The Calm Before Publication Date

It is funny how for both Miranda and I, now that we are firmly in the “book launch” period, it has felt less natural to update this blog!

I suppose that could be because with a year’s worth of preparation, things sort of “happen” now. There is a LOT of behind the scenes chatter about book reviews and placement that has been confirmed, but I am never sure what can be shared publicly, and when.

Miranda and I had lunch earlier in the week, and stopped to get a shot of ourselves afterwards. I couldn’t quite get the exposure right, so you will have to blend these two images in your mind:

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I think that once publication date arrives, (um, REALLY SOON!), we will be able to reflect more on what has worked best in this process.

Thanks!
-Dan

Status Update: Two Weeks Into a Month-Long Giveaway!

It’s funny how much a daily giveaway just becomes a normal part of your daily existence. Julia, Miranda and I now coordinate in the mornings and evenings every day, and there is often a flurry of emails with the participating authors to just check, double-check, and triple check a million details.

So how are things going so far? Well, let’s look at some basic data:

metrics

Included here are the number of entries per day, and then the TOTAL website traffic for this time period. We saw around 75 entries per day in the first week, and around 50 per day the second week. Also, you can see that the site overall had a lot more traffic in that first launch week.

Does this mean the giveaway is a roaring success or a pathetic failure? Well, for that, we have to consider the qualitative stuff:

  • To enter the giveaways, people need to answer a question related to the books being given away. The answers have been incredible to read. Many are very personal, and have been so much fun to read and share (anonymously) with the authors.
  • There is a lot of conversation about the contest on the authors’ social media feeds and the #OMGbooks hashtag on Twitter. That’s just fun to have a reason to promote these authors’ books each day.
  • Private emails between Julia, Miranda, myself and the authors have been so much fun. Lots of enthusiasm and encouragement.

The result: this feels like fun! And Google Analytics can never tell you that.
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Thanks.
-Dan

The Fog of Book Launch

It’s funny that it has been quiet on the book launch blog here, because there has been SO MUCH going on that it becomes difficult to stop and reflect on it.

With Bittersweet’s release date now less than a month away, the publicity and marketing that Crown setup has really bloomed. Miranda announced two magazine features yesterday. An excerpt in Cosmo:

cosmo

And Martha Stewart Living has chosen Bittersweet as their May book club pick:
martha

Over on the OMG! All the Books Giveaway! things have been going really well. Each day we have had 50-75 entries, and the best part is all of the interaction and conversation on social media, and what people share in answering the questions to enter each giveaway.

Plus the first Amazon Vine reviews have come in:
Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.51.33 AM

There is so much else going on, but I wanted to share a few highlights.
More to come…
Thanks!
-Dan

How the OMG! All the Books! Giveaway Is Going So Far

We have completed two of the 25 giveaways for the OMG! All the Books! giveaway, so I figured we can share how things are going now that we are past the launch.

In purely quantitative terms we have had:

To me, that is pretty awesome, especially considering how short each giveaway period is: 11 hours each.

In a recent blog post, I talked about the overt value this giveaway could have for raising awareness of Miranda’s book, and one factor is just getting people to her website. This is what visits have looked like so far:

webtraffic

(it’s worth noting that I forgot to install Google Analytics on her website until April 1st. Regardless, you can see the spikes around the contest launch.)

Do I know how this “traffic” extends to value for Miranda’s book? Nope. ZERO idea if this will sell a single additional book. That said, it is clear that a lot more people are coming to her site, that she is getting more newsletter subscribers, more social media mentions, and perhaps MOST importantly: there is a wonderful feeling of enthusiasm and goodwill around the giveaway.

For each giveaway, to enter someone needs to answer a question, and it has been so lovely to see how personal each response has been.

We’ll continue to share progress.

THANK YOU to Miranda, Julia, all of the participating authors, and those who have entered the giveaways!
-Dan

Launch Details, Details, Details…

Last week, Miranda and I had three in-person meetings on the same day in NYC:

  • Morning: we met at Rockefeller Center to review details on the OMG! All the Books giveaway.
  • Lunch: we had lunch with her editor at Crown, Christine Kopprasch
  • Afternoon: we met with Jay Sones and Jessica Prudhomme from her marketing team at Crown

It was thrilling to go through so many details in person, and to see how much all of these wonderful people are doing in support of the book. It basically just made me feel so thankful to to be a part of the process.

Here is Miranda, Jay, and Jessica. It’s worth noting that we passed an Elvis impersonator on the street just before this meeting:

140408mirandajayjessica

And here is Miranda and I just chatting in Central Park before one of the meetings:
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Launching the OMG! All the Books! Giveaway

I have loved Miranda’s posts sharing the behind the scenes preparation for the OMG! All the Books! Giveaway, and just shared my own here. I cover a few main points:

  • Getting past the dread of having to run a giveaway
  • Brainstorming fun and hopefully generous ideas
  • Making it immediately social
  • Finding a balance between wacky creative ideas and still staying focused
  • The value in leveraging the skillsets and enthusiasm of Julia, Miranda and I
  • How important and actionable distraction can be in the book launch process
  • How awesome it feels to support other authors
  • And that yes, this giveaway IS strategic.

Read the full post here. Thanks!
-Dan

A Key Question For Developing Your Marketing Plan: How Do You Want To Feel?

With so much going on, with so many possibilities, and very limited resources, I am factoring a huge thing into all decisions Miranda and I make: “HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?”

Miranda mentioned this in her newsletter this morning regarding her choice to not be the voice of her audiobook:

“I briefly flirted with the idea of wanting to record Bittersweet, but decided that it would exhaust me right when I need to be gathering strength in advance of publication.”

Likewise, we had “the chat” this week: which of the many giveaway ideas that we brainstormed will we actually execute on? The number of options was truly overwhelming. So how I framed this for our chat:

“I think that for the giveaways, this is about whittling down to one idea that seems fun. That’s it. Do one idea really well.

To me, I tried to factor in how I want Miranda and I to feel for the next 8 weeks. Do we want to feel harried and like she is left with the responsibility of saying “BUY MY BOOK BUY MY BOOK BUY MY BOOK” in 1,000 different ways every single day?

Ugh. No.

So the idea we landed with is very different than that. Still fleshing out details today and Monday, but we will share specifics when we can. But two questions we tried to infuse into this are:

  • How can this feel fun?
  • How can this feel generous?

Thanks!
-Dan

Don’t Forget to Celebrate Success

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore and Dan Blank

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore and Dan Blank

With the launch date of Bittersweet coming up in May, Miranda and I have been chatting more and more, and really trying to determine: “what else” we can do, and which ideas we have to let go of. In that vein, we started a list of ideas to re-approach in June – things that we absolutely don’t have time for before then, but that could be fun ways to extend the conversation with readers through the summer and fall.

Miranda recently posted about “coming to terms with missed opportunities,” a topic we discussed on Friday that also proved there is an unending list of metaphors for what it means to launch a book. The new metaphor I introduced was ‘how a book launch is like your wedding’ – that even if you LOVED the food you have chosen for the wedding meal, you realize that forever more, it will not be filled with limitless potential, that in the end, it was “chicken.” Not filet mignon, not salmon, but chicken. That’s it.

As a result, part of the posture one can take just prior to book launch is a defensive posture – protecting yourself from the probability that you will receive some negative reviews; that some opportunities won’t pan out as planned; and that you will wake up someday soon with the book launch behind you. And suddenly, everyone around you will ask: “so, what is your NEXT book about.” This relates to that wedding metaphor as well, as it’s not uncommon for the MOMENT your wedding ends to have friends and family immediately say, “So, when are you having a kid?” You can seemingly never just enjoy the moment, it is a constant flux of expectations, both internal and external.

Miranda and I have tried to be very organized about our process together, and the downside of that is that paranoia about missing something. Perhaps it is a missed opportunity, as Miranda mentioned, or an idea to help ensure success of something we are already doing. We have a marketing plan spreadsheet with nearly 100 rows on it, and yet there is always that nagging feeling of “what’s missing here?” in the back of my mind.

From my experience, many creative professionals forget to ever celebrate their successes. They are so wrapped up trying to create momentum, trying to protect themselves from disappointment, trying to think about the next 10 things to do, that to pause and celebrate a good review, an email from a reader, or even the fact that they finished the book, often gets overlooked – STEAMROLLED – by fear and paranoia.

So one thing I am trying to infuse into our process is taking moments to celebrate small successes. Because, if for no other reason, Miranda deserves it.

Thanks.
-Dan

In the Eye of the Storm

As Miranda indicated in her post yesterday, and as she said on our most recent call:

β€œIt feels like this weird eye of the storm moment.”

That we have done so much preparation in the past six months, and that we are now in that anxious place just before a baby is born (another Miranda metaphor.) Stuff is (hopefully) about to happen, and we need to step into that launch phase to welcome it.

A lot has been happening actually, but I will always let Miranda be the first to announce things as she wants to, but suffice to say, there were like three new things she told me about on our call that she had plum forgot to tell me!

Regardless, I LOVE LOVE LOVE how Miranda is continuing to work on her next book throughout all of the work being done for the launch of Bittersweet. Her writing is the center of it all, even the center of this storm.

πŸ™‚
-Dan

Preparing (But Not Planning) for Success

So FriendStories launched last week, and it has gone viral! Oh wait, no it hasn’t. Let’s look at the actual number of visits to FriendStories this month:

friendstories

While the site has been live for months, with a few “starter” stories, Miranda we officially launched it on January 20th, that enormous spike you see on the chart above. 62 visits on launch day.

I have mentioned this before with regards to Bittersweet – we are PREPARING a lot, but you can’t exactly plan for success. We are focusing our resources, brainstorming new ideas, encouraging a daily/weekly schedule of doing the non-glamourous work to push things forward, and reflecting on the range of value that comes from a process of launching a book.

With the FriendStories launch, Miranda is now posting new stories twice a week, and has enough stories either ready or in the works to last for a couple months. We talked about the idea of doing a “big launch” for the site, but she really wanted to just let this grow organically. Lots of good reasons behind that, but my guess is that one is that the site was born out of personal stories from writers she knows, and she doesn’t feel like disturbing that with over-promotion.

And there is always that elephant in the room when you launch something. You secretly hope for overwhelming success immediately. For other sites to pick it up; for friends to tell friends who tell friends; for a fan to create a hashtag that spreads wildly without your having to lift a finger; and for lots of positive feedback and new submissions.

So let’s consider what we HAVE really accomplished so far, what we have created beyond the naked number of “62.” My list so far:

  • More stories have been written and shared – and this is writing beyond the book itself. Months before Bittersweet has been released, Miranda has already crafted several other stories of girlhood friendships, heard many others told to her from friends and colleagues, and has now encouraged these women to write and share those stories.
  • Encouraging actions with relationships. We grow closer with others not by shaking their hands or “following” them on Twitter, but by engaging with shared experiences. Miranda has reached out to dozens of women to seek out these stories, and in the process, is forging new relationships, and extending existing relationships in new ways.
  • Miranda has been and is continuing to explore the themes within her work through these FriendStories. This is not about “aggregating content” and “getting eyeballs,” she is genuinely moving her craft forward and exploring her work more deeply through them.
  • She launched something. That alone, is just a huge milestone. So many people talk about ideas, and I think actually constructing it, launching it, and sharing it publicly is a wonderful habit to create, especially a writer. And what I like most about this is that it is something that is related to Bittersweet, but separate from it. This site could potentially exist on its own for years, constantly evolving.

Oh, and the 62 page views.
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Congratulations to Miranda on sharing these stories, and THANK YOU to all the contributors so far! And of course, you can become a part of FriendStories here.
-Dan