A Time to Launch {Is My Platform Too Small?}

Timing is a very important factor to consider when self-publishing and marketing a book. All the experts say that you should wait to launch a book until you have a well-established platform. If you don’t have a large and loyal readership who will be excited to spread the word about your book, then you should probably give away your first book, which will help get your name out there and grow your platform.

Sarah Mae, Michael Hyatt, and Jeff Goins have all had excellent success with their eBooks because they each had well-established platforms when they launched. Each of their recent books has enjoyed time high on Best Seller lists, and they sold thousands of copies within the first week of release. Their advice on how and when to launch a book is priceless because it obviously works

Will small work?

But a year and half ago, there was not as much information on how and when to launch a book, and I was guessing and taking my chances. I’d found enough information to know that my platform was too small for my book to go viral. But I was impatient. And curious. I really wanted to know if something I created could stand on its own two feet with out the crutch of ‘free’—would my readers, few as they were, actually buy something from me? And was the book good enough that strangers with no relational ties to me even pick it up?

Apparently so.

Despite my small platform, my book has done well. Friends, readers, and strangers alike have raved about what a resource the book is, the yummy food their families have enjoyed, and even how readable and enjoyable my writing style is. Their enthusiasm has spread so that a year and a half later, even when I’m not actively marketing the book, I continue to sell copies every week.

Now, Later, or Free?

I still think free is a great way to prime your market, and my advice would be, if you have time and energy, try giving something away first to broaden your readership. I have given away many books post-launch and can definitely attest to the fruit of being generous.

But if you feel now is the time to launch your book, despite a small platform, I want to encourage you that you can still enjoy measured success if you are indeed marketing a quality product. It will be slow going, but many classics started out without much fanfare. There’s a lot you can do after release to get your book in the public eye. I’ll be talking more about how I employed a long-range marketing strategy with my book in a following post.

What’s your Goal?

One also has to take into account the goal of much of the book-launching advice out there—to hit the best seller lists and make significant money quickly. If that is not the primary goal of your ebook project, I think you are free to release your book whenever the time feels right to you. Profit was on my list of hopeful outcomes,  but impact to friends and readers I already had relationship with was the foremost goal in my mind as I wrote my book.

If you are, indeed, producing a book because your goal is to create significant provision for yourself, then you should take the experts advice much more seriously than I did. For nitty-gritty advice on building a platform and preparing to launch a book, I can’t recommend the book “Platform” loudly enough. Michael Hyatt had created a classic manual for anybody ‘with something to say or something to sell’. I will be following much of his advice for my future projects. I’ve also gleaned a lot from Sarah Mae’s “How to Market and Sell an Ebook” and Jeff Goins newsletters in which he’s shared the behind the scenes of his latest successful ebook, “You Are a Writer”. (You get access to archives of the newsletter once you subscribe.)

Whether you launch now or later, have big platform or are just getting started blogging, your book can be a success. How do I know? Because I’ve discovered the true definition of a successful eBook, and it’s attainable even for smaller bloggers. I can’t wait to share it with you in the final post of this series. Stay tuned!

Have you worried your platform is too small? Do you have a strategy for growth? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on when you’d launch a book and why. Oh, and share your blog in the comments so we can get to know you–a quick way you can grow your platform today! ;)

Other Posts in This Series:
Cover Story {The God Factor in Self-Publishing}

Do You Have an eBook in You? {Psst! I think so!}

Editing and Formatting an eBook {What NOT to do!}

Don’t DIY By Yourself {It takes a community to publish an eBook}

7 Steps to DIY eBook Cover Design {The Art of First Impressions}

All posts in the series can be found via this tag: Path to Publishing. Share it and encourage another writer friend! :)

P.S. this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of the links I took the time to provide for you, I earn a percentage of the sales, at no extra cost to you. So, thanks!

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Comments

  1. says

    I am just amazed that you had time to write a book at all! I think you should do a series of posts on time management, because it totally amazes me how much you get done. I have two little kids and have gone back to work 45+ hours a week, and it seems nothing ever gets done at home, much less pursuing any hobbies or passions I have. I know there are more hours in the week, I just can’t seem to find them!

  2. says

    I know! I agree with Shannon. I have such a small blog. I’ve thinking about what kind of book I would write, it’s definitely a goal for the future! And at this point, I’m researching ways to attract new readers. Not, that I’m super into “how many”. I’m trying to focus more on where I fit in the blogsphere and then posting in that direction.

    • Trina says

      I have so been there, Annie! In some ways, I still am. I was struggling again this month with trying to figure out my niche, but was really encouraged by a post over at tinytwig.com–in the comments tinytwig admits that she considers herself ‘nichless’, primarily because her own interests are so eccentric. Yet that is why I’ve always loved her blog–it’s so HER. So, I’m resolving to continue to blog about what I’m passionate about, and let the passion and the fellowship of others who share the same bind the package together.

      Here’s the post–I highly recommend the whole “No Brainer Blog” series she’s doing on her blog right now–great advice no matter where you are in your journey.

      http://www.thetinytwig.com/2012/08/14/define-your-voice/

      • says

        Thanks for the advice Trina! I’ll head over there and check it out :). I agree about blogging what your passionate about, that really drives me and keeps me motivated.

  3. says

    I can’t thank you enough for this series! I am in the sponge stage of my project, and I am soaking all of this in! I am a big Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins fan, too! But it’s so nice and refreshing to hear your advice that’s much more on my scale! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and journey with us!

    • Trina says

      Shannon–haven’t you been listening? LOL NO SUCH THING AS SMALL! Your blog has had a huge impact on me! Now, go off and be wonderful you,
      Trina

  4. says

    This has been such an interesting and helpful series Trina – thank you for writing it! I hope to finish writing my book in the next month (before newbaby!) I’ll launch it as soon as it is edited and ready. I plan to make my book both available as an e-book and printed copy. Because all profits I make will go to fund my “In Memory of Lilly” donation projects, I will not be giving it away for free. But – your post did give me the idea that I may give a few copies away for free. My daily blog readership used to be about 2x what it is now. (It dropped off after Lilly died.) But I still have many people telling me they read it. (I think I need to employee your tactic of ending posts with questions so I can get more feedback in comments! Though many readers seem to prefer to just email me or talk to me in person.) And I get questions from strangers, who are pregnant with Trisomy 18 or 13 babies. Anyway, I have a lot of ideas for advertising, not just through my blog, so hopefully I’ll have some success. My blog, which chronicled my baby girl’s 17 months of life with Trisomy 18, is: http://www.pray4lilly.blogspot.com/ . I now post a lot of “memory ideas”.

  5. says

    As of now, I would like to sell my book dispite the fact that I am a smaller blogger. One of my thoughts was to offer free copies to bloggers that are like minded in exchange for a review. I already have one blogging friend who would like to promote the book. It’s going to be awhile yet. Life has had some unexpected turns so it can’t be my main focus right now. Once things settle down again, I will be able to give it the attention it deserves. Thank you for all your helpful and encouaging posts Trina. I look forward to each one! Blessings!

    • Trina says

      Katie, thanks so much for your feedback–it’s people with a dream like yours that I hoped to encourage with these posts.
      I have given away my book to ANYONE willing to talk about it–even if they didn’t have a blog! LOL It’s a great plan.
      Keep up the good work. Praying for your project,
      Trina

  6. says

    Excellent advice Trina! Thank you so much for this series, I’ve found it to be very helpful. I have seriously considered offering a free e-book to grow my platform… I’m thinking I ought to get on it! Thanks for the kick in the pants :).

  7. says

    Love this! I am still a “smaller” blogger (less than 200 followers), but I have an ebook I want to deliver right now. So I’m going to offer it for free.

    First of all, it’s a ministry for me, not a business. Second, who knows? Maybe it will help grow my networks and boost my platform a bit! Third, I want to offer something to those who have been faithfully reading since the first few months. If it weren’t for their support, I wouldn’t be getting anywhere!

    Oh yeah, and my blog – http://dogfuranddandelions.com. Come visit!