95% of authors I ask this question to reply “I don’t have one” or say “I’ll post a link to my book on social media and hope for the best”.
Hope is not a strategy and won’t get your book on the bestseller lists.
But you know what will?
A carefully orchestrated book launch.
Here’s what you do:
Assumption: the entire execution time from idea to launch is 5 months.
5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – POSITIONING
You start with the end in mind. What do you do when you want to launch a successful business? You look for a niche that you can dominate. You look for a blue ocean. It’s the same with books.
The majority of books fail because nobody sat with the author to help them them find a category which they can both fit in (so that librarians know how to categorize their book) and stand out (blue ocean).
How does it fit in? It answers the question “How do I sell more books?”, just like its competing titles.
How does it stand out? It solves the question “How do I sell more books?” using the 4Ps marketing mix framework.
4,5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – OUTLINE
Writers often label themselves as planners vs. pantsters. I’m a huge believer of planning.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
YOU know where you are going — you want to hook your readers, give them an unforgettable reading experience and get them to take action.
To be able to achieve that, you need an outline.
4 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – WRITE
NaNoWriMo gives you one month to write a 50,000-word manuscript. Thousands of writers manage to reach that goal.
If you don’t love to write but still want a book, you can speak it to your phone and then get a ghostwriter to shape it into book material.
3 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT
Wow! You should now be holding a first draft of your professionally written manuscript in your hands. Congratulations!
Do you run and publish it? No, not just yet.
You need to know if there are any gaps or loose ends.
That’s what a developmental editor does.
If they find room for improvement, the manuscript goes back to the ghostwriter. If you get all green lights, you’re off to… no not quite to the races… you’re ready for copy-editing.
2,5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – COPY-EDITING
This is the fun task of going through your manuscript as many times as necessary to make sure that every comma and period is in place.
This is a must. It shows respect for your reader and it should also completely eliminate any future negative reviews regarding writing style.
2 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – A STUNNING COVER
The first thing people will judge your book by is its cover. The cover consists of two main elements: the title and the artwork.
With the title of a non-fiction book you want to show people what results they will be able to achieve when they read your story.
A great example is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace. If anybody is in a financial struggle, even just holding the book entitled Financial Peace in their hands will bring a sense of peace to them.
Another great approach is a “How to” title. They’re oldies but goodies. They work. For example, when someone buys How I Sold 80,000 Books what they are really buying is that result.
Next is the artwork. Most of your readers won’t be looking at your book in real size. They will be looking at a thumbnail next to other similar book as they search Amazon.
That’s why your book needs to fit into the other books in its genre but also stand out as being unique.
The most important thing to remember is that the title needs to occupy at least one third of the cover. It needs to be clearly visible as a thumbnail. Then you want one big image.
I recommend you order two or three different covers and then let your target audience choose the one that works.
1,5 MONTHS BEFORE LAUNCH – LAUNCH TEAM AND ENDORSEMENTS
a) You should now have an ARC – an advanced review copy to build your launch team and get endorsements.
Create a landing page where people sign up and get a free review copy of your upcoming book as soon as they leave their email.
This allows you to build your email list and gives you the ability to mass mail all your team members during launch (crucial for the success of your launch).
Where do you get your launch team members? Anywhere your target audience hangs out. Reach out to Amazon reviewers who reviewed books similar to yours, write relevant articles on blogs (guest posts) and invite people to your launch team, appear on podcasts and tell listeners about your upcoming launch, reach out to existing connections.
Remember that about 30 percent of the people who join your launch team will actually leave a review, so if you want to launch with 50 reviews, you need more than 150 people who committed to do so.
You keep building the launch team until about a week before launch (where the time to read the book becomes too short).
b) Simultaneously you want to reach out to people who could endorse your book so that you can add their quotes on your cover, inside the book and on your Amazon page.
Reach out to your connections, ask for introductions. It’s easiest to get an endorsement from someone you’ve already got an established relationship with but if you don’t it can be a good reason to start engaging with someone.
1 MONTH BEFORE LAUNCH – FUNNEL IN PLACE
Book royalties are great, but you will almost always generate more revenue on the back end than on the front end.
That’s why you need to have a link inside your book that will take your readers to your landing page so that they can subscribe and you can offer them your other books, products or services.
2 WEEKS BEFORE – OPTIMIZE FOR ONLINE SALES
Amazon looks like a bookstore but in reality it’s a search engine. That’s why your book needs to be optimized for online sales.
What this means is that you need to know what readers are looking for and make sure your book pops up at the top of search results when they are looking for answers your book provides.
That’s why I start with keyword research before I even come up with the titles. The full title and subtitle of How I Sold 80,000 Books is packed with keywords, which I found using dedicated software.
Another aspect is choosing the right category. We already touched upon it in positioning. By choosing the right categories you will be visible to those readers who want to read your book most.
You also need a captivating book description and an outstanding bio.
LAUNCH – IT’S SHOW TIME!
Your Amazon page looks stellar (great cover, title, description, bio, author pic, endorsements). Your book is optimized for online sales (keywords, categories) and it’s a book people will want to buy (and continue their relationship with you via your funnel that’s in place).
The #1 strategy here is successful communication with your launch team that you’ve been building up.
I recommend doing a free launch where you make your book free for a few days and urge your team members to download the book from Amazon (even if they already have the ARC) and leave a review which will be marked as “verified”.
Mail your launch members daily, giving them updates on the progress of the launch and sharing milestones, such as copies downloaded, number of reviews written or bestseller rank reached.
After the free days are over, set your book at $0.99 for a week or two and monitor sales. Increase your price every week or two (be consistent) by a dollar with all other factors unchanged and that will allow you to know (not guess) at which price point you make the most in royalties.
As soon as you’ve got your price point right, move to paid advertising (AMS ads, FB ads) and PR opportunities as well as partnerships to keep sales coming, build your list and increase your world domination!
LAUNCH DONE – NOW WHAT?
For more strategies on selling books by the truckload go to http://www.authorwisdom.com/ and download your free copy of my award-winning guide “How I Sold 80,000 Books” now.
Alinka Rutkowska is a multi-award-winning and #1 international best-selling author.
She’s a coach who transforms struggling writers into profitable authorpreneurs.
She’s the founder and CEO of LibraryBub (http://librarybub.com/authors/), which connects librarians with award-winning and bestselling books from independent publishers.
She’s been featured on Fox Business Network, affiliates of ABC, NBC and CBS, Author Marketing Club, The Author Hangout, Kindlepreneur, Book Marketing Mentors, Examiner, She Knows, She Writes, The Writer’s Life and many more.
She’s a sought-after speaker. She’s been voted top 5 speaker and named most creative book marketer at the Bestseller Summit Online.