Self-published books don’t sell on their own. If you want your book to make a splash, or a bestseller list, you need to get your book into the hands of readers. And, if you’re serious about that, you need a book launch plan.
As writers, we spend months, even years, preparing manuscripts. We shell out cash for cover art, editing, proofreading. We prepare for everything but the book’s failure to sell. That’s the hard truth. But here’s the good news: you can launch your book properly! The process doesn’t need to bankrupt you. And, by following this process, you can launch your book on Amazon like the big publishers and position it to sell!
In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps to:
1. Prepare for pre-launch
2. Get a “street team”
3. Understand the Amazon algorithm
4. Price your book
5. Utilize promo sites
6. Set up a launch strategy
7. Collect reviews
8. Get your book on additional promo sites
9. Go beyond your book launch
10. Wrap Up
Maybe you’re almost finished with your book. Or, maybe you’re still in the middle of writing a manuscript. Wherever you are, you can begin preparing a book launch now. Check out this 13-point checklist of preliminary steps you can take, along with helpful resources to make your book launch easier.
Pre-Launch Checklist and Resources:
1. Write a Book Description using Kindlepreneur.com
2. Select 7 Keywords for your book using KDP Rocket, Kindlespy, Merchant Words, and Google AdWords
3. Select 2 Categories for your book at the KDP dashboard
4. Create a landing page and give away a chapter of your book before release
5. Proofread your manuscript with the KDP online previewer
6. Upload your cover with Kindle Cover at KDP
7. Set your book’s launch price at $0.99 with the KDP Dashboard
8. Insert a lead magnet Mailchimp or ConvertKit to connect to your email
9. Convert your text to an audiobook with Audible or ACX
10. Create paperback CreateSpace
11. Pre-write emails to your “street team” with Mailchimp
12. Create an account at Goodreads
13. Map your launch plan with help from this post
A book launch plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In this article, I’m outlining the steps for a 12-day launch strategy, including a 3-day free promo through Amazon. If you’ve completed the Pre-Launch Checklist (above), then you’re ready to publish your book and begin your book launch plan.
Let’s dive in!
2. Get a “Street Team”
You need a team assisting you if your book is going to succeed. Build a team who is willing to help, loves your book, and believes in your work. This group is your “street team”— the people who will throw down for you in the first two weeks of your book launch. Their reviews of your book will also get you access to promo sites that require reader reviews.
Email your list (if you have one). If you don’t have an email list, build one with Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convertkit. To get started, review your contacts in Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and social networks. Your goal is to find a couple of hundred people you feel comfortable emailing about your new book. Write them, each individually. Check out the two examples below for inspiration:
My book is going to come out soon!
I’m looking for 30 people to be my first reviewers.
If this is you, email me back.”
Dear [first name],
As you know, I’ve been working my butt off on my new book Awesome Book Title. Well, the time has come. Today, it’s live on Amazon. I feel humbled and proud in this moment to share it with you, one of my closest friends.
I’m writing not only to announce the book, but also to find 5-7 people who will be a part of my “street team” and write the first reviews of my book.
Email me back and let me know you’re willing to write a book review (Yay!)
Buy the book (just $0.99 Kindle) and review it at a later date (September).
Let me know if you’ll be a part of my street team and be one of my first reviewers!
3. Understand the Amazon Algorithm
Amazon uses an algorithm to measure and track sales. Knowing the basics can help you have a better launch and sustain your book over time. It works like this: your book starts ranking as soon as someone buys it. Each purchase pushes you up the ladder and moves your book ahead of other books in your selected category.
Keep in mind, Amazon favors books that receive consistent sales. In other words: slow, steady traffic and long-term viability is the goal. Focus on getting quality reviews during the launch phase. Reviews add credibility to your book, influence buyers, and translate into more downloads and a better book ranking.
4. Price Your Book
At Authorpreneur, we have a formula and strategy making the Amazon bestseller list, increasing your sales, and maintaining your position at the top. Consider these two unique ways of pricing your book:
The Free Book Launch Strategy
Your 12-day launch plan includes a 3-day free promo. As soon as your book is live on Amazon, enroll it in the KDP Select program for 90 days. Note: books listed as free will be ranked in the free store while books sold at a price are ranked in the paid store. If you’re a writer without a large email list, trust me, the free promo is for you. It will get your book in front of more readers and increase its presence across platforms.
The $0.99 Launch Strategy
Seems crazy, doesn’t it? In fact, there are good reasons to list your book at $0.99. You’ll start selling at a low price now, then reap larger rewards later. This is a critical part of the steady sales and long-term viability I mentioned a moment ago. Do this now: visit the KDP dashboard and assign your book a $0.99 price.
5. Utilize Promo Sites
During launch, it’s critical that you get your book in front of readers. Amazon ranks your book based on the number of downloads it receives. A high ranking will give you more downloads from Amazon shoppers. So, to maximize your launch you’ll need an initial surge of readers/buyers that don’t come from outside of Amazon.
Book promotion sites come in two categories: free and paid. If you are a writer who’s just starting out without a strong platform these sites will lend you credibility. To begin, be sure you have a great cover, a compelling book description, and an engaging book title.
Here’s a great list of promo sites:
1. The Archive accepts free and discounted books. The rate is $50. Here you’ll reach a targeted audience of history and nonfiction book readers. Promotions must be arranged 4 weeks in advance.
2. Awesome Gang is great for $10. They have a free option but go with the paid.
3. Bargain Booksy requires no reviews. Sign up right away ($25) and get approved. Lots of categories and good results.
4. BKnights (Fiverr) is a great bang for $5 bucks. Get in on their daily newsletter. Expect 12-30 downloads.
5. Bookdealio works with all eBooks. They have 140,000 subscribers and will also do an AMS ad for you.
6. Book Runes offers Global reach with over 50k mailing list for just $25. Expect average to very good results.
7. BookSends has a cost here is $40. Combine this site with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day!
8. Booksbutterfly is a pay for downloads deal. The Silver Eagle plan ($90) delivers 50+ downloads + KU borrows.
9. BookBub is the biggest and the best promo site. Expensive, but worth it: set up an Author profile and get follows.
10. Buckbooks is a sweet site. Requires 10 reviews. Use their Archangel Ink production services for guaranteed placement.
11. Digital Books Today costs $40. It’s a good gig with average returns. Works better with fiction than non-fiction.
12. eBooks Habit costs $10 and gives you guaranteed placement.
13. eReader News — Prices vary, but this is a solid, though hard to get approved at site.
14. eBook Stage is a great little promo site, reasonably priced at $10.
15. The Fussy Librarian is reliable with results. Plan to book 2-3 weeks in advance. You’ll also need 10 reviews to get accepted.
16.The Lineup loves crime, horror, and suspense books. Promote to 180K subscribers with $100 and 4 weeks advance notice. 17. Many Books is a great gig with average returns. Costs $29 to become a featured author.
18. The Portalist is for science fiction and fantasy lovers. Pay $100 to access it’s 40K ebook newsletter subscribers.
19. Robin Reads has killer results. It costs $55, requires 10 reviews, and a 4.9 rating. Expect 50-100 downloads.
20. Whizbuzz Books provides a $49 book promotion service for one full year on the web, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
6. Set Up a Launch Strategy
In this post, I’m setting up a 12-day book launch. Moving forward, I’ll assume you have set your book price at $0.99 with a free promo through KDP for 2-3 days.
Soft Launch vs Actual Launch
A soft launch begins from the moment you hit publish. Amazon takes 24 hours to set up a book, so you’ll want to publish at least 24 hours before you begin your actual launch. In other words, if your launch plan starts on a Tuesday, then publish your book on a Monday. In this post, I’m allowing 3 days for a soft launch, with the actual launch beginning on day 4.
Day 1: First Day of Your Soft Launch
Let’s get excited! This is an important day. Today, you position your book to successfully launch over the next 11 days. The price is set at $0.99. Here’s what you need to do:
- Create your Amazon Author Page. Set up your bio and upload an author pic.
- Claim your book by hitting the ‘add more books’ tab.
- Email your launch team and ask for reviews.
- Email Amazon customer support and request placement in additional categories.
- Set up promo sites for days 2 or 3 while your book is at 0.99.
- When you have solid reviews, add additional promo sites for the week.
- Set up your Free promo in the KDP dashboard. Your free promo will last 2-3 days. This will start on day 4 (or however long you decide to run your soft launch). If you do a 5-day soft launch your free promo will start on day 6. Set up several paid promo sites to advertise your book for free. Although your book is free, the promos will cost you.
Day 2-3: Soft Book Launch
Post your book across social media, notify relevant groups, lists, and contacts to tell them about your amazing book.
Day 4-6: FREE Promo
The promo sites you contacted on day 1 are now advertising your book. Send emails to your launch team and tell them that your book is now free. Promote the news across social media!
Day 7-10: Paid Promo Sites
Run paid promo sites from the list above. Cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos per day.
Day 11-12: Winding Down the Book Launch
Now you have a substantial number of downloads, both free and paid. Email your list. Remind them that the book will be priced at $0.99 for only one more day. Contact your launch team. Say thank you for all the quality reviews and support.
Day 13: Increase Book Price
Today, you’ll change your book price to $2.99. After a week, change it again by raising it to $3.99. After that, try $4.99, then adjust based on what happens.
7. Collect Reviews
We’ve already mentioned how to find your “street team”. Now’s the time to use that team as a source for great reviews. Here’s an example of an email that works. Remember to send each message individually, not to large groups.
Email to street team:
Subject: Today is the day!
Hey [first name],
Thank you so much for offering to be a part of my ‘street team’.
My book launches tomorrow, Friday, July 20, and I am so excited! Over the weekend, it’s time to write and post your review to Amazon. Here is the direct link to my Amazon review page. Please sign in to your Amazon account before clicking the link.
Thanks a ton!
8. Get Your Book on Additional Promo Sites
Be prepared to shell out some cash for additional, quality promos. Assume you’ll spend $300-$400 per launch minimum on promo sites. Spread them out over a two week period. Consider contacting James H Mayfield, Bknights, Awesome Gang, Freebooksy, bookdealio and Booksbutterfly for additional promo. These sites, combined with Amazon traffic, should help you secure substantial free downloads.
9. Go Beyond Your Book Launch
This is perhaps the most challenging phase. With your book launch complete, what does book promotion look like now? How do you keep your book in front of reading eyes? What do successful writers do after publishing?
Write more books: Additional books build momentum. Do you have a series of books you could write? A follow up? A sequel? Writing a book series is an effective way to build a brand and maintain interest in your books.
Build your business on the back end: Maybe there’s a business you can build around your book. Imagine coaching, teaching a course, or creating an email campaign that keeps readers engaged after they’ve finished your book.
10. Wrap Up
A successful book launch is a combination of strategy, will, imagination, and some good luck. If you have an amazing and relevant book, a “street team” supporting you, and a winning, well-defined strategy, you can launch your book like a pro and reach readers.
Afterward, keep writing, launching books, and learning. As you progress, you’ll gain insight. Your book launches will become easier, more effective, and the impact of your work will expand beyond what you imagine. Keep investing in knowledge. Look for better ways to work. Write. Launch. Learn. Repeat. And the rest will follow!
We’d love to hear from you!
What, tips, questions, or concerns do you have about your own book launch? Comment below!
Also published on Medium.