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I'm 5 days into launch week for my novel, A Bend In The Willow. It has been a time of excitement, anxiety, awe and of humbleness for me. At last one of my big dreams is coming true. I spent a lot of years saying I wrote because I loved to write. That publication wasn't important to me. But I was only fooling myself.  Most of us write because we want to be heard. Without readers, we remain mute. 

As of this hour, the novel has 47 reviews on Amazon and 60 on Goodreads. They average about 4.5 stars. A Bend In The Willow is rated #1,462 in all Amazon Kindle books, #31 in Saga, #33 in Family Saga, and #48 in Women's Fiction Saga.  

And this morning, as if I needed anything else to dance about, I learned it was selected as one of Amazon's Hot New Releases--rated #4. It has already dropped to #5 (the stats change hourly) but still, I was thrilled beyond measure.  The rainbow in the photo below was taken a few minutes ago from my front porch. It seemed somehow appropriate on this banner day.  
A friend suggested I talk about the process of getting to this place--that it might be of interest to other writers.  This is what I've learned:

1. Write the very best book you can possibly write. Don't think you're finished because you've come to the end. Edit. Rewrite. Edit and rewrite some more until you've done all you can.

2. If you are self publishing, hire a good editor. Take her suggestions unless you have a very good reason not to. 


3.  Get someone who is good with grammar to proofread the book. 

4. Have a great cover design. I was very fortunate that Tirgearr assigned me an editor, had the book proofread and designed a fantastic cover. If you are self-publishing, you need to take the same steps.  

5. About six weeks before the book is to launch, start soliciting reviews. Some publishers will do this for you. Most will not. I went through Amazon's Top 10,000 reviewers and pulled out the ones who reviewed books similar to mine and who'd left an e-mail. There are websites you can join that will do the scanning for you and provide you with a list of e-mail addresses.  

6. I wrote query letters to each one--giving them a brief summary of the book along with the cover art. I was polite. I told them how much it would mean to me if they'd review the book. But even if they didn't want to, I appreciated the time they'd taken to read the query. 

7. When I heard back, I sent their requested format. Since Tirgearr publishes first in e-book, I had mobi (for Kindle) e-pub (for Nook and other e-readers) and PDF.  Be polite. They are doing you a favor. I sent out twice as many ARC's (advanced reader copies) than I have, so far, received reviews--but 50% is a good turnout. 

8. When they wrote back with their reviews, I thanked them profusely and asked them to post the review on Goodreads (they allow reviews on books that have not yet been launched)  On launch day, I already had 35 or so reviews on Goodreads. I also asked if they would like to be on my list of reviewers for my next book, Redemption Lake, which will launch in May. All of them said, "yes".  This is important because it will decrease your work load when your second novel is released. 

9. The morning of book launch, I sent an e-mail to everyone who'd requested the book, reminding them that they could post their reviews on Amazon. I told them not to worry if they hadn't read the book yet, I'd greatly appreciate their review whenever they had time to do it.  Again, be nice. 

10. About a month before launch, I set up promotions for that week. Places like: Book Lovers Heaven, Book Goodies, My Book Place,
Ebook Soda, Read Cheaply.  EReader News Today (ENT) is one of the better sights but requires reviews. As soon as I had some reviews in place, I contacted them.  According to my publisher, 162 ENT readers bought the book. Well worth the investment of $50.00

11. You might want to start out with a low price. Tirgearr started A Bend In The Willow at .99. The price goes up to $4.99 tomorrow.  Readers are more likely to take a chance on a new writer with a low price. And for the first book, you want to get your name out there. You may not make a lot of money, but you are getting name recognition and fans who will want to read your next book.  

12. Don't be afraid to ask other writers who have been through this process (either self publishing or with a small press) for help. I would have been lost without my very generous writer friends. Most writers like to help and share what they've learned. 

I hope you found this advice helpful. I'm flying by the seat of my pants a lot of the time, too. It's a learning curve. 

Watch for your rainbow. But be willing to work to make it happen.  


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