Hi, writer! Welcome back to the Indie Publishing Roadmap series. If you haven’t read the other posts, be sure to check those out. Also, don’t forget to grab your free indie publishing guide at the end of this post.
This week, we’re talking about rapid release publishing strategies. Keep in mind this isn’t the only publishing strategy you may pick, but it is worth considering!
What is a rapid release strategy?
If you’re done any research on indie publishing or launch strategies, you may have come across the term ‘rapid release’ before.
Basically, a rapid release is when you release books in quick succession. Many times, these books are in the same series or universe, but they don’t have to be.
Why should you release books quickly?
In theory, releasing books at this rapid pace helps you build and keep momentum. It’s simple to publish one book, but readers may forget your name if you don’t have anything else for them to read. They’ll move on and may even forget about your amazing book.
As my client Yvette Bostic said, “If readers have to wait 8-12 months for the next book, they forget about the author and move to someone else. Being a new author, I can’t let them forget about me.” She tried a rapid release last year–more about her results later!
The more often you publish, the more momentum you can leverage. If a reader knows they’re going to get the next books in the series in a few weeks, or even in another month, they’re hypothetically more likely to invest in pre-orders. Not only do you get pre-orders, but this will help your rankings rise
How often should you release new books?
Some indie authors release their books in 30-day increments, while others release books in the same week or even same day. Amazon’s algorithm favors newer releases, and there’s even a section on Amazon’s search filter where you can choose how recently a book was released.
The bottom line
Combining the search options, algorithm, and reader attention, the key to rapid release is to release your new titles no more than 90 days apart at the most.
Should you use a rapid release strategy?
Before you plan a rapid release, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you willing to dedicate that much time to writing all of the books in your series at once?
- Will your book quality decline if you write too quickly? (This about not just grammar but plot holes, poor character development, etc.)
- If you’re writing to a specific market trend (e.g. dark academia), can you write fast enough to capitalize on it?
- Can you set aside the money for your editor and production team?
- Can your editor and production team fit all of those books into their schedule?
If you can dedicate the time and resources to produce your whole series before launch, and if you’re confident your book quality won’t decline, rapid release may be right for you!
If not, don’t worry. It’s not the only viable publishing strategy, but rather one of several. It’s okay to publish your books at the speed you feel most comfortable with.
Planning a rapid release
If you’re dedicated to a rapid release launch plan, how do you actually organize it?
First, have at least a loose plot arc in mind. Even if you’re more of a pantser, knowing your key plot points and other story elements will help you focus as you write. You don’t need a 50-page story bible [LINK], just your main ideas.
Next, choose a target release period. This post is being published at the end of June 2020, so let’s say this is when you’re going to start writing your series. If you’re going to write three books of around 100,000 words each, figure out how long you need to get the books written, edited, and covers complete.
Consider your own writing speed, upcoming life events, and talk to your editor and production team about their schedules for the coming months as well. I’d also suggest building in some cushion for things like sick and vacation days.
Once you know your target release period, you might go a step further and choose your release dates. Work with your editor and production team to get your services booked in advance.
Other rapid release tips
How else can you ensure your rapid release is a success?
- Treat writing like your job. If you have specific deadlines set, you need to stay focused and get your books written.
- Start teasing the series on social media, and send a newsletter to your email list if you have one. Spark interest early!
- Set up pre-orders for the series. Pre-orders don’t always benefit your Amazon sales rank, but they do help you on other platforms if you publish wide. Also, you can now set up pre-orders on Amazon up to one year in advance!
- Upload your files early. Don’t wait until the very last minute to upload your files. Schedule your production services so you get the files back with plenty of time to spare. You never know if you might need to make a few final adjustments.
And finally, remember that marketing is key when you’re launching any product, even a book. You can post on social media, share your books with your newsletter subscribers, use paid ads, and host giveaways with other authors to grow your audience.
Books don’t sell themselves, and rapidly releasing a new series won’t magically get you a ton of sales. You’ve got to put in some marketing effort to see sales!
As I mentioned a few sections ago, my client, Yvette Bostic, used a rapid release strategy for the first three books in her latest series, The Call of the Elements.
For this initial rapid release trial, she put her pre-orders up for six to eight weeks. “I don’t know that it would make a difference on the first book,” she explained, “but having as many in the series up for pre-order as possible seems to be a trend. Readers automatically know what is coming and the timeline for it. It helps them remember the author. They can add pre-orders to their wishlist as reminders, etc.”
If she had one tip for indie authors, it would be to know your audience. “I didn’t make the effort to learn how to know my audience and use that knowledge in my marketing [with my first series],” she said. “So with AJ’s, I read dozens of urban fantasy novels trying to find the ones similar to my own. Don’t release your first book until you know your audience.
Her other suggestion is to start marketing on or before your pre-order. “You need to reach your prospective readers with teasers about the book, cover reveal excitement, blah, blah, blah. If you don’t know your audience, you’re not reaching the right people. AND most importantly….Have a good editor (like mine!) Readers don’t expect perfection, but they do expect a smooth story. Most authors can’t do it by themselves. Even if an author does all the pre-marketing right, if their book sucks – it isn’t going anywhere.”
As for her results, even five months after the release of the first book, Yvette doubled her total book sales per month and more than doubled her page reads in Kindle Unlimited. Readers were buying her new books, and rapid releasing also brought new life to her first series!
Your Next Steps
If you think a rapid release strategy might be right for you, dig in and ask yourself about the benefits and costs. If you’re willing and able to put the work in up front, you might get a big pay-off on results!
Thank you to Yvette Bostic for answering my questions about her release strategy. If you want to learn more about her books, check out her website or connect with her on Twitter. You can also find all of her books on Amazon!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Indie Publishing Roadmap series to learn more about self-publishing your novels. You can also grab your free self-publishing guide below.