How do I launch a book? I remember doing a Google search on this very sentence way, way, way back in 2012 when I was getting ready to publish for the first time. Guess what? I didn’t get an answer. I have read some pretty comprehensive posts about how “other” people launched a book and those have helped. But generally there is no one way to launch a book. And you can do everything some random successful author does and see zero results. And sometimes you can do absolutely nothing and see pretty good results. But Marketing Tip Monday is about tips, so I guess I will go ahead and give you some.
First of all, don’t do nothing. Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Let’s take a trip in Mr. Peabody’s Way-back Machine. Did you know that in 2012 when I was planning a book launch it was the general consensus of authors on the forum I frequented that you do not market your book at all? Yes. This was true back then. Of course smart people didn’t listen to that “age-old wisdom” any more than they listened to people who said you can’t have “flashy typography” on your cover, or you “can’t ask readers for reviews” or hell, that you “can’t comment on a review”.
Now look, this is a free country. In fact, most of the world is free these days. That means you can almost do anything you want. Some people can pull off doing certain things and some people can’t. That’s neither here nor there. The fact is, you can, and should, do whatever the hell you want when it comes to marketing your book.
If you do something stupid—like pay for fake reviews or try and scam readers into buying your book—there are these things called “natural consequences” and you should prepare for them. But if you do mostly reasonable things, then all of the above can help you. Marketing is a good idea. Asking readers for reviews is also a good idea. Sometimes even commenting on reviews is a good idea. It all depends. There are no rules about this stuff, not even unwritten ones.
That leads to a Wild West mentality. But hey, your art is your gun. Learn how to use it and it won’t matter what you do, people will read your books.
OK enough of that. Most of you came here probably wanting to know what I do to launch my books and the first thing I will tell you is that I never do it the same. I have learned that same input does not always lead to same output, so I like to mix it up. But here is my general list of “Launch Day Best Practices”.
(1) Generate pre-release buzz by having a cover reveal. Use a cover reveal service for this if you don’t have a long list of blogs/people who will share your cover on reveal day. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE A GIVEAWAY WITH YOUR COVER REVEAL in a Rafflecopter or some other app that you can use to track. And for fuck’s sake, DO NOT use those emails collected through Rafflecopter to grow your newsletter list. Please, if you want people to join your newsletter, ask them first. Never just put them on there.
(2) Generate more pre-release buzz by handing out little snippets and graphic teasers on your Facebook fan page. You have one of those, right? If not, go get one, along with a Pinterest account, Instagram, and Twitter. You need them all. You don’t have to treat them all equally, but you need them all. Flash your snippets and teasers all over each of them. Make your graphics interesting. Make your copy interesting. Some people who would not normally see you, WILL see you.
(3) Have a pre-order. Here’s the thing about pre-orders – you will lose some release day ranking over at Amazon if you do one, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. For instance, maybe you’d rather have 1000 sales (and money in your Amazon dashboard) on release day than a high ranking? You get to decide this. But pre-orders do have a few advantages if you do them right. One, they give you links to spread around before release day. Like, during your cover reveal. If people see your cover and like it, they might get an itchy one-click finger and go looking to buy. It’s nice to capture those readers early. Two, you have immediate also-boughts on release day. Generally, it takes me about 2-3 days to get also-boughts without a pre-order. So that’s time you’re not being seen on other people’s book pages.
(4) Curate your own Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) reviewer list. This is hard to do if you’re new, so I suggest (if you’re in the YA, NA, or Romance genres especially) that you start with blog tours to get reviews. But once you have a decent fan base, start asking your superfans if they’d like a free ARC in exchange for a review on release day.
(5) Find places to advertise your new release. Some blogs do advertisements. Some Facebook pages too. Look around, find where your readers are and see if those places allow paid advertisements.
(6) Plan a Facebook Event, like a Release Party. I have another Marketing Tip Monday post about takeovers. Plan one of those. But if you’re going to spend money on prizes for this, make it worth your while. By plan, I mean PLAN the fuck out of that thing. Figure out ways to get people excited about YOUR BOOK, not just your prizes.
(7) Have a release day blitz. Better known authors can do this themselves, but generally speaking leave this to the same person you trusted with your cover reveal. AGAIN, you MUST, MUST, MUST have a giveaway. And don’t make it an e-book. EBooks are not great prizes. Make it a signed paperback. That makes people excited. Make it a gift card, that makes people excited. Make it some special swag you designed, like a leather bracelet, like the ones I made for my Sexy launch. For Three, two, One I had a whole shitload of special stuff planned before the release.
(8) Post graphic teasers with early reviews on your Facebook Fan Page (EXAMPLE HERE). You may think this has little to no effect when you see how many people you reach, but it’s a cumulative effect. It all adds up. So do it anyway, even if you think it’s a waste of time and no one is seeing it.
(9) Run Facebook ads. But be careful. You can waste a lot of money on these. You can do a simple Facebook Post Boost right from your author page or you can go full on into your Power Editor and make one up. You do get to say more in the Post Boost, so I use those when I want to spread all my links around in one post. But you have a little more targeting control in the Power Editor.
(10) If you go wide, then post ALL YOUR LINKS. Even the foreign ones. Include a link to iTunes, Kobo, B&N, and Amazon. Include Amazon CA, UK, and AU. This makes a huge difference in sales. If you go into KU then advertise your book as FREE FOR KINDLE UNLIMITED SUBSCRIBERS on Facebook.
(11) You need an author website so you can blog about your release. Post shit on your website. Say something. Be conversational. Get people interested. If you have tips for people, like I’m posting here, then make a post about them.
(12) Send out a newsletter. If you don’t have a newsletter list, get one now. Start that shit up.
(13) If you have an author group you belong to, ask them to share your release. They often have readers you don’t, so this is a good way to find new people.
(14) Chat with readers about the book, especially if they leave you a post or message you about it. I have private groups for all my new releases so my fan group can go discuss it without giving away spoilers, but if you don’t have that kind of audience yet, just comment on reader posts.
(15) But the NUMBER ONE THING YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOURSELF OUT ON RELEASE DAY IS…. Start writing the next book. I always, always, always write on release day now. I think I’ve been doing this for almost a year. I know they can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done thirty-plus releases like I have. But it’s a good habit to get into. It takes your mind off the progress of your new book and focuses it where it should be. The next one. 😉 Even if you only plot your book, or come up with a premise or a title, you’re moving forward. You will have to do both those things anyway – why not do them on release day? Don’t get stuck. Don’t give up. And don’t sweat the results of THIS BOOK. Not all books are created equal. Timing is everything. And thus, you will have different results no matter how good you are, no matter how many books you have out, no matter how many fans you have. Just keep going.
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