After receiving my rights back during the summer, I have been preparing a series relaunch that started on September 2nd, 2019 and will release a new book every 21 days. I decided to document the process partially for transparency, but also to establish what works well for me in this genre, and where I can adjust further in the future.
Document A Superhero Series Relaunch Part 2
The entirety of this series had been completed except for roughly 10,000 words of book four that needed to be written. This final book would need to be revised and professionally edited prior to release. No covers had been created, but I started this process with an agreement from my cover artist to make sure he could produce on the necessary time table.
What I had when I set the Launch Date
- Manuscripts. I had four completed and edited manuscripts. My fifth manuscript needed an additional 10,000 words to wrap up the story. This book would then go to the editor for a line edit (with some development comments.) I decided against beta readers as I write a fairly clean concept (even if the grammar is a train wreck.) I didn’t have the buffer built in for an additional edit, so after a quick read through by me, it went to the editor.
- Audiobooks. The first three books of this series were done by me and I maintain the rights to the properties. These would stay available during this process with the original covers until new covers could be obtained. This created a unique situation because I would have to separate the old eBook & print editions from the audiobooks. I did this and in under 24-hours, Audible had severed the connection to the books and I maintained all audiobook only reviews. (Later, the reviews would be problematic, I’ll note that further down.)
What I needed when I set the Launch Date
- Covers. The first priority was getting the art work and finding a schedule that worked for my artist. I picked Sean Carlson because of his style, so we didn’t need a lot of back and forth to sort out what I was looking for in that regard. I would need six covers. Book 1. Book 2. Book 3. Book 4. Prequel. Box Set. I sent all the inspirational images and my needs. We brainstormed an idea and he was off to the races.
- Edit. Book 4 needed an edit. At 120,000 words, this was an expensive purchase. However, I have been utilizing the same editor since the start of this series. However, because of the limitations of the publisher, Book 1 and Book 2 needed an “author proofing.” *Advice: I believed it would take me roughly a month per book. However, with my day job, I found it took about three weeks longer than expected.*
- Blurbs. While I had rewritten and rewritten the blurbs on my books, I decided it would be best to start from scratch. I needed time to examine the top sellers in my category and look at the strategies they used. I would ultimately go through almost one-hundred books picking at elements and word choice to inspire my own selection.
- Graphics/Rebranding. After three years, I needed to entirely redesign my graphics. I could no longer use the graphics supplied by the publisher. I had look at my series as the first of many series set in this universe. I wanted to brand my entire concept. I wanted a singular vision that would adapt for future series. This would include new stock imagery, new ads, new “hype” graphics, new banners, and rebranding my Instagram. *Advice: If you’re planning on creating a long running universe, plan for ten years down the road. You do not want to be stuck rebranding every few years as your concept evolves.*
- Allies. I am currently a member of the New England Speculative Writers and the Superhero-Fiction Authors community. I posted asking if I could receive support on this relaunch. Between the two groups I received roughly fifteen folks willing to share either on their social media or with their newsletter subscribers. While this was a great start (assuming only half would follow-through) I wanted to reach thirty. I posted to popular newsletter swap Facebook groups and received three swaps. I also reached out to every author I have swapped with in the past asking if they would promote my book. While I wanted to stay extremely focused in the superhero genre to promote sell-through, I asked several prominent hard sci-fi authors to promote my initial release. With this being an uncertain and yet essential part of my strategy, I reached out to Dean Wilson to request his services to organize newsletter swaps on my behalf.
- ISBNs. I did not use ISBN’s with my eBooks. I did however need two ISBN’s per book. This would allow for a trade paperback and a hardcover. I had originally contemplated a large print version as well, but after polling my readers there was less than 3% would who would have purchased.
- Newsletter Promotions. This is where things got tricky for my relaunch. Many promotional services require a number of reviews and a certain “rating” to be considered. Because of separating my assets from my publisher’s assets, it was uncertain if I would be able to access my reviews. Would my audio reviews carry over? Would Amazon honor my previous reviews? Who knows (after numerous emails, I got numerous answers, none of them coincided.)
Launch Strategy To-Do List
I decided I needed to create a “launch schedule” to help give me some guidance. I suffer from extreme flightiness when I’m stressed and I could see this being problematic. I started by making a list of everything I would need to do for this launch. What I quickly noticed is there are universal tasks necessary for book 1 and every sequel book. However, I noticed there was a long list of tasks on the front end to get prepared. The majority of it could be done on a weekend, however with so many emails going out to authors, my editor, and cover artist, there was a certain wait time to get replies.
Below is the two months prior to release. Prices were estimated to figure out guesstimate launch costs.
Line Edit: $882.75
*Add ~$1300 for Costs Absorbed by Publisher
I’m more than a month into the launch right now and things are working according to plan. I will do a followup to go through the first month of launches once I have all my data points. However, I believe two months was sufficient time to execute this plan as is. For those who do not have a time consuming day job, I believe it could be executed within a month. However, because of pre-orders and needing links for the subsequent book to be put in the “Continue Reading by Clicking Here” in the end of each book created something of a time crunch. Because of this SNAFU I had to adjust my dates accordingly and inform both my editor and cover artist I would need files quicker than expected. However, because of their awesomeness, they were able to roll with the punches. I have seen an uptick in profit across the board and more downloads than expected. I’ll include the exact data in the next post.