(Updated March 2017)
So you want an epic book launch but you don’t know where to start.
Or maybe you’ve launched a book before and it didn’t go as well as you’d hoped!
The question is what should you be doing? What are the steps to follow for a book launch?
I’ll lay it all out using my book The Five Warriors as our case study.
Before you get started, your book should be:
- Fully edited or at least in the editing phase
- In the hands of reviewers who can leave endorsements
Check? Okay, you can read on now (don’t have time to read this now? Download the free guide here)
Step One: Research
3 Months Before Book Launch
Your most important action is research.
I know, it doesn’t sound like fun, but at the very beginning you need to find out who YOU want to read your book.
If you don’t know, how are you supposed to tell them about it?
No, your book is not for everyone. If you’re writing mysteries and trying to market to the little old lady who loves gardening and reading about creating the perfect herb garden, you’re in the wrong market.
But, maybe her neighbor across the street enjoys sitting on the porch reading mysteries while knitting outfits for her cats.
Knowing who your readers are is key for book sales, and that’s what you want, right?
Some things to consider when you do your research:
- What is the age group of your readers?
- Who has the buying power? Do they have it? Their children? Their parents? An organization or charity?
- Where are they online? Facebook? Goodreads? Instagram? Book Blogs?
- Where are they offline? Grocery stores? Local bookstores? Meetups? Churches? Other community groups?
- What are their hobbies? Reading? Writing? Being outdoors? Gaming?
Yes, some of this data can be hard to gather, but you can always just ask. A great place to start is asking friends, family and acquaintances. Read them a description of the book. Tell them what genre it is. Ask them who they think would enjoy reading it. Yes, it’s a process and you’ll be tweaking who your target audience is as you gain more knowledge.
Let’s move to the next step!
Step Two: Irresistible Book Cover
2 Months Before Book Launch
Now that you know who your readers are, start looking at book covers in that genre, and look at some of the bestselling books. What do they have in common? What is different about them? What does the design look like? How big are the words? What kinds of images were used?
As an indie author, especially because you don’t have name recognition yet, your book is judged by its cover. You don’t want to it do yourself, or go through a cheap site like Fiverr – but there are low-budget ways to get a great design.
First, you need to have a vision for what you want your book design to look like. Compile a list of covers styles you love, look up images you like, and send them to a designer with details. Also be conscious of revisions; some designers allow unlimited revisions and some only allow 2-3. The pros will spend $900+ on an amazing book design.
Keep in mind, if you are doing an ebook you’ll just need the ebook cover. Let your designer know where you’ll be publishing through and send them the link to the specs. If you are publishing a paperback novel, you’ll need to know your final word count for the book. That way your designer can calculate the spine width and prepare the book cover for print. Yep, there’s a difference between the two!
Need book cover resources? Read the full post: What to Look for When Hiring a Book Cover Designer
Have an awesome book cover? Applause! Let’s move to the next step.
Step Three: Pre-Order
6 Weeks Before Launch
It’s time to set up pre-order pages for your book, you can do this for the ebook and the paperback.
If you’re just doing Amazon Kindle you can find full details here.
You’ll want to have the long and short descriptions of your book, the final cover design, and the launch date. If your book isn’t formatted for Kindle yet, don’t worry about it. We’ll cover that in the next step.
Pro Tip: Remember, with pre-launch your book is not available for download until the day it goes live.
Want your paperback to be available for pre-order? You can do so by following the step by step instructions here.
Done? Let’s move to the next step. Your sales page.
Step Four: Book Sales Page
5 Weeks Before Launch
Wait…what? Okay, this is just one page that introduces your book, what it’s about, why you should buy it, where you can buy it, about the author, and of course, share it! For this you’ll want:
- Book Cover
- Links to Pre-order
- Book Trailer or Video (optional)
- About the Book Text
- Endorsements/Reviews (this will be from reviewers or beta readers)
- A professional headshot (no selfies)
- About the author
- Links to social media
If this sounds intimidating don’t worry. You can:
- Create a sales page on your website
- Take the course and learn how to create a Book Sales Page that Sells Books
- Hire someone to do it for you (hey I do that!)
About this time you should be getting reviews back from beta readers. You have given them 4 weeks to read the book, right? You know they are busy, so if you haven’t heard back just send a friendly reminder. “Hey Bobby, I know you’re busy but wanted to check and see if you have feedback about my book. Did you like it? I’d love to include a one-line review on my sales page. Would you be okay with that?”
Yes, they will, 5 minutes of fame here we come! Also, let them choose from some endorsements, you can write them out and have them tweak it, especially if you’re dealing with someone pressed for time like a local author or college professor.
Hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t have. So always ask. Don’t be shy 😉
Step Five: Format Your Book
Time to format your book! Ugh. eBooks and paperbacks are no fun to format. I’m just being honest. Do yourself a favor and hire someone (not me!).
Just go here, they are awesome: Curiouser Editing
So, I’m assuming you hired someone to format your book so you can move on to the next step. Good choice! Because marketing is time and energy!
Let’s pause here and recap:
- Your book is done
- The cover design is irresistible (like chocolate, who can resist it!)
- It’s available for pre-order
- Your sales page is completed
- Your book is formatted for ebook or print or at least in progress
- You are at least 4 weeks out from your book launch date
Yay! Let’s tell people about it.
Step Six: Tell People About It aka Marketing and Promotion
Email List: Create an email list using MailerLite (free for your first 1,000 subscribers plus free automation!). Offer a free chapter or some other fun incentive. Your email list is the group of people you can message about your book, but keep it to once a week.
Don’t tell but, for my book launch, I did a 10-day countdown and sent out a new email every single day. No one unsubscribed and I was quite impressed! But still, don’t bug them too much.
If you’re serious about dramatically growing your email list I recommend using Instafreebie and participating in group author promotions. Learn more here.
Contest: Let them spread the word for you! Give away something people can get hyped about, like a $25 Amazon Gift Card, or Kindle Fire, or Apple iPad. Look at your budget and decide, but it cannot be a copy of your book. You’re new and people just don’t care…yet. Use Rafflecopter or Gleam to setup your contest.
Here’s my Gleam affiliate link. Yes, I get $5 credit if you sign up so please do! I just use the free version and upgrade every now and them to download email addresses. Since it can be overwhelming here’s what I suggest: (Yep, just copy and paste my ideas, they are free, so use them.)
- Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card
- Winner: 1 winner
- How to Enter:
- Email address (required) – 1 entry
- Tweet Daily for 1 additional entry per Tweet
- Like my Facebook Page – 1 entry
- Like my Instagram Profile – 1 entry
- Watch the Book Trailer – 1 entry
Pro Tip: If you are using Twitter or Instagram create a hashtag for your book. Mine is #thefivewarriors and I LOVE getting on Instagram and Twitter and seeing all the buzz. Woohoo! Check it out and feel the book love 🙂
ThunderClap or HeadTalker Campaign
This is fun and requires work. Yes, I would do it again but wow, talk about feeling stressed!
What is ThunderClap? Let’s break it down.
You know about Kickstarter? IndieGoGo? GoFundMe? Yep, same thing, except people don’t donate money, they offer to share your post. You set the date the campaign ends and try to get at least 100 supporters before times up. If you meet your goal and get all your supporters, your message will blast out on their profiles at the day and time your campaign ends. If you don’t get to 100..better luck next time.
Need an example?
While this may not generate a ton of sales, what it does is promotes your work. Hey, if other people are talking about it I may just go check it out!
Wow, you have some awesome things going on with your book launch. Let’s think of some other ideas:
Go on a Blog Tour – I did this the month after my book launched which was a great way to keep the momentum going and keep the sales coming. After the first week sales dropped, but once the Blog Tour got started they picked back up.
Who hosted mine? Well, since my genre is fantasy I went with: Enchanted Book Promotions for an entire month.
Have a Facebook Party – a great idea to have a virtual party. Get someone else to host it for you and tap into their audience. I used Book Nymph PR
Have a physical book launch. This was one of the BEST things I did in conjunction with my birthday. It was a beautiful party. I had it in my tiny apartment and there was not enough seating for everyone. It was live on Periscope as well. Read all about it here and get some ideas for your own!
Pro Tip: If you have it in a public place, announce it to the media. Since I didn’t mine ended up being smaller but wow the books flew!
Goodreads Giveaway: Make sure you have an Author Profile setup on Goodreads, claim your book and have a giveaway. This goes well for paperbacks books, and run it for 7-14 days. On average I’ve seen at least 700 people opt-in for the giveaway and add it to their “to read” list. It’s an excellent way to get more eyes on your book. I’ve actually run 2 giveaways now, the first one had almost 900 people request it, the second about 700.
Advertising – I only recommend this if you know your ideal reader and have the budget for this. Even if it’s as small as $5 a day. Places where you should advertise:
Use lookalike audiences, for example, if fans of Lord of the Rings will love your books, say that.
Remember, with marketing and promoting your book, you don’t have to do everything at one time, in fact, don’t. You’ll just wear yourself out. Pick a new market to target each month. Maybe last month you ran Facebook Ads, this month focus on Amazon Ads and your Goodreads giveaway. The month after that, run a contest and focus on spreading the word on Instagram.
Of course, my book is out there and I cannot get over all the book love. My #1 goal with my book launch was to get my book into the hands of 2,000 fantasy lovers in 60 days.
Did I meet my goal? Why yes. Now it’s time for you to meet yours.My ideal readers are:
My ideal readers are:
- Between 13-21
- Love reading epic fantasy like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones and indie books like mine
- Borrow money from their parents for books (and never pay them back)
- Have book blogs
- Are all over Instagram and post using the hashtags #indiebooksbeseen and #bookish
- Always take a #socksunday picture
- Think book swag is the coolest thing ever
- Would rather be reading