The other week I shared some of the reasons why you might consider a book launch even if your book isn't brand new. This week, I wanted to share some of my thinking behind the relaunch of Book Blueprint, in the hope that it will help you with your own launch strategy.
Some background – why am I redoing my book launch?
Even though my original launch didn’t go as planned (read: I never really launched), I didn’t consider relaunching until I got an unexpected offer.
I’d just finished an interview on The Entrepreneur Way podcast. Once we finished recording, Neil (the interviewer) mentioned that he’d also interviewed someone in the US who was doing publishing for entrepreneurs and said we should connect.
He connected me to one David Hancock by email, and we set up a time to Skype.
My expectation going into the call was that we’d share some war stories and part as friends.
Instead, I got onto the call to discover that not only had he bought a copy of my book, he’d read it, loved it, and said that his publishing company – Morgan James Publishing – wanted to republish it and distribute it in North America. (I think it took me all of five seconds to say, ‘hell yes!’)
Since then, we also partnered to help a selection of Grammar Factory clients distribute their books internationally, but that’s a story for another day.
On the initial call with the publishing team, we set the release date, and I realized that that date was coming up very soon, so it was time to get my act together.
The book launch goal
The goal is simply to get the book in front of as many of my target market (entrepreneurs who want to write a book) as possible, in the hope that some of them will buy the book.
How many would I like to buy the book? While I’d love to shoot for 10,000, I think 2,500 is a more realistic number given my current reach.
Book launch pre-launch activities
There are quite a few things that need to take place before you can launch a book, including.
Write the book!
This might sound self-explanatory, but I get so many people asking me about marketing strategies when their book is still in the idea stage. Yes, it’s a good idea to think about the marketing when you’re in the writing process, as this will give you the head start you need for a successful launch. However, you can’t launch if there’s no book to launch.
Smaller steps that fall into this topic include:
Become an expert on your topic
When I wrote the first draft of Book Blueprint in late 2014, I’d personally edited about 45 books and had been running Book Blueprint workshops for months. Our client list is now well over 200 entrepreneurs, so I know the system works.
Confirm that there’s a market for your book
The topic had been tested through the Book Blueprint workshops, and was tested again when I asked for beta readers and endorsers.
Write and publish a great book
My book was written by an editor, and then underwent three rounds of edits with three separate editors. I invested in professional cover and internal layout design, followed by eBook conversion. I printed on high-quality stock. All of this resulted in a great response over the past eighteen months or so and when I handed it over to Morgan James, it was ready to go.
Build an audience
The most successful book launches are the ones where the author has an audience that is ready to go. I’ve been growing my audience for the past 3.5 years and, while it’s still fairly small, it gives me a much stronger starting point then if I was releasing a book without this.
Set up the back-end
By this, I mean everything needs to be set up to allow book sales to take place. The book needs a website or a webpage, it should be available from Amazon and other online retailers, and if you’re distributing to book stores, distribution should be lined up before the launch. Then, everything needs to run smoothly – payments, email confirmations and deliveries.
Book launch activities
Once the book is ready to launch, the next step is the launch itself.
As I mentioned earlier, the goal is to get my book in front of as many people in my target audience as possible. To do this, I’m going to be looking at guest posting, podcasts, reviews, media coverage, advertising, and social media.
1. Guest posting in preparation for the book launch
Writing blog posts and articles for websites with an entrepreneurial audience, with a call to action about the book (probably to download the first two chapters for free).
Guest posting is something I did quite a bit of over the past 18 months, with some of the sites I was featured on including Business Insider, GrowthLab, Location 180, Flying Solo and Anthill Online.
My experience was a bit hit and miss. Some of the sites were great for driving traffic and building my list, while others generated fewer than 10 visits to the Grammar Factory website and no subscribers.
The biggest difference is whether or not my post gets emailed to the other website’s subscribers, as well as being published on the site itself. The problem with a lot of content websites is that there is too much for any reader to consume, so most readers rely on the email newsletter to tell them what they should focus on. If your post is featured in the newsletter, great! If it isn’t, then you’ll get a trickle of the attention you would otherwise receive.
The only exception is if the website gets so much traffic that even a fraction of that ends up being huge (I’m looking at you, Business Insider!).
With this in mind, I’m going to be focusing on higher traffic sites, or sites where I already have a personal relationship with the editor and am more likely to get featured in the newsletter.
2. Line up podcasts in advance of your book launch
Like guest posting, I’ll be looking at podcasts that focus on small business and entrepreneurship. I might look at self-publishing podcasts as well, but those are less likely to reach my target market, as my book is designed for entrepreneurs writing a nonfiction (probably a how-to) book, rather than the many self-publishing authors who are writing fiction and memoirs.
A handful of podcasts featured me in the past and didn't deliver much direct traffic. However, Google Analytics can’t measure when someone listens to your interview on iTunes and then Googles your website after listening, so I’m taking those stats with a grain of salt.
Podcasts did lead to a couple of opportunities I wasn’t expecting. One was my publishing deal with Morgan James, which I mentioned earlier. The other was a listener who turned into a publishing client.
The major issue I see myself running into here is that I don’t have many existing relationships in this space, so it’s going to be more challenging to get a foot in the door. However, I do have a friend with many of these connections who may be able to help… I’ll let you know who he is and how we go after the launch.
3. Get reviews even before your book launch
I’ll also be actively seeking out more reviews for Book Blueprint – on Amazon, Goodreads, book review sites, but also on small business blogs.
The goal of Amazon and Goodreads reviews is to act as social proof – ‘this book worked for other people, so it will work for you to.’ This will help make Book Blueprint look more enticing when someone is thinking about buying it. The the goal of getting the book featured on book review sites and on small business blogs, on the other hand, is to drive traffic – much like guest posting and podcast interviews.
Do you have a book review site or a small business blog? If so, let me know – I’d be happy to send you an advanced review copy of Book Blueprint.
If you are a potential reviewer, know that I only want honest reviews – while I hope you like the book, if you don’t you’re welcome to say so. I’m someone who looks for the one-star reviews rather than the five-star ones when making buying decisions, so I know how valuable honest reviews can be.
4. Seek out traditional media coverage to support your book launch
As I’ve written in the past, the best way to get traditional media coverage is to tie your book to a trending issue. While I think Book Blueprint is a good book and does help entrepreneurs who want to become authors but don’t know where to start, it isn’t really breaking news.
With this in mind, I’m not expecting much traditional media coverage. I also don’t think it’s the most targeted way to reach my market, so I’m not planning to pursue this with great vigour.
However, there may be some local media quick wins – being a local, my story would be relevant to local papers. What’s the story? Probably the book getting picked up by a New York publisher (still pinching myself), or the book winning some awards (also still pinching myself – I just found out I won an IPPY on the weekend!).
5. Consider advertising
The final piece is paid advertising. This might include:
Social media is the obvious choice, here with the ability to set your budget and target your audience. I’m currently looking into display advertising, as I’m not sure how well it would work for books, as well as local business publications, as I’m not sure if we have any.
I’d love to get into an in-flight magazine… but, budget.
Once the launch period is up, I’ll give you a breakdown of what I spent in each area and the results, so you can take those into consideration for your own launch.
6. Don't forget social media
I actually forgot to include social media when I first wrote this article. But yes, that will be happening too.
(Note to self – create some content for social media.)
7. Special offers for bulk buys
This is something Tim Ferris did for the launch of The Four Hour Body – he offered incentives for people to order the book in bulk, which ranged from magazine subscriptions, bottles of wine and other books, to a 10-day tour of India with Miss India.
This is something I’ve been toying with for Book Blueprint. Although I have no connections to Miss India, I could easily put some packages together, with incentives including:
I could even look at a Grammar Factory editing, publishing or ghost writing package, or sending on you on a Bali retreat, if quantities were high enough.
The big question is, would anyone be interested in buying in bulk?
If this is something that you would be interested in, let me know in the comments (or contact me) directly. At $25 a piece, let me know:
- 1How many books you’d be interested in buying
- 2What sort of incentives might make that quantity worthwhile
If there’s enough interest, I’ll put together some options and will announce them in early June.
Book launch schedule
Now you know everything I’m doing, when will I be doing it?
The truth is that I’m already behind. With more organization, I would have done all of the pre-work (researching blogs and podcasts, pitching influencers, writing content, recording interviews, setting up email sequences, etc.) by the end of 2016. Then, everything would have been scheduled for the first half of this year, and I could focus on sharing things when they got some buzz, or taking advantage of any new opportunities that popped up.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t that organized.
So, here’s the new plan
Post advanced copies of book to book review sites (many of these ask for the book 2-4 months before it is released, so January saw me sending out my book to about 10 of these sites with covering letters). Done!
February & March
Think about all of the blog content I should be writing and scheduling, but don’t do any of it.
Lists! Make a list of 1) Blogs/websites to approach – Done! 2) Podcasts to approach – Done! 3) Business blogs that review business books. 4) Local media to approach
Connect with said blogs/podcasts/media to request introduction from a mutual friend (if available); Email with cold pitch (if no introduction is available); Following up on pitches (two follow ups, seven and 14 days from the initial approach).
Map out articles and blog posts based on ideas I pitch (I won’t be writing them unless they are accepted. However, if they are, the writing process will be much easier with a blueprint to follow. See what I did there? ;)
Create social media posts for scheduling.
Schedule social media posts.
Write content! Then, confirm publication date and add to social media and newsletter schedule.
Record podcasts! Again, confirm publication date and add to social media and newsletter schedule.
Run social media ads (and any other advertising I choose to do)
Announce bulk buy rewards (if choose to do).
Book is released on June 13 – tell everyone! Announce on social media, share with email list, share with influencers who helped before now.
Continue May activities
July & August
Continue sharing content and podcasts as they are released.
Blog post and newsletter on launch results – books sold, performance of each of the activities, other opportunities to come out of the launch, etc.
And that’s the plan!
While I didn’t start as early as I wanted, I’m counteracting that by considering the first three months of the book’s release (so June, July and August) to be the official launch, rather than pinning everything on a single day.
Trade-offs when planning your book launch
This approach has the benefit of reducing the urgency and panic at my end, and means I’ll still have time to set up everything I want to – some of the activities just won’t happen until a little later.
The disadvantage with this approach is that it means my book is less likely to hit any bestseller lists. Here, I’m not talking about being an Amazon bestseller – I’m talking about hitting the USA Today, Wall Street Journal or New York Times lists.
These lists are based on selling a certain quantity of books within a week (usually 8,000 – 12,000, though this can be much higher in busy periods), though some also require an editorial review, like the New York Times. The issue here is that the sales need to take place in a single week, which means the campaign would focus on encouraging everyone to buy a copy during that week.
Mine takes a longer-term approach. Yes, I’d love to sell 10,000+ copies, but with the size of my list and my current progress, I don’t see that happening in the space of a week. (Though if you can hook me up, let me know!)
I’d also rather encourage steady sales (that then lead to a steady stream of enquiries and new business) than a spike in one week with sales dropping off until they become non-existent, which is something any business owner should be thinking about.
Over to you
Have you had a successful book launch? If so, what worked and what didn’t? Am I missing anything?
Let me know in the comments below!