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Your Publish Date Is Not Your Launch Date. Change My Mind.

Your Publish Date Is Not Your Launch Date. Change My Mind.

Your Publish Date Is Not Your Launch Date. Change My Mind.

Launching requires absolute certainty that your book is online and ready to be promoted on a specific date. Alas, there's a ton that can cause delays between when you hit publish, and when your book is ready to launch. Enter: Silent Publishing. Your new best friend.

Launching requires absolute certainty that your book is online and ready to be promoted on a specific date. Alas, there's a ton that can cause delays between when you hit publish, and when your book is ready to launch. Enter: Silent Publishing. Your new best friend.

Launching requires absolute certainty that your book is online and ready to be promoted on a specific date. Alas, there's a ton that can cause delays between when you hit publish, and when your book is ready to launch. Enter: Silent Publishing. Your new best friend.

There’s no getting rid of the stress of launch day. It can be mitigated by being all ready to go, but there’s just too much emotion and excitement rolled into the event for it to be completely stress-free. Amirite? 

That said, being prepared will bring those stress levels down to something more akin to excitement, instead of the nail-biting experience you’d have otherwise. In this case, being prepared means scheduling your launch date for a week or so after your publish date. In that interim period, you’ll be able to get all the troubleshooting done so that you’re ready and confident to take on all the launch fanfare.

Ambiguity in the Book Publishing Timeline

As a newbie author looking to self-publish my own children’s books, I was absolutely confounded about how to coordinate a bunch of launch promotions, while not being 100% sure how long it would take for my book to be visible on Amazon after I hit “publish.” Here’s the hodgepodge of information that was swirling through my head:

  • According to Amazon, it can take 3 to 10 days for them to approve your book after you choose to publish it with KDP.

  • IngramSpark will make your book available immediately once you “enable distribution,” however, there’s a lag for that information to fully propagate over to Amazon.

  • It’s not unheard of for the different formats of a book (ex paperback and hardcover) to be unlinked from each other at first. In other words, they appear on totally different product pages instead of as clickable options on the same page. Ugh.

  • Sometimes this is due to the different formats having mismatched metadata which causes Amazon to treat them like totally separate books. So that would need to be fixed.

  • Sometimes everything is actually fine, you just have to wait up to a week before the situation resolves itself. However, if it doesn’t resolve itself within a week, you’ll have to contact Amazon’s customer support to have it fixed.

When scheduling promo services like Fussy Librarian to promote your book for you, you must give them an exact date that your book will be ready, lest you incur the wrath of the gods. But given all the above, how on earth can I have an exact date??

And so on and so forth. For each activity you add to your launch plan, the complexity goes up, and the room for error goes down.

Sidebar: If you'd like help with planning your book launch timeline, download our free calculator here.

The Silent Publish

Enter the concept of “Silent Publishing,” a game-changing approach that solves the conundrum. Instead of making a big splash on day one, silent publishing involves releasing your book quietly and strategically, allowing you to fine-tune your launch efforts behind the scenes. Personally, I like to leave an entire week between when I hit publish, and when I schedule all the launch day events.

Yes. An entire week. Two is even better.

“But won’t everyone see my book before it’s launched?” you ask. 

Well, maybe. But probably not. 

The thing is, there are millions of books published each year. In 2021, there were 2.3 million self-published books alone, and the number has grown continually since then. If you aren’t actively promoting your book, it’s basically invisible: you have to tell people about it, advertise it, link people to it.

One happy exception to this rule is if you’ve already got a small following on your Amazon Author Page. Then, the minute you press Publish, the folks who follow you will get an email that you’ve got a new book out. If you’ve got a lot of followers - great! There’s no harm in them getting the inside scoop on your new book before the general public does.

How To Use Silent Publishing

Oh, the things you can do! For starters, you can resolve any issue that needs troubleshooting – mismatched metadata, incorrect categorization, missing keywords. If you see a problem, you can fix a problem. But even if everything goes perfectly smoothly (hooray!) there are still plenty of tasks you can plan to accomplish at this time.

Early Reader Reviews

Wouldn’t it be just fab if, on launch day, you already had a smattering of glowing reviews on your book’s Amazon page? If you’ve put in the work ahead of time and organized an ARC program, then you should have a bunch of reviews in hand already. The trick is to get the reviewers to copy those reviews over to Amazon ahead of your launch day. The Silent Publish period is the perfect time to allow them to do so.

Pretty Up Your Page

Amazon’s A+ Content is a fabulous way to really brand your book’s page and get your main messaging across. It’s also a great way to include any long-form editorial reviews that you may have accumulated during the ARC period onto the page. This option is available for published books and preorders only, so you’ll want to take a moment during the Silent Publish period to implement A+ content. 

Similarly, activities like setting up your Look Inside feature, and fine tuning the book description, keywords or categories should all be done before launch day. Once your book is published, you’ll be able to see the live page and finally get a good idea of what is, and isn’t, working for you.

Free Promo Setup

I mentioned the Fussy Librarian above. There are several such services. They are newsletters that get sent out to thousands of subscribers looking for free or cheap eBooks to read. A quick way to get visibility fast is to pay to be included in a few of these starting on your launch date, but you’ll need the eBook to be free (or discounted) for a few days in order to participate. 

You can use your Silent Publish period to start that free period a day early and be absolutely sure your book is available as promised. Again, you’re avoiding the wrath of the gods here. You don’t want thousands of readers to show up and be angry because they were promised a free book that, turns out, isn’t free.

Setup Your Amazon Ads

It’s been my experience it can take a while for new Amazon Ads to kick in. The algorithm needs time to learn about your book and who might be interested in it so that it can start serving it to the right audience. No complaints here, I’m perfectly happy for my ads to reach the right people - that’s the point, no? However, that means if you want your ads to be effective on day one of your launch, you should kick them off 2-3 of days ahead of time. The Silent Publish period allows you to do this.

VIP Treatment

Your true fans and loyal followers like to feel special (because they are!). Make it happen by letting them know about the book a day ahead of everyone else. Easy peasy.

In short, by putting some space between your publish date and your book launch, not only will you be saving yourself a ton of headaches, you’ll also have the chance to come out of the gate with a product page full of reviews and ready for the onslaught of readers.

As an indie author trying their best to keep the launch timeline running smoothly, there's no good reason NOT to use the Silent Publish method. Go ahead, change my mind.

About the Author

Tara Kelly left a cushy Silicon Valley job to pursue writing. Since then, she’s published a book on UX design, as well as seven children’s picture books under the pen name Kelly Tills where she tackles topics like neurodiversity, gender, and why you shouldn’t steal bananas from a monkey. Tara is the co-founder and CEO of Frontlist.io where she helps other indie authors launch their books on their own, and without falling prey to the predatory underbelly of the author services industry.

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