Discover more from Erica Drayton Writes
Create an Effective Launch Timeline
for Your Serial
Whether you’re launching a course, book, or in my case, a serialized fiction novel, making sure you give yourself enough time to do everything that needs to be done is essential. I love lists so I’m always starting my planning with a checklist of what I think I need to do. Then I’ll research others who have done something similar to what I want to do with my launch and I write down the obvious steps they took. Some of their steps I may incorporate into my own, while some may not apply.
But let’s pretend, for now, that this is your first rodeo and you’ve got something you want to share as well as sell to the world. Where do you begin? How far out? What should you do while you hit the ground running? All this and more is what I want to share with you and hope you find some helpful tips along the way that you can use to make your launch a success. Now, as I mentioned already, I’ll be writing this from the POV of launching my serialized fiction novel which I plan on executing next Summer. June 6th of 2022 to be exact. So, keeping that launch date in mind, let us see what I plan on doing:
4 MONTHS OUT - February 2022
Email List Growth | This is really something you should be doing far further than four months out, but at this point you should really be pushing the “tease” of having something new and amazing coming and if your followers on social media don’t want to miss what that new thing is, then they need to sign up for your newsletter. My tease game will increase because up until this time I will have told my subscribers about my writing project and shared my progress. But this time I’ll give more concrete information to everyone outside of my list. An artboard of images that will give my Instagram and Twitter followers a feel for the story I’ve got coming. Things like that.
Create Messaging | Consistency in what you intend on sharing and how is important. Just as important as it is to always deliver your emails when you say you’re going to. If you share images or share a scene from your story, be sure it’s in the same font style and format. Any colors remain the same. It helps to create that “copy” ahead of time so you can easily copy/paste as needed. Especially, when it comes to things like hashtags that you want to use consistently throughout your campaign. Also, as my story is fantasy I’m going to make sure it looks that way. Perhaps by using a more serif font that lends itself to fantasy. I might use colors that will represent the mood and theme of the book as well.
Talk with Potential Buyers to Validate Your Idea | This can be as simple as engaging your social media followers (and email subscribers) through questions and polls that you ask along the way. Get their opinion on the title if you have been kicking around multiple options. Find out if they like the genre you’re writing in and if so, what is the last book they read in that genre? Engaging questions will help you also know who might be worth reaching out to via DM’s or emails if you want the opinions on other things or want to ask if they’d be interested in joining your street team or being a beta reader. You’ll find the most engaged audience can become the most helpful one.
3 MONTHS OUT - March 2022
Create a Launch Plan | For me, this would entail sitting down with a calendar and looking at my planned release days. I have already chosen every Sunday at noon. Am I still feeling good about my decision? If I changed my mind, why? Do I plan on sharing something on my social media accounts ahead of time, like the day before, to remind people that a new episode is coming and they should subscribe now to “catch up?” Whatever you decide to do it’s best to have that planned out for yourself now so that you’re not scrambling the day of every week wondering what to write and what to share.
Pick Your Digital Marketing Channels | I know I’ve already mentioned social media but I do think it bears repeating. Ahead of time, do yourself a favor, and pick the platforms you want to use and then forget about the rest. I’ll be using Instagram and through my account I will use HootSuite and Zapier to share my posts to Twitter and Tumblr. But I’ll be focusing on Instagram exclusively.
Prep Your Team | If you’re lucky enough to have a team (paid or volunteer) then that’s great! I, unfortunately, don’t have one. But a team can consist of a street team who you may want to synchronize your watches with. I have a post coming up on what a street team is, how to build one, and why they are useful to indie authors in particular.
Find Promoters/Influences to Help You | They don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of followers. You’d be surprised how powerful one person with dozens of active and engaged followers can be! All you have to do is ask, even if it’s just a retweet. The worst they can do is say ‘no.’ Know any podcasts in your niche? Take a chance and ask if you can be on their show to talk about your work. Don’t just ask without doing your homework first, though. Just because someone has a podcast where they interview authors doesn’t mean you’d be a perfect candidate. Make sure you are similar to the other guests they’ve had first. Show some interest and that you’ve listened to past episodes. What can you bring as a guest that is unique? Not every promoter or influencer will be willing to offer you a hand and share you with their audience without knowing it’s beneficial to their audience in some way that goes beyond a possible great new up and coming writer.
2 MONTHS OUT - April 2022
Test Your Serial w/Beta Readers | Let’s pretend for a moment you’ve been building your email list long before your launch date. Like many, many, many months before. So, you might have a hundred or more? No matter the size, try asking them if any would be interested in being a beta reader for your serial you got coming. And, full disclosure, this is the one where if you can ask sooner than two months out, I would. Why? Well, depending on how much of your serial you’ve got ready to go, you might not want to rush them with a timeline of 4 - 8 weeks to not only read your work but get back to you with constructive criticism. That might be too big of an ask, especially if it’s your first ask. However, if you ask and it’ s more like 4 months out from showtime, then that might be much more reasonable for both you and the reader. I put it at two months out in case you are writing piecemeal and therefore you might only need beta readers for a set number of episodes at a time? In which case, two months might just be the perfect amount of time.
Finalize Your Launch Content | By this I mean, get those episodes scheduled! However many you have, and I sure do hope you’ve got, at the very least, one months worth of content to share? In my case, I’ll have an entire novel worth of content to schedule. However, I am using Substack and with this platform I can only schedule three months in advance at a time. This might be a good thing? But it will mean I’ll have to set a reminder to schedule more episodes at least every month or so. Kind of annoying? But it reminds me to remind you to set reminders! They will be your lifesaver, especially if you’re like me and under the constraints of the scheduling gods.
Gather Reviews From Beta Readers | As they come in, make sure you organize them and if you can, wait till you have them all back before you decide what feedback they have given is worth actioning.
1 MONTH OUT - May 2022
Announce Your Launch to Build Anticipation | Now, how you choose to do this is totally up to you. I will share how I intend on doing this. Every Sunday in the month of May I intend on releasing some type of teaser to my email list. By this time I will turn on my paid subscription option to allow my email list the opportunity to become a paid subscriber even before my episodes are put behind a paywall. I’ll share things like art boards with different images to describe characters and the vibe of the story I’m about to unleash on the world. I’ll share my map sketches. And if I find the time, I may even have a prequel novella as well. It’s five Sundays! That’s five opportunities to get my readers excited for what’s coming. It’s also how I intend on getting them used to receiving four emails from me every week. Sunday is going to be a new addition to my email cycle and I don’t want to throw them for a loop with the very first episode. I much rather ease my readers into it.
Create a Landing Page | How you go about creating this landing page is up to you. But as you are sharing the news of a serial coming very soon, you’ll want to share this news with more than just your email list. This is news you should be shouting from the rooftops and hiring skywriters to put it in the sky! Tell the world! Well, your social media, of course. And when you do, you’ll want some sort of page where they can go to find out about your serial. I would not suggest a “sign-up” page, unless that page has actual information and isn’t just a “give me your email” situation. This needs to be more of a tell than an ask. Hit them with an ask (ie email address) after you’ve shared all you can about your story. Making it sound so interesting they can’t think of doing anything else but signing up for your newsletter. So while you are trying to get those already on your email list to become paid subscribers you are also looking to hook more free subscribers as well.
Put a Banner On Your Site | Assuming you have a website, banners can be hugely helpful for anyone who happens to be there. You can’t have too many opportunities to share this with the world. Someone who stumbles across your website in a Google search may not be the same one who finds you from a Twitter retweet. Be mindful of that and don’t ever feel like you are over promoting or over sharing. No such thing!
Share, Share, Share | If you have a blog, write a post about it. If you have a podcast, dedicate an entire episode to it. Have a Medium account? Cross-post that blog post. Whatever social media, billboard, street chalk art, postcards you got going, you need to be spending this entire month doing nothing but eating, breathing and talking about your serial and the fact that it’s coming out real soon!
1 WEEK OUT - Week of May 29th
Check all links are working and that nothing is wrong!
Triple check all scheduled posts. Dates, times, copy!
Make sure all social media posts are error free and if using HootSuite (or other service) that they are all set up for the right dates and times.
Check any and all images you may be using. Load times. Image sizes. Smaller and crisper is always better for load times. No lag.
Affiliate links and tracking links. If you’re using them, make sure they are all correct and also working.
Celebrate and appreciate all the hard work you put into writing the serial and getting it all ready to go! You did it! Not everyone can or does! That is something worth taking a breather and recognizing. Pat on the back to you! But the work isn’t over, so don’t take too long of a breather!
Ask for testimonials and feedback along the way. Once you’ve got several episodes of your serial out there and into the hands and eyes of readers, ask them what they thought so far? Maybe, if any of them leave glowing comments, copy those for testimonials to add to your landing page and front page of your website. Use those testimonials for future social media posts as well.
Ask specifically for feedback as well. Think of this audience of readers as beta readers and maybe even proofreaders. Let them know that you are totally OK with them pointing out any glaring mistakes in punctuation and typos. I’m well aware of my issues with POV and tense. I am very honest about it and eagerly want my readers to slap me on the wrist about it so I can one day not get those things wrong so often! If you invite the criticism and critique they can be slightly easier to handle when they are given and also easier to execute if they are good.
I know this was a lot to digest in a short amount of time but sometimes it can be easier to handle if you are this prepared. Doesn’t mean there won’t be some hiccups along the way. But if you can get these basics things taken care of you’ll be better equipped to handle anything that might go awry along the way. Just take a deep breath, realize you got this, and heck, if four months out isn’t nearly enough time and you feel you need way more, then do it! Make it an 8 month, 12 month, launch timeline. The idea is to just plan it out so you don’t feel so overwhelmed and you can easily set a date that won’t see like it’s looming over you or an insurmountable task.
Tap that heart if you like what you just read. Want to leave a comment? Click below the talking head. Or if you just want to share my work with your friends, click below the mailbox. Thanks!