Completing a project is cause for celebration. We worked hard on rolling out Asengana and we celebrated virtually and on two continents. Well, make that three, if we take into account the fact that our marketing manager was travelling to India during our pre launch weeks.
We also had an entire plan set up, made up of a Social Media campaign, PR releases and many other classic marketing strategies.
It didn’t happen.
The night before the launch we received a message in our Service Desk from one of our beta users. A professional writer who’s feedback, during all stages of building Asengana, had influenced many of our decisions.
His issue concerned the Manuscript Structure feature. When we planned for it, our intention was for the writer to have a bird’s-eye view of the entire structure of the manuscript and the ability to move Scenes inside or between Chapters. Creating it was a small triumph because converting to digital format the big board full of post-its professional writers use to plan their story had been one of the most challenging and hard tasks to fulfill. And we did not want to to move away from it, no matter how difficult the undertaking, because we wanted to create a versatile environment and give the writer control over plot planning.
His commentary mainly requested more functionalities on the same page. He told us he might spend a month working just on the Manuscript Structure module before starting writing the first Scene. Adding Scenes, one by one, to a template, was fine. Going back to each scene, to add or modify the description that would also appear on the Manuscript Structure page, was time consuming.
So, we were presented with a choice: focus on implementing his request or put the request on backlog and go ahead with the official launch. Each had its requirements of time and resources, both important for a small team.
Easy choice actually.
If we have even one writer with a reasonable request, we will always take care of that demand first.
We updated the platform overnight (bows to our wonderful developers) and now you can open a modal window and edit the description field on the same page. This means you can change the initial description of a Scene every time you need to do so.
The real launch of the Asengana platform took place 10 months ago, when the first Early Adopter subscribed to the list.
In the last months, before go-live, the classical approach to a marketing launch campaign sidetracked us. During the last days, we scrapped the launch campaign and returned to the initial plan. We will grow one writer at a time and make sure that every member of our community, who likes and uses the platform, will get our attention and support.
We need to take care of the existing members for two reasons:
- Attracting new writers to use the platform needs to benefit our Early Adopters. That is why we are building the Ambassador program.
- The first writing contest for Early Adopters we organize will serve as a test and pilot for a new software module. We plan to optimize the submission and grading process, but, even if a small percentage of our Early Adopters submit stories, we might get over 500 submissions – at that point we will need more resources, ergo more money – and the marketing budget will get a cut.
While we are here for the long haul, our growth rate and success will depend the most on our Early Adopters. Those writers give us their trust and are dedicated to the art of writing above anything else. Many will register and few will stay. Writing takes time. The work you put in until you launch your book needs a digital solution that will help you write faster and manage your time better.