One of the most important elements in marketing any book is getting the launch right. This is doubly true for indie authors, who don’t have the time or marketing budget to make up for early mistakes.
So how do you get your book launch right?
Pre-Publicity and Pre-Orders
Advanced publicity is important to launching a book. You want to get people excited in advance, so that they’ll be looking out for your release.
Use your website, mailing list, and social media to tell people about your book in advance. Show them the cover. Share snippets. Tell them why you’re excited about it.
If you want to make sure that this excitement turns into sales, set your book up for pre-order. Sites such as Amazon will let you do this a few months in advance. It means that excited people can commit to buying the book, and that you’ll see a spike in sales on the launch day thanks to those pre-orders. That sales spike will launch you up the rankings on Amazon, getting you more attention and so more sales.
Reviews are vital to the success of a book. They provide social validation, give people reasons to be excited, and can propel you up the rankings.
Seek out reviews in advance of the book’s release. Some bloggers are more likely to review you if they get the privilege of an advance peek at what you’ve written. Having an advance copy ready for review also shows that you are a professional who knows what they are doing and that you’re taking reviewers into account.
Tell potential reviewers when the book will be launched and ask if they can post their reviews around that date. That way they can contribute to the all-important launch buzz.
The Soft Launch
Writers such as self-publishing guru Joanna Penn favour the “soft launch” approach.
With the soft launch, the book goes on sale for a few weeks before the launch publicity begins. Hard core fans are told about the book, giving them time to read and review it, and to contact you about any errors they find. Then you can fix any errors in the e-book or print on demand edition before launching your book in a full blaze of publicity, with reviews already in place.
This has some disadvantages, including separating new release rankings on sites like Amazon from your publicity push. For new authors who need the impact of all their initial sales at once, it may prove counter-productive. But it can be useful and take some pressure off you for the launch.
Regardless of whether you do a soft or hard launch, you’ll need to provide a lot of publicity to push your book in the first few weeks. If you can, book a slot with Bookbub and other high-profile indie marketing sites. Look for options on Fiverr. Find blogs and reviewers willing to discuss your work. Hit every social media platform you have, whipping up excitement for your release. Contact your mailing list and tell people reading your blog.
The aim of all this publicity is to push you up the rankings on sites like Amazon, which will get the attention of people looking at genre best-seller lists, and so created a self-supporting boost in sales.
Wherever you’re publicising your book, ask people for Amazon reviews as well. The more you get, the better your sales are likely to be.
One classic marketing tactic to sell a lot of books quickly is to create scarcity. This means providing something extra for a limited time, making people more likely to buy right now.
You may want to consider setting a bargain price on the e-book in the first week or two to grab some impulse sales. Alternatively, you might send bonus content such as short stories to anyone who buys the book in the first week. Whatever you’re doing to create scarcity, make sure to tell people about it, to encourage them to make the most of the opportunity, and to cut off the bargain when its time is up.
Launching your book into the world is a scary prospect. Not everything will go right. Even the most seasoned pros keep learning from their mistakes. But if you focus on those early reviews and sales then you can help your creation climb the bestseller lists.