What is the best strategy for publishing a novel?

What is the best strategy for publishing a novel?

Judging by the conversations on Facebook in various author communities, there seem to be as many strategies as there are authors publishing novels.

Many writers bet their careers exclusively on Amazon Kindle, while others vehemently disagree and insist on going "wide," releasing their books across many different platforms.

Some aim for the best of both: first going exclusive and, three months later, switching to wide. But others say, "No, it works better the other way around: first wide, then exclusive!"

I've seen well-respected authors argue against Amazon pre-sales because they claim there is no benefit to that. But then I saw other successful writers disagree and claim they've had great results with Amazon pre-orders.

Some authors swear by releasing all their editions in one big-bang launch: ebook, paperback, audiobook, and maybe even a hardcover. Yet, others prefer a rolling wave planning of one new edition every few months so they can concentrate their marketing on each edition.

And for those who like to spread it out, there is disagreement on which edition to release first: launch with the hardcover/paperback and later add the ebook, or start with the ebook and later add the paper version? And does the audiobook edition come first or last?

Things get even more complicated when we consider multiple novels in a series. Should you publish all books in the series at once? Should the intervals be less than a year? Or can they be longer? Should the last edition of the previous novel overlap with the first edition of the next novel? Should the entire series be wide or exclusive, or can you do something creative here?

Here's my take on it: disagreeing on strategy is a waste of time.

What is the best strategy for winning a game of chess? What is the best plan for running a marathon? What is the best strategy for winning the Eurovision Song Contest? What is the best strategy for making a film?

The answer: there is no single best strategy.

First, in a complex environment, the fitness of each strategy depends on the competition from strategies. If nobody did any pre-sales on Amazon, it would be wise to enable pre-orders because being the only one would make your book stand out. If everyone else were doing big-bang launches of multiple editions, you would likely benefit from going against the flow and spreading your releases for increased visibility.

When everyone follows the same strategy, it stops being a good strategy.

Second, execution matters much more than strategy. Great execution depends on each individual author. For example, I don't like stress, and I enjoy having time to focus on understanding each tool and platform. That's the main reason I will be spreading out the editions of my novel. I wouldn't be good at a big-bang launch! I know others can do that well, but I can't. It's just not me. I enjoy digging deep into each publishing environment and trying to get the best out of it for my book. That takes time. And I'm OK with that.

When a strategy does not fit the person, it is unlikely to be a good strategy.

So, what is the best strategy for publishing your novels? The answer: whatever strategy you can execute well.

The Kindle version of my novel, Glitches of Gods, comes out in June. The hardcover edition follows in September, after my vacation. Ebooks on the other platforms (Apple, Google, Kobo) will arrive a little later. The audiobook and paperback versions will come whenever I can make time for them.

I either execute well or choose not to execute at all.

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Jurgen Appelo

"Eighty percent of everything is noise."