7 things I wish I’d known when I published my debut novel

It’s been almost a year since I published my debut novel, The Fair Queen, and I can honestly say it’s been one of the best years of my life. Pandemic aside, the friends I’ve made, opportunities I’ve been given and everything I’ve learned since hitting ‘submit’ on my first book have made it an amazing twelve months.

But, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t do it slightly differently if I had my first time again. Sadly, I don’t actually own a time machine, so I’ll have to settle for doing a few things – and NOT doing a few others – next time around. Bring on book two, The Solitary King!

Here’s seven things I wish I’d known when I published by debut novel:

Fast release

OK, so I won’t be fast releasing books 2 and 3 in The Fair Chronicles, sadly, my timeline for these books will be early 2022 and early 2023, for so many reasons (I’m starting a degree soon and my military husband is moving away for work and then being deployed next year, so it’s going to be a busy couple of years!). But next series for definite!

The difficulty with slow releasing is that you end up having to work ten times harder on your marketing to get people to remember you and buy the next book. With fast releasing, they’ve just read (and hopefully loved) your first book in the series and can’t wait to get their hands on the next one.

On that subject…

Linking to preorder book 2 in the back of book 1

When I published The Fair Queen, I had already written a good chunk of The Solitary King, but I didn’t trust myself to have it finished in time for people to preorder it and get it by a specific date. And, wouldn’t you know, like a self fulfilling prophecy, I haven’t gotten TSK ready for publication yet. But it is in the works, and in six months’ time not only will you be able to buy The Solitary King, but you’ll also be able to preorder the third and final book in Aria’s story (which is currently untitled, but one thing at a time).

The cover might be a place holder, the blurb might be a little vague and subject to change, but I’m promising you now that there will be a link to preorder TFC3 at the end of TSK and I’ll keep to my promised publication date in early 2023.

Hold me to that.

Facebook groups

I didn’t have a Facebook group for readers when I started this publishing journey, in fact I’ve only just started one (you can join Lyndsey Hall’s Fair Folk here). But not only that, I was barely in any groups myself, I didn’t know many of my fellow indie authors, I didn’t have a real community or a place for readers and friends to share about books and play games and host giveaways. And now I do!

I’ll definitely be using my Facebook group more going forward, in fact, I’ve got a few really cool ideas for my birthday in early August and The Fair Queen’s bookaversary on 30 August…

Newsletter swaps

I’ve actually had an email newsletter for years, but it only consisted of my most recent blog post emailed out to around 30 people who’d signed up in 2016. So when I heard about the great indie marketing tactic that is newsletter swaps, I knew I needed to get started sooner rather than later!

I’ve now got almost 2k email subscribers who get Letters from the Fair Realm every week, with a bit of an update about life, my books, anything fun coming up over the next week or two, as well as a link to my latest blog post and a few book recommendations and book fairs with discounted books, new releases and Kindle Unlimited books. It’s been a great way to connect with new readers and get some feedback on what people like and want to read.

Where do I find other authors to swap newsletter mentions with, you ask, well Facebook groups, but also…

StoryOrigin

If you’re a self-published author, or aspire to be, then StoryOrigin is definitely worth looking into. I was introduced to it back in March when it was still in beta (read: free) and now I’m a paying member as I found it so useful for my book marketing efforts.

SO lets you create and join group promos (book fairs) which will then be shared by all the authors involved in their newsletters and even on social media, giving you more exposure than you ever could have gotten alone (teamwork, amirite?). It also allows you to search for newsletter swaps with other authors in and around your genre, using either a universal book link (UBL) or a reader magnet (a free short story, novella, book, or sample).

That’s not all though, you can also use it to host review copies and accept requests from reviewers, whose stats for downloads versus reviews you can check before approving. Plus there’s a handy word goal tracker to help you get words on the page.

If I could go back a year, I would definitely join StoryOrigin sooner and start building my email list and creating reader magnets to get my readership ready (this isn’t an ad btw, I’m just a big fan!).

Promotions

One of the things I hadn’t considered before this year is big promo sites and newsletters. I just hadn’t even realised these sites existed, let alone that there were some that were worthwhile paying for and others that weren’t. Luckily, Reedsy and Kindlepreneur (two sites for writers I absolutely trust and can comfortably recommend you check out) have created lists of the best promo sites and newsletters to get your book out there, including which have free services. (Spoiler: not many do!)

These services are best utilised for brand new releases and big sales, so the week your new book comes out or over the few days your book is free or 0.99. You either want to make your money back from sales, or get enough free downloads that you know the reviews will start to roll in and it’ll be worth the cost in the long run.

(I’ll do a more in depth blog post on these services and which have worked well for me soon.)

Author friends!

I don’t know what I would do without the friends I’ve made since I decided to self publish my stories. Or where I would be. Whether I’d have stuck out this indie life and continued with publishing. I certainly wouldn’t have reached as many readers as I have, or been offered the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have. I wouldn’t have a second published story coming out on 16 July in Enchanted Waters, or a group of ride-or-die indies who have had the best time working together over the past year that we’ve decided to do it again next year, with Enchanted Forests.

This past year has been a dream come true, even wilder than my wildest dreams, and it’s been made possible by you guys, my loyal blog readers, the fellow authors who helped me along the way, through NaNoWriMo and Pitch Wars, the friends in Facebook groups where we shared synopses and blurbs, celebrated word count goal wins and complained about agent rejections. The indies on Instagram who inspired me to go solo and take a chance on myself, and then became the best friends a new baby author could have.

Thank you to all of you, if you’ve ever read a single word I’ve written, here, on social media, in a book or elsewhere, then this is my thanks to you. You’ve made my dream come true this year.

Lyndsey

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