How to ruin a cover reveal

Now that my gorgeous cover is out in the world, I can tell you all how I botched the whole thing. But first, let's just take a second to appreciate its beauty.

Wanna see the full cover?

Sooooo pretty.

Okay, back to my failure.

So, I knew that I wanted to do some kind of a cover reveal from the get-go (even though I wasn't sure how to do it yet). Knowing that, I tried my best to hide the cover whenever possible. That's why I had a place holder on both my blog and on Goodreads.

Now, I did include it in the emails to blogger because I think the cover really says a lot about your level of professionalism. Even if the cover isn't a reviewers taste, they've seen enough of these to know when an author took the cover seriously.

The problem came when I went to upload the file to Smashwords. I needed to get the file uploaded and through their vetting system in order to have quality epub and Mobi files to send to reviewers. I attempted to upload the files with a placeholder cover, but Smashwords was having none of it. I tried all kinds of different files and formats, but after several hours (and an equal number of coffees) I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be able to get files without uploading the real cover.

Let me say, I'm sure there's a way to do this (and if you know what it is, feel free to let me know in the comments). However, I was done wasting time on it. Plus, I just needed the files. I wasn't going to give anyone the Smashwords link or tell anyone about it. So unless a reader went to Smashwords and looked up my book (highly unlikely) the cover would be pretty much hidden in plain site.

So, I got my files and went about my merry way.

Then I realized I was wrong. All these companies are smarter than I am, much smarter.

I was obsessively checking my to-be-read stats casually cruising around on Goodreads. When I saw it. A tiny little thumbnail of my actual cover. Turns out Goodreads combs the interwebs for additional versions of your book. They turned up, you guessed it, the Smashwords edition. And being the ever helpful company they are, added it to my listing.

Now, this is a super cool feature. Seriously, I have so many moving parts of this launch that I'm actually tickled pink that the platforms are looking out for me. But I was the opposite of pleased to see my cover in such a public space almost two weeks before the cover reveal.

I thought about moving up the cover reveal date, but quickly decided against it. I already had a good number of blogger responses coming in and many of them signed up to be part of the cover reveal. Changing the date would mean contacting all of them and showing what a schmoe I am super early in the relationship.

I could have removed the Goodreads link from my website, but then I felt like I'd be wasting two weeks of promotional time with no way for readers to make a connection with the book.

Then I realized that with the cover reveal coming so close to the actual release of the book, and knowing that I wanted to put the book up for pre-order close to beginning of the month, I made a tactical decision. To me, it was worth the risk of readers seeing the cover early, in order to have pre-order buttons available on the cover reveal post. I already had B&N, Kobo and iTunes thanks to Smashwords, but it felt silly to leave off the big guys, Amazon.

So Thursday night, I uploaded the book to Amazon. The website there says it takes about 12 hours. I'm pretty sure the book showed up in about 30 minutes. Of course, that could just be because I uploaded it at 1:30am and that's not a prime book uploading time. The cover was available to anyone looking for it, but again someone would have to actively go search for my book.

The last straw was Netgalley. I was able to get my book up on Netgalley (more about that later), where again, folks would be able to see the actual cover. Now, I did share this with reviewers in case they wanted to pass it along, but figured that would be okay. Then, some folks (wonderful, amazing people they are) went above and beyond and shared the Netgalley link on social media. Seriously, that's all kinds of awesome and I'm glad people are sharing the book. guessed it, anyone who clicked on that link could see a big ol' picture of my cover. Cover reveal epic fail.

Did some readers see the cover before the big reveal? Probably. Is that going to negatively impact my launch book sales? I can't see how. And at the end of the day, that was enough for me.

Plus, the reveal would also contain the first chapter which I was completely in control of not sharing. The only place it could have shown up would be Smashwords and I intentionally turned off the preview feature until after the reveal. At least I got that part right.

So, did I flub the cover reveal? You betcha! Am I worried? Nope. And that's a huge lesson right there. In the midst of the launch it is so easy to let myself get caught up in the overstated importance of the minutiae. The only aspect that really matters is having a quality product ready to go on release day. If I can nail that, the rest is just a little whipped cream on top.

In the future, I would try to do the cover reveal earlier. As in way before any of the files would be uploaded anywhere. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about who can see what, where and when.  The downside of doing it that way is that there isn't any action item for readers to take when they see the cover other than adding the book to their list on Goodreads.

Either way, cover reveals are a head ache and I'm not entirely convinced they are an essential part of a marketing plan. Only time will tell. And then I'll tell you, because that's how it works around here.