My latest book, THREE STRAND CORD, made it into the top 100 books in three categories on Amazon.ca, holding steady in ‘hot new releases’ in Christian fiction for several days after the launch.
This isn’t my first book launch and it isn’t the first time I’ve seen this kind of result. However, I have learned a few things over the years about what seems to work and what takes a lot of effort with little reward. Of course, the book industry is always changing and so must our strategies when it comes to launching a new book.
Here is a breakdown about has worked for me.
Not allowing enough time to plan - and implement that plan - is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make when launching a book. I’ve done quick ‘thrown together’ launches before and beyond some congratulations from friends or a few ‘thumbs up’ on FB, I had little to show for it. Start planning your book launch two to three months ahead of time. This takes away some of the stress and ensures that those who are willing to help you have enough time to prepare as well.
Give away books.
Do this a couple of months ahead of time so that people have time to read it. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but it is a must. Consider using a service like ‘Book funnel’ for a limited time and then ask for potential readers. Do this via email, on Facebook, Goodreads or wherever else you think of. State that you are launching your book on such-and-such a date and would appreciate an honest review posted on that date in exchange for a free book. Of course, you can’t force people to write that review, but being honest about why you are giving free books away just makes sense. Remind readers about a month from the launch and then again a day or two before the launch. (Hopefully, you acquired permission to hold their email addresses, or contact them through Messenger.)
Build an Email List & Launch Team
Speaking of email addresses, a newsletter of some sort that builds an email list is the backbone of everything else you do in terms of marketing. I use Mail Chimp, but there are many alternatives. This is where you should be building your ‘Launch team’ – people willing to help you during your launches by sharing on social media, featuring you on their blogs, etc. I have three separate sub-lists within my newsletter email list: Launch team; Beta readers; and Prayer team. If you have beta readers, ask them to review the book on launch day as well. Of course, your prayer team is essential and you should have already asked them to pray for you and your launch.
Put together an easy to use package to give to people willing to help. It should include
- a sample guest post
-ten or more tweets
-a blurb about the book,
-an author bio
- jpgs of the cover and an author photo
-links to where the book can be bought, and any other appropriate links such as to the book launch landing page.
Of course, in order to have purchase links and landing page links available, you will also need to create these ahead of time. If you upload the book to Amazon as a pre-order you can include that link, or simply give the link to the landing page on your blog. Make sure this only goes live on the day of the launch itself if you are incentivizing the book on launch day.
Solicit other people of influence.
If you are active as part of other groups, reach out to them asking for help during your launch. Look for other authors who write in the same genre. Send the Launch Team Package to people willing to help. You can also ask if they would like to offer a giveaway as part of the launch. This is good exposure for them, too. You’ll want to compile an assortment of giveaways for launch day that encourages people to buy the book during the launch.
Everything I’ve suggested so far has proved to work in the four times I’ve had books hit the best seller lists on Amazon. Twice I’ve made it into the top 100 on Amazon.com, and all four times on Amazon.ca. THREE STRAND CORD is my eighth novel. The other four times I either did nothing and hoped for the best, or I threw something together at the last minute. The results speak for themselves, I think.
Previously, I hosted my launch on my own website and that was it, but this year I tried something new and also hosted a Facebook launch party. It was a lot more work, but I must say I also found it to be quite a bit of fun and I think it made the overall day more successful and increased the hype surrounding the book. I had about 15 giveaways during the FB party, besides the standard incentive on my website for people who bought the book during the launch.
As much as possible, prepare everything in advance and automate it.
This includes the blog post you will use the day of the launch, the ‘landing page’ (a static page on your website where you can direct people that have bought your book so that they can receive their free incentives), a method of delivering the incentives (Amazon S3 works well), an automated email sequence on your email provider – both for your regular list and a separate list that will collect the addresses of people who buy the book during the launch. This allows you to deliver the incentives and also thank them. Make sure you send a final email after the launch stating that you will remove their email addresses from your list once the launch is over.
I know this sounds overwhelming – and it can be. There are a lot of moving parts when planning a book launch. During my first few launches I had the advantage of a wonderful group of mentors through the ‘John 3:16 Marketing Network’ started by author Lorilyn Roberts. I’ve also found the following ‘experts’ to be extremely helpful: Tim Grahl – booklaunch.com and Nick Stephenson – Your First 10,000 Readers
Kim's note: I would add three things to this list of resources:
1) my free Facebook Group, Marketing Savvy Authorpreneurs
- where we learn the basics of finding and connecting to our audience
2) my Social Media Crash Course for Authors (also free)
- the intro to using Facebook to sell books
3) my Book Launch Method
- a course designed to help you implement some of the methods Tracy described
Tracy Krauss is a multi-published novelist, playwright, and artist with several award winning and best selling novels, stage plays, devotionals and children’s books in print. Her work strikes a chord with those looking for thought provoking faith based fiction laced with romance, suspense and humor – no sugar added. She holds a B.Ed from the U of S and has lived in many remote and interesting places in Canada’s far north. She and her husband currently reside in beautiful BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. Visit her site at TracyKrauss.com
“Fiction on the edge – without crossing the line”