It’s September, and for me that means back to school, back to work, and back to focusing on my book!
This time last year, I was getting up early every morning to write the book itself. Now a year later, the book is at the printer (yeah!) and I’m getting up early every morning to work on my book launch!
A “book launch,” for those of you who may not be familiar, is your plan for getting the word out about your book.
Every launch plan is different, in part because you could do so many things toward the goal of generating book sales. No single person could possibly do all of them.
The goal of any book launch is to generate as many pre-sales as possible.
Pre-sales = books ordered prior to the publication date, that will all ship on that one day.
This strategy is about building velocity of sales as much as quantity of sales; striking while the iron is hot, so to speak.
I’ve been watching book launches for 20 years. So I’ve seen lots of creative book launch ideas—some that worked really well, others not so much.
But when it comes to marketing trends, you really can’t assume what worked in the past will work today. It’s important to understand what’s working now.
So over the past 18 months, I’ve been paying very close attention to the equally creative book launch ideas being implemented by other transformational authors this year.
(I also happen to have a lot of friends who’ve been there, and are giving me a lot of good advice—thank you, you know who you are!)
I have been working on my launch all year. I’d planned to have some of these goals accomplished months ago. But just like the renovation of my house, the more I started working on the things I wanted to be working on, the more I realized there were other things that needed to happen first.
So I would not necessarily suggest doing what I’m doing—i.e., trying to do everything in the list below in the 10 weeks before your book comes out!! It’s made for a lot of stress and a lot of expense.
(AND, I’m VERY happy with how everything is turning out.)
Without further ado, here are my own creative book launch ideas:
#1: Hire a marketing manager. A book launch can be overwhelming! For me, it was a must to bring someone on to manage all the planes taking off and landing throughout our launch.
I hired the wonderful Alexandra six months ago, and I’m very happy with my choice! Looking back, however, I see that if I could have hired her a year ago, we would be in much better shape today.
Lesson: Hire someone to help with your marketing efforts as soon as possible.
Pro Tip: It doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive—many digital nomads out there will work at a reasonable hourly rate for just a handful of hours a week to start.
#2: Relaunch the knliterary.com website.
I wanted our website to reflect the new era of the company. So I had my first conversation with a web designer eight months ago. It’s been a journey of trial and error since then, but I finally found someone who feels like the right fit. (Er, last week.)
Because it’s fairly last-minute, we’re doing a rush launch—trying to go live just 4 weeks from agreeing to work together. This is expensive and stressful, and not getting the right designer in place 3 months ago is the biggest mistake I’ve made so far on my book launch!
Lesson: Hire a web designer/developer as soon as you can.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to take your website from “good” to “amazing,” be prepared to spend some money in the process! When it comes to design, you often get what you pay for.
#3: Build your email list through an opt-in campaign. Book sales happen when people hear about your book.
The current best practice for getting the word out is to have a lively email list of folks you’re communicating with regularly.
To fill that email list, there is something called an “opt-in campaign.” It can come in many different shapes and sizes.
We’ve chosen to build a useful quiz for aspiring authors, and advertise it on Facebook. Once someone takes the quiz and opts into our email list, they will receive four info-packed emails tailored to the “stage” where they landed on the quiz.
Lesson: Give prospective book buyers something really useful and fun, and they’ll give you their email in return!
Pro Tip: You’ll need to reach beyond your current email list for these new opt-ins, and Facebook still seems to be the best place to do so.
#4: Offer a great giveaway in exchange for pre-ordering the book. When you hear about an interesting new book, it’s easy to think, “I’d like to read that…at some point.” Your goal as an author is to incentivize your readers to order the book right now!
I’m doing so by offering a free workshop to anyone who pre-orders the book. It’s called “The Organized Author: Overcome Overwhelm and Finish Your Book.”
Lesson: Incentivize your followers to purchase the book by offering something valuable if and when they do!
Pro Tip: Survey your audience before you choose your giveaway. I chose to teach a workshop on structure/reducing overwhelm because my audience told me this is their #1 challenge on the book journey. It feels great to know I’m giving them something they really need!
#5: Make strategic live appearances at the time the book comes out. I’ve worked in the book business long enough to know that a traditional multi-city book tour rarely translates into significant book sales.
I did not want to run myself into the ground with touring, knowing that the rewards are small. Instead, I asked myself, “What appearances would I love to make?”
I realized I really wanted to do readings at two of my favorite bookstores—the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, CO, and Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA.
I reached out to both stores with my cover, a pretty PDF “sell sheet” explaining more about the book, and a PDF of my manuscript.
Both said yes! You can visit our events page to find out when I’ll be reading at each of these locations.
Lesson: Only pursue events that you actually want to do at the time of publication.
Pro Tip: Create a PDF “sell sheet” you can send to bookstores, podcasters and other venues. Include your book cover, title/subtitle, pub date, publisher, price, descriptive copy, author photo, author bio, any early praise you’ve received, and contact information.
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So there you have it: My current book launch strategy. Again, everyone’s book is different, and all of us have different interests. My suggestion is to tailor your strategy so it’s specific to what you, yourself love to do!
Love + Books,