Last updated on June 26, 2021
THE ESSENTIAL BOOK LAUNCH GUIDE
“I can plan my book launch without all of the bells and whistles of wildly famous authors.”
I encourage you to turn this into your mantra as you gear up for one of the most exciting and life-changing pinnacles of your life–publishing and launching your book!
Working with Kelly on her book launch for The Book You Were Born to Write, was an exciting whirlwind and an enormous learning experience. Today, I support the marketing and self-publishing departments within kn literary, and continue to be inspired by new and brave authors who put their dreams and voices out there.
I’m thrilled to share the details of this experience, in hope to motivate all of you to aim for the very reachable goal of sharing your book with the world.
Luckily, we had Kelly record almost every step of her book launch journey, to keep this special time capsule as a guide for aspiring authors preparing for publication.
Consider this post a one-stop-shop for launching your book!
BOOK LAUNCH BASICS
What is a book launch?
A book launch is the promotional and marketing strategy aimed towards bringing awareness to your soon-to-be-published book.
Why is a book launch important?
A book launch leads to the awareness of you and your new book, which leads to sales! But more than that, it leads to opportunities, more people finding your work, and touching more lives.
Is a book launch necessary?
If your goal is just to complete a book and share it with friends and family, a book launch isn’t necessary, and that can save you a lot of time and money. However, if you want to reach more people with your message and create excitement and buzz around your book when it comes out, a book launch is highly encouraged.
How long does a book launch last?
In all sobering honesty, you should begin strategizing for your book launch as soon as possible. Even while you’re writing your book. Ideally 18 months before the pub date.
The official “ book launch,” meaning you are posting on social media, writing to your email subscribers, and guest speaking on podcasts with the goal of creating pre-order buzz should begin 6 months before publication.
Book Publishing Lingo
If you are working with a professional marketing team, or a publisher, Kelly created this helpful video so you can sound like you know what you’re doing!
THE BOOK LAUNCH MYTH
Let’s begin by clearing up some hopeful thinking that many aspiring authors may be seduced into believing: someone else will market and sell your book for you.
Even traditionally published authors need to steer the ship of their own book launch. Though Kelly is a published Hay House author, she still needed to plan for her own promos, and to spearhead the process.
FINDING YOUR VOICE
Like all of you, Kelly spent years writing her book (and decades accumulating the wisdom inside of the chapters). This meant she had to gear up to shout from the beautiful mountaintops (the Rocky Mountains to be precise) that her book was about to be published.
Kelly’s favorite way to reach people
Kelly enjoys letting people know about her work through speaking at writers’ conferences, and through recording videos (check out the kn literary Youtube channel). This woman is an excellent speaker- if you’ve ever watched her, you can see how clear, concise, and direct her lessons are (and the camera loves her).
The good news is that she didn’t have to invest a lot in Youtube video equipment, and neither do you!
Just because this is her chosen method and gift to share her wisdom, it doesn’t need to be yours. I want you to be creative and use your preferred method to share your wisdom. Perhaps you would love being interviewed on podcasts or would enjoy writing blogs to sell your book.
Authenticity is key
Your audience can pick up on if you’re being honest and enjoying yourself. Truth is contagious, which is the best way to grow your readership. And if you’re shy, I promise you there is room in the book market for you- take a look at Platform Building for introverts for more inspiration.
BOOK LAUNCH TIMELINE
If you have given yourself ample time to prepare for your book publication, below is a timeline that will support you on your journey. For more in-depth timeline recommendations, head on over to our Book launch Checklist.
18 Months Prior to Launch
- Start building an author website
- Create a book launch budget.
- Consider the book launch team you will need
- Put together a wishlist of contacts who might endorse your book
12 Months Prior to Launch
- Gather your book launch team
- Reach out to potential endorsers
- Make a wishlist for launch-time partnerships
10 Months Prior to Launch
- Communicate with your email list more frequently
- Begin posting more content to social media
- Set up a Goodreads page
- If you’ve decided that you do want to do a book tour, begin planning
- Get new author photos
- Begin launch day celebration plans
8 Months Prior to Launch
- Prepare a sell sheet
- Reach out to bookstores to host your book readings (if you choose to do this)
- Research podcasts to speak on
- Begin long-lead magazine outreach
- If you are hosting a launch party, find the venue and book it
- Grow your email list. A great way to do this is via a lead magnet
- Work on your “extra special offering” for pre-orders will be
6 Months Prior to Launch
- Reach out to potential launch partners
- Follow-up on previous outreach (bookstores, event venues, endorsers)
- Continue sharing to social media and your email list
3 Months Prior to Launch
- Update your website to reflect your publication date and pre-order information
- Reach out to the podcasts you identified during month 8
- Confirm that your book is ready for pre-order online (especially Amazon)
- Reach out to local news outlets
- Promo your lead magnet and extra special offering for pre-sales
- Write your launch email series
- Plan your launch event
1 Month Prior to Launch
- Pre-order book sales campaign
- Invite loved ones to your launch event (if you are having one)
- Finalize pub-week plans
1 Week Prior to Launch
- Schedule pub-day celebrations
- Send out a reminder email
- Share the reminder on social media. Go live!
- Send out an announcement email that today is the day!
- Continue to prepare to share your book and discuss it online for the next 1-2 years. And don’t forget to ask for 5-star Amazon reviews!
BOOK LAUNCH TEAM
So whether you’re self-publishing your book or going with a traditional publishing house, it’s up to you to promote your book! But this doesn’t mean you need to do it alone.
Kelly’s book launch team included:
- A book launch coach
- An online marketing team
- Marketing coordinator
- Social media assistant
- Graphic designer
- Website designer
- Facebook ads specialist
- A podcast booker (this can be replaced by a publicist if you have the financial means)
Tips to finding your book launch team:
- If your budget is limited, find an admin that has multiple skills
- Use your network and ask those whose career you admire, if they have any referrals
- Check out upwork or Fiverr for freelance contractors
Tips to working with your book launch team:
- Decide what success looks like and set specific goals for your launch
- Give yourself and your team the time needed to execute the launch
- Focus on executing a few efforts really well
BOOK LAUNCH DOs
You may be asking, is an author website worth it? The simple answer is yes, we highly recommend having an author website for your book launch. Even if it’s one web page where people can find you, and sign up for your newsletter list.
Website platforms are becoming easier and easier to use- whether you are building your site on Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress, there are a ton of freelance contractors who can whip something up that’s simple.
Love on Your Existing Readers and Community!
Yes, expanding your readership is essential to your book launch. But your existing community is a group you definitely don’t want to miss out on!
Here are a few of my favorite videos from Kelly on this subject:
BOOK LAUNCH DON’Ts
Ok these are actually Maybe Nots. If your focus is on strategic energy dispersal, and you are on a time crunch, read below! If you have given yourself the 18-months described above, then please follow your heart and drive.
What exactly are endorsements? Endorsements are words of praise that typically can live on the front or back cover of your book, as well as the front matter of the book.
Unless you have personal relationships with respected and well-known figures relevant to the theme of your book, pursuing endorsements can be a time suck. And including endorsements from unknown people can be fruitless if the goal is to sell more books.
The concept of a “book tour” has shifted since 2020. If the landscape of our current reality continues to influence the way we gather, a virtual book tour may actually be more of a benefit for new authors. There is a limited amount of reach available at a live book reading, whereas online, the viewership can be endless and even global.
I’ve kept this on the “Don’t” list, because it still does require preparation, time, promotion, and money. The downside is that as easy for a viewer as it is to sign up for a virtual book reading, it’s even easier to skip it.
I recommend paying attention to what feels uplifting and draining when it comes to planning out your book launch calendar. If there are a few bookstores that would help you reach bucket list goals, check out if they’re doing zoom book readings.
BOOK LAUNCH CAMPAIGN IDEAS
Create a Lead Magnet
What exactly is a Lead Magnet? A lead magnet is a free piece of content on your website or shared on social media that you offer to people in exchange for their email address. This is a common way that authors and businesses grow their email list, which is crucial for building your audience.
During Kelly’s book launch, we created an online quiz that revealed to readers where they were in their book journey. We added this to the homepage of the website, as well as invested a part of our budget in Facebook ads to share this with targeted audiences. Subscribers would funnel into an email drip that shared more helpful information. But also, and this is key, informed them about Kelly’s new book, and a special offering just for those who pre-order. Learn more about this below.
Extra Special Offering for Pre-Ordering Your book
This is a popular strategy for book launches. Donald Miller of Storybrand created a temporary free and in-depth business course for pre-ordering his book Business Made Simple. Kelly offered a free live webinar, called “The Organized Author.” This was recorded as a live virtual event where people could ask questions. We recorded the webinar and turned it into “evergreen” content for future book-buyers. Take a look at the offering on our book sales page. Even after 2.5 years, people still funnel through this drip.
By sharing the future webinar with our email list, posting to social media, and having a few close friends of Kelly’s with a large audience promote it, we had a solid participant list.
Luckily with the magic of technology, you don’t need a large audience to still carry out an offering like this. There are settings in the webinar platform we like to use to hide the number of live participants, and many other tricks to still make recording a webinar worth it.
Podcast Interview Spots
If you’re like our lovely marketing director, Nikki Nash, you love connecting with people through conversation. Not only does she have her own podcast, but for the launch of her book, Market Your Genius, she has been booked on 100 guest interview spots!
To do this, you either need a podcast booking agency, a rockstar assistant, or a few hours a week for reaching out to shows that you know shares a similar audience as you.
We hired a podcast booking agency for Kelly during her book launch, guaranteeing 4 interviews a month. Being interviewed on new shows increased awareness of her brand and book. This exposure to new audiences was really helpful in building our email list, and funneling them through the extra special pre-sales campaign.
Podcast Interview Tips:
- Don’t be disappointed or take it personally if top-rated shows don’t respond to your inquiry; people have a lot going on.
- Find smaller and more niche shows if you’re a new author. You are more than likely to nail a spot on one of their episodes, and the host is more likely to share your free lead magnet at the end.
- Use your network – do any family and friends have podcast connections?
- Save your host time by offering specific topics, themes, and questions to ask you.
- Create a one-pager that provides a snippet about you, your book, and conversational points you can elaborate on with the host.
Publishing and launching a book is a meaningful milestone. It can change the lives of your future readers, expand your career, and even strengthen your confidence.
Kelly couldn’t have offered her wisdom without metaphorically standing on top of that mountain and sharing her voice. That’s the power of a book launch.
And please don’t be afraid to mess up! We are all still learning along the way- even Kelly! Take a look at how her life has changed since her book launch:
Sending you all creative vibes and motivational drive along your writing journey!
Kelly Notaras is the founder of kn literary arts and the author of THE BOOK YOU WERE BORN TO WRITE: Everything You Need to (Finally) Get Your Wisdom Onto the Page and Into the World, published by Hay House. An editor for 20 years, she’s worked at HarperCollins, Penguin, Hyperion and Sounds True. She speaks regularly at the Hay House Writer’s Workshops and offers consultation by appointment. Find out more about how she can help you with your book.