Two weeks ago, I launched my second novel, Killing Freedom. Now, book launches are something of an enigma to both writers and bloggers, which of course makes it a fantastic topic for discussion. In this post, I want to dispel some of the most common myths surrounding book launches, whilst offering a word of advice based on what I think I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong.
Firstly, experimentation is key. I try something slightly different with each of my book launches. With What We Saw, I organised a load of guest posts, interviews, giveaways, and really built up the launch day. I grabbed a few early sales, but they soon died off. With The Painting, I probably didn’t promote it enough, but am starting to see steady sales now. With Killing Freedom, I kind of mixed the two together, and have learned some real lessons through experimentation.
I do have a three-step plan to a successful book launch. Please be advised that it is hit and miss. It may not work for you. Like I said, book launches are an enigma. I do want to get a few things out of your head before I go into the three-step plan, though.
Firstly, don’t bother building up to a major launch day. This is a tip I learned from David Gaugrhan’s blog. If you spend all your advertising cash on selling books on one particular day, your books will probably float a nice spot in the rankings, but due to the nature of the Amazon algorithms, will soon drop right back down again. For steady sales, target different platforms at different times.
I understand it’s all easy for writers to say, ‘well you should target your mailing list. Simple as that.’ But mailing lists are hard to build — I get that. That’s why it’s hard to ‘launch’ a book, per se, before you have a hundred or so dedicated mailing list subscribers. But this three step book launch plan will help not only launch your book, but build your mailing list for future launches.
Stage One: Launch your book for 99c to your mailing list subscribers
Subscribers to your mailing list should be considered your VIP customers — they’ve made the commitment to subscribe to your updates, so give them something extra in return. Even if you don’t have many mailing list subscribers, I’d take this step.
Some writers worry that by doing this, they’ll lose out on full-price sales that they would previously have got from those mailing list subscribers. I say that the benefits of a reduced price sale to these people — building those also-bought connections on Amazon; getting a ranking assigned — far outweigh the alternative.
OPTIONAL BONUS: Launch your book for free
If you already have a mailing list with a few subscribers (let’s say, ten), launch for 99c. However, if you really don’t have a mailing list (which you should), then I’d recommend launching your book for free for a day in order to gain some early visibility in the popularity lists. I learned this tip from Edward W. Robertson, and while he doesn’t advocate free quite as much as he did eleven months ago, it’s still better than nothing.
Beware: Amazon don’t always create the also-boughts immediately despite a decent free-run. This option is hit and miss, which is why you should drive people towards your mailing list so that your next book launch isn’t such a gamble.
Stage Two: Launch your book for a discount price to your second-level subscribers
Second-level subscribers is a phrase I’ve just right now coined, and are a group you have to categorise for yourself. Where are your most committed fans, mailing list aside? Are they on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog? Then launch your book to them for a slightly raised, but discount price. So, if you offer it to your mailing list for 99c and your full price is $4.99, offer it to your second-level subscribers for $2.99. That way, these committed fans are still getting a bargain, but not quite as much a bargain as if they signed the ultimate allegiance of the mailing list.
Really drive home this point to these second-level subscribers. ‘You’re saving $2, which is awesome, BUT next time you could save $4…’
Stage Three: Launch your book to everyone else at a standard price
After you’ve treated your mailing list subscribers on the first day and your second-level subscribers on the next, hopefully you’ll have earned a few sales already. Not mega-bucks, but enough to create some also-boughts and assign you a ranking. Good — now’s the time to announce it to everybody else.
So, if you have an active blog and you treat those readers as your second-level subscribers, announce your book (just once or twice) to Facebook, Twitter, and whatever at full-price now. Make a point of the savings mailing list subscribers made. It might just tempt them to sign up, which is the ultimate goal in all of this.
Then, leave your book to do its thing until your first promotion, which is your decision, and the topic of another blog post.
You can try guest posting, interviews, social media spamming, tweeting, pinning, Facebooking, singing, dancing — whatever. Or, you can try this. It might work for your book launch, it might not. That’s the beauty of the game.
Best of luck with your book launch!