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Book Launch Case Study: Michelle Dennis Evans

Today I’d like to welcome Michelle Dennis Evans to Christian Editing Services, to talk about the launch of her debut YA novel, Spiralling Out of Control.

What platform did you have prior to the launch of Spiralling out of Control? How did the book launch improve your platform?

I spent 4 years creating a platform of sorts, mostly using Facebook, Twitter and Blogger. I am also an active member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network and there are a few other networks at which authors help authors that I’ve joined in with over that time.

I don’t feel my launch improved my platform, I believe the author platform is self driven (unless you make it bigtime or something goes viral).

What activities did you undertake to launch your book?

I went on tour.
I sent my book out to loads of people asking for reviews.
A couple of months before the launch, I contacted everyone I thought might host me on their blog. I wrote posts, was interviewed, shared excerpts and even I interviewed my main character. I advertised  – both paid and free on several sites that were recommended to me, and I tried to create a little excitement around the launch on my social media platforms.
Lots, then!

How long did that take? How difficult was it?

I spent a solid three months preparing and then the 16 day focused launch pretty much consumed me. It wasn’t so much difficult as it was time consuming.

What support did you get from your publisher?

Lilly Pilly press have supported me by sharing my posts, and posting about the books on social media. They have listed my books in their online shop.

How successful was the launch (and how do you define success)?

In particular, you did a launch through the John 3:16 Network which got you to #1 – but I later read a post from Lorilyn Roberts where she said only one author from that launch (you?) reached #1 in a subcategory, and they won’t be doing any more launches like that because they can no longer guarantee a #1.

Why do you think your book made #1 when the others didn’t? What did you do differently?

Yes, that was me. In the launch last December, there were more books included than usual and a few things didn’t work as well as previous launches. But the group has launched books a couple of times since. I had decided to end the launch on a high and put everything into it. I was on a fairly tight budget so I had to spend my paid advertising wisely. It was possibly a mixture of the two paid ads I’d scheduled for the last two days of the launch, the network helping to promote via Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc along with Lorilyn’s email to her ‘opt in’ list that bumped me up the ladder to achieve ‘best seller’ on the last day.

As for how successful it was? Achieving ‘best seller’ status on Amazon, gives your book social proof. Because I hit it once,  it will always be an Amazon Best Seller and I have the option to use the tag in my signature etc.

Financially, I spent more than I made that month, but I do believe I’m still reaping the harvest.

As for why some of the others didn’t make it to #1, I’m not sure if they put in the leg work beforehand. Some did, some didn’t. Part of the John 3:16 formula is to reduce the book to 99 cents while on launch—not everyone did that or had control of reducing their price. Lorilyn’s book didn’t do as well as she’d hoped, but maybe that was because it was a picture book.

What did you repeat for the launch of Spiralling out of the Shadow?  What did you change? Any ideas what you will do next time?

I haven’t officially launched Spiralling Out of the Shadow yet… I’ve done the same so far in that I’ve been requesting reviews from a broad range of people (because books with more reviews online sell more).

I found last time the blog tour was very time consuming and I didn’t see a conversion to sales, so this time I’ve asked people to be a guest on my blog, and I’m finding it more streamlined that way. And instead of just promoting myself, I’m promoting other authors.

I’m still undecided whether I’ll launch through the John 3:16 network again though I find their help and forum invaluable and would love to see something like that set up in Australia one day, or more Aussies/Kiwis join the network.

What advice would you give to other authors about to launch their books?

If you are traditionally published, check how much flexibility you have.
Don’t do it alone.
Find a network.
Launch with a friend or friends.
Promote others more than you promote yourself.
Seek God first before stepping into anything.
That’s a great final point, and one that perhaps isn’t mentioned enough. Thanks, Michelle!

Michelle Dennis Evans

Michelle Dennis Evans writes picture books, chapter books, young adult contemporary novels and enjoys dabbling in free verse poetry. Her debut novel Spiralling Out of Control and poetry collection Life Inspired both reached #1 in subcategories on Amazon in their first week of release.

Michelle lives with her husband and four children on the Gold Coast of Australia. She believes you can find healing and hope when you read someone else’s story, fiction or truth. Her life is full and at times overflowing but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Spiralling Out of Control by Michelle Dennis Evans

Stephanie’s family have moved from Sydney to Toowomba, a move that forces her to leave her best friend, her school and her passion in life: dance lessons. While the rest of the family settle easily into their new lives, Stephanie is teased and has trouble fitting in to her new school until Jason, one of the senior boys, asks her out. Stephanie falls in love with Jason, and doesn’t see the way he is manipulating her to the point where she has turned her back on everything she once valued. Her descent is not helped by her parents, who seem to have little time for her and no appreciation of the difficulties she is facing.

Stephanie is a well-written but challenging read. I think the strong and consistent third-person point of view has captured Stephanie’s descent into mistreatment and exploitation very clearly, as well as detailing the consequences of her decisions. It’s an interesting story, because although Stephanie was forced in some respects, this was still clearly a consequence of the decisions she made, a series of seemingly-insignificant decisions that compound in an almost-ruined life. And she loved him, which was her excuse for going along with everything he wanted. I don’t entirely understand this mindset, but I know it exists, and Stephanie illustrates it well.

This is not a pretty story, nor is it an easy read. There are several unsavoury characters and a number of scenes where Stephanie, Jason and others are falling headlong into sin (to use Christianese—a trap Stephanie does not fall into). It’s not graphically portrayed in that there is little or no description. But the images are still there. In fact, parts of Stephanie are a study in how much can be implied with a few well-chosen words.

Stephanie’s descent is very well portrayed. But what is missing for me, as a reader, is Stephanie’s change of heart. In my view, the resolution came too quickly and conveniently to feel real. Despite this, Stephanie is well worth reading.

I proofread Spiralling Out of Control for Michelle Dennis Evans, and have subsequently edited the sequel (and have just had a sneak peak at the final book in the trilogy). I’m happy to say that the plot lines will all resolve themselves, but you’ll have to read all three books!