Are you wondering how to launch a book? Maybe you’ve just finished your first novel, or a memoir, or a non-fiction tome based on your expertise. Either way, the question of how to launch a book properly is one I get asked many times a week.
Many authors, actually, never ask me directly how to launch a book, but instead as something along the lines of, “what should I do now (that I’ve finished my book)?” I understand the sentiment — they want to get their book into the world after they’ve spent so long crafting and writing, but their timeline is a little off.
So, to answer the question in my own words: Here’s (I believe) how to launch a book the best possible way, to set yourself up for success. I’ve written these not as a practical, tactics-based guide, but instead as a strategic overview of the steps I take when I consider every book launch. Use these steps, therefore, as a way to get your mind wrapped around the concept of “how to launch a book,” rather than as a hard-and-fast set of rules.
1. Write the best possible book
This step, obviously, isn’t news to you. You’ve probably seen these exact words on older blog posts of mine, as well as around the web, and that’s for a reason: there’s no sense marketing something that sucks.
Spend time (lots of time) making the book the absolute best possible version you can, before you try to launch it. There are plenty of craft sites out there, and I’d recommend subscribing to them and reading everything you can about writing and producing great books.
2. “Produce,” don’t “finish”
I think of “producing” a book rather than “finishing” one. Finishing, in my mind, implies that you’re slapping a cover on something you’re done with, rather than starting the process of launching. Instead of putting a cover on the book that you bought on Fiverr, use PickFu.com to run a side-by-side test. If you really want to learn how to launch a book well, take time to study these options.
I don’t just upload my book to Amazon and wait; I spend time putting together a great cover, gathering feedback on the book, and tweaking the little things like the copyright page, font choices, etc.
3. Start your marketing before you start writing
If you don’t have a pretty good idea about how to launch a book before you begin writing, you’re going to have a lot more trouble than you need. First, take some time to write down anything and everything related to book marketing and launches that you think might work. Then, narrow this list down to those things you are pretty sure would work.
Finally, take this list and narrow it down even further, and put it in order: First on the list are things that have a high ROI for a low price, down to things that don’t have a great ROI but cost a lot more time/energy/money. There’s your marketing plan — no go write (see #1!), and download my Self-Published Book Marketing Plan to fill in the blanks!
4. Focus on strategies, not tactics
If you haven’t read my Self-Published Book Marketing Plan, it’s available for free over here. Many people have read and commented on it, and you can download it and work through it as well. It’s not the only thing out there that teaches you how to launch a book, but it is the exact “recipe” I use when I launch one.
The point of it, you’ll find, is that it focuses not on tactics but overall strategies: things like where to submit your book for publication, where to advertise it, etc. are all tactical steps. The strategic steps for those would be things like “research places to release the book,” and “find possible promotion/advertisement venues.” Better yet, draft plans for each of these strategic areas: how much money/time/energy are you going to spend on each, and how are you going to measure them (see below)?
If you don’t know how to measure the results of just about everything you do, you don’t know how to launch a book. The reasons for measuring are many: measuring metrics gives you data, which can be mined for all sorts of useful things in the future, and it also lets you track the results of your book launch.
I use Google Analytics for this website (free), and the Pretty Links plugin for WordPress (also free) to create shortened book “snippet” links that I put into my ebooks. An example might be: instead of just linking to The Golden Crystal in the back of The Depths, I’d put in a link like this: www.writehacked.com/tgc-depths-back, meaning it’s a link to The Golden Crystal (tgc) in the back (back) of The Depths (depths). See how that URL string was constructed?
The only hits on that exact page/URL combination will tell me exactly how many people are clicking on their Kindles after they finish my book. If it’s a high number, there’s a good chance I’ll put a link to buy that book on that page. If the number is low (<1-2% compared to overall book sales usually), I’ll pull the link and try a different one, or I might stick it in the front of the book for a while, or even try different link text.
The point of all this is that you must be willing to test if you want to learn how to launch a book well. If you expect to sell copies of your book, this step is crucial.
6. Build a mailing list
You’ve heard me say it before, and you’ll hear me say it again. Having a mailing list is absolutely critical. I use Aweber, which isn’t free, but it’s the best in the business. I have previously used MailChimp, but when I hit their tier limit on the free account, I switched to Aweber. Both are reputable and great options.
Start a list by including an opt-in form on the sidebar of your website, and offer something valuable for free if people subscribe. My offer, as I write this, is a free download of my Self-Published Book Marketing Plan template.
7. Set up your next launch at the end of this one
Here’s the kicker: if you don’t learn how to launch a book while doing it, you’ve severely limited yourself for future releases. Pay attention to what you’re learning; take notes, write down ideas for marketing and promotion strategies, and just keep your eyes and mind open. Later launches will be much easier to pull off, which will allow you to pour more of your hard-earned time, energy, and money into it.
How to Launch A Book: Do the Work
Launching books is much more difficult than just releasing them, but if you do the work, spend the energy learning, and actually care about this stuff, you’re going to succeed. Take these steps, apply them to your own books, and see where it takes you.
Again, there are countless tactics, tips, and tricks you’ll find along the way, and many of them are valuable. However, they change often, some have a learning curve, and some aren’t going to be useful for your exact needs. That’s why I’ve focused here on the strategic ways you can learn how to launch a book. Fit the tactics into this framework and use that as your book launch plan!
What ideas do you have for how to launch a book? Sound off in the comments!