review rate of less than 1%. This wouldn't be such a huge deal if it weren't for the fact that reviews are a huge deal. Reviews, especially on Amazon, boost your book's exposure to readers, and within the algorithm. That means the more reviews your book has, the more Amazon will showcase your book. This is why sending out ARCs is really important. A lot of writers fear this because, OMG you're sending out your book for free to so many people. But goddamn it, you need those reviews.

And the bad news continues. A chunk of those ARC reviewers aren't gonna review the book. I know, it's a kick in the dick. Most writers send out more ARCs than they think they need, in order to compensate for the reviewers who won't actually leave a review.

Number 6: Your Book Might Not Be Done

When you send out ARCs, there's a possibility that you'll get a ton of glowing reviews, which is great. There's also the possibility that a kind, well-intentioned reviewer or two will pull you aside and say, “Um, author . . . we’ve got a problem.” I know several writers who have been contacted by their ARC reviewers and notified that unfortunately, their manuscript just wasn't ready for publication. I once received an ARC from a writer that had over 150 typos within the first 20% of the book. Now if a couple of ARC reviewers don't like your book, that's not a big deal. Literature is subjective, and every book is gonna get at least some negative reviews. But if a large chunk of your ARC readers are ghosting or giving negative feedback, that's a clear sign that your book isn't done. In cases like this you have two choices: either release the book anyway, or delay the release and fix your mistakes. I've known authors who have taken both these routes. And this may shock you, but the authors who released the book anyway, mistakes and all, didn't fare well. Besides, delaying a release is super common. You might as well do it for the sake of your readers and your wallet.

Number 7: You’re Not Gonna See Those Royalties for a While

If you're going the traditional publishing route, you will typically receive an advance. Which is exciting, right? Except that advance will be split into two or three payments, and those payments will be sent out over a stretched-out period of time. So it's gonna be a while before you see that money. If you sell enough copies to earn out your advance which, spoiler, doesn't happen all the time, you'll start receiving royalties. But these royalties are only paid every six months.

If you go the self-publishing route, royalties are paid on a monthly basis. So you're gonna see that money a lot sooner. However, some of the most popular publishing platforms like Amazon KDP and IngramSpark only start paying out those royalties about three months after the book’s release. That's half the time of traditional publishing, but the point is, you're not gonna see that money right away.

Number 8: Last-Minute Hiccups Are the Norm

I've released four books thus far, and every single one of them has had some kind of last-minute hiccup. With my debut, the cover art and formatting were all messed up, and I had to pull an all-nighter just to get ’em fixed. With my second book, my proofreader sucked, and I had to proofread that book an additional six times just to get it right. With my third book, the cover had to be color-corrected three times because it wasn't printing right. And with my most recent book, I found a typo on the day of the release.

Book releases are a massive production, with so many variables, so something is bound to go wrong. But I didn't know hiccups were common with my debut novel, so I was literally bawling my eyes out over it. I thought it was the end of the world. Now when a hiccup arises, I'm just like, “Whoops, time to fix it." I don't know a single writer who hasn't had a bump in the road while they were releasing a book. Some of those bumps are mountains, and others are teeny tiny. And obviously, it's better to experience the latter. Try to get as many publishing tasks as possible squared away ahead of time. That way any hiccup you experience will likely be of the teeny tiny variety.

Number 9: Make Noise

"But Jennaaa! How do I get people to notice that I'm releasing a book?”

You tell them you're releasing a book.

“But Jennaaa! If I post about my book online, that's bragging, right?”

Is it bragging when someone posts about their job promotion or their engagement? Is it bragging when someone reveals their pregnancy announcement? Releasing a book is a huge milestone, and I'm sure it took a whole lot more than three pumps to complete. People aren't gonna buy the book if they don't know it exists, so spread the news far and wide. Hell, I mention my books in every single one of my YouTube videos. Will it annoy some people? Sure. Do I care? Fuck no. I've got bills to pay. I've got a dog to put through college. Now is not the time for humility. Spread the news and make that fucking money.

Number 10: This Is Your Single Best Marketing Opportunity

This is actually something mentioned to a lot of writers, but it seems to go in one ear and out the other. Your book release is your greatest marketing opportunity. So market it. First of all, you're giving readers something to be excited about, something to celebrate. Readers like the anticipation of a book release, they wanna be engaged and learn more. It's a lot harder to create an action-packed event revolving around a book after its release.

Think about the excitement and fuss that people make when someone gives birth to a baby. Straights go nuts for that shit. But if on a random day, someone were to say, “Hey, look, I have a three-year-old kid. Isn't that crazy?” Literally no one will give a shit.

Now say your book has been out for six months, and you never marketed it. That means you'll have low sales volume and probably no reviews. And literally all potential readers can see this on virtually every sales platform. When they see that a book has been out for months, with little to no engagement, they are going to see that as a negative reflection on the book. It must not be very good if no one's buying it. That's why you gotta market the release. Get that engagement right away, because it will continue to sell books for years to come. I know you don't wanna do it. But for God's sake, do it.

So that's all I've got for you today!

Author Jenna Moreci.

If you’re enjoying my writing advice and want a step-by-step guide to writing your book from plan to print, check out my number one bestseller, Shut Up and Write the Book. If fantasy romance is more your vibe, check out The Savior Series right now. The Savior’s Champion and The Savior’s Sister are available for purchase in all formats and at all major retailers. And the third book in the series, The Savior's Army, is coming very soon.


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