Anatomy of a Failed Book Launch

Anatomy of a Failed Book Launch

Launch Day is supposed to be a joyous event for an author.

Authors spend months writing and editing a single book. We spend weeks crafting Launch Day campaigns to spread the word, harnessing a complicated network of advertisements and announcements from friends. We spend days counting down to the actual launch. We spend hours refreshing our computer screens, trying to gauge our launch’s success.

The B Word by Mindy Klasky

One essential part of the launch process is getting reviews—”social proof” to reassure prospective readers that a book is worth their time and money. Many advertising services won’t let authors purchase ads unless a book has a certain number of reviews. Reviews are so important that authors give away copies of their book—Advance Readers Copies (“ARCs”)—in exchange for honest reviews.

But the entire book launch process is derailed when Amazon—the single largest seller of ebooks in the world—refuses to allow readers to post reviews. That’s what happened to me when I launched my contemporary romantic comedy, The B Word. By July 17, 2022, Amazon was blocking reviews of the paperback edition. On July 19, 2022 (release day for the ebook), that block was extended to the electronic edition. Reviewers who tried to post were usually told that the book was not eligible for reviews. Some reviewers were told that their individual reviews could not be posted. In addition, potential buyers couldn’t find my book if they searched for “b word mindy klasky” (although, oddly, they could find it if they didn’t include my first name.) Amazon also failed to provide a “Look Inside” sample for potential purchasers who checked out the ebook.

So—prospective buyers couldn’t find my book unless they had a direct link to its page on Amazon. They couldn’t preview the book to see if it was their cup of tea. And they couldn’t read reviews to help them make a purchasing decision.

I spent the better part of the past week trying to fix these problems with Amazon. I was passed from one customer service division to another. I was told I had to submit a “Plan of Action.” (It took me days to find another author who knew what a “Plan of Action” was—no one at Amazon could or would tell me. Ultimately, I learned that it’s a document that only applies when a merchant’s account has been terminated which—minor silver lining—was not my case.)

By the end of launch week, The B Word had seven ratings. (Amazon’s search engine was finally updated, and Look Inside was finally added.) Approximately five percent of my dedicated ARC-team members persisted through multiple rejections to get their reviews posted. The others are still unable to post, as of this writing. Without enough reviews, I can’t buy most advertising to support my book. Even if I spent money on ads, I’d be asking people to take a risk on a book with negligible social proof.

My book launch has failed.

Or has it?

Survey after survey, readers report that the number one factor influencing their buying a book is a recommendation from a friend or family member.** That means The B Word has a chance.

If you’ve read The B Word, can you tell one person that you liked the book?

And because The B Word certainly isn’t the only book cut down before its chance to shine, why don’t you make this a habit? Spread the word about books you love. Tell one friend. Because if you tell one person, and they tell one person, and so on and so on and so on, authors can see a real difference.

So do it today. If you love a book, tell one friend.

 

** These results have been reported by the Pew Research Center, PenguinPutnam Publishing, and Forbes, to name only a few sources.

That’s a Wrap—The B Word in Stores Today!

That’s a Wrap—The B Word in Stores Today!

About three years ago, I sat in a coffee shop with my good friend and fellow author Angelina Lopez. We were talking about the always-challenging state of publishing. She was celebrating the well-deserved success of her Filthy Rich series. I was questioning what my next writing steps would be. At the time, I was frustrated that no stories were “speaking” to me. Nothing was demanding my attention. No story seemed worth the time it would take to write. But then…

The B Word by Mindy Klasky
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Then COVID happened.

Like most of us, I was stunned for the first few months of the pandemic. I couldn’t imagine writing, much less writing love stories, with happy endings. I was too worried for friends and family and absolute strangers. I was too frustrated by supply shortages. I was too frightened for the future.

But we humans are infinitely adaptable. And one morning, when I woke up to yet another day of lockdown, I realized that I could tell a story—a love story, even, with a guaranteed happy ending. I started writing The C Word, and the Love in 2020 Series was born.

It hasn’t been easy. (Pandemic life, or writing, but I’ll stick to writing here…)

Some readers were afraid to embrace a romance set during a pandemic. Some readers were scared off by my saucy titles. Amazon refused to let me advertise the second book, The F Word, because my title might corrupt minors. Even today’s launch of The B Word is experiencing hiccups because Amazon won’t let readers leave reviews.

But I love my pandemic heroines and heroes. I love their indomitable spirit as they find paths through coronachaos. I love their determination as they build positive lives out of frightening surroundings. I love their willingness to take risks and enjoy rewards when the world around them seems more stressful than ever.

The B Word is the last of the Love in 2020 Series. It starts at the beginning of the pandemic and ends with the introduction of vaccines. Standing completely on its own, it closes the arcs of its main characters, reaching out with a friendly gesture toward some of the heroes and heroines from earlier books.

Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

Yay, yay, yay!
 
Lawyer Emily Holcomb is up for partner just as she’s appearing on a blockbuster reality TV cooking show. Extroverted Emily only has to wrap up a mammoth real estate deal in tiny Black Duck, West Virginia, and her dream career will be secured.
 
But Liam Thomas, the reluctant mayor of Black Duck, is determined to see Emily fail. The calm, reserved mountain man has a town to protect from invading corporate interests.
 
Emily is a fish out of water in small town Black Duck. Liam is equally at odds with life in big city Washington, DC. But opposites attract—and THIS attraction burns hotter than Emily and Liam’s arguments over who should own the town.
 
How can these star-crossed lovers remain true to themselves and the people who depend on them when they can’t even agree on what to eat for dinner?
 
If you fell hard for the feel-good rom-coms of Lucy Score, Pippa Grant, and Emily Henry, then settle in for a wild ride, because The B Word is the perfect romantic comedy escape for you!
 
The world is in a very different place than it was in March 2020. We’ve moved past some challenges. New ones loom. Through it all, romance stories can offer a tiny harbor, a bit of shelter, a small guaranteed happy ending.
And the happiest of endings?
As I launch The B Word today, I’m already working on another book, the first in a new series. I can’t wait to share it with you, down the road!
Until then, you can get your copy of The B Word today!
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“Harmony Lights” in Stores Today!

“Harmony Lights” in Stores Today!

A few days ago, I bought a greeting card at my favorite independent bookstore. It has the words Merry Christmas, written in red and green and crossed out. Then it has the words Happy Hanukkah written in blue and crossed out. Then it has the words Happy Holidays written in red and crossed out. Then it was the word December.

The card made me laugh.

But it’s not entirely accurate. Because Hanukkah is super early this year. The eight-day holiday actually begins the night of November 29.

Harmony Lights by Mindy Klasky

That means that I had to rush to get my short story, “Harmony Lights”, in stores by today. Because a story about Hanukkah should be available before the actual holiday. You know. To get everyone in the mood for some latkes. And some candle lighting. And a sweet-spicy small town reunion romance. Or as the “back of the book” blurb puts it:

A Hanukkah miracle is the only hope for transforming this small-town second chance reunion into true love.

It’s Hanukkah in the small town of Harmony Springs, and Abigail Cohen is surrounded by latkes, holiday candles, and a mother who seems determined to push her into the arms of the one man she’s vowed to forget.

Abby got over Ethan Weiss years ago. She moved away. She became a doctor. She hardly ever thinks about her first true love.

But when her mother has a medical crisis, Abby must return to West Virginia. And when Ethan shows up on the first night of the Festival of Lights, long-buried secrets are revealed.

The Jewish holiday celebrates an ancient miracle. But can any miracle heal a broken heart?

This story was originally published in Eight Kisses, the Hanukkah romance anthology I co-edited with Lori Ann Bailey. It’s one of my True Love Classics (a collection of romances by USA Today bestselling Harlequin authors, including originals and popular reissues.)

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Finalist—Best Banter Award!

Finalist—Best Banter Award!

The F Word is a finalist—twice over!—in the Best Banter Contest, sponsored by the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America.

What does twice over mean? It means that two different scenes in the book became finalists in the contest! (The F Word was entered in the contemporary romance, published author category.)

Professional editors and agents are judging the final round. My fingers are crossed that I’ll be able to report a win in the next month. But for now, I’m so, so pleased that the MMRWA enjoyed reading my banter as much as I enjoyed writing it!

The Number is 43

The Number is 43

Or maybe 42. (I know. I know. That’s always supposed to be the answer.) Or maybe 47. Or even 53.

The F Word by Mindy Klasky

It all depends on how you count. 

Today is the book birthday for my 43rd book, The F Word. Except I’ve only published 42 books, if you don’t count novellas. I’ve published 47, if you count short stories and anthologies I’ve edited. And 53, if you count boxed sets (or bundles) of existing novels.

So, yeah. It’s a little confusing.

But the precise number doesn’t matter. What matters is that The F Word is live. In all the stores where you usually buy your ebooks. In print on Amazon (and other places, as soon as a certain middleman gets its act together and actually makes the book available as it should have done a week ago…)

What’s The F Word all about? Here’s the back of the book blurb:

When a holiday romance, falling for your boss, and a reality TV show aren’t enough of a challenge—just add a pandemic!

Personal assistant Jen Parker is eager to start her new job on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, supporting Noah “The Casanova Cook” Ryder, a temperamental chef who is judging a blockbuster television cooking show. But Jen, a widow, has a secret mission at the beach—a personal, emotional goal she must accomplish by Christmas Eve.

Noah is famous for seducing a starlet every new season. But with Home Cook America filming during a coronavirus quarantine, the Restaurant Romeo is off his game. The stress of lockdown—not to mention his own long-held secret—has Noah struggling to launch his make-it-or-break-it newest restaurant. And that’s before his longtime business partner turns into his worst frenemy (or is that just a plain enemy?)

Soon, Jen and Noah’s budding attraction is tested by vegan Thanksgiving, the world’s ugliest charm bracelet, and a possessed elevator. Every passing day—and night—ups the ante on their secret pasts. But if this culinary couple can’t stand the heat, there’s no way out of their COVID-locked-down kitchen!

If you fell hard for the feel-good rom-coms of Emily Henry, Christina Lauren, and Tessa Bailey, then grab a seat, because The F Word is the perfect romantic comedy escape for you.

You can read the first chapter here. I hope you like Jen’s story as much as I loved writing it!

 

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Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

I’m baaaaack!

For the first time in my writing career (and I’ve been writing full-time for thirteen years!) I took a complete break from my day-to-day schedule.

Not a vacation—I’ve taken those, for a few days here, a week there, once for two whole weeks. On vacation, I still think about writing, and I often jot notes to myself for one book or another.

This break was six entire weeks. No outlining. No editing. No writing.

I wasn’t as lazy as this post makes me sound. I had a total hip replacement on the first day of my break. And I spent the first week doing an awful lot of sleeping (including dreams where I thought I was running through fields, shouting words like, “XJWBZQR!” which apparently meant, “I’m free! I’m free!”) And I devoted a large portion of the other five weeks to physical therapy.

I did read a lot—a book every couple of days (which, for this slow reader was a joy!)

And now, I’m back. Refreshed. Eager to work. On a cane, but only part of the time (and I hope to be off it completely in a month or so.)

And I’m deep into final edits on The F Word, which I look forward to sharing with you next month!

Excelsior!