For many authors, the thrill of writing compels them to keep going, and the excitement of seeing their work published is the icing on the cake. But once their book is published, they’re often stymied by how to launch and market it.
Authors frequently ask me, “What comes next? How do I get people to buy my book?”
The answer is: There is no set formula for how you effectively launch and market your book. Figure out what works best for you and your readers, especially considering your time, skills and budget.
Here are seven broad areas to consider as elements of your book launch.
1. Get Reviews
The two primary types of reviews are editorial (or trade) reviews and consumer reviews.
For bookstores and libraries to carry your book, they’ll want to see editorial reviews (or to have a lot of their patrons asking for it). Each review service has different submission requirements. Some will want to see the manuscript three to four months before publication. Others will look at it anytime. Some will only work with certain types of publishers. Others will be open to anyone.
Consumer reviews are the star-ratings you see on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub and retail sites. They act as “social proof” for potential readers who don’t know you already.
Before spending time or money driving traffic to your book listing, you want to have at least ten reviews posted and at least a 4-star rating. So line up a review team before the release date so they’re ready to post reviews as soon as your book is available for them to do so.
2. Gather a Launch Team
Having people join your launch team allows you to leverage other people’s audiences. So, rather than being the only one promoting your book, others will share about it as well.
Your launch team could be friends who are willing to share your content in social media, blogs willing to write a review or publish a guest post, or podcasts interested in having you as a guest.
Sometimes launch team members are also willing to provide bonuses to entice readers to buy your book when you want them to instead of when they get around to it.
3. Update Your Author Website
Make sure you update your author website with information about your book and how to opt in to your mailing list (a crucial component for a successful writing career).
If you don’t have a website, consider making one, even if it’s a simple one-page site letting people know how to connect with you and where to find your book. Your website is the only online presence you actually own. Your social media accounts can be closed without warning, so don’t rely on a strong presence there as the only place people can find you and your books online.
4. Develop Your Social Media Strategy
Social media can be a great way to connect with readers, but it's tempting to try to be everywhere at once. That’s quickly exhausting. Discover which social media platform your ideal reader predominantly uses, and then focus on that one. Over time, you can add others if you want to. But get comfortable with one first.
You’ll also want to find the hashtags your readers follow so you can amplify your content. Hashtags will allow people who don’t already follow you to discover you.
5. Look for Publicity Opportunities
From trending news and press releases to book awards and alumni newsletters, there are many ways to generate publicity.
It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or nonfiction, publicity is out there for the taking. Every day, the media is looking for sources and new stories. The key is to make it quickly apparent how you will appeal to their audience. Connect the dots to make it easy for them to quickly say “yes” or “no.” They’ll appreciate you for it!
6. Consider Advertising
Advertising isn’t going to be for everyone. But it can be an effective means of creating more visibility for your book.
Choosing where to advertise and how to configure your ad is a learning experience. But I recommend starting with Amazon ads and setting a daily budget you’re comfortable with (even $2.50 a day can be effective if your keywords are set appropriately).
As for Facebook ads, those work more effectively if your book is in Kindle Unlimited or to advertise author events.
7. Produce Marketing Materials
I highly recommend producing what’s called a “sell sheet” for your book. It’s a useful flyer that provides details about the book, where and how to buy it, ISBNs and pricing information, etc. If you have received editorial reviews, add them to it too since this sell sheet is what you can provide to libraries and bookstores who might be interested in purchasing your book.
Other materials to consider include bookmarks, postcards, business cards and event flyers for when you’re doing in-person events.
If you’re interested in learning more about these book launch elements, check out my course, “Book Launches Simplified.” It walks you through various considerations and best practices, as well as recommending specific tools and services that can help you successfully launch and market your book. Learn more at https://emeraldlakebooks.com/blscourse.
Tara R. Alemany is a multi-award-winning author of seven books. She is also a speaker and publisher, as well as a serial entrepreneur.
Although she’s started many businesses during her career, her favorite is Emerald Lake Books, which she co-owns with her best friend, Mark Gerber. This boutique publisher specializes in working with positive people to integrate a book into their marketing or sales funnel to build their business.
In her spare time, Tara leads a writers’ critique group and is a winemaker, a military Mom to 2 young adults (one of each), and is owned by a black cat.