In this episode of the Writing Momentum Podcast, Christopher Maselli interviews author Henry McLaughlin as they discuss his latest book launch for “Emily’s Trials,” a compelling historical fiction set in the 1880s. Henry talks about his decision to hire a launch team and highlights the importance of having an effective coordinator, who managed the recruiting, organization, and daily operations of the launch team. They delve into the role of authors in marketing their books and the increasing expectation for authors to lead the marketing initiatives. Henry also provides insights into the plot and themes of “Emily’s Trials,” sharing the challenges faced by the protagonist and the intricacies of the book’s storyline.
- Buy Emily’s Trials by Henry McLaughlin on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3uaL5e5
- Liz Wilcox’s Email Marketing Membership at http://wmdeal.com/liz
- Get your FREE Move the Needle goal-setting for authors ebook at https://www.writingmomentum.com
- Write with us! Join Chris, Gena, and Rene each Wednesday at noon Central and let’s get our writing DONE! https://www.writingmoments.com
episode 95 transcription:
[00:00:00] Hey, and welcome to the Writing Momentum Podcast. I'm Christopher Maselli, and I'm not here with my wife, Gena, today. Instead, I am here with a good friend of mine, Henry McLaughlin. He has been tagged as one to watch by Publishers Weekly, and he's an award winning author who takes readers on adventures into the hearts and souls of his characters as they battle inner conflicts while seeking to bring restoration and justice in a dark world. Now he's best known for his Riverbend Saga series and his new book, Emily's Trials launches today, November 15th. So you want to get it right now on Amazon. How you doing today, Henry? [00:00:37] Henry: Hi, Chris. It's good to see you. [00:00:39] Christopher: Hey I'm so glad to have you on here. It's pretty exciting. You've got a new book coming out. [00:00:43] Christopher: Like today, you've been going through the whole launch process, I know, and has that, it's got to be exciting, because it's been a few years since you've had a brand new, shiny book out, right? [00:00:54] Henry: Yeah, it's been five years, maybe, since the last of the Riverbend Saga books was published.[00:01:00] It was about five years ago. So yeah, it's been a journey. [00:01:03] Christopher: Yes, I for one, I'm glad that you're putting on another one and these are Westerns and we'll talk about that in a little bit. But for this podcast, we wanted to just talk with you a little bit about this whole book launch process. [00:01:14] Christopher: Cause I think this is one of those things that we as authors, we come up with books and in the olden days, like we'd just expect the publishers to do our marketing for us and maybe send us on a book tour and get everyone excited about it. And today that is not the way it happens, I know. [00:01:33] Christopher: And I know that you actually hired a launch team to help you launch Emily's Trials and so tell us why'd you opt to hire a launch team rather than you know just release it yourself and build up interest over time. [00:01:46] Henry: I am probably the world's worst marketer I'd probably approach you on the street say buy my book, please. I don't market. Like most writers I'm an introvert And[00:02:00] sometimes I'm so introverted, I won't even talk to myself. So I knew I was going to need help with this. And I had seen other author friends use launch teams, and I said, that may be the way to go. [00:02:12] Henry: As I looked into it, I realized that the key piece is hiring a good coordinator, a good team manager, so that I didn't have to do the work of recruiting and organizing and keeping track of things. So I met with Karen Sargent. We had a really good conversation. I liked her approach. I liked her background. She does a ton of launches and we just seemed to connect at a level I thought I could work with this person. She explained how, what she would do in terms of both recruiting a team and then managing the actual launch process itself. And it seemed like it would be a good partnership. [[00:02:51] Henry: A good team approach in that she would do most of the work. Really the nuts and bolts, fell to her to do the [[00:03:00] recruiting, do the screening. I was involved a little bit in the screening. I had veto power over who could be on the team or not be on the team. But she like organized, everything down to including giving people graphics they could post, which I thought was amazing, and she did such a good job on the graphics I may steal some of them for future book covers. Anyway. [[00:03:24] Christopher: I was gonna say, a lot of them are of your book covers. [[00:03:27] Henry: The one with the gavel I thought was really great. [00:03:30] Christopher: So tell us. For those who are unfamiliar with, like how even a book launch works what is her part of the process? You mentioned that she gathered people, she's screening people. What do you mean by that? What exactly do you see her doing as your coordinator? [[00:03:44] Henry: What did I see her do? She was in touch with me frequently through the whole process and has been through the whole process. I set up the launch team, cause it had to be in my, under my profile. [00:03:55] Henry: But once, and I enrolled her as the administrator [00:04:00] so she could do everything in terms of sending out, posts on Facebook, recruiting people, gathering all their information gathering what they would do and not do, as part of the process what they could do. And, just made me a I'm a nerd, so she created spreadsheets for me that I could process. [00:04:21] Christopher: That's great. You got an overview. [00:04:22] Henry: Yeah, who's on the team, their phone numbers, their email addresses what they committed to doing. And it was just great. And like I said she said, if there's anybody who signs up that you don't want, just let us know, let me know and I'll take them off. [00:04:37] Henry: There was nobody I didn't want, it was everybody, everything looked really great. So she's been, that's been her role. My role has just been I jump in every once in a while to see who's posting what. I'm going to be doing a Zoom call probably one next week and one, or maybe one this week now and next week. [00:04:56] Henry: Because this is already week two of the launch, with team members who just want to [00:05:00] get together and talk and whatnot. So we'll get that set up. The other thing I'm going to be doing is making sure people who qualify for a prize on the launch team get their prize. [[00:05:09] Christopher: Yes. [00:05:10] Henry: Some of it, some of the prizes are gift cards to Amazon, signed copies of my first book. Journey to Riverbend, and so she's keeping in touch and working on an ongoing, daily basis, actually. She's really good. [00:05:25] Christopher: I like that. I like how, so she's creating the social images, she's getting the team together, all that sort of thing, but then... You're able to go in and interact with everyone. So you really still have control over the process as the author But she's helping she's like your virtual assistant Just helping make everything happen. [00:05:43] Christopher: So that is so that you know that okay this launch is happening and you're not having to do all that work that some of that I imagine would be new to you like some of the social stuff in that right because yeah. There's so many channels in that it's hard to even keep track of what's going on a lot of that anymore. [[00:05:59] Henry: Well, [[00:06:00] exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And obviously with, through the launch team, process and her knowledge and skill set, she could reach out to more people than I ever could. Yes. So that was a really good thing. [00:06:12] Christopher: Has there been anything so far that you've had to do as part of the launch that you're surprised you and you thought, Oh, I would have never even thought of doing that when launching my book. [00:06:21] Henry: Oh, several things, I think. One was the idea of, prizes for people, it's whoever does this first will get a gift card or whatever, having that little bit of competition that builds excitement and stuff. And I would never have thought of doing that on my own. And, coming up with the graphics she's come up with and as, for people to use on their own posts, I would never have been able to design those graphics the way she did, yeah. [00:06:48] Christopher: And I saw that she was, I think she created a hashtag too, because the book's Emily's Trials and the hashtag is #emilystrials, right? I guess she can probably track who's posting where and that sort of thing. [00:06:58] Henry: Yep, [00:07:00] yep. She's tracking all the statistics. I love statistics, but, we have to realize that, 73. 4 percent of statistics are made up on the spot. She's tracking all of that. So that's good. [00:07:14] Christopher: That's great. So how about your publisher? Has your, does your publisher do any part of the marketing process? Or is that pretty much left up to the author nowadays? Which is what I'm hearing from most people is, yeah, everyone expects me to do it. [00:07:29] Henry: Yeah, nowadays, it's pretty much left up to the authors, and it was clear from when I signed the contract that, the bulk, the marketing would be left up to me. They did, they got it up on Amazon they're ready to send it out to brick and mortar stores and other purchase sites, which would have been difficult for me to do on my own. But, their process is they've been very good to work with. Yes. Let me say that. And but it was clear from the beginning that. And I think that's from what I've seen and [00:08:00] talked with other authors, is that's pretty much the industry standard now. [00:08:03] Christopher: Yeah, it's really distribution more than anything, right? They take care of the distribution, they make sure it gets out there to the right places. But, if you want to sell copies of your book, it's got to come back to the author and the tribe you've created and the excitement you've created online and that sort of thing. [00:08:18] Henry: That's exactly what it is. They see their role, and I'm fine with it, as we distribute the book. You promote it. [00:08:27] Christopher: I like that too. I think that when I first felt like I had to do that, it was a little unnerving. Because you think, oh man, I don't know how to do all that. And, you're just relying on the publishers to take care of those things. [00:08:39] Christopher: But, Even when they did do a lot of marketing, I know with some of my early books, they would do marketing, but it wasn't near as much as I expected, right? It was still, the bulk of it relied upon me, so I think I'd rather have that power to go ahead and do it myself anyway. [00:08:56] Henry: Yeah. I toyed with Emily's Trial's self publish,[00:09:00] and I really was hesitant to self publish again, because I'm not a good marketer. [00:09:06] Henry: I know that, that's not a strong point for me and but I met at a Writers Conference about a year, what's this, 23? May of 22, I met at, I was at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference. Yes, I know Blue Ridge. I met with, loved that conference. Yes. And met with Les Stobie who was at that time an acquisition editor for Elk Lake. [[00:09:30] Henry: And I pitched the story to him, and, within a couple of weeks, three weeks maybe, I was getting an email from the publisher saying, We want you, we want to sign you to a contract. [[00:09:43] Christopher: Just on the pitch itself, huh? [00:09:45] Henry: Yeah, just on the pitch itself. I did send Les the manuscript and stuff. A full book proposal after the conference, but yeah they liked it, so I said, that's pressure off me in terms of getting everything ready to self publish. [[00:09:58] Henry: And it, like [[00:10:00] we said earlier, it takes, it handles the distribution issue. [[00:10:03] Christopher: Yes, yeah. Am I right that your first book was traditionally published in this series, and were the next two self published, or was just the last one? [[00:10:11] Henry: The next two were self published. And then I was given the rights to the first book. [[00:10:17] Christopher: Oh, nice. [[00:10:17] Henry: They were given back to me by the publisher. [00:10:19] Christopher: That's pretty rare, that's pretty great. [[00:10:21] Henry: Including e book rights. And so that I turned around and new cover and self published that too. So all three of Riverbend is self published now. [00:10:31] Christopher: Good for you. That's awesome. That's awesome. Okay. Now you mentioned this Emily's Trials and the story. I think it's got a great hook too. You want to share with everyone? What's, what is Emily's Trials about? [00:10:42] Henry: Well, Emily's Trials is about a, Female attorney in the 1880s in Kansas. [00:10:51] Henry: And she's a licensed attorney. She's passed the bar and everything else. She's in a practice with her father, but she's never been to court. [[00:11:00] [[00:11:00] Christopher: Oh, really? [00:11:00] Henry: And she's, yeah. She's never had to handle a trial. And, she's had to face a lot of, prejudice. Against her. for wanting to be a lawyer when she should have just gotten married and had kids or become a schoolteacher or a dressmaker or whatever. [00:11:16] Henry: She's like totally broken the traditional bonds of what a woman is or is supposed to be in that time period. And then the first twist in the story is her dad has an accident and he's unable, he's barely able to speak. He's barely able to walk. And. So she takes on more and more of the law practice, including agreeing to defend a man accused of murder. [00:11:44] Henry: And she handles herself very well in the trial, despite a lot of, despite a lot of obvious bias from the judge and the prosecutor and whatnot. But the, her client is found guilty. [00:12:00] And by the time she gets to trial, she believes he's innocent. She wasn't too sure, but then she believes she's innocent. [00:12:07] Henry: So through her, with her dad, they hire a bounty hunter to go find who they suspect are the real killers. And the bounty hunter gets back to him and said I found those two guys, but they were dead. And there's no evidence they robbed a bank, or they robbed anybody, so send me the rest of my money. Emily's not too convinced of that. [00:12:29] Henry: She ends up traveling down to San Antonio, which is the last known place these guys were at, and ends up getting assaulted and threatened, and there's a threat to her dad, and But she makes some good relationships, she makes some good friendships, and she returns back to Kansas, and subsequently they learn that the bounty hunter is in Kansas City, and he may have more information than he told her. [00:12:57] Henry: So they go there, and there's a big [00:13:00] confrontation, and that's all I'm going to say. [00:13:02] Christopher: Wow. And that's just based on the first twist of the story there. It's good stuff. And I think that what I love about it I love the title Emily's Trials because you think that, okay, this is about her just being an attorney and those kinds of trials, but clearly she's having more trials in her life than just than just those kinds of trials. Yeah? [00:13:23] Henry: Yeah, as I was writing it, it was like, uh, I learned, oh, her mother left when she was eight years old. Oh, she's angry at God. Oh, the man she's most interested in is just about engaged to another woman, and he's a Christian. And, oh, the stuff she goes through in the book. I'm surprised she was still talking to me by the end of the book. [00:13:44] Christopher: I love that. Yes, because she's, because I know in our next podcast, when we get together, we're going to talk a little bit about your creative process and I'm interested to hear whether you're a plotter or a panster and how you do your research for Westerns like this. [[00:13:59] Henry: Okay. [[00:14:00] Do you want to get into that now or wait till the next one? [00:14:02] Christopher: Let's wait till the next one. For now where can they get Emily's Trials? [00:14:07] Henry: They can get Emily's Trials right now on Amazon in both print and e book formats. It's available I think what I need to encourage people to do is go to their local bookstore. Yes. Ask for Emily's Trials. And, oh, we don't have it, order it, because I want to buy it. That's the kind of loop or feedback loop that we're looking to build is build a demand, almost one reader at a time, one bookstore at a time. [[00:14:33] Christopher: Help them get it in stock. [[00:14:35] Henry: Yeah, help them get it in stock where more people will see it. [00:14:37] Christopher: That's good stuff. All right. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today, Henry. And it's always, Good talking to you. And hey, if you've enjoyed this podcast, would you please rate, review, subscribe, and share it with someone else who might be interested in launching their book and help them see what they can learn from Henry and myself today. [00:14:57] Christopher: Until next time, don't forget that together [[00:15:00] we have writing momentum. Bye bye.