What to Know About Doing a Book Launch
I’m stepping out of the box of talking about advanced freelancing for this particular episode because I have had a number of people reach out to me about the process of marketing a book. I recently wrapped up the launch of my first book “How to Start Your Own Freelancing Business” published by Entrepreneur Press in July 2019.
If you have been following me, you already know this is the book I wish I had when I started out as a freelance writer. And that is what I kept in mind when I was writing this book. I don’t really talk about the craft of writing, but I do talk about how to set yourself up for success working with clients, what you need to know about marketing, what typical days look like, etc.
This book was published very quickly when you think about the traditional timeline of publishing. So that gave me a very condensed timeline to come up with a plan for launching and marketing this book. In this episode, I’m going to dive into the “behind the scenes” of my book launch and what it really takes to market a book.
Regardless of if you are traditionally published, self-published, or thinking about writing a book, marketing is key.
Having a solid book launch and a marketing plan in place is very important no matter which direction you go with publishing. This is something you should be thinking about ideally before you even start to write a book. Why? Because it matters! The marketing of the book actually takes up a substantial amount of time after the content is written. But it can take a long time to put that plan in place.
Why do publishers care about book launch marketing?
It’s because it directly affects sales. The more you can drive up the hype and excitement about this coming attraction, the more likely people are going to be to preorder your book and/or order it after it launches. Makes sense, right? I’ve interacted with lots of authors who have self-published a book who have said, “Hey, I just started thinking about marketing. My book came out 3 months ago.” Now, this is not to say you can’t still market a book after it’s been published. However, the ideal time is before it comes out.
My book came out in July 2019, but I really started thinking about marketing in December. When you write a nonfiction book, your book is sales based on the proposal. So your marketing plan is part of that proposal. Essentially you are trying to communicate to publishers:
● Here is what I intend to do to market the book.
● Things you have already done to establish a platform and a brand.
Let’s Talk About Platform
In the world of nonfiction books, the platform is an important word you’re going to hear over and over again. Essentially, it’s how you are connected to all the different people in your world that are going to buy this book. So this could be your social media numbers, your email list subscribers, the number of people you have in your online courses, etc. All of this makes up your platform.
This is a way for publishers to evaluate if you already have an audience ready and willing to buy your book. So the platform is one of the most important things that publishers look at when they are deciding if they want to work with you on a nonfiction book. It’s still important in the fiction world, but less important.
You see a lot of nonfiction authors who are professional speakers, CEOS, or online business gurus who have already built a business and have recognition for that business. Nonfiction publishers see these types of people as less of a risk because they have already built up recognition and an audience who will be willing to buy their books.
Publishers care about book launch marketing. There is a myth that if you get a publisher or self publish a book all you have to do is put it out there and people will buy it. Which isn’t the case at all. You have to do just as much work, if not more, on the marketing end of things for a book to actually sell. There are A LOT of books out there. If you want your book to actually sell you have to put in time and effort on the marketing! Any savvy author out there is going to put in that time on marketing their book.
I had a solid 6-month plan for marketing.
It started with the development of the book launch/marketing plan I had in my proposal. But of course, it went much beyond that as well. I started tweaking and using it in a lot of different ways after the book was written because I knew more about what I could say the book was truly about. So you need a plan about 6 months out. You will be tired at the end of it, but it’s worth it. You should have a lot to do if you’ve done your work.
One of the things that really helped me was having a launch team, I had an author’s assistant who helped me plan out the launch. I also did a call with a book launch strategist who walked me through the different components of my marketing plan. We went over what I had already typed up and how my TedX Talks were going to work in conjunction with my launch. She even reviewed some of my creative ideas.
I did a lot leading up to my book launch.
I did 2 TedX Talks in the month leading up to my book launch. I created a book trailer. I have appeared or will appear on 35 podcasts that I pitched. I did some guest blogging, I did some traditional media responses using HARO. I also reached out to all of my contacts in different industries to let them know the book was coming out. I found collaborations in diff organizations that had a similar audience to mine. I offered a giveaway to their audience. I worked with an influencer who advertised my book to her audience as well. And of course, I leveraged my launch team.
My launch team was a core set of volunteers who committed to buy the book when it came out. They agreed to submit a review. They shared things on social media. This was helpful for me because you kind of get tired of talking about your own book. Also, you can say all you want about your own book, but it won’t matter as much as what someone else has to say about your book. When you can rely on a launch team like this it’s huge because social proof speaks volumes.
I recommend having a plan that is 6 months out because you have so many different components that you need to consider.
You have to consider things like traditional media responses, working with a publicist, etc. Working with a publicist is risky and expensive for several different reasons. Because of this I actually DIYed most of my book launch.
So for my launch plan, I built out a calendar of exactly when I wanted certain things to drop. This included:
● Book trailer to drop exactly 30 days before the book launch.
● Have my launch team primed and ready to go exactly 30 days before the book launch.
● Make sure we have a lot of sales on the day the book became available.
So I did a lot of sharing in my personal network. I built a launch team. I wrote about the book on LinkedIn. I reached out to a lot of different people on what they could do to help me with this launch. I did giveaways. I went Live on other people’s Facebook pages…. I also had the book pre-order link in my email signature for about 5 months leading up to it. It just had a picture of the book and it said buy my first book.
Behind the scenes of the book launch is tiring.
It was harder to do the marketing than it was to write the book. I’ve been writing for years. But all of the different moving pieces of the marketing really paid off because the book was ranking very well on Amazon the first week it was up. It was really great to see this after all of that hard work. I do recommend you give yourself NO LESS than 3 months and that’s only if you have your marketing plan laid out and you are just picking the components of it.
We also had a preorder giveaway. So I had a landing page on my website where people who preordered could send a copy of their receipt and they would get a special set of bonuses. I also scheduled conferences the summer the book was coming out so that I could talk about it and sell some copies lives and sign them and build buzz. I also gave anyone who bought it live access to the special set of bonuses.
Another important thing to do is ask for reviews.
It’s very important to get reviews on Amazon. Why? Because it helps other people decide if they want to purchase the book. I kind of assumed that people would just go back and leave a review after they read the book. But that’s not necessarily the case. I learned that you really need a more personal approach and reach out to people who have purchased it. You need to personally ask them to leave a review. Reviews are really key for Amazon to see that people are not only buying the book but they are actually reading it and liking it.
So this is something I am still actively working on a little over a month after the book has come out. I’m still personally reaching out to people who have purchased the book. I am finding creative ways to keep the buzz about the book going.
The first 90 days are important in Amazon’s algorithm. Why? Because you want to get your book in the suggestion section of Amazon. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that says “Customers who bought this also bought…”. I want my book to be associated with other books on writing or books in a similar genre. I want this to happen so that people who don’t necessarily don’t know me personally have a chance to see my book and possibly buy it.
So if you are thinking about publishing a book either the traditional route or self-publishing, you cannot afford to neglect marketing.
This has a lot of similarities with much of the teaching that I do around running your freelance business too. To be successful in freelancing or in marketing a book you have to have your finger on the pulse of marketing. You have to be doing something every day or every week that is moving your marketing efforts forward.
You lose a lot if you don’t already have a marketing plan in place before you launch. It’s really a lot harder to try to do this after the launch to generate the buzz you need to sell your book. So if you are self publishing think about how much lead time you need to have to create this marketing plan and be able to implement it around the time the book comes out. That date is very important. You want to be able to show Amazon and other retailers where the book is listed. You want to show them The buzz and hype around it and the excitement that coincides with that date. So it’s a lot harder if you are looking back 3-6 months later and try to start marketing your book because you have already lost some traction by not already having a marketing plan in place.
Reverse Engineering The Marketing Plan
From the moment I signed the contract for my book “How to Start Your Own Freelance Business”, I knew the publishing date was going to be July. So I reverse engineered all of my marketing plans and ideas thinking back about when I wanted certain things to drop. I thought about how I could use various components of my marketing to get maximum leverage out of them.
Like in the month before the book came out I wanted to drop the book trailer because it would generate more excitement than if it was launched 4 months before the book came out. I also didn’t want my launch team to sign up too early because then they would sign up and forget about it. It would be really hard to keep people engaged and do their posting on their social media and leave reviews.
Yes, there is a lot of buzz leading up to the book release date, but you have to continue marketing your book for the days and months after the release.
This shows consistency. It shows that there is still interest in your book after the initial release. You also have to make sure you don’t frontload your marketing plan too much. How are you going to keep the excitement going a month or two months after the book has been published? What other components of your marketing plan can be activated at this point after it has been published?
So as you can see there is a lot of work that went into planning a book launch. It was very tiring. Towards the end, I was happy that I had planned ahead because I was also balancing my freelance business and watching the launch go live. I was nervously tracking everything. I was very thankful in the summer when the book dropped that I had done a lot of the leg work in advance. Why? Because I don’t know that a lot of the marketing that I did would have come to fruition if I hadn’t planned it months in advance.
It was kind of surreal when the book came out because I had spent so much time thinking about the marketing and doing outreach and putting this plan together that it was like “WOW, THE BOOK IS ACTUALLY HERE!” It has been this thing that I have been talking about, thinking about, and strategizing for so so long and now it’s here. Now to keep the buzz going. Having the energy and strategy to do that was largely due to the fact I had done so much planning in advance.
So I strongly recommend if you are thinking about publishing a book to think about your marketing now. It contributes to your platform and the likelihood you will be able to work with a traditional publisher. Even if you are self-publishing platform is just as important because you are doing all of the marketing legwork to get that book off the ground. You will thank yourself later when you have done the work in advance.
To get a copy of my book Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business—available now! Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and more. Of course, I would be honored if you would also leave a review of my book!