Our new Bard Press title The Gift of Struggle by Bobby Herrera published two weeks ago and I got a wonderful reminder: book launches are messy.
Most people just skip right to the declaration that their book is a national bestseller. They want to show momentum and excitement. They want to show social proof of the thousands who purchased it and lead more people to buy the book.
In our opening week, we sold enough copies to be the #10 business book in America.
But here is the thing: we didn’t make any list.
There are several lists that matter. Each list has different rules. If I tried to explain it all, I’d still be writing about it in my newsletter for the next three months.
We knew the rules and we worked to do our best to accommodate the different requirements, but as I said book launches are messy.
We thought our one chance to make the bestseller run was in the first week on sale. There were a few events with book sales leading into the opening week. Bobby did his work to reach out to his network to support the launch (and they did). He did interviews and podcasts. His company supported the book, even making trips to stores to see the book and shared on social media. We had great support from our retail partners—15,000 books across over 1000 stores—to bring organic sales that opening week. To hedge our bets, we worked with our distributor to meter shipments to retailers, so no one could ship or stock the book early and report sales before our publication week.
On a big launch like this, there are so many pieces and parties involved. It’s really hard to make everything go right. In our case, books arrived late into stores at one retailer. A promotion didn’t come through at another. Orders were sold the week before the book’s first week. Others were delayed and sold the following week. We just didn’t have much wiggle room on the sales we needed to make the list and make everything work with the rules.
I feel like it is important to say I believe in those rules and fully accept that we didn’t make it. For a long time, it has been easy for authors with deep pockets to buy their way onto the bestseller list. Some of the other rules are more like editorial choice. Those can be harder to swallow but I accept most of those too.
My friends in publishing I am sure are shaking their heads in acknowledgement, thinking back on those campaigns that got close. For authors in this audience, publishing has lots of moving parts and you can’t plan enough. For everyone else, call this a small view into the work it takes to launch a book in the marketplace.
We had a great opening week for The Gift of Struggle, but it might be hard to see. I am proud of Bobby, the team at Populus Group, our account reps at National Book Network and the other partners big and small who have helped deliver this book into the world. I also need to thank my business partner Ray Bard for giving this book an extra push through his counsel and commercial reach with Bard Press.
The Gift of Struggle is a special book. I hope you’ll check it out.