How I Turned My Debut Novel into an Amazon Bestseller (Part 2 of 3) – NaNoWriMo and Online Book Launch

In my last post, I spoke of how I prepared the ground for the release of my debut novel, Maya’s New Husband. I carry that post forward here, speaking about how I actually wrote the book and conducted the launch events.

  1. I joined NaNoWriMo.org somewhere in August 2014. For people who do not know what NaNoWriMo is, this is a worldwide network of writers who come together especially during the November months each year to write their novels. Founded by Chris Baty, the intention here is to motivate people to write 50,000 words of their manuscript, after which they get a winner’s certificate. So, I became a part of this at the right moment – I say right moment because I was able to do my research on it, prepare the book’s outline, and then I could start writing on November 1 at midnight along with tens of thousands of other writers all over the world.

  2. I was also a part of several Facebook groups about NaNoWriMo, along with the wonderful NaNoWriMo Facebook group and the Indian chapter, Wrimo India, spearheaded by ML Sonia Rao. Being a part of these groups helped me in many ways. First of all, I had immersed myself into an environment where everyone around me was writing. Everyone was sharing excerpts, discussing characters, helping people stuck with their plots, and giving dozens of tips each day that helped me understand what I was supposed to do. And I did.

  3. I completed my 50,000 words on 20 November itself, and then took the remaining days to finish the novel (85000 words). The whole month of December, I edited, proofread, and showed the book to some people I trust for their feedback. I had already been sharing excerpts on my FB groups. And the reports were encouraging to say the least. I was revved up to go ahead and self-publish.NaNoWriMo-2014-Winner-Certificate

  4. I decided against traditional publishing for my first book because of several reasons. I did not want to give away all the rights, for starters. But the most important reason was that I did not want to wait that long to know if I can make it as an author. Yes, I am being frank here. Varun Prabhu, a co-author, helped me immensely in my research. And I was finally set to release the book on Amazon.com (through Kindle Direct Publishing) and make paperbacks available in India through Pothi.

  5. Now I had to take an important call. How would I market my book? I already had a reader-base owing to the excerpts I shared on FB and the short stories I put up on my website as I mentioned in my earlier post. I decided to have an online launch event on Facebook itself, since most of my reader-base was online. I created an FB event, and invited people to attend. But here I make an important note – I never did and never will invite anyone I don’t know, even if they are in my Friends list. I only invited people whom I had interacted with about the book. I guess that’s the reason why I received a positive response. Pro tip: Blind tagging and requests don’t help; they are only detrimental.

  6. I now needed to take my online launch event to a higher scale. So I did something unique, something for which people still continue to invite me to discuss and speak at workshops and seminars. I reached out to some of the popular names in the Indian self-publishing world. My offer was simple – I will promote your books my book’s online launch event (which had a good number of people by now) and you will put in a line for my book. And, let me tell you, each and every author accepted my proposal. Some of them told me later that they accepted it not because of the publicity but because they had read my excerpts and trusted my work, and because my request was worded with great politeness and decency. Another pro tip: Being decent always helps. Even if you are making a request, give people something in return. We are all here with a purpose, and it is unfair to expect anyone to help you if you don’t offer anything in return.Maya Event Announcement

  7. The online launch event, which was held on 3 Jan 2015 was a huge hit! Every author brought some of their readers (I had 12+ authors at the event, including India’s leading self-published author Rasana Atreya) and it was conducted brilliantly by an online media team named Spectral Hues. The presence of Spectral Hues got me a few press releases, a few interviews, and the ball started rolling.

  8. On the first day, I kept my book free to download (through Smashwords as Amazon does not allow that). I got more than 200 downloads on that day, and then the true test began.

  9. The reviews started coming in from the next day itself and it said, in no unclear terms, how they had finished the book in just 5 hours because it was unputdownable! Then more of them followed in the same vein. And I was made. Maya Ebook Praise

  10. The book purchases started from the second day. I did an important thing – make banners of the reviews and share them on online media. This encouraged more people to try out Maya’s New Husband, and that only meant more love for the book. Maya’s New Husband ranked as Hot New Release on the second day of its release on Amazon, and subsequently went on to rule at #1 on Amazon.in (horror), which it continues to do this day though not all the time.

In the meantime, there were several other things I did – like creating a teaser video for the book, creating promo banners, sending the book out for reviews, etc. I am going to speak about this in the next post.

Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “How I Turned My Debut Novel into an Amazon Bestseller (Part 2 of 3) – NaNoWriMo and Online Book Launch

    1. Thank you, Sonia! And I must say you are doing a fabulous job as a NaNoWriMo ML. Keep motivating new writers every year!

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