I self-published my first novel about two years ago, but I still remember feeling like a fish out of the water during the whole ordeal. On one hand, I was worried about how the readers would receive my literary baby; on the other, wondering how they would ever discover it among millions of other books. And that's where the launch plan made all the difference.
Thankfully, I had a few advisers to guide me through the process. In this blog post, I will share the strategies that helped my book The Seven Lives of Grace gather solid reviews and become an Amazon bestseller. I will also include things other authors tried successfully.
When I was thinking about the title for this post, I wanted to use words like "stress-free" and "easy", only to realize that's kind of impossible with a book launch. Even if you get a literary agent or hire a book publicist, you would still be very much involved, busy, and worried like a mother whose child is making important first steps in life. And you should be because how your book launches into the world will determine its initial success or failure. But I hope this information will allow you to stress a little less and to plan a little better for this big event.
Things might look slightly different if you're hoping to get a traditional publishing deal or want to do everything on your own, but most of these steps will still be your responsibility. Read this article about the pros and cons of each route.
You can always use these strategies to re-launch after publishing, but it's best to do everything right from the start. If you've just completed your manuscript, congrats! Time to switch gears into marketing. If you're still working on it, kudos for planning ahead. In fact, planning ahead is exactly what needs to be done.
Here are some steps you can start taking up to a year prior to your publication date:
Build a social media presence where your readers hang out - be active in the online community, join groups, share your writing journey and information about your WIP, share comparable books.
Start building a buzz - cover reveals, blurb, snippets, character art, etc. - spread the word about your upcoming release to find interested readers and fellow authors in your genre.
Participate in other people's launches to learn and build relationships - this is the time to sow into the efforts of others so that you can reap later when it's your turn.
Within 4-6 months prior to release, start building your team:
Often your beta-readers are your greatest supporters - you can find them on beta-reading Facebook groups, among your fellow authors, from your readers, friends, or on social media.
🗝 Remember that this is an advertisement meant to find the right readers for your upcoming book - make it look nice. Include your cover and your blurb as well as a few perks for being on the team (make sure not to break any of the Amazon rules on getting reviews). Make it clear what your expectations are from the start. Here is more information on how to build your launch team and what incentives to offer.
A few months prior to release:
Send an update to your launch team with clear information on how to support you before and after the release. Make it easy to follow through - provide links, simple steps, examples, graphics.
Organize your launch campaign on Goodreads - learn how in this very insightful webinar.
Sign up for a virtual book tour, launch party, blog tour - here are some tips from other authors.
Within a month of release:
Give an update to your launch team and start a countdown with weekly then daily reminders. Here is more in-depth information on how to help people follow through with reviews.
Schedule a book release party online with giveaways - send out the link to sign up.
Run a contest or a giveaway - partner with bookish merch creators or other authors.
Plan out paid book promotions (some sites require 10+ reviews) - here is a list.
Join other authors' newsletters, group promotions, be a guest blogger, go on the podcast, etc.
Make sure everything is set up for the Amazon release:
Professional book cover and thoroughly edited book file - both correctly formatted (Use IngramSparks if you want wide distribution - can also do a hardcover format).
Hone your book description to hook the reader - ask for feedback, look at comparable books.
Decide on the strategy you'll use - 2-5 free days if you're in KU, countdown deal, or 99c.
🗝 There are a few things to consider when choosing the launch strategy. I found the hard way that downloads during free days don't count toward the bestselling status. No one truly knows how the Amazon algorithm works, so it might still give your book a boost once you switch to paid store. If your goal is to make it easier for people on your launch team to get your book or you want to reach more readers that would potentially stick around (have a sign up inside), you can still do at least 2 free days.
During the release:
Send a notification to your launch team, your e-mails list, your social media that the book is out.
Send the updates as you start climbing the Amazon ranks and getting reviews - celebrate wins.
Unleash your street team & encourage them to share your book - provide easy graphics & script.
Start paid promotions such as Facebook ads (requires some pre-learning to work), tweets, pins.
Utilize Goodreads to send updates and create a launch giveaway- ask others to share it or recommend, like or review your book on that platform.
Apply for BookBub Featured New Release.
Share early reviews and encourage others to share their reviews of your book online.
Stream live Q&As about your book.
🗝 Here is more information from self-pubslihingschool.com about the book launch strategies with the breakdown of the e-mail campaign to send during that time. Don't be afraid to remind people as everyone gets busy, but do it in a way that would make your launch team excited to be part of the process. Make it fun. Here is also a list of ideas for promotions during the launch from BookBub.