So you’ve written an awesome book – congratulations! Writing a book is a big project, and completing it is a huge deal. You deserve to pat yourself on the back for it, because not everyone can achieve that goal.
But now that you’ve finished your book and prepared the file for publication in your chosen format of print, ebook, or PDF download, you have to figure out how to get that book into the hands of voracious readers.
You need a book launch strategy.
I’ve compiled the winning strategy I use to launch my books into the world – and it works. Although I use this strategy for fiction, using it to generate buzz for a non-fiction book would be just as effective, and definitely worth a shot.
Step 1: Make Your Blog Awesome
The first thing to do is prepare your blog for an increase in visitors. You’ll get new people on your site, and they’ll want to do different things. Some will come to learn more about you, some will come to read your blog, and some will want to buy more of your work. It’s all good.
Before my last launch, I went through this awesome free blogging guide at First Site Guide. I loved the pictures and the useful format, and the content helped me get back to basics and look at revamping areas of my site that I hadn’t looked at in years.
You should do the same. Think about:
- Updating your About page to reflect recent achievements and publications
- Tweaking your site design to improve readability and user experience
- Updating your header to include an image of your book
- Shuffling widgets in your sidebar to help keep readers on the page
- Making sure all your social media buttons still work (it may sound silly, but I checked mine and discovered two of them didn’t!)
- Editing your most popular articles to include a link and a mention of your book
Step 2: Prepare Your Book’s Back Matter
In the same way you place a call-to-action beneath your blog post, you should think about creating a call-to-action at the end of your book. This is called back matter, and back matter encourages the reader to stay with you long after they’ve finished reading.
Your back matter usually includes your “About the Author” page and links to relevant websites. It can also include sample chapters, reading club questions, author interviews, acknowledgements, author notes and other sections.
I don’t like to bombard readers with too much stuff (I figure if they’re interested, they can look on my website), so I recommend sticking to the most important content and links. Here’s how I structure my back matter, with slight variations depending on the book in question.
- First, I include my About the Author page, with a link to my website.
- Then, I invite readers to sign up to my newsletter so they can receive a free story.
- I also invite them to look at my blog to stay up to date, and sometimes I’ll point them to my Facebook page as well.
- If a book is part of a series, I include a chapter excerpt of the next book, with a link to buy or pre-order the book.
- If the book isn’t part of a series, I include a short blurb and a link for another of my books.
- Finally, I have a little “Thank You” section, where I write a personal note to the reader inviting them to review my book on their favorite platform.
Don’t expect your readers to remember you after they turn the last page – give them opportunities to connect, sign up, buy and stay in touch to keep them with you longer.
Step 3: Prepare Your Content
Now it’s time to prepare the content you’ll post on your blog to get current and new readers excited about reading your book.
Create enough content to cover 2 to 4 weeks. By writing and scheduling launch content in advance, you can spend time over the launch focusing on other activities, such as chatting on social media or talking to local press.
With a non-fiction book, planning your content is quite easy. You can create a few articles based on some of the ideas you discuss in your book. You can even pull content directly from your book to give people a sample of what’s to come.
The idea isn’t to give away your secrets, but to whet appetites for the upcoming book.
For fiction books, it can be a bit more difficult to think of what content you should write for launch. Here are some ideas:
- Excerpts from your book – this helps readers decide if it’s something they’d like to buy.
- A Top Ten list – talk about other books in your genre or a topic connected to your book. Top Ten articles are a great way to increase visibility through search engines. For my last launch of my dark steampunk novel The Sunken), I listed my ten favorite steampunk novels, adding The Sunken as the final book on the list. That list is one of my most shared on social media.
- Review excerpts from some of your top reviews – a great way to demonstrate how others are enjoying your work already.
- Character interviews – Instead of an author interview, why not interview one of your book’s characters and answer the questions in his or her voice?
- Playlists – These are always popular. What songs were you listening to while writing your book? What are your character’s favorite tunes? You can create and share Spotify playlists or use Youtube videos to create a song list.
- Supplementary information – My books are all set in Georgian London and feature several actual historical characters, so I write about interesting historical facts. If your book takes place during a Halloween party, you could include some Halloween cocktail recipes on your blog, for example.
- Deleted scenes – Hey, they work for DVDs!
Remember, unless your book is about the craft of writing, don’t focus all your launch content on writing advice and tips. That’s not what your audience wants to read.
Step 4: Organize a Blog Tour
A blog tour is similar to a book tour, minus the traveling and physical presence. It’s the same concept as going to a store or event signings, but instead of touring from store to store, you tour from blog to blog.
The purpose of a blog tour is to generate reviews and buzz about your book, and to gain new readers who’ve never heard of you.
You can organize a blog tour through a company. I’ve used Enchanted Book Promotions for my blog tours in the past, and it generated fantastic results. However, you’re much better off contacting bloggers you already have a relationship with and ask them if they’d be interested in being a stop on your tour.
Offer a variety of different content options for your tour, including:
- An excerpt of your book
- A copy of your book they can review (make sure to send it in plenty of time for them to read!)
- A guest post
- An author interview
- A recipe, playlist, picture meme or other fun idea
You can be quite imaginative with the blogs you target. For example, if you write a cozy mystery series involving a character that is a chef, why not submit some of your favorite recipes to a food blog? This is a great way to expand your audience beyond simply the book-blog buying circles.
You’ll need to get an early start on your blog tour so as to give hosts time to plan their schedules and read your book for review, as well as making sure you can get all the content created in time.
Create a page on your own blog to promote your tour “stops”. List every blog you’re going to be stopping at, when, and what you’re going to be writing about. As each post goes live, you can update the tour page with a link.
In your bio and posts for your blog tour, link back to a special book-tour landing page on your blog. On it, remember to include your other tour stops, a short bio about you, a blurb about your book, and links to buy it.
Step 5: Go PR Crazy!
This is the hardest part of any book launch, and also one of the hardest to predict results. You could do everything right and only get one mediocre mention, or hit the jackpot with a major magazine feature.
I create a short email that introduced my book, and myself too. I then created a PDF file that included the cover and blurb, my author bio, links to my websites and social media accounts, my social media and website stats (so people knew I’m not just some nobody), and then an excerpt from the book itself.
With every email I sent, I edited the content to include a personal greeting and the name of the reviewer or site owner.
Now that I have my marketing package together, I can send it out into the world, and I can reuse it again for future launches, swapping out info as needed.
Here are some ideas for your PR campaign:
- Send out your package to book review blogs
- Create a list of local and national papers, magazines, and media outlets that do book reviews, and then contact them
- Talk to your local newspaper. Explain that you’re an author who has a book coming out, and ask if they’d be interested in a feature or review. Newspapers love to feature local writers and creatives.
- Contact your local library. They love authors, and you may be able to do an author talk or reading.
- Join local author associations. I’m a member of three. They offer great networking opportunities and have lists of resources on helping you promote your books.
Step 6: Nigerian Riches Await You!
You’ve created your book plan, scheduled your content, booked your PR opportunities, and sussed everything out… all you have to do is wait for riches to flood in, yes?
Sadly, no. The book world just doesn’t work like that.
Except when it does.
Every launch is different, and every book and audience will attract different results. You could hit success with your very first publication, or it could be your 20th novel that breaks out and becomes a hit.
The wonder (dare I say blessing) of self-publishing is that you get to learn from each launch, and you get to write newer and better books, pushing them out into the world as often as you like.
You have the freedom to shape your book-writing career however you choose.