In the self-publishing world, writing a book is only half the battle.
In truth, it’s probably less than half. As authors, we love to write. Although it doesn’t always come easy to us, it’s an activity we enjoy and are familiar with when learning how to write a book.
That’s often far from the case when it comes to launching and marketing books.
As daunting as your book launch might seem, it’s too important to overlook. It’s something that can truly make or break your success. Failing to prepare properly for your book launch is a fast way to fail.
So how can you launch your book the right way? How can you give it the best odds possible of not ending up on the Amazon scrapheap with countless other books that have failed to attract attention or sales?
A successful book launch broadly comes down to two stages – preparation and execution.
This guide will break down everything you need to launch your book successfully so all your time and effort don’t go to waste.
Here’s what this book launch guide covers:
- How to prepare for your book launch
- The strategy of a successful book launch
- Free and paid book promotion sites
- Your day by day book launch plan
- Building your launch momentum
How to Prepare for Your Book Launch
Some of the most influential writers on the topic of strategy and success emphasize that most endeavors succeed or fail based on the strength of their preparation. The importance of proper planning is emphasized by people throughout history, from Sun Tzu through to Stephen Covey.
So does this advice apply to launching your book? Absolutely!
While the execution of your book launch is vital in and of itself, even the smoothest launch will produce lackluster results without proper preparation.
Of course, the list of tasks your responsible for as a self-publisher can seem lengthy and difficult to keep track of, especially if it’s your first book. That’s why it’s essential to keep a clear, written plan of everything you need to take care of.
It’s important to not only list out all the tasks you need to complete before your launch but to also have a good idea of how long they take. You also need to keep in mind that some tasks will need to have been completed before others can be carried out.
When you have a clear understanding of both these aspects, you can map out a clear project plan, including an understanding of how a delay in any one area will have a knock-on effect on subsequent tasks.
To make preparing for book launch more manageable, we’ve included a full list of everything you need to take care of, as well as some tools to help you plan and track your project as it progresses.
First, let’s cover all the things you need to handle before launching your book.
- Write and format an effective book description. Aside from your book cover and title, your book description is a key factor in whether browsers become buyers. Check out the book descriptions of successful books similar to your own if you need inspiration. Also, be sure to format your description using HTML to help it catch a potential customer’s attention.
- Choose the right keywords for your book. Keywords are essential in helping the right people discover your book. Don’t just pick them at random. Use proper keyword research to determine what people are searching for and properly align this demand with your book.
- Select your book categories. Selecting the right categories for your book is important in getting it in front of the right readers and also in reaching bestseller status. Read a full guide to book categories before making your final decision.
- Set up a landing page or book website. Not every author will want to set up a website for their book or a landing page, but it’s something to consider. It’s especially important in the case of using a book to promote your business or as part of a wider marketing strategy.
- Format and upload your digital manuscript. Getting your book to display properly can be trickier than it sounds. Don’t rush book formatting. If you have the resources, you may wish to pay for your book to be professionally formatted. If not, it’s possible to do it yourself using specialist book writing software. Just be sure to preview the end product before it goes live.
- Upload and preview your book cover. Your book cover needs to look professional and appropriate for the type of book you’re releasing. It needs to look high-quality, both in thumbnail and in full size. Make sure your cover meets the physical size, file size, and file type requirements for the platform you’re uploading it to.
- Determine your pricing strategy. By the time you’ve finished reading this book launch guide, you’ll have a clear idea of how to price your book and will understand the price point to use during launch.
- Consider using a lead magnet. Lead magnets can work well for both nonfiction and fiction authors. If you’re going to include a lead magnet in your book, be sure it’s finalized ahead of launch, as well as everything you need to capitalize on it, such as a website and any specialist software.
- Factor in an audiobook edition. Creating an audiobook isn’t the right move for every author, but it’s a viable revenue source worth considering. With Amazon ACX, it’s easy to integrate your audiobook offering into the main sales page for your book.
- Prepare to offer print copies. Do you want to offer a print copy of your book? If so, make sure you’ve uploaded your book to the book publisher or print service you’ll be using and met all their technical requirements ahead of the time of your book launch.
- Get ready to build a mailing list. Capturing the email addresses of your readers is a proven way to build a loyal following you can market your future releases to. Make sure you’ve set up mailing list software if this is a tactic you’re looking to use.
- Establish your author presence. If your book becomes successful, your readers will want to know more about you. Setting up a profile on platforms such as Goodreads and Amazon Author Central can help establish your presence to capitalize on interest stemming from your book launch.
- Come up with a step-by-step launch plan. It’s important to have a fully-detailed, step by step overview of your book launch plan ahead of time. You want to know exactly which activities will be carried out and when, as well as the lead time for each step. This ensures nothing is overlooked and everything is allocated sufficient time.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to be aware of ahead of your launch. Because of this, it’s vital to have a system in place to keep track of everything.
The exact tool you use will be down to your personal preference. If you already have a planning system or app in place, it makes sense to keep using it.
Here are some tools to help your book launch management:
- Trello. Trello is a very user-friendly planning app. It has both cloud and mobile app versions which sync seamlessly. It allows you to manage all your tasks and subtasks with checklists and due dates.
- Google Calendar. If you’re already using Google Calendar or another calendar app, it makes sense to add the dates for your book launch to it. Having a clear view of when everything is taking place is very important.
- Asana. Asana is a project planning tool similar to Trello but more complicated. It’s a good solution if you have a complex book project involving several collaborators.
- A paper planner. Some people prefer using physical planning tools instead of digital ones. If you’re that kind of person, feel free to use a paper planner, diary, or calendar to keep track of all the things you need to take care of as part of your book launch.
Now that you know all the things to consider before launching your book, let’s look at the process of the launch itself, starting with a big-picture overview of how book launches work.
The Strategy of a Successful Book Launch
Before we drill down into the specific steps and stages of launching your book, let’s get a feel for the overall purpose and strategy.
In a nutshell, the objective of your book launch is to get momentum behind your book at the earliest stage possible. This momentum consists of people downloading your book and reviewing it. Every part of your book launch is intended to further those objectives.
So why should you invest so much energy into your book launch?
Simply put, when people read and review your book early on, it signals to Amazon, or any other book retailer, that this is a book people are interested in and will engage with.
Let’s consider Amazon KDP as an example, as this is where the vast majority of self-published books are sold.
Related: Amazon Self-Publishing
Amazon’s main objective is of course to generate revenue and profit for itself. It does this by offering customers books they are likely to be interested in. Amazon has a vastly powerful promotional arsenal it can use to get products in front of the right customers. But it only makes sense to invest resources in promoting a book if the book is likely to sell.
By getting early momentum behind your book, it sends a signal to Amazon that your book is one they should promote. There is an absolute glut of self-published material released on Amazon. It’s not possible or even desirable for them to promote everything.
If you can show Amazon that your book is something people want to read and review, Amazon in turn will help get it in front of people’s eyes. It will rank higher in organic search results. Amazon will start recommending it to customers who buy similar books. You might even be featured in an Amazon promotional email.
Although it’s no easy task to get momentum behind your book at the time of launch, it’s well worth doing. It’s the most reliable way to avoid failure by getting the promotional power of Amazon to work on your behalf.
Book launch tactics for the Amazon algorithm:
- Lower launch pricing. Often, authors launch their book at a cheaper price than they will eventually sell it for, such as $0.99. This lowers the barrier for customers to buy it. Once a book has sufficient momentum and reviews, the price can be raised to one which will generate a better return for the author.
- Getting book reviews. Readers reviewing your book not only makes other browsers more likely to buy it, but it also sends a signal to Amazon that your book is getting engagement and is therefore worthy of promotion. Just be sure to respect Amazon’s review policy to avoid any issues.
- Sending external traffic to your book. While an effective book description and proper keyword selection will help readers find your book on Amazon, it’s also useful to send external traffic to your book. We’ll cover how to do this through book promotion sites shortly, but social media promotion can also be an effective approach.
Ultimately, anything you can to do get more people downloading and reviewing your book as early as possible is an effective book launch tactic.
Now that you know why it’s so important to launch your book the right way, let’s take a closer look at some of the most effective launch tactics.
Free and Paid Book Promotion Sites
For your book launch to succeed, as many people as possible need to read and preferably review your book within a short time of its publication.
Only so many people will discover your book organically on a platform such as Amazon. To maximize the numbers, you should consider using book promotion sites.
Book promotion sites are services that have cultivated lists of fans of certain genres and types of books. When a new book launches that is likely to be of interest to these readers, the book promotion service lets them know through an email or social media post.
The great thing about using a book promotion service is it’s a proven way to get people to download and review your book. The best services have engaged lists of passionate readers that are eager for new books just like yours.
Some book promotion sites will feature your book for free, while others will charge a small fee for promoting it to their people (like BookBub). Often, the fee is quite affordable and is likely to produce a return on investment, provided you have a quality book that people want to read.
To point you in the right direction, here are some free and paid book promotion sites worth checking out.
Free Book Promotion Sites
To promote your book for free, consider these options:
- Book Angel. It’s free to list your book with Book Angel, a promotion service that gets around 1000 visitors a month and has 5000 people subscribing to their promotional mailing list.
- Ebookaroo. If you have a sci-fi or fantasy book, consider submitting it to Ebookaroo for free. They feature discounted books as well as newly-launched titles.
- BookDoggy. BookDoggy gets around 6000 visitors each month and will permanently list your book on their site for free. They feature new and discounted books.
- Indie Book Lounge. As an indie author with a new book, you are eligible to be featured on Indie Book Lounge, a site that attracts around 12000 visitors each month.
- eBook Stage. eBook stage sends out a daily promotional email to their subscribers. You can get your book listed for free or invest in a low-priced promotional package, starting at around the $10 mark.
Paid Book Promotion Sites
If you have some money to invest in a book promotion service, consider these options:
- Awesome Gang. Awesome Gang is a tried and tested service, having produced excellent results for self-published authors for several years. They have a free option but also a $10 paid promotion service which is your best bet.
- BookBub. BookBub is one of the hardest sites to get featured on and is more realistic to use as part of a book launch if you’re an established author. They also offer a paid advertising service.
- Robin Reads. To get featured on Robin Reads, you need to meet their number of reviews and review score requirements. There is often a long lead time for this service, so it’s worth checking them out far ahead of your intended launch time if you wish to get your book featured here.
- BKnights. This is a Fiverr service that consistently gets great download numbers for those who use it. You can choose from various price points, but a lot of authors favor the $10 option.
- Booksbutterfly. Booksbutterfly is a rare example of a service that guarantees you certain download numbers as a result of your investment. Check out their different price packages and decide which is the best fit for your launch approach.
These book promotion sites are proven ways to get interested readers from outside of a bookseller’s platform to check out your book. Just be sure to schedule their services with sufficient time to fit in with your launch strategy, as many of the popular sites are booked up fairly far in advance.
Your Day-by-Day Book Launch Planning Template
If you’ve never launched a book before, you might be wondering how to make the different pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Which order should you carry out your promotional activities in? How much time should you leave for different stages?
After you’ve launched a few books, you’ll get a feel for how you like to do things and how long they take.
However, until you reach that point, here is an example book launch plan you can use as a template to work with.
Remember to complete all the pre-launch activities shown at the start of this guide beforehand!
Book Launch Day #1
So, the big day has arrived!
All your hard work has reached a climax and you’re ready to launch your book out into the world.
At this point, it’s best to focus on the process and not the outcome. Try and give your energy to what’s in your control and shut everything else out. That’s not to say you won’t feel a mixture of excitement and fear. But try and not let it overwhelm you. Just take things one step at a time.
The steps to complete on the first day of your book launch:
- Publish your book so it’s live and ready to be downloaded and reviewed.
- Do a final check of your book description and anything else that can help or harm your book’s performance.
- Reach out to Amazon directly to get your book placed in additional categories to those you selected at first.
- Feature your book on some of the promotion sites shown above. You may need to schedule this in advance of day 1, as mentioned in the book promotion site guide.
- Schedule a free promotion on KDP. This can be valuable for getting reviews, and can also make your book eligible for additional promotion sites that only feature free book giveaways.
Taking the first day seriously is the best way to set the rest of your launch up for success.
Book Launch Days #2 and #3
The second and third day of your book launch is all about building on the initial momentum. It’s time for you to get energized and motivated to get the word out about your new book.
Some of the ways you can be proactive on the second and third day include:
- Promote your book in a non-spammy way to relevant Facebook pages and groups
- Use hashtags on services such as Twitter to attract relevant readers for your book
- Try and get authors to let their followings or even mailing lists know about your book
- Capitalize on visual aspects of your book such as its cover by promoting it on Instagram and Pinterest
To reduce the amount of legwork you have to do during this stage, consider using a social media app to promote your book more efficiently.
Book Launch Days #4, #5, and #6
If you’re using a free offer as part of your launch strategy, it’s likely to take place on these days.
Be sure to check that any free promotion sites focused on free books get the word out on this day.
Also, you can be proactive and find hashtags and Facebook groups centered on free books.
This is a way to promote your free offering without relying on promotion services, although ideally, you should be using both approaches.
Book Launch Days #7, #8, #9, and #10
Hopefully, at this point in your book launch, you will have gained reviews for your book.
If you have, you can consider the following activities:
- Promote your book on promotion sites with a minimum review requirement.
- Create graphics using your book reviews and use them to promote your book on sites like Pinterest and Facebook.
- Update any promotional material or website copy to reflect that your book is now reviewed and being well-received by readers. Social proof is one of the most effective psychological tools available to you.
- Create graphics using your book reviews and use them to promote your book on sites like Pinterest and Facebook.
After these days are over, the majority of the hard work of your launch is complete. But it’s not time to rest just yet!
Book Launch Days #11 and #12
This will be the last day that your book is available for its introductory price point. This creates both scarcity and urgency, which you can capitalize on when promoting it during these two days.
How can you make the most of this?
- Get the word out to anyone relevant that this is their last chance to get and review your book while it’s still at a low price point.
- Make one final push on discount promotion sites. Many book promo sites only feature discounted books so don’t let this opportunity go to waste!
It’s important to try and finish strong. Don’t let your momentum or motivation flag at this late stage.
Book Launch Day #13 & Beyond
Now that your promotional price book launch is over, it’s time to raise the price of your book.
Many authors choose to first price their book at $2.99 before then increasing the book’s price by a dollar at a time and monitoring what impact this has on sales.
By doing the incremental adjustment mentioned above, you are likely to eventually find the highest point you can price your book without sales being negatively affected.
Alternatively, you can try and determine a price point based on similar, competing books.
Building On Your Book Launch Momentum
Congratulations! You made it through your first book launch.
Regardless of the results you got, it’s important to see your launch as a valuable experience you can build upon.
The first launch is always the hardest.
Even if you didn’t get the number of downloads you were hoping for, simply having the experience of a completed launch under your belt will enable you to make improvements the next time around.
Now that you’ve launched your book, what are some activities you can do to build upon the momentum it generates?
- Start writing a book (your next one!). If you wrote a fiction book that is being well-received, consider developing a series based on your first book, or another book in the same genre. If you launched a nonfiction title, think about how you could serve the same audience with a different pain point or audience to create a box set!
- Run paid advertisements. Paid book ads are a great way to keep momentum up after your launch is over. Amazon Advertising is a great place to start.
- Develop your author network. Now that you’ve launched a book, you should look at building your author network. Establishing strong ties with other authors will allow you to help each other with future book launches.
- Polish your author platform. When you’re not working on a book, you should consider improving your author platform. Invest time in aspects like your author website and social media presence like Pinterest. These are great ways to get ongoing attention for both newly-launched books as well as your back catalog.
Ultimately, the results of your book launch are down to the quality of your book combined with a carefully planned and executed launch campaign.
Your first launch will always be the hardest. Try and adopt a growth mentality and see any results you get as valuable feedback to learn from and build upon.
We wish you and your next book every success.
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