Book launches are used as a promotional tool by traditionally published and self-published writers alike. And to make sure they go off without a hitch it is typically a good idea to have a book launch strategy, which is what today’s post will be all about: launch strategies.
These strategies are less about building buzz around your book – that’s why we have book launch teams. Instead, they focus on how you go about promoting your book the week of its release.
In preparation for today’s post, I scoured the internet to find three launch strategies that can help boost you to the bestsellers list in no time. But before we get into that, we need to talk about why you should consider hosting a book launch.
Why Should You Host a Book Launch?
You’ve hit a monumental milestone in your career as a writer. Not everyone has the drive and ambition that you have to succeed.
And you should celebrate that!
But on a more practical, marketing side of things, book launches offer you the following benefits:
- It offers excellent publicity opportunities with local press, bookshops, and your local community.
- Engaging with local bookstores can encourage them to stock your book.
- Photos from your event can be used in a variety of ways to publicize the book.
- It helps encourage your local community to support you.
These launch parties don’t have to big glamorous affairs. They can be simple and intimate as well. As long as you get the word out about your book, it doesn’t matter.
The Launch Strategies
The following launch strategies will work for writers of all experience levels and publication routes. That doesn’t mean that you’ll want to jump to a particular plan right off the bat.
I will split things up to let you know which strategy works well for which route and experience level.
#1: Traditional Launch Strategies
The first strategy that I wanted to touch on is for all of you going down the traditional publishing path. The traditional book launch strategy is a must for all authors who are publishing with a press.
It’s also for those established self-publishers that have some money to throw at it. This strategy is what most people think about when they hear “book launch.”
They think about a glitzy party attended by industry elite, celebrities, and their friends and family. Low lighting, fancy hors d’oeuvres, and gallons of sparkling wine accompany those basking in the launch of your work.
It’s also about touring around with your book and making guest appearances on talk shows, tv shows, radio shows, podcasts, etc.
It is an expensive plan. It’s so costly that traditional publishers are starting to moving away from it. Aside from the big fancy party, what else does it contain?
The Problem for Traditionally Published Authors
Any half-competent trad publisher will:
- Sell hard to national bricks-and-mortar retailers
- Do their best to solicit book reviews from local and national publications
- Try to generate publicity
- Do some social media basics
- Some price promotion work
- Handle all the cover design, cover copy, and press release type stuff
And if they do all these things right, you could turn your book into a Gone Girl or a Girl on the Train. But like all things, this isn’t how it usually works. There are many traditionally published authors, “Why aren’t these people marketing my book?”
So it’s perfectly reasonable for you, as a trad author, to develop a launch plan of your own, to sit alongside the work that your publisher will be doing. You don’t have to keep this a secret, but realize that your publisher may not care what you do, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
But you have a problem.
Most of the tools that indie authors have that are basically closed to you:
- Advertising won’t work. It’s hard enough to make ads work when you earn 70 percent royalties. But if you earn 25 percent of that 70 percent, and hand 15 percent of that 25 percent to your agent, then there is no chance at all that adverts will work for you.
- Price promos + promo sites. You have two issues here. First, the lower level of royalties, and secondly, most trad publishers will have problems finding the flexibility to do what’s needed.
- Kindle Unlimited makes money for most indie authors, but trad publishers are mostly dead-set against giving in to the Beast of Seattle.
It’s a bit depressing, but there is still a lot you can do.
Things You Can Do
While you’re publisher controls most of the promotional activities around your book, like the price, there are still a few things you can do to bump up your earnings.
Here are some things that you can do:
- Use your email list. Email lists are the backbone of the marketing industry. It allows us to make personal connections with our readers. Additionally, everyone has an email address that we regularly check. The people who signed up to get emails from you will probably buy from you later.
- Build a launch team. Launch teams are great at generating buzz around your book and for leaving reviews. You can find out more about them here.
- Take to social media. Social media is a great way to get your book in front of potential buyers.
- Make sure your ebook links to other books you’ve written. Some traditional publishers don’t link to other books that you’ve published. Make sure you press for this to happen because it can translate to more sales down the line.
The Traditional Launch Strategy for Self-Published Authors
Before we dive into how to pull off a traditional book launch, I just wanted to point out that this not a commonly used strategy by self-published authors. It’s costly, time-consuming, and involves some dated marketing tactics.
There are better options out there for self-published authors, such as the free and $0.99 launch plans, which we will discuss below.
With that said, here’s what you need to do:
Now that we know what a traditional launch looks like let’s look at the free launch strategy.
#2: The Free Launch
The free launch strategy is for the first-time author without a large following. Let’s face it, new authors don’t know what we’re doing, and no one knows who we are – yet. So it makes sense to try out a simple but effective launch strategy to help them get their book out there.
The sad but realistic truth about this is that you may not make a lot of money off of your first book launch. Here’s why you shouldn’t focus on the revenue side of things:
- Build reviews
- Populate your “Also Bought” with the right type of readers
- Collect emails for your mailing list
Building a platform to market your books on is so important. People need to know and care about you as a person, brand, and author before they buy your book.
There are humans out there that will buy your book because it was free, or they’re feeling spontaneous, but you need to make sure that you build a lasting relationship with them.
Why? Because they will come back and buy more of your books, which will lead to more revenue for you later.
What it Entails
Here’s what you need to do to get the free launch going:
Aside from the actual downloading and purchasing of your book, you need to focus on building that audience. So make sure you offer your small following free downloads of something to entice them into parting with their email addresses.
And as tempting as it may be, the folks at Jericho Writers warn against putting your book on multiple platforms. It’s easier for you to funnel everyone to one spot rather than spreading it out to various platforms.
This strategy works well for those who are just starting, but what about everyone in between?
#3: The $0.99 Launch
The $0.99 launch strategy is excellent for those who a) have a following, b) is a mid-career author, and c) don’t have the time or money to follow through on a traditional book launch.
Like with the free launch, the $0.99 version is all about making it seem like people are getting a better deal, which can lead to more downloads.
And bonus: you get paid from the beginning!
On top of all this, you still get to implement the free strategy three days before the “initial” release of your book to help boost your visibility on Amazon.
What it Entails
Here’s what you’re going to need to know about the $0.99 launch plan:
Promotional Sites to Check Out
Not sure what other free promo sites are out there? Here’s a handy list from Self-Publishing School that you can check out:
- Buckbooks is the one you want to use. However, you need ten reviews before they’ll schedule you.
- Robin Reads — (need ten reviews and a 4.9 rating) Takes a couple of days to get approved ($55). Forewarning: their calendar can be booked out weeks in advance. In this case, consider using Robin Reads for future promos of existing books already launched.
- BookSends — $40. If you can match this up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day, it’s a little significant boost.
- BKnights (Fiverr) You can’t go wrong for $5. It’s recommended that you take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. Downloads average 12 to 30 depending.
- eReader News — Great gig but hard to get approved at times. It can take several days to get a response, and their price range varies.
- Booksbutterfly is one of the only sites that you pay for downloads. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle ($90) that gets you 50+ downloads + KU borrows.
- The Fussy Librarian has an excellent promotion platform, but it can be hard to book in advance – they are usually booked out two to three weeks ahead. You need ten reviews to get accepted, and price ranges vary.
- Bargain Booksy. No reviews are needed, and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and excellent results.
- eBooks Habit. Great little promo, the guaranteed placement for $10 is recommended.
- Awesome Gang. They have a free option but go with the paid.
- Many Books. Great little gig, average returns, $29. You can also sign up to become a featured author.
- Digital Book Today ($40). Good gig, average returns, and works better with fiction than nonfiction.
- eBook Stage. Another great little promo site, reasonably priced. $10.
- Book Runes. Global reach with over 50,000 on their mailing list, $25. Average to excellent results.
- BookBub is by far the biggest and the best promo site. Very tough to get accepted, and it is expensive, but worth every dime. At the very least, you should set up an Author profile.
- Email your list (if you have one). If you don’t, BUILD one. Email is by far better than all of the promo sites combined. If you don’t have a list yet, start building one with Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convertkit.
Pro tip: For those of you who are self-publishing, consider using these sites in conjunction with the other launch strategies to help direct traffic to Amazon.
Aside from making use of free and paid book promotion platforms, there are some other things you’ll want to take into consideration:
- Re-marketing Ads on Facebook and Google. Google and Facebook will allow you “to go after” people who almost purchased your book, visited your website, or have bought from you in the past. It’s also known as a retargeting campaign. Be warned: it can cost you big time trying to optimize these ads.
- Series-level promos. If you’ve got a series, then you need to think about marketing the other novels in that series, not just the one book. Jericho Writers suggests to use a formula like this one:
Book #1. Free promo. Use Freebooksy, ENT, and other sites to promote the freebie. Make sure you stack promos to deliver downloads in the necessary volumes.
Book #2. Use a Kindle Countdown deal to earn 70 percent royalties at $0.99. Maybe use some of the other promo sites to support this offer. Maybe try some remarketing ads, using a carousel to display all three of the products you have for sale.
Book #3. Launch, launch, launch! This is where you’re going to spend most of your firepower.
- Sophisticated email list use. You should have a following at this point, which means that you can start sending steady traffic to Amazon, which it loves! You can break it down, so specific segments of your email list get the “my book’s out now!” notice. Staggering emails like this ensures that Amazon is always getting new visitors.
Using these tips in conjunction with the $0.99 launch strategy will boost you up the bestseller list in no time!
Launching a book is a combination of strategy, imagination, and hard work. If you have a great book to promote, a team of people backing you up, and use one of these three simple launch strategies, you can have a grand launch that gets your book into the hands of readers.
And the best thing about book launches is that there are always new things to try. So keep tweaking what you’re doing until you find success. You’re only going to get better with each launch.
I don’t know a single writer that doesn’t dream of that special moment when their book is published and waiting to be picked up by enthusiastic fans or of that book rocketing to the top of the bestsellers list.
Happy book launching!
Was there anything I missed or needs to be included? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time, stay safe, everyone!