Without promotion, something terrible happens…nothing!
—P. T. Barnum
The day has finally come—the most exciting day in your life and career as an author—the day your book is introduced to the world. After months, maybe years of writing, you now are able to hold it in your hands, and it’s time to let readers know of its existence. Or better yet, you have a few months before it is published for some prepublication promotion.
And that, of course, is the key to selling books—people won’t buy them if they don’t know they exist. Your marketing journey starts with a successful book launch, one that will make people aware of your book so they will buy it and perhaps even help you promote it. In addition, a successful book launch will result in early sales that give your book momentum in the marketplace.
Regardless of whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, you can do many things to launch your book so that it gets into the hands of as many readers as possible. Following are some checklists to guide you through the process. But wait—I don’t recommend that you attempt to do everything on these lists—you’ll drive yourself crazy if you do. Pick out a manageable number of things you feel comfortable doing and that make sense for your book.
Oh, and above all, listen to P. T. Barnum...
The Big Three
The trick to efficient and effective book promotion is to target likely buyers—easier said than done, I know. But the sooner you get your book in the hands of as many people as you can, the more momentum your book launch will have. And this is important, especially if you market your book on Amazon. If people see that your book was published a year ago, for example, and you have only a few reviews, they could interpret that as no one is interested in your book. So why should they?
The most-likely people to buy your book are going to be your fans—the people who have signed up for your e-mail list who have indicated they want to know more about you as an author and when your next book is coming out. This group should be the most important group in your promotion strategy.
The second most-likely group of people who will buy your book are the ones who learn about it from your influencers. Influencers can be other authors, bloggers, podcasters, or industry gurus—people with whom you have made contact during your writing project who have significant followings. Working with influencers is a two-way street of course—you promote their books, websites, and/or services, and they return the favor in kind.
The third most-likely group of people to buy your book are your social media followers. While some people follow others just to rack up the number of people they follow, some actually follow a person because they are interested in them and/or what they have to offer.
Long Before Your Book Is Released
· Identify your influencers (those who can get others to buy your book).
· Write and memorize your elevator speech.
· Develop an author website.
· Start a blog.
· Establish yourself in discussion groups on social media sites.
· Start building an e-mail subscriber list of people who are interested in your work.
· Create your profile on Goodreads and Amazon’s Author Central page.
· Make a list of book-promotion and book-listing sites.
· Order business cards and hand them out whenever appropriate.
· Draft promotional materials (postcards, bookmarks, posters, etc.).
· Determine your target market and ways to reach them.
· Check out your competitors and see what they are doing to promote their books.
One Month Before Your Book Is Released
· Compose long, medium, and short synopses for your book.
· Write a press release or hire someone to write it.
· Draft a media-kit page for your website.
· Contact your influencers.
· Put out teasers on your website, blog, e-mail list, and social media.
· Participate in guest posts and online interviews.
· Plan a launch party/event.
· Set up a blog tour.
· Start soliciting book reviews.
· Investigate paid and free advertising on social media and other venues.
· Consider creating a book trailer.
· Set up preorder options with Amazon and other distribution sites.
One Week Before the Book Is Released
· Establish a list of people to whom you will gift a copy of your book. Draft a personal request asking them to help you promote the book by spreading the word and writing a review on Amazon and Goodreads.
· Consider launching a social media contest with your book as a giveaway prize.
· Promote your book by posting the first chapter on your website.
· Repeat teasers on your website, blog, e-mail list, and social media.
· Set up a Google alert for your name and book title.
Day of the Launch
· Headline the book release on your website.
· Go live with the media kit on your website.
· Send an announcement to your e-mail subscriber list.
· Post an announcement (better yet, pin it) on your social media pages, website, and blog.
· Post an announcement on the promotional pages of your social media groups.
· Update your author pages on social media and other sites.
· Update your e-mail signature line.
· Plan a book-launch event at bookstores or other retailers that sell books; cafés, restaurants, bars; outdoor parks; libraries; or in your home.
· Repeat any of the above that will keep your name and book title in front of readers.
All the Time
· Have your elevator speech ready when people ask you what your book is about.
· When people tell you they liked your book, ask them if they would write a short review on Amazon and Goodreads.
· Whenever you post something about your book on social media, tell your fans, followers, and friends to feel free to re-post.
If done well, a book launch will create interest, excitement, and momentum for your book. It will also help you establish your brand and credibility as an author.
There is no best way to launch a book. Choose activities you’re most comfortable with from the lists above, work hard at what you do, and hope for the best.