Preparing (But Not Planning) for Success

This is part of the Bittersweet Book Launch case study, where Dan Blank and Miranda Beverly-Whittemore share the yearlong process of launching her novel. You can view all posts here.

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:

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.

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.