Client Spotlight: Dan Hook on a Successful First Book Launch

Sophie Playle

Author Dan Hook is currently writing his first post-apocalyptic series, independently publishing each novel as he goes along. Here’s an honest look at what went into the successful launch of his first book.

For a successful book launch, you first need a good book!

As a new author – and someone who understands that self-publishers are responsible for their own quality control – Dan has been sending me his books for two rounds of editorial feedback.

  • A manuscript critique allows me to provide Dan with some big-picture feedback that helps him shape each novel through revisions.
  • Line and copy-editing then means the writing goes through a thorough polish, allowing us to iron out any remaining sentence-level issues.

Working with Sophie was one of the highlights leading up to the publication of my first novel. Both services played an important role in [helping me develop] the shape of my story.

Dan also made sure his book cover and promotional images for his Dark Array series were top-notch. ‘I lucked out with the art side of things with my partner being an illustrator!’ he said.

If your strategy doesn’t involve dating an industry professional, make sure you hire someone instead (for the artwork – not to be your romantic partner, because that’s a whole different thing and probably won’t help you sell books).

To drive up sales, allow pre-orders

Dan allowed readers to pre-order the first book in his series, Displaced, up to two months before the publication date.

Of course, to have a pre-order period, you need to be sure your book will be ready to go on the publication date you’ve set. So make sure you’ve given yourself plenty of time to have all the editorial and production work done on your book!

By pre-selling your book, you’ll be capturing people’s interest as soon as they’ve expressed their interest. They’re not just putting your book on their ‘to buy one day’ list, never to actually purchase it!

To get pre-orders, promote your book

Dan posted well-designed promotional content on his social media channels and author website leading up to release, and even gave away free bookmarks to his followers.

He also created a video trailer for his book and published it on YouTube.

On top of all that, he has some amazing merch for sale on his website too!

All this generated awareness for the book and got people interested.

So, how many books did Dan sell on launch day?

As a completely unknown author with no previously published novels, no big money spent on sales and marketing, and a modest two-month pre-sale period, Dan sold 120+ copies of his book on the first day he published!

I know it isn’t a massive amount, but if I’m honest, I only expected a handful of sales, so it was nice to say I went straight into triple digit sales from day one!

Personally, I think that’s pretty impressive. Which is why I wanted to talk about Dan’s experience here on the blog.

Imagine 120 people in a room. That’s about five school classes or a large cinema screen – and every single one of those people bought Dan’s book.

Since then, sales have been a little erratic and sparse,” Dan goes on to say, “but it’s why I’m keen to get this next book out!

One of the best ways to sell more books is to have more books published – because then one reader will generate multiple sales. Especially if you’re writing a series. So Dan’s sales figures will likely keep going up and up as he continues publishing the books in his series.

If you want help with your book …

As well as writing and publishing his own books, Dan enjoys helping other authors. He has a YouTube channel with free advice (where he also documents his own writing and publishing journey), and he offers services to help authors with their next steps.

And if you want to hire a professional editor to work on your book, my wheelhouse is working with authors of speculative or literary fiction who truly care about elevating the quality of their novels.

Here’s what Dan had to say about working with me:

Sophie’s feedback is constructive and carries a level of empathy that makes it easier to tackle drastic (but necessary) changes. She also goes above and beyond when it comes to emails and discussing certain aspects of the book – something I was extremely grateful for, and it certainly showed how much she cared for the story. Needless to say, I’ll be hiring Sophie for my future projects!

Summing up: Tips for a successful book launch if you’re a new author

  • Make sure you have a good-quality book to sell. That means a great story that’s been well-edited and has a beautifully designed cover.
  • Allow for pre-sales so you can capitalise on the interest you generate for the book.
  • Promote your book on your website and social media channels – but do it in a non-pushy way that generates genuine interest and excitement. Consider giving away a few freebies.
  • You can also promote your book by sharing your journey and giving back to your community by being generous with the things you’ve learned along the way.

The day your book launches is a big, exciting milestone in your writing journey. Do these things to make the most of it!

Sophie Playleis a professional fiction editor. She specialises in developmental editing, critiquing and copy-editing, and loves working with authors and publishers who are passionate about high-quality storytelling. Speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction are her genres of choice. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more:

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