Whether you are self-publishing or traditionally publishing your book, as the calendar counts down to publishing day, the success of your launch (and ultimately your book sales!) will largely depend on how well YOU (not just your publisher and agent) promote it! These tips will get you started on the fast-track to a successful book launch:
Having a detailed plan for when you want to gather a launch team, run online promotions and giveaways, begin taking pre-orders, publish your book, etc. is vital in a book launch campaign. Sit down and think about what’s realistically feasible. Earlier is always best to start, but not so early that people will forget or lose interest altogether.
- It’s never to early to start making a list of who could partner with you on your launch team. Write down when and what you will email them during the launch.
- Will you offer promotions, freebies, and giveaways to promote your book? Do you need Amazon, Good Reads, or other online reviews in by a certain date? Put some dates on the timeline for you and your launch team to continue to boost interest as you approach your launch date.
- There are different schools of thought about when you should begin taking pre-orders. Some think a year or six months prior to publishing, others three, and still others think only a month in advance is best. Really think about all the pros/cons before you decide what’s right for you and your book.
- If you can pick your launch (publishing) day, choose a meaningful date based on your topic, theme, and audience. For example, my book Made to Mother is publishing on Mother’s Day.
2. Set a Budget
Sometimes it’s true when they say it takes money to make money. Do you have a budget you are willing to spend? This goes for your time as well as your wallet. Really think about how much time, effort, and money you want to spend on promoting your book launch. Monetary investment might be book cover or launch content design, advance copies of books to give away, and swag or freebies you give away while promoting the book. As you consider the time and money you may spend, think about how it weighs in with your expected return. If you spend five hours every day for six months leading up to your launch date and $1000 on fees, books, or incentive swag, but only sell 300 books at $12 each (of which you probably only get about $5 in royalties), is the $500 really worth it? Be honest and realistic with yourself.
3. Organize a Launch Team
A good author should keep a mental list of contacts in the back of their mind (or a folder on their computer!) who might want to partner in promoting their book. Think of these people like your sales team. They multiply your reach with their contacts and networks, and with incentives, they can be that first big push your book needs during launch! First, decide how many you want on your team. A close-knit group of ten or hundreds? What criteria makes them the best influencers to spread the word about your upcoming book? What will they expect in return? Think about what you’re willing to offer them for their help, and how many you want to do this for.
You can post a book launch invitation on social media, your website, or ask on forums and have interested people fill out an online form to filter out the best candidates. You can also invite only the people you specifically want. Your closest friends and industry contacts are a great start. Have you had guest bloggers or contributors on your site who might be a good fit? Are there others you have helped with their book launch? You can even reach out to influential leaders, professors, other authors, or professionals in your niche. Just expect not all of them will say yes.
4. Make it Pretty
I’m a marketing girl, and rule #1 in developing a brand is CONSISTENCY. Do you have specific colors, fonts, images, wording, etc. you use on your book cover or website? Make those weave through every part of your book launch campaign. Use Adobe, Canva, or another application to create engaging, shareable images for every point on your promotion timeline. Share with your launch team specific, key messaging and content like attractive images and punchy book quotes you want them to use when posting about your book. This shows people why they should pre-order! If you’re not so good at layout and design or wording, consider if it’s in your budget to hire a professional to help you.
Each person on your book launch team and each prospective reader you are trying to reach will have their different reasons for promoting and buying your book. If they are doing it simply because they love and believe in you and your book, those are the diamonds in the rough. However, sometimes you need a little something to sweeten the deal. You can do this by offering free advance digital or hard copies of your book, or you can offer them other fun swag and freebies. Go back to your budget and assess what’s doable. If you’re on a shoestring, create messaging that really beefs up how awesome getting a free digital copy of the book would be. Barter and trade with other small companies; their swag for your promotion. If you have some money to play with, consider partnering with local artisans or boutiques. Some may give you a bulk discount if you are buying large quantities of the same items for your launch team or promotional giveaways. Ask them to share your posts and mention your book on their social channels and help increase book sales come pre-order and launch days!
6. Set Up Specific Criteria
The most important thing to remember is that your launch team is getting incentives in exchange for promoting your book. If you are following the tips above, DO NOT miss this step. It’s the difference between a chaotic book launch and a tight ship. Muster all the organization and managerial skill you have, and when you contact your launch team and partners about promotional timelines, BE SPECIFIC and BE FIRM. Give them the shareable content, tell them what to say, and when and where to say it. If you want them to read the book and provide an Amazon, Good Reads, or other online review, show them how to do it and give them due dates. Most importantly, hold them to it! Sure, they are kindly volunteering their time and personal platforms, but if you are giving them freebies, make them earn them! Keep track of your team and check off when they have completed their tasks BEFORE you give them the next incentive. Don’t feel bad if you have some attrition on your team. It’s totally normal, and expect it to happen.
7. Remind Remind Remind
Finally, don’t worry if you are sending out reminders constantly. Add them into your timeline above, and repeat, repeat, repeat. Email your team to welcome them to the launch, send them an advanced timeline, then send them emails with new, shareable content or instructions as you approach each marker on the timeline. Sometimes busy people need several reminders for one task, and others will do what you ask when you ask the first time. Tailor your communication to individual groups. That way, you are not exasperating the ones who are on track, and you can start to see the laggers on your team and reevaluate incentives for specific team members. Or drop them altogether. Again, don’t feel bad. It will happen no matter how large your team is.
As you approach publishing/launch day, don’t forget to thank your team, share sales milestones or other updates. As the campaign winds down, ask them to stay in contact by connecting on social media or meeting up for a thank you coffee date. These guys have been invaluable to your book success, so keep them close! Who knows if another book launch may be around the corner for you!