A Book Launch Marketing Plan – Epic Guide Blog Post

Your book’s written, designed, and ready to print. You’ve worked really hard to write a book that will sell – but it’s not time to relax just yet! It’s time for your book launch marketing plan. What will you do before your book is purchased to generate buzz? How will readers know your book is available for sale when you launch? What will you do to sell books? You need your book launch marketing plan!

Your Book Launch Marketing Plan Elements

Pre-Sale Period

Pre-sale is that time between when your book is done and loaded up for sale and when people buy it and get copies. Readers can order the book but they can’t read it yet.

A pre-sale period isn’t just the time to sit back and wait for your book launch. If you want to have a big, rewarding launch, you need to build a foundation for success before your book hits the online bookstore shelves. There are a lot of potential action items for your book launch marketing plan that happen in the pre-sale period but much of it does depend on what your ultimate launch strategy is.

Your Book Launch Strategy Menu:

• The Amazon Bestseller .99 cent E-Book Launch

Who it’s right for: You have an existing audience of social media followers, newsletter subscribers or clients, that will support your initial launch push. Realistically, you’ll need at least 200 engaged folks to make this work.

What’s involved: The week of launch, your eBook is made available for $.99. Activating your book army and getting them to buy your book during the launch week is key. You will need to drive traffic to Amazon that week. The low price is an incentive enough to buy the book but you can offer additional incentives to purchase like being part of a private group session post launch. Follow up to get reviews post purchase are essential. E-Book will be sold through KDP.

Timing required: Minimum of 2 weeks pre-launch to put the pieces in place for this specific launch strategy, but no Book Launchers pre-launch activities will be complete with just 2 weeks (like media kit, book review pitches, and media pitches). We recommend 6 weeks in pre-sale to set up for success.

• The Maximum Momentum Launch

Who it’s right for: You have a network of social media connections, email newsletter subscribers, and colleagues that will send a message out to promote your launch week.

What’s involved: A launch week incentive package for anyone that buys 3+ copies of your book in print.

Requires:
a. website page with the incentives explained and a space for buyers to upload proof of purchase.
b. the incentives (online course, free consult calls, tools, event tickets, other books),
c. email copy,
d. network that wants to promote,
e. social media graphics and copy ready to go,
f. someone to manage incoming receipts and send incentive access (or automation set up to handle that)

Timing Required: Adequate time to make sure everything is right and ready for launch week – at least 6 weeks in pre-launch. We recommend 6-8 weeks in prelaunch to do this successfully and have Book Launchers complete their recommended prelaunch activities to support the launch (including media kit, book review pitches, media pitches, and consultative support for creation of the incentive package).

• The WSJ, USA TODAY, or Washington Post Bestseller Launch

Who it’s right for: You have at least 50,000 people on your newsletter list or HIGHLY engaged social media followers (usually requires >50,000 followers with high engagement) &/or you can get some bulk sales that can be funneled through the right services to secure the sales.

What’s involved:
a. Coordination of sales with multiple retail vendors that are not Amazon,
b. Target list of buyers – including corporate vendors – who will buy the book during pre-sale period.
c. launch week incentives (like the maximum momentum launch),
d. Recommend set up only via Ingram Spark for print book sales (KDP Print can be used but if this is your focus, Ingram is recommended for set up as many believe the reporting to be stronger).
e. everything involved with the Maximum Momentum Launch
f. Sales focus outside of Amazon. Amazon sales will be counted but can’t dominate your sales percentage. You need a lot of retail sales for this to succeed.

Timing Required: Requires at least 3 months in pre-sales to coordinate and organize (recommended 4 months in pre-sale plus expect additional costs for funneling the bulk book sales through the right retail channels). But, before you get all excited about becoming a bestseller of any kind, you really should watch this video:

• The Phased Momentum Building Launch

Who it’s right for: You are starting from scratch with a minimal audience and a small network of support

What’s involved: Managing expectations around launch so that you focus first on getting book reviews, then media and exposure, then pushing to find opportunities to sell books and leverage those sales into growing your audience and building your network. You will need:

a. a great author website with opt-in incentive and a clear strategy to grow your audience and leverage all media appearances and book exposure opportunities.
b. Creation of social media profiles and a steady stream of relevant content
c. Creation of a Book Army team to leave book reviews
d. Networking! Connecting and building relationships in your field to leverage new opportunities.
e. Book giveaways and eBook deals to find new readers

Timing Required: 4-6 weeks in prelaunch and then 6 – 12 months post launch.

Unless there’s a really good reason to get your book out right now – because it’s a timely subject that’s all over the media or on a subject occurring right now that won’t be relevant long-term – don’t rush your release! Depending on the goals of your book launch, your audience, and your book marketing, you should be spending a minimum of two weeks in pre-sale and a maximum of three months.

So, what should you do during this pre-sale period? Here’s some strategies for building your book launch marketing plan with an awesome pre-sale period:

First, confirm that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo, Kobo, Apple, and any other retailers have your book listing set up correctly. Every retailer has its own schedule and process. Make sure the distribution is set up, pricing is right, and your book is where it should be – or your readers won’t be happy!

If cracking some top 100 bestseller sub-genres list will be a big win for you, devote more time to your pre-sale. The longer your book is available for pre-order, the more time you have to send readers to Amazon and other stores to buy books. If your readers are buying print copies, these pre-sale orders all add up and count as sales on your release date.

Encouraging a few folks to buy your book can also help prevent inventory shortages on launch day by telling Amazon to back that truck up and fill that warehouse. Nothing kills the launch day of your dreams like Amazon showing the “this temporarily out of stock” message to prospective readers! Titles that are in stock will be listed as available and will ship immediately – exactly what you want as the author!

Finally, your pre-launch period is a great time to sell copies to your early reviewers at a discount. This allowx your book army to buy your book for very cheap cost and when they post reviews on Amazon, they’ll be Amazon Verified reviews.

Your pre-sale is perfect time to get your book army matching in line to prepare for your book launch. Even a small but mighty army can have a massive impact on launch success!

What is a Book Army and What Role Does it Play in Your Book Launch Marketing Plan?

A book army consists of those super supportive and enthusiastic people in your direct audience that you can ask to purchase the book, leave reviews, and share about the book on their social media and email networks. Consider them a ready-made audience waiting for your orders to support the book!

One other tip: if you are pursuing bookstore distribution, you may want to leverage your book army to order from the bookstore chain you want to distribute your book and do an in store pickup. If you have enough people doing that, you’ll get the attention of the bookstore buyers and improve the odds of a bookstore listing!

Mobilize your book army with these six steps:

  1. Find the right folks for your army. Your book army needs to be filled with your ideal readers and massive fans of you and your work. Figure out and make a list of those biggest supporters. For my book, Self-Publish and Succeed, my book army was my YouTube Besties – folks who comment on my YouTube videos and are an important part of the YouTube community we’ve built.
  2. Once you complete your list, plan what you’ll ask of them and how you’re going to communicate. A newsletter system is a great option. We recommend Convert Kip, but there’s also MailChimp, Constant Contact, or a Weber. A private Facebook group or Slack channel might work great for you if you’re looking for more reader interaction and engagement. Most importantly, make sure you’re going to have a way to get their attention, share what’s next for your launch, and keep them excited and on task .
  3. Decide what’s going to be the number one priority for your army. We recommend asking them to buy the book early and write a review during launch week.
  4. Now that you know the who, how and what, reach out to the folks you’d like to join your book army and ask for their support.
  5. When they say yes, add them to your communication system figured out in step 2.
  6. Plan out your communications to your army. If you’re adding any incentives to the folks that support you early, you will have to remind them to follow through on reviews. Reach out individually if some readers aren’t following through! Fill them in on what’s happening after launch day.

So, you’ve figured out your pre-sale process, but what happens on your launch day? Launch day is a day for hustling and hoorays. You’ve gotten through the pre-sale launch, mobilized your book army, and the big day has arrived. Make it a huge success by making sure you do everything below!

Launch Day Action Plan for Your Book Launch Marketing Plan

Congratulations, your book is available for sale.

This should be a day of celebration. If you have a launch and aren’t feeling jubilation, watch this video about common Book Launch Day Blues.

But, ultimately, launch day is what you make of it so:

• Announce everywhere that you have an account that it’s launch day. Shout the news from the rooftops. Don’t be shy, this is a huge accomplishment. You’re helping people a lot with your book – and they need to know about it!

• Thank your followers. Ask them to purchase the book and leave reviews.

• Send reminders about your live appearances, signings, or whatever you’re planning for launch day and in the following days.

• Email to your launch team specifically. They should be ready to go with reviews and post them on Amazon today. Email your influencers, reminding any who agreed to promote that it’s time to send the news of your launch day to their audience.

• Repost any media or podcast appearances around the book with thank yous to everyone who supported you so far. Also, social media, if you run any giveaways or contests pre-launch, you need to announce the winners today. And update social media headers or your website headers to include your book image and where to buy.

• Double check your distribution again on launch day. Make sure your book is live on all distribution channels and pricing is correct. On your website, make sure links to buy are correct and add “Buy Now” buttons or copy. Update any copy to state that the book is on sale and available now.

• Finally, post any blog content promoting your book launch or topic. And of course, if you’ve booked some media appearances, show up and promote all your hard work!

Remember, book marketing is a marathon – not a sprint! A strong book launch is important, but you need to continue promoting your book for the entire year the book launches to achieve big results. Check out this video and plan for a year of awesome success!

You also may enjoy this guide to selling books during the holidays.

sell books

How to Sell Books During the Holidays

The holiday book-buying season is upon us, and it’s time to sell your book for the holidays! People are looking for gifts for everyone on their list, and that makes it a great time to sell books.

Whether an awesome stocking stuffer or the one gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, your book just might be that perfect one. Get a little creative to stand out in all of the holiday and festive noise out there!

Limited face to face contact removes speaking at live events, bookstore events, live appearances, conferences, and conventions for book sales. Sure, losing those awesome options as an author is a bah humbug bummer, but there’s plenty of other opportunities to sell books when you’re stuck at home for the holidays. This video gets into sell books specific to the 2020 holiday season and below we have more ideas for you!

How to Sell Books During the 2020 Holiday Season

Give the Gift of a Book – Promoting Your Book as A Gift

Every book has the potential to sell big this year if you position it as a gift for the right person. For example, the history buff in your life would love J.M. Phillip’s new memoir “Lamlash Street,” a heartfelt and humorous memoir of one Cockney family as they heal from the trauma of WWII in 1960s London. The new college grad or aspiring entrepreneur could learn a ton from the lessons in Ron’s Worley’s inspiring success story and how-to guide “Ditches to Riches.” And for that workaholic that you just wish would take a break, try “The Joychiever Journey” by Tracy LaLonde, a comprehensive roadmap to teach overachievers how to harness their ambitious skills to strive for joy. If you match the right book to the right person you’re bound for gift-giving success. As an author, if you know your audience, you already know exactly who would be thrilled to unwrap your book this holiday — you just need to market to those shopping for them.

Write a Gift List to Sell Books

A great way to market your book during the holidays curating gift lists. Write a few different lists for specific audiences that stump gift-givers when searching for that perfect present to put under the tree. Here are some ideas:

• The Top 10 Best Books for a New Mom
• The Holiday Gift Guide for the Future Retiree
• The Top 10 Gifts Under $20 for The Tech Enthusiast

Post your list on Instagram or Facebook for your own fans to consider. Even better, shop that list around to some major blogs that will be looking for content this time of year that search engines will love. Since you’ve already done the hard work of curating that list, connect with bloggers or influencers you know your readers follow and put that list in front of a much bigger audience.

Companies Give Books as Gifts

Contact organizations or companies that will be giving gifts to clients or employees. Take the opportunity to offer a bulk discount on your book. For example, David Frost’s “KaBoomer” could be a great option for the owner of a fitness company or gym to give all their personal trainers for the holidays, or Pat Watson’s “Tactical Lockpicking” could be a great gift to a team of emergency workers like firefighters or EMTs. This option does require a bit of work and some upfront costs; you’re going to want to mail out a nice little package with a copy of your book to those targeted organizations. But if you mail out 10 or 15 of these and you end up getting an order for 100 or more copies of your book, then the time and money spent is well worth it.

Incentives Sell Your Book Too!

Another great way to sell your book during the holiday season is to create incentives. Get people to buy your book during a period of time or buy in a certain quantity. For example, offer a free addition in exchange for the person’s email address when they buy a copy of your book – like a spreadsheet that calculates how much money you need to retire or a menu plan for paleo vegetarians. Make sure the offering is something the reader would have otherwise paid for, so it has a value in addition to the book they’re buying. Some other great offerings to consider these options to buy:

  • Three copies and get free access to a one-hour prerecorded talk on a particular topic featured in the book.
  • 25 copies and receive the same templates for high-paying clients that the author used to build their business.
  • 100 copies and get a free webinar training seminar for your company.

Time-based or quantity-based incentives motivate buyers to buy now – before it’s too late and they miss the deal!

Make sure your SEO and metadata are accurate!  Sell more books from searches that are already happening with the right metadata. Plenty of shoppers will be searching for gifts so target the audience searching for a book like yours!

Not sure what that means, then these two videos are for you!

Are Pre-Sales Important for Your Book Launch

Have you heard people saying, you have to put your book on pre-sale? Do you know what that means? Even more importantly, do you know if pre-sales are important for your book launch?

What is a pre-sale period?

In this video, I show you what it looks like when your book is on pre-sale:

Pre-sale period is the time between the upload of your book for retail listing and when it will ship out to readers.

Now, here’s when things get a little confusing and can be kind of tricky. A pre-sale period is not mandatory nor necessary. But, unless you’re only selling your book on Amazon you’re going to need time between when your book is done and you officially make it for sale to the world. There are a lot of things that have to happen before it’s really the right time to launch your book completely.

For starters, you have to make sure Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo, Kobo, Apple, or wherever your book is going to be available, have been set up right. Book Launchers takes care of all of that but it still takes time to populate the catalogs across these companies. Each retailer has its own schedule and process.

Use your pre-sale period to build a foundation of success for your book’s launch and give these places time to properly populate.

How Long Should You Set up For Pre-Sale?

Again, you don’t need to do any pre-sale period. But, if you do, generally it’s ideal to spend a minimum of two weeks in pre-sale but not more than three months (Ingram Spark will let you spend up to a year in pre-sale but Amazon e-books can only be on for pre-sale for 90 days).

So what are you doing during this pre-sale period?

  1. Check distribution, pricing, and other meta-data at all distribution points.
  2. Sell copies to your early reviewers at a discount.
  3. Send readers to Amazon and other stores to buy books. If your readers are buying print copies, these pre-sale orders all add up and count as sales on your release date when the book ships out which gives you a good chance at cracking some top 100 bestseller sub-genres lists top 100 bestseller subs on top 100 bestseller sub-genre lists on sites like Barnes & Noble and Apple. If readers buy on Amazon, it counts the day the purchase is made. For the E version of your book on Kobo, the sale counts twice. They actually give it twice the weight as a regular sale so it’s easier to rank higher in pre-sale on Kobo. So woohoo for Kobo.
  4. Pre-sales help prevent inventory shortages on launch day. This helps reduce the likelihood you sell out on launch day and Amazon shows this temporarily out of stock message. If that happens, Amazon often tells a buyer the title is going to ship in four to six weeks. You will lose sales if it does that. Titles that are in stock will be listed as available and will ship immediately and that’s what you want.

Unless your book is on a really timely subject like a tax loophole or some brand new technology, then I would not rush the release of your book.

And, if you’re looking for more book launch marketing advice, check out these two videos:

 

An Epic Guide to YouTube Video Marketing for Authors

YouTube is a powerful platform for being discovered and connecting with potential book readers. But as an author, you might be thinking there’s no freaking way you’re getting in front of a camera and shooting a video. The reason you write, you may be thinking, is to stay behind the screen, not get in front of it. I get it, but I also think video marketing for authors is one of the easiest ways to stand out and build an audience in 2019 and beyond.

When I started shooting videos in 2009 it took me 30+ takes just to get a mediocre video but I kept going. And, I am glad I did. My old YouTube channel helped me sell a lot of books, courses, and make money!

And, it’s not too late. If anything, video only continues to grow importance.

Here are five reasons why I think YouTube video marketing for authors is important today:

Video is not going away. YouTube is a gigantic search engine where you are not getting found right now if you’re an author without a presence on YouTube. And by the way, who owns YouTube? Google! So you’ve got an already gigantic search engine being owned by an even bigger search engine, you got to get on there.

YouTube isn’t just a great way for you to create a community of people who will buy your books. YouTube supports you creating multiple streams of income as an author. And shooting videos will help prep you for the insanity that happens when you do live media interviews. Doing a quick segment on a local or national news show is probably the craziest experience you’ll have when you promote your book. And, if you’re comfortable in front of the camera already, you’ll be much more likely to do a great interview.

Finally, YouTube is where people are actively, seeking to solve problems. Most people mindlessly scroll through Facebook or Instagram. YouTube tends to attract viewers who want to learn something or they have a problem to solve.

So, now you know why I highly recommend creating a YouTube channel for video marketing to promote your book. What should you do?

7 Tips to use video marketing as an author:

Number one, choose your channel name wisely.

I wouldn’t name it after your book. Personally, I’d do it after your business or your own name, so you can build a community around it, and use it to promote what you do beyond the book. It probably won’t be the last book you write, and a year from now, you might be tired about talking about your book.

You want to stay in touch with the subscribers you’ve worked so hard to connect with, so choose your channel name so it fits the area of your book but allows you room to expand away from your book in the future. Your own personal name can work depending on your business.

Number two, start your channel before your book comes out.

If your book is out, it’s not too late. But if you can start your channel three months before your book launch so you can begin to build up an audience to share your book news with, that’s ideal.

Number three, plan your content.

Look at your book and pick 10 to 12 tips you can pull out of your book, and turn into three to five-minute long videos.

Here’s a few ideas:

  • The single important tip to achieve x result.
  • Five things you don’t know about this subject, but you should.
  • Or, three myths about this subject.

You already have this material in your book, just grab those short soundbites, and sketch out key points for your video.

And, if you’re worried or wondering about creating videos without giving away your best content, check out this video:

Number four, block aside a whole day to shoot your first set of videos.

The first time you shoot videos you’re probably going to scrap a dozen takes before you start to get rolling, and really get in a groove. And then once you’re in a groove, you can shoot four or five or more and then you’re set for a month of weekly author marketing content. If you want it to look like you’re shooting videos on different days just change clothes.

Number five, invest in some lighting and a mic.

A shotgun mic for your iPhone is fine. Shure has some great products to help with this. It’s a small amount of money for a big difference in quality on your shoot.

Lights I’ve used: https://amzn.to/2El8TSh

Shure mic for iPhone: https://amzn.to/2pUMb9D

Mobile Lighting Kit: https://amzn.to/2pShNfM

(These aren’t referral links … just sharing exmaples of what I’ve used).

Number six, I recommend hiring a video editor, but in my early days I did all my video editing myself.

I bought Final Cut Pro and spent hours on YouTube learning the ropes. But there’s plenty of iPhone apps now that allow for basic editing for your videos, and make a fast upload. Just keep it simple. It’s far more important that you start posting, then you worry about perfection. And if you don’t want to worry about perfection at all, go live. Right now it’s still acceptable to go live without high production value. Just be well lit, with good sound, and pay attention to what’s in your background, and go for it.

Number seven, plan to post at least once a week, every single week for the time leading up to your book launch, and ideally for the months afterwards.

Consistency is so critical, I can’t emphasize it enough. And if you want to get the absolute best tool to help you improve your channel and track your progress as you go, I highly recommend MorningFa.Me.  I love Morningfame’s analytics and recommendations.

How to Prevent Amazon Book Reviews from Being Removed

Every once in a while large batches of Amazon book reviews get removed from the Amazon site. It’s one of the worse things that could happen to a book post-launch.

Reviews matter a lot in buying decisions, and we all need those reviews to be honest. Gaming Amazon shouldn’t happen easily or we’ll all suffer. Purges aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but systemized approaches to cleaning up a system inevitably kills some good with the bad.

Because there’s surely another purge coming, it’s a good time to refresh yourself on Amazon’s policy.

Amazon does not want your friends and family to review your book. Friends and family are biased but how does Amazon know who are your friends and who is a family member?

Amazon has access to a plethora of data, so there are plenty of ways for them to figure it out but here’s an obvious one that you may not have considered.

Amazon can find your friends via Facebook.

Stick with me for a second.

Amazon owns Goodreads. One of the main ways to sign into Goodreads is via Facebook. So, here’ the tip of the day: Don’t be lazy, create your login and disconnect it from Facebook.

If you connect the two, data sharing allows them to figure out who your Facebook friends are. Disconnect Twitter and disconnect Facebook from Goodreads.

There have also been a lot of reports of people who give gift cards to folks to buy a copy of their book for review having those reviews removed.

Make sure you coach Amazon book reviewers who receive free copies on what to include in the review

If someone receives a free book for an honest review it’s essential they add a disclaimer. It needs to say something like I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Additional guidelines for custom reviews straight from Amazon:

  • reviews can only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon,
  • customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product,
  • do not try to review a book and then get your husband to review and then your kid to review, it doesn’t work.

Also, Amazon explicitly says, you may not manipulate the Amazon verified purchase badge by offering special pricing to reviewers or reimbursing reviewers.

Rest assured, if you’re hustling to get reviews like you should be, you’re not paying people to write good reviews and you’re not trying to game the system in any way, your legitimate reviews will likely stick. But take that extra step of not connecting anything to Goodreads or anything else Amazon might have their hands on. Reviews are essential to the Amazon business model and you better believe they’re doing everything they can to protect them.

And, it’s worth noting, you don’t want your friends and family to buy your book anyway. Check out this video:

Amazon learns who is most likely to buy your book from the purchases and the reviews, and then they show your book to people who are just like the people who’ve already bought and reviewed your book. So if you’re aunt generally likes to read steamy romance books and the odd book on gardening, unless you’re Ron Neitzel, The Green Wizard, your aunt is not going to help your book.