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 – and failing to prepare properly for your book launch is a fast way to fail.
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 time to launch books and market books.
So how can you launch books the right way? How can you give your book the best odds possible of not ending up on the Amazon scrap heap?
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. We will cover nine simple steps to follow when launching your book, the ideal timeline to do those steps in, and a FREE book launch template to keep you accountable.
But before we get into the details of launching your book, let's talk about what you can do to prepare in advance.
This Book Launch Guide will Cover:
How to Prepare for Your Book Launch
Some of the most influential writers on 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 (The Art of War) to Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
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 you're 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, and have your book launch checklist handy at all times.
It's also important to have a good idea of how long the steps on your book launch checklist take. Some tasks will need to be completed before others can be carried out.
When you have a clear understanding of both these aspects, you can map out a clear plan.
To make preparing for your 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.
Before launching your book, you should:
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 when 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.
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 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 email 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.
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.
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. Otherwise, here are our favorite tools for keeping your launch in order.
Tools to Help Manage Your Book Launch
Some great tools for managing your book launch include:
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.
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 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 traditional 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 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. 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 books the right way, let’s take a closer look at some of the most effective launch tactics.
And here's an image version of these tactics to help you memorize:
Free and Paid Book Promotion Sites
For your book launch to succeed, as many people as possible need to read and review your book within a short time of its publication.
Only so many people will discover your book organically. 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.
A book promotion service is a proven way to get people to download and review your book. The best services have engaged lists of passionate readers who 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. 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:
- Ebookaroo. If you have a sci-fi or fantasy book, consider submitting it to Ebookaroo for free.
- BookDoggy. BookDoggy gets around 6,000 visitors each month and will permanently list your book on their site for free.
- 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 12,000 visitors each month.
- eBook Stage. eBook Stage sends out a daily promotional email to its 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.
Now that you have a general understanding of the strategy behind a book launch, let's go through all of the steps you will need to launch your book successfully.
How to Have A Successful Book Launch in 9 Steps
Here are the nine steps you should follow when launching your book:
1. Map out your plan
Before you do anything, you will need to map out your entire plan on a big wall calendar or in Google Docs. If you do not map it out ahead of time, you might miss deadlines or not give your book enough time to be promoted.
Lay out all your book launch ideas. You can go on podcasts, host online or in-person events, promote your book on social media and in your newsletter, offer sales, and more. If you do not get a bird's eye view of how they all relate to each other, you will lose track of it all. Get organized with your book launch checklist because your future self will thank you.
2. Schedule events
Whether they are digital or in-person, few things will help grab attention quite like an event.
It doesn't mean it always has to be a huge, expensive event, it can just be small and local or a planned livestream on your YouTube channel, but it's a way to bring attention to your launch.
One popular author event is a book signing. It will be up to you whether you do one or not, but it can always be a fun experience for readers to not only get to meet you but also be able to buy signed copies of your book.
You could also choose to pair with a local event that's already happening in the book industry that you could offer to partner with. For example, you could find a local book club and offer to be a featured speaker.
3. Finalize your pricing strategy
If you want to really play the book launch game, it is a good idea to have a sale on your book during your launch.
Most authors offer deals like access to exclusives or a price discount for the initial launch along with the discounted price. This could mean you offer things like access to a special livestream event or online community with the purchase of your book.
Some general pricing tips from other authors:
- If you want to increase the amount of reviews you have, offer it for free or for free to your email subscribers.
- Offering your book for at least $2.99 on Amazon gives you the 70% royalties.
4. Find people and places to promote your launch
If you have a brand as an author, that can help you sell books. Few things beat having a ton of social media followers.
However, you can also leverage other people's audiences and use them to promote your books.
That might mean sending influencers your book to read and review for their audience, being on podcasts, giving your book for free to groups to have them read it, or something else.
If you know any other authors or are in writing communities, it might be worth it to ask the people there if they would be willing to help you get the word out about your book.
You could always offer a trade with other authors where you both agree to help promote each other's books when you are both launching.
5. Consider paid advertising
Not every author has the budget for paid ads on sites like Facebook, Instagram, or on any other site, but if you do, it can be worth it.
You can also pay to appear on book blogs or in other media outlets to promote your book.
The benefit of social media ads is that you can get specific about the types of people you want to target with your ads. If you know who loves to read your books, you can target those specific people.
Amazon even has an advertising option if you want to go right to the main bookseller itself.
6. Create your marketing materials
Hopefully, you have already done the hard work of creating your book cover and making sure it fits within your author branding, but if not you need to do so.
You need to create a signature look that is yours so when you create marketing materials around your books, you will have a cohesive look.
This is also a great time to pull in any reviews and recommendations people have written about your books. Few things beat social proof when it comes to selling your books.
From there, you will want to make things like book promotion graphics, ones to use on social media, ones for any events and sales you plan to run, and so on.
7. Use other marketing tactics
If you have an email list or social media profiles, you could use them to do giveaways or win exclusives during your launch.
Readers love to receive signature bookplates, bookmarks, shirts, or any other goodies.
8. Go back to your original calendar outline
We are going to bring it back to step one and take all of these things we planned and put them in your calendar.
This might seem like a silly step, but you will be so grateful when you have all of your steps planned out and put in your calendar.
Put when you want to buy ads, when you are going to host events, when you are going to be on podcasts, when you are running book sales, and more.
Launching a book is no small undertaking and it can quickly get overwhelming to make sure it is all working together. There will always be hiccups in plans, but the more stress you can take off your plate, the more you will be able to enjoy your launch. Luckily, we've provided you with a free book launch template at the end of this article to help you out!
9. Finish launching your book!
Writing and launching a book is an endeavor many people dream about, and when you actually launch your book, it is something to CELEBRATE!
Be sure to soak it all in. You deserve it.
Of course, if you’ve never launched a book before, you might be wondering how to make the different pieces of this 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.
The Best Timeline for a Smooth Book Launch
Use this timeline as a guide when launching your book:
Book Launch Day One
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 don't let it overwhelm you. Just take things one step at a time.
- 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 One.
- 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 Two and Three
The second and third days of your book launch are 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:
- Promoting your book in a non-spammy way to relevant Facebook pages and groups
- Using hashtags on services such as Twitter to attract relevant readers for your book
- Getting authors to let their followers or mailing lists know about your book
- Capitalizing on visual aspects of your book (such as its cover) by promoting it on Instagram and Pinterest
Book Launch Days Four, Five, and Six
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 Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten
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 Eleven and Twelve
This will be the last day that your book is available at 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 Thirteen & 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 and 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 at without sales being negatively affected.
Alternatively, you can try and determine a price point based on similar, competing books.
You've done it! Congratulations!
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.
If you'd still like help with your launch, selfpublishing.com has plenty of services for authors to help make your launch a smooth and successful one. You can start by using our free book launch template below. Good luck and happy launching!