This is the first in a series of posts in which WB Welch and I will be chronicling our self-publishing journey for our upcoming post-apocalyptic trilogy The Last Zombie Series. The purpose of this post is to show other self-published authors exactly what we’re doing to prepare for our book launch, our efforts to build an audience, and what resources we’re using, including mailing lists, graphic design, book covers, and more.
What We’re Self-Publishing and Our Mission
I thought I’d start by describing our series and our goals with it.
The Last Zombie Series will be a trilogy of books, The Last Party, The Last Guest, and The Last Room, which we’ll publish exclusively with Amazon for the first 90 days so we can have access to Kindle Unlimited readers. The first two installments will be novellas featuring separate characters who come together for a dual-POV novel in Book Three.
Beyond this trilogy, we have a tentative outline for more books, and we hope TLZ evolves into an ongoing series featuring more trilogies, standalone companion novels, and even short story collections. This, of course, is contingent on building an audience for the series, but in any case we’re committed to the first three books, even if no one reads them.
Here’s what we’ve done to prepare for our book launch so far.
Website and Facebook Group
Aside from, you know, writing a lot, WB and I have been busy, busy, busy. We’ve set up a website (www.thelastzombieseries.com), along with a Facebook group, so that as we gain readers they’ll have places to find us. We plan on using the site and the group to post updates, teasers, concept art, and other fun tidbits about our apocalyptic universe to entertain readers in between releases.
According to my research into self-publishing, an email list is the single most important part of a self-publishing venture. Not only does it allow you to never rely on advertising again to find the readers who sign up, you also don’t have to rely on social media algorithms to let readers know of a new release or other important news.
If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that Facebook recently disabled my account and didn’t give me any reason for it. I had to submit ID verification, and I received a response that due to Covid they may be unable to review my case. Scary! Luckily, they’ve given me my account back, but the lesson of the day is that if you rely exclusively on Facebook, Twitter, or even Amazon to reach your readers, it can all be taken away from you in an instant.
We’re using MailChimp for our email list. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. (By the time you have 2,000 subscribers, you can easily afford the monthly subscription.)
Early on we knew we would need quality stock photos to make promotional material, ads, banners, etc., so we went to CanStockPhoto where for $39 you can get 10 images a day for seven days. That’s about .50c per image, and it’s the best deal I could find. Now we have dozens of zombie apocalypse-related photos to play with.
I generally use Canva to make promo images for the website, my blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. They have plenty of free stock photography, too, along with images you can purchase for $1 apiece.
Another cool website I’ve run across is Creative Indie Covers, which has a free 3D book cover generator tool. If you ever wondered how other authors managed to get their covers on those cool 3D graphics like the one in the image below, now you know!
The best way to get email subscribers is to offer them a free story and other exclusive perks, so we’ve been working on one that will go out to all subscribers on January 7th. It’s called The Last Child and is about a thirteen-year-old girl named Phoebe who’s all alone in the zombie apocalypse and trying to find the family for whom she babysits. It takes place in the same neighborhood and around the same time as The Last Letter, which is now the prequel to the series.
I didn’t want to spend much money on a book cover for a free short story, so I went to James’s Bargain Bin at GoOnWrite, where you can get a premade cover for $15. (He has a bunch more premades for $40.)
Recap of Resources
Facebook Group: The Last Zombie Series Facebook Group
Email List: MailChimp
Stock Photos: CanStockPhoto
Image Design: Canva
Free 3D Book Generator Tool: Creative Indie Covers
Cheap Book Cover: GoOnWrite
So far this has been a ton of fun, and we can’t wait to share more, though I’m not sure when I’ll post Part Two of this Self-Publishing Series. With a full workload, the holidays coming up, and zombie stories to write, along with much of the prep work being finished, it may be a couple weeks before there’s anything worth knowing about to report.
If you’d like to follow along more closely, come to the website and sign up for the email list, where you’ll be able to see what kind of content we’re offering to our subscribers. We won’t be mad if you decide to dive into the series, too!
Are you an author looking for a developmental edit or editorial assessment of your manuscript? Do you need a second set of eyes on your submission materials to literary agents? I’m an editor who specializes in affordable manuscript and query critiques as well as developmental editing. Currently booking for February and March 2021. To learn more, go here.