Self Publishing at Any Age: 9 Steps That Took an 8 Year Old From Idea to Published Author self-publishingschool

How 8-Year-Old Emma Sumner Used Chandler Bolt’s System to Publish Her First Book

Chandler Bolt, six-time self-published bestselling author and creator of Self-Publishing School has hit new milestones with his business… including teaching 8-year-old Emma Sumner how to write and publish her first book.

Self publishing at any age is a major accomplishment. Especially when you have to balance your responsibilities as an author with homework from your 3rd grade teacher. This is why Emma Sumner is gaining media attention for The Fairies of Waterfall Island, a 10,000-word, 120-page book that is available on Amazon.

Emma has been booked for on-air interviews with local media on major networks like NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, and PBS to talk about her book and her experience with Self-Publishing School.

Check out this interview from when Emma joined Chandler Bolt on Good Day Sacramento.

So how did this young girl go from no book idea to published without an agent or publishing company? She followed Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School course and took action on these steps to ensure her book would be successful. 

Here are the nine steps an 8-year-old took to go from blank page to self-published book:

#1 Start with a Challenge

When Emma first came to me and said she wanted to write and publish a book, I wasn’t sure if this was just a passing idea in the mind of a bored grade-schooler, or if it was really going to be something she would be passionate. So I started by giving her a challenge. 

Emma’s challenge:

  • Complete 1 chapter to her story
  • Write at least 150 words
  • Create 3 different characters with backgrounds
  • Have a plan ready for the rest of the book

She came back with:

  • A handwritten story in her spiral bound notebook that had 172 words (she made sure I counted),
  • Four distinct characters
  • A plan for a total of 10 chapters and four other characters that she would introduce later in the book.

It was clear from her effort that she was serious — so I was, too!

At that time, the 170-word story was the longest thing she had ever written. It gave her a taste of what was possible if she put forth the effort.

YOUR TURN: How can you challenge yourself? Be creative and find ways to create achievable goals and then turn them into a challenge. You can write them down as a contract with yourself, or even bring on a friend as an accountability partner to encourage and motivate you.

#2 Build a Rewards System

Emma’s first reward was a simple one. We decided that the next morning after she finished her first 150 words I would wake up early and before I went to work I would sit down and give her story my full attention as I read it from start to finish.

The next morning I read her story and instead of giving constructive criticism, I just gave encouragement. I told her how much I loved it and left a small sticky note for her to read when she woke up.

It is vitally important in the beginning to forget about the little things like grammar or spelling and just be proud of the fact they (or you!) completed the challenge. Most children (and adults for that matter) are most vulnerable in the writing process the first time someone reads their words.

Whether you’re reading your child’s, friend’s, or your own work, focus on the good. There will be plenty of time for the rest later when it comes time to edit.

Challenge: Complete detailed descriptions of your top 4 characters.

Reward: We will go onto Fiverr.com and get someone to do a pencil drawing of the character based off your description.

Challenge: Finish Chapter 2

Reward: I will copy your handwritten notes to the computer and teach you how to use Microsoft Word.

Challenge: Finish Chapter 10

Reward: We will sit down and write an email to a cover designer.

YOUR TURN: What is your reward? Find something that you can get excited about that will also lead to more progress with the book.

#3 Make a Plan

After Emma completed her first challenge of 150 words, we decided that we needed to have a plan for moving forward. Instead of just writing everything out and hoping it would all make sense, we sat down to plan out what we wanted to do.

Each week, we met on Saturday morning, waking up before the rest of the family. During our “strategy sessions,” we would have breakfast together and plan out the week. These planning sessions would often happen at a local coffeeshop. After the first couple weeks, we started to bring my laptop along with us so she could sit down and write for 20-30 minutes.

Here are some of the things that we would do each week:

  • Decide on goals
  • Pick out rewards
  • Talk about the story line
  • Talk about any struggles

In order to allow Emma to refer back to what we talked about each week, we would record the session with the audio recording feature of Evernote on my phone. With the recordings available to her on our iPad at home, she could just tap on the button for this week’s strategy session and review it whenever she wanted.

To hear a small clip of one of the first “Strategy Session” recordings, click here Audio for Strategy Session.

YOUR TURN: Do you have a plan? If not, it is time to start getting back to basics like mind mapping or outlining.

#4 Create Accountability [Or as Chandler Bolt calls it: Find an “Accountabilibuddy”]

For Emma, we found a great way to keep her accountable while also promoting her book and making it fun for her. Inspired by Pat Flynn and the group he created to help launch his first eBook, we created a private Facebook group filled with friends and family called “Emma’s First Book.” Each week she would record a short video to the group and report back on her progress.

The group quickly grew from 20 people to over 200 people within a week as friends and family started to message me asking to add one of their friends or coworkers who was interested in watching Emma’s progress.

As people began to comment on her videos and post encouragement for her, we began to incorporate this as one of her rewards. If she finished the weeks goals she could spend 20 min. commenting back to the people in her group.

YOUR TURN: Who is going to keep you accountable? Find someone in your life, in person or online, that you can meet with for 10 minutes each week and check in on your goals. They may not be writers, but maybe they have another goal in mind for weight loss or exercise, and you can work together to keep each other on track.

#5 Celebrate Big Wins

As I mentioned earlier, Emma and I would create weekly challenges and rewards to make the week-to-week process more fun and exciting, but beyond that we also celebrated each time she achieved a big milestone.

More important that just the celebration was the fact that we were doing it together. She was able to share her victories and be proud of her accomplishments, and I was there to cheer her on. During these celebrations we did not talk about strategy and details but we just reflected on how far she had come and what more she could still do.

YOUR TURN: Who can you celebrate with? Find a friend, family member, pet, stuffed animal… anyone who can help you enjoy the wins.

#6 Hire Professional Outsourcers

Based on my experiences with publishing my own books, I knew there were four things we needed to hire professional help to accomplish: illustration, editing, cover design, and formatting.

There’s a wide range of costs for each of these items, so as a family we worked out a budget and made a decision on what we could afford. Then we contacted outsourcers that fit our needs, based on a list of preferred contractors from Self-Publishing School.

This was a time-saver since we didn’t have to waste time or money dealing with an untested resource. Before starting with each we discussed our project, described the book and Emma’s personality, and asked some questions about their style via email to make sure they were a good fit.

We worked with people from Boston, Michigan, Mexico and even Sweden. Emma was involved in communicating with each of them by both email and video chat.

What did it all cost?

Total Invested in the book: $790*

Depending on your budget you can choose to go much lower or even much higher. The range is huge for each category. 

To get access to the Preferred Outsourcers that we used along with many others check out Self-Publishing School.

#7 Try New Things

While working on this project, Emma learned much more than just how to write a book. At each stage we took any opportunity we could to introduce a skill or technology that would expand her knowledge and comfort level.

Here are just some of the programs or skills Emma has learned during the last year:

  • Typing with Microsoft Word
  • Using a thesaurus
  • Typing and sharing documents with Google Docs
  • Using Skype to do video chats
  • Posting, commenting and doing live videos in Facebook

YOUR TURN: What new skills are you looking forward to learning? Make a list of things that you want to try and incorporate them as you go.

#8 Remove Barriers

Small points of resistance can keep you from moving the entire book forward. These little things can cause you to stop your progress, lose your inspiration, or even cast doubt that you should be writing at all. If you can identify those small roadblocks and find a way to remove them early on, then you will be more successful.

For Emma, one of her points of resistance was that she often worried so much about her spelling and grammar that she would not make any progress. She would see the red line under the word show up in Microsoft Word and get completely distracted, and then end up feeling discouraged. Then her progress or creative momentum would be ruined.

Our solution was simple: If spell check was the issue, let’s get rid of it! We disabled spell check completely and chose to forget about spelling until the entire first draft was done. Instead of having her worry about it, we let the editor handle it.

YOUR TURN: If you find something that is blocking you from moving forward, take the time to identify it and find a solution. When you think about writing (or completing) your book now, what barriers do you predict? Make a plan to get rid of it!

#9 Build a Launch Team

A launch team is a group of people chosen to help you market the book and spread the word about your book. By the time Emma was done with her book, she had a large group of people who had been following her progress and were ready to help her by being part of her launch team.

To make it easier to get information out to the group, we created a small landing page and invited her Facebook group. We also posted to other groups including the Self-Publishing School Mastermind Community.

Starting about 2 weeks prior to launch, we began sending emails to everyone who had signed up, letting them know what to expect. One week before our official launch, we put the book up on Amazon and only notified those on the launch team. Many people on the team had never purchased a book on Amazon before, much less read a book on Kindle or left a review, so we had to be very detailed on our instructions.

She had a total of 95 people sign up to be on her launch team, and in just one day after we hit the publish button on Amazon she had 87 books purchased and 16 reviews up.

YOUR TURN: Start thinking about who will be on your launch team and how you will manage it. I strongly suggest signing up for an email service like ClickFunnels, Aweber, or MailChimp so you can collect email addresses and contact your launch team directly.

#10 Give Back

We wanted to make sure that Emma learned more than just how to write a book, and one of the biggest lessons we were able to incorporate was the idea of giving back to charity.

Here are just some of the benefits of giving back with your book:

  • Inspiration: Inspire others around you to be a part of your journey.
  • Motivation: When the book will help others either directly or indirectly, then you will have even more motivation to continue.
  • Satisfaction: Giving back to a charity to which we feel personally connected has given both Emma and me a great feeling of pride and satisfaction that would not have been possible without that participation.

In order to maximize what you can do for a cause, pick a charity that can work with you to help get the word out about the book.

Here are some things to look for:

Where is the donated or pledged money spent?

You can use websites like Charitynavigator.org or Charitywatch.org to find out more about any charity.

Does the money stay locally or go to a national or international fund?

You may want to find a charity where the money stays to help the local community.

Do they have a local chapter or contact?

It helps to have one person that knows the local area to help you set up speaking engagements

What kind of social media presence or email list do they have?

Part of raising money to donate means getting the book in front of those who will be willing to buy it. If the charity has a large contact list, they can help send that information out to more people — which will help them AND help you!

Does the charity have a marketing team?

Many large charities already have a marketing and PR team in place that can help create engaging posts or advertisements, as well as using their already established network to get your book into the media.

Don’t be afraid to ask these questions when you get in contact with the charity. After all, you want to make sure you are donating your time to the right cause.

Emma and I talked with several charities before finally deciding on Autism Speaks, a wonderful group with both national and local ties.

You can find out more about this great charity at AutismSpeaks.org

YOUR TURN: What charities or causes do you feel passionate about or connected to? Start now by using the resources above to evaluate your options.

A Dream Come True

“The Fairies of Waterfall Island” has already exceeded our wildest dreams. Every time we talk about it Emma says “I am just so excited, I never thought it would actually get this far.”

Each new step from writing to editing and now to publishing has been challenging, but the rewards have been incredible — in our relationship, in the growth I’ve seen in Emma, and in the inspiration she’s been to other children and adults.

Chandler Bolt and Emma Sumner

To support Emma and her book go EmmaLovesBooks.com where you can find a link to purchase the book and more information on Emma and her journey. Remember that all proceeds for the first 3 months go to Autism Speaks.

By following Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School and taking action on the challenges I gave her each week, Emma was able to successful write and publish her first book with flying colors. If an 8-year-old can do it, you can too.

SPS 013: Beyond the Bestseller with Hal Elrod

Welcome to episode 13 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Hal Elrod the #1 Bestselling Author of “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM).” Hal has managed to take this one book and build a business, following, and movement around it. He now has an entire “Miracle Morning” series and has had crazy success as a coach and speaker.

Hal is also a good friend of mine who happens to live in San Diego. His book has had an amazing impact on my life as I have been consistently applying the principles. His book is not only life changing, but his story is incredible too. When Hal was 20 years old he was in a car accident where he was hit head-on by a drunk driver. He actually died for 6 minutes and ended up with 11 broken bones and was in a coma for 6 days. He was told that he would never walk again.

He went on to not only walk but run a 52-mile ultra marathon. He was also prompted by his doctors to write a book about his experience. The beginning profits of his first book “Taking Life Head On! (The Hal Elrod Story): How To Love The Life You Have While You Create The Life of Your Dreams” were stolen by his first publisher. Hal bounced back again and went on to he create the life-changing “Miracle Morning” book, community, and business. Today we discuss Hal’s book and how he built a business around it.

You can find Hal here:

Miracle Morning Website
Miracle Morning Facebook Community
Hal’s Miracle Morning Books
Hal Elrod Website
Hal on Twitter @HalElrod

Show Notes

[03:05] Hal’s first book was actually “Taking Life Head On”. He was so happy and positive in the hospital that the doctors suggested he write a book. It took 6 years because he thought he wasn’t a writer.
[05:23] Hal used a small Mom and Pop publisher for his 1st book “Taking Life Head On”, it even made it to number 6 on Amazon. He’ll never know how much profit this book made to get to number 6 because his “publisher” left town and disappeared with all of his royalties.
[05:56] The difference between writing a good book and a book that creates income and impact.
[07:58] Looking at people from a place of non-judgement. Feeling sorry for people who wrong us rather than being angry.
[08:51] Biggest takeaway: everyone should write a book.
[10:43] Books are the new “business cards”.
[11:50] Our story, our struggles, and our strategies. We all can write about these three things.
[13:16] The Miracle Morning was Hal’s story, struggle, and strategy.
[14:24] Miracle Morning took 4 years because of lack of clarity and other issues.
[15:30] Hal hired a coach because he knows the power of accountability.
[16:16] Having accountability, and the book was finished in 4 months.
[18:42] To market his Miracle Morning book Hal created a launch team. He also put up an opt-in page with the first two chapters offered for free. He also made an audio opt-in which ran for two years while he wrote the book.
[21:13] An email list is income on demand.
[22:46] Have an audience ready months in advance before your book goes live.
[23:48] The launch team reviewed the book and shared on social.
[27:46] Hal had an assistant create a graph of how many books were sold. His biggest sales month was December 2014. It was nice watching the graph curve up.
[30:52] Hal is working on Beyond the Bestseller. Writing a good book is the most important component. Change someone’s daily behavior, and you create a movement. Build word of mouth into your book the book needs a story to share.
[34:08] Get an accountability partner, don’t go it alone.
[37:55] Creating rituals around your content. 3 practices you do every day.
[39:48] Podcast interviews really drive sales.
[41:15] Hal is self-published and sells lots of books. His speaking fees have gone up and he has more opportunities.
[47:27] Podcasts are great for promoting books.
[48:38] Add value over and over, then ask when needed.
[55:38] After writing a book the real work of marketing begins.

Links and Resources:

self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
How to Launch a Bestselling Book by Michael Hyatt
Your Podcast Guru
Miracle Morning Website
Miracle Morning Facebook Community
Hal’s Miracle Morning Books
Hal Elrod Website
Hal on Twitter @HalElrod

SPS 012: How I Built an E-Book Business of $3,000-$4,000/Month with Lise Cartwright

Welcome to episode 12 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Lise Cartwright who is a Self-Publishing School graduate. She has been one of the most successful students in the program. She is a bestselling author and coach based in Auckland, New Zealand. She blogs and writes books with actionable information for new freelancers and time-poor entrepreneurs.

It is her goal to help these entrepreneurs move forward in their business whether they are just starting out or just need to gain forward momentum. She has an amazing story, and she has been a writing machine and has published 14 books over the last 10 months. Her community is really engaged and can’t wait for each new book to come out. Her writing, community, and income are only building. She has managed to achieve an income of a few grand a month, and it is growing.

Her recipe for success for building an author platform is to right and let the marketing come later. I know her books are going to continue to grow and create an even bigger income. I am really excited to talk with Lise today as we dive into her story and how she has been able to accomplish so much.

You can find Lise here:

Lise Cartwright’s Books on Amazon
Lise Cartwright
Hustle & Groove
Lise on Twitter @LiseCnz

Show Notes
 
[02:28] Her first book was a guide written in 2012 on how to be a freelance writer on oDesk.
[04:28] Marketing the book about freelance writing was an issue, but her second book “No Gym Needed” is what she considers her first book.
[05:34] To find her topic, she wrote down topics that she already knew and discovered her topic for her second book which she considers her first book.
[07:08] She used mind-mapping as a visual process to organize and create the content for her books. She mind-maps all of her books. She used the old pen and paper mind-map method.
[08:15] She puts her idea in the middle of the page and then puts down everything about that idea that comes to mind. In the mind-map, she uses colors, arrows, bubbles and whatever it takes to get the information down and organized.
[10:05] She mind-maps entire series when she gets an idea.
[11:56] To write consistently Lise set a schedule or the writing wouldn’t get done. She wrote for an hour a day during the week. The more she wrote the faster her writing became.
[14:54] She would outline and find information for her book as well as mind-mapping.
[16:15] She went from finished book to published on Amazon in 7-9 days. She just went for it and hit the publish button.
[18:18] Some of the fears she had were that nobody was going to read her book, but she went ahead with it anyway.
[22:15] How she went from fitness books back to freelancing and “Side Hustle Blueprint” because it is scary for people to start the freelancing process. This also led to questions on her blog which led to more book topics. She ended up writing a book a week. She mapped out a series and wrote 7 books in 7 weeks.
[26:24] She cleared every Monday for book writing and planned out her weeks.
[28:23] She had a process for each book and wrote for 8 or 9 hours and 20 hours total.
[29:02] Having a decent outline and a checklist it could be done. Write, publishing, and launching all in one week is too much.
[30:24] The surprising thing was that book launches are hard and have a lot of moving parts, so she had to outsource.
[33:18] After all of this, she took two months off. Then she co-authored some books to ease herself back in.
[35:04] She now writes faster and finds the process easier.
[38:25] Hearing from fans she doesn’t know has been surprising. She also wants to think about the impact of the books on people as opposed to just the writing of the books.
[39:47] Networking and guesting on podcasts like Self-Publishing School and the Side Hustle have been great opportunities.
[44:12] Don’t overthink it, just go ahead and write your first book. Take action!

Links and Resources:

Lise Cartwright’s Books on Amazon
Lise Cartwright
Hustle & Groove
Lise on Twitter @LiseCnz
self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
The Book Ninja

SPS 011: How To Start Blogging For High Profile Sites with Dorie Clark

Welcome to episode 11 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Dorie Clark a marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, and contributor to the Harvard Business Review. She is the author of Stand Out Networking, Stand Out, Reinventing You, and Entrepreneurial You. Dorie is a former presidential campaign spokeswoman, and an adjunct professor of business administration at Duke University. In this episode, we talk about writing books and writing for high profile sites.

Since her childhood, Dorie always wanted to write a book. In 2009, she decided to pursue her dream and make that happen. She came up with three great ideas and presented those to publishers, but soon discovered without having an established platform she wasn’t going to get a deal. That is when she decided to build a platform through blogging. She began by trying to get into some well-known publications like Forbes, Inc, and Huffington Post.

Dorie used warm leads to and referrals from friends to get an introduction with an editor and the fire publication she began blogging in was the Huffington Post. This led to other opportunities, and we learn how Dorie built a platform and her career to become the author, writer, and contributor that she is today.

You can find Dorie here:
Dorie Clark
Dorie Clark on Twitter @DorieClark
Dorie Clark on Facebook
Reinventing You
Stand Out
Stand Out Networking
Entrepreneurial You

Show Notes

[01:23] It was Dorie’s childhood goal to write a book. In 2009, she wrote three different book proposals.
[02:07] Everything ended up getting turned down because she didn’t have a strong enough platform.
[02:32] She needed a platform so she blogged for the Huffington Post, Harvard Review, Forbes and other publications.
[03:05] Following warm leads for getting started blogging.
[03:58] Michael Silver introduced her to an editor at the Huffington Post. A shortcut to being a contributor through warm leads and introductions from people you know.
[04:38] Have a short paragraph bio and links to three or four clips and prepare info about what you want to write and how frequent you would like to write. Put all of this in a packet.
[05:35] She was trying to break in and Huffington Post is the first one she got.
[07:10] After writing for Huffington Post, she began writing for the Harvard Business Review. This lead was a fluke when she met an editor while selling a bike on Craigslist.
[08:45] Have pitches and draft posts ready to go in case an opportunity arises.
[09:19] A Harvard Business Review blog post, turned into a magazine post that turned into three offers for book deals.
[11:54] How following up can help with actually getting an introduction.
[14:10] The book deal came pretty easy, after two years of writing and starting the process. The wind was at her back.
[15:04] Dorie always thought writing a book would be impressive and meaningful.
[16:01] At first, getting the publishing deal felt stressful. She listened to her publicist and ended up with a better offer.
[19:18] How we always want more. The book deal was great, but being a bestseller could be the next quest. It is a good idea to savor the moment.
[20:16] Her writing process is doing all the interviews up front, then shaping the story, then once she has the backbone she weaves it together. She wrote the first draft over a summer.
[23:12] Early purchases and preorders are important. Offer speaking deals to get people to buy book preorders. Dorie used this for her second book.
[25:03] Reach out in advance to people you know. 100 a day with a link to preorder the book.
[26:06] Killer Secret. Create a spreadsheet with a standard message and add a personal part to the message. She had a personal column in her spreadsheet. Use a mail merge function with Google sheets and Gmail.
[27:54] She ended up with about 7000 people in her personal database. Where she has some kind of personal connection.
[33:18] Dorie became a podcast guest to promote her second book. She also used warm introductions and cold calls to get the spot.
[34:58] Email signups are a great marketing tool that you can control. The best way to build a list was to have a big giveaway. Dorie created a 42-page workbook and mentioned it when she was a podcast guest.
[37:52] A physical book tour can be a driving factor in a town where you have an audience base.
[40:20] Remembering not to overstretch yourself.
[41:02] Being too slack about emails on her first book was her biggest mistake.
[42:22] Building an email list goes hand in hand with marketing.
[44:27] Have a free giveaway link in your tagline and bio when guest posting. Also, link to your books.
[45:40] Using sections from her book as blog post topics and content.
[49:49] Use the ladder strategy to ladder up to blogs with higher and higher profiles.

Links and Resources:
Dorie Clark
Dorie Clark on Twitter @DorieClark
Dorie Clark on Facebook
Reinventing You
Stand Out
Stand Out Networking
Entrepreneurial You
self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com

book launch

How to Run a Book Launch Like a Pro

Every self-publishing author needs a solid book launch plan. Writing a book takes planning, time, diligence and then, some tech know-how. You spend months [or years] crafting your novel, you’ve spent a small fortune on a cover, editing, proofreading, formatting, and various other expenses on your writing journey. The worst of the storm is behind you.

You’ve made it.

You’re now ready to hit publish.

Almost…

Do you have a book launch plan for your book? Is your launch team standing by ready to review the book when it hits the digital waves? Will you be using paid promo sites to boost your sales and garner potentially thousands of downloads during your launch window? Are you set up to promote your book in various channels and using the top social media sites available?

I know, launching a book is a big deal. All the work that you’ve put in up to now will fall short of nothing if you launch badly. So, in this post, we will show you how to launch your book on Amazon like a pro.

In this post you’ll figure out how to:

  • Price your book during launch
  • Set up your complete launch strategy during soft launch
  • Collect reviews from your launch team
  • Set your book up with the best promo sites for both paid and free
  • Stick to a minimalist launch plan

Before we even get into launching your book, we need to take a look at the pre-launch checklist and make sure everything is ready to go. There is nothing worse than a few days into launch and you realize you’ve missed an important piece of the puzzle.

The Pre- Book Launch Final Checklist

Here is a short checklist to make sure that you have taken care of these things before launch. These steps don’t have to be perfect and can be changed or tweaked later as needed.

  • Book Description — Create your book description using the Book Description Generator at Kindlepreneur.com
  • Keywords — Select 7 keywords for your book. I use KDP Rocket and Kindlespy. There is also Merchant Words and Google Adwords
  • Choose 2 main categories for your book in the KDP dashboard. Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories.
  • Create a landing page for your book. This can be used to collect email addresses and give away a chapter of your book before its release. [optional]
  • Upload your manuscript to KDP. Proofread your book using the KDP online previewer.
  • Upload your Kindle cover to KDP.
  • Set your launch price at 0.99.
  • Insert a lead magnet into your book, both at the front and back. Connect this with your email server such as Mailchimp or ConvertKit.
  • Get your audiobook created. Set up to release with your book through Audible or ACX. [Optional]
  • Paperback version created. You can set up your paperback here at Createspace. Optional: Your paperback can be launched after the Kindle release.
  • Emails written for pre-release during launch week to send to launch team.
  • Goodreads account created and author profile setup.
  • Launch Plan Model: Map out the specific action steps you are taking for each day of your launch. I have provided a model for this further down the post.

First of all, there are many different launch strategies and actions to take leading up to a book launch. For this launch strategy I am teaching you here, we are keeping things simple. This will be for a twelve day launch including 3 days free promo through Amazon where readers can download your book for free.

You can also check out Steve Scott’s 5-Day Launch Plan That Works post here to see how he effectively launched his [and co-author Barrie Davenport’s] bestselling book 10-Minute Digital Declutter. Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation had a successful launch when he published his bestselling book Buy Buttons with 2600+ copies sold. Another great launch was for Rob Cubbon’s latest book The New Freedom and his detailed launch plan is right here.

Looking at the different strategies that are out there, it is easy to see that launching a book requires a strategic plan. But it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Your launch plan will depend largely on: 1. Your objectives and purpose; 2. Your platform. The bigger your platform and access to influencers, the bigger [and complicated] your launch is.

In this post I’ll provide you with a simple, step-by-step process for setting up your book launch, including your free promo, and the corresponding promo sites to use that can increase your category rankings and generate potentially thousands of downloads.

If everything is ready, it’s time to hit publish on your book. But first, a few things you need to know about Amazon’s algorithm and overall product launch strategy. Remember, Amazon wants you to succeed. If you make money, Amazon makes money: it’s a win-win!

The Amazon Algorithm: A Few Basics

Amazon uses an algorithm to measure and track book sales [and everything else]. Knowing a few basics of how this works to your advantage can better help you to have a greater launch and, to sustain the life of your book for months [and years] after the launch buzz wears off. Basically, your book starts ranking as soon as browsers make a purchase.

Every purchase of your book pushes the ranking of your book up the ladder. As a book moves up, it jumps ahead of the other books in your selected category. The rankings are based on recent sales and Amazon favors a book that is getting consistent, ongoing sales.

A book that runs a promo and gets 200 sales in one day, but then nothing else for the week, will not perform as well as a book that gets the same amount of downloads over the course of a ten day period. Slow, steady traffic and a long-term plan is the way to succeed with your author business. Steady, organic growth will always outperform a sudden burst of downloads.

It’s also worth noting that reviews and the price of your book do not affect the sales rank, but, the more quality reviews you have, the stronger your book’s credibility will be viewed by readers. This does affect the decision-making power of browsers, which funnels into more downloads. Focus on getting as many reviews as you can during this launch phase.

Setting Up Your Amazon Bestseller

The 0.99 Launch Strategy:

What? Launch my book at just 0.99? But that’s like giving it away for free, and it’s worth more than that? Yes, I know how you feel, but trust me, there is a reason for launching it at this price that we will get into shortly. Remember: think long-term. You are selling it at a super-low point now, but the rewards are coming later. So, if you haven’t already, go into the KDP dashboard and under the section on pricing, set your book at 0.99. With the exception of the free promo period, your book will be at 0.99 for the duration of the launch.

The Free book launch Strategy:

Setting up your free launch is easy. If you plan to run a free promo for your book, you can set this up as soon as your book is live on Amazon. To run a free promotion, your book has to be enrolled in the KDP Select program for 90 days. A book that is listed for free will be ranked in the free store and books set at a price are ranked in the paid store.

If you are debating on doing a free promo, I would suggest you do if you don’t have a following [email list] or you are just getting started. The free promo will get your book into more hands [that will hopefully read it] and increase the visibility across more platforms.

Book Promotion Sites: Free and Paid

Book promotion sites can be very powerful when launching your book. You can take full advantage of these sites for both your paid and free launch. I’ll show you a generic scenario for batching these sites together to give your book that boost it may need. If you have a healthy email list, then you won’t have to rely on these sites as much as authors that are just starting out and don’t have a strong platform yet.

Keep in mind that results vary for and that your performance for each site will depend largely on the quality of your book. You still need the essentials: a great cover, compelling book description, and a title that catches the browser’s attention.

Below is a list of my personal favorites that I have used, in combination with an email list,  to launch multiple bestsellers. Also, you can check out Dave Chesson’s blog on this as he covers the best sites to use for both free and paid.

The price for each promo site varies depending on the niche and category.

Top Recommended Promo Sites

  1. Buckbooks. If you can get onto any of these promo sites, Buckbooks is the one you want to try to get into. You need 10 reviews before they’ll schedule you. Note: You can promote a 2nd book on the same day for only 25% of the price. Great deal. But you can only promote once every 6 months for each book. If you use their Archangel Ink book production services you’ll get a guaranteed placement.
  2. Robin Reads — [need 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating] Takes a couple days to get approved [$55]. Great results. I usually get anywhere from 60-100 downloads with this one. https://robinreads.com/author-signup/ Note: They have a calendar that is usually booked out weeks in advance. In this case consider using Robin Reads for future promos of existing books already launched.
  3. BookSends — $40. If you can match this up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day it’s a great little boost. http://booksends.com/
  4. BKnights [Fiverr] You can’t go wrong for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. Downloads average 12-30 depending on the book.
  5. eReader News — Great gig but hard to get approved at times. takes several days for a response. Various prices. http://ereadernewstoday.com/
  6. Booksbutterfly. You are basically paying for downloads, one of the few [if only] site that does that. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle [$90] that gets you 50+ downloads + KU borrows. [https://www.booksbutterfly.com/bookpromo…/paidbookpromotion/]
  7. The Fussy Librarian [http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/]. Great promo but very hard to book in advance. They are usually booked out 2-3 weeks ahead. Need 10 reviews to get accepted. Various price ranges. Strong results.
  8. Bargain Booksy. I love this one, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and good results. https://www.bargainbooksy.com/sell-more-books/
  9. eBooks Habit. Great little promo, I recommend the guaranteed placement for $10. http://ebookshabit.com/for-authors/
  10. Awesome Gang. This one is great for the price, $10. They have a free option but go with the paid. http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
  11. Many Books. Great little gig, average returns, $29. You can also sign up to become a featured author. http://manybooks.net/promote
  12. Digital Book Today [$40]. Good gig, average returns and works better with fiction than non fiction. http://digitalbooktoday.com/
  13. eBook Stage. Another great little promo site, reasonably priced. $10. https://ebookstage.com/
  14. Book Runes [http://bookrunes.com/]. Global reach with over 50k mailing list, $25. Average to very good results.
  15. BookBub. This is by far the biggest and the best promo site. Very tough to get accepted and it is expensive, but worth every dime. At the very least you should set up an Author profile on Bookbub and start to get people to follow you. They have a great blog too that gives powerful tips on how to get a BookBub feature. https://insights.bookbub.com
  16. Email your list [if you have one]. if you don’t, BUILD one. This is by far better than all of the promo sites combined. If you don’t have a list yet, start building one with Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convertkit.

The Book Launch Sequence and Set-Up

To make this simple, I’m giving you a sample of a book launch that covers 12 days. This is similar to the launch that I did for my book Relaunch Your Life, except that I didn’t run a free promo this time around. Here we will look at the plan to include the free promo as well. Your launch will look and perform differently than this. You can use this as a model and tweak if needed. This launch is if you are launching your book at 0.99 with a free promo set up through KDP for 2-3 days.

What is the difference between a soft launch and the actual launch?

Your soft launch begins the moment you hit publish. If you plan on launching your book on a Sunday, I would recommend hitting the publish button at least 24 hours early. It takes Amazon about 24 hours to set up your book. It could take less or more time. In this launch model we will use 3 days for our soft launch window, and then begin the actual launch on day 4.

The 12-Day Book Launch Model

Day 1: First day soft launch.

The first day of your soft launch is critical. This is the day when you are going to set up your book to have a successful launch for the next 10 or 11 days. The price point is set at 0.99.

Here is a brief checklist of what to do on day 1 of the soft launch:

  1. Create your Amazon Author Page. Set up your bio and upload an author pic.
  2. Claim your book by hitting the ‘add more books’ tab. This will appear on your author page within 24 hours.
  3. Email your launch team. Let them know the book is ready for verified reviews.
  4. Email Amazon customer support. Request that your book is placed in additional categories.
  5. Set up a few promo sites for days 2 or 3 while your book is at 0.99. This starts to build momentum. Recommended Awesome Gang, Bknights, and Booksbutterfly.
  6. As soon as you have ten reviews, set up the rest of your promo sites for the week. Not all of these promo sites require a set number of reviews. Check the list for links to the sites and submission requirements.
  7. Set up your Free promo in the KDP dashboard. Your free promo will be 2-3 days. This would start on day 4 [or however long you decide to run your soft launch]. If you do a 5-day soft launch your free would 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.

For your free promo on days 4-5 contact:

James H Mayfield [Note: his calendar is very busy. You might not get on for the days you want with short notice. Consider using your remaining free days at a later date and arrange to have James promo your book.]

Bknights [free promo]

Awesome Gang

Freebooksy

Booksbutterfly

Combine these promo sites with the organic traffic from Amazon and you should do very well for free downloads.

  1. Email your list [if you have one].

Day 2-3 Soft launch [Note: You can extend this to 5 days, it’s up to you]

  1. Social media burst to your FB page, mastermind groups, and other sources to spread the word.

Day 4-6: FREE Promo. Scheduled promo sites on day 1 to advertise your book. Send an email to your team to notify your book is now free. Promote to social media.

Day 7-10: Run paid promo sites recommended from the list above. You can cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos a day.

Day 11-12: Launch is winding down. If you followed the plan you should have had a considerable number of downloads for both free and paid. Remember: numbers vary depending on your platform, book quality, niche, and sometimes, luck. Email your list and remind them the book will be 0.99 for only one more day. Contact your launch team and thank them for reviews and their support. Last call for reviews and downloads.

Day 13: Increase the price to $2.99. Leave it there for one week and raise it to $3.99. You can test the pricing by going up to $4.99 and watching the action. Monitor the sales and adjust to however you feel comfortable.

I spend around $300-$400 per launch minimum on promo sites but how much you spend is up to you. Stagger them out over the course of 10-12 days.

Beyond the Book Launch

One of the biggest challenges authors have is, where to go with the book after the initial launch is over. How do you promote, market and keep bringing in traffic so that your book you have worked hard for doesn’t just drop off into oblivion. There are three things you can focus on.

  1. Write another book. Multiple books create momentum. Do you have a series of books you could write? Writing a series is a great way to build your brand, a list, and keep traffic growing with increased interest in your books.
  2. Build your business on the back End. Create a business around your book with coaching, a course, or an automated email course that gets readers engaged after they are finished your book. They want to know more about you and so, if you have a business set up to kick in for subscribers, this is the start of what could be a great author business.

Wrap Up

Launching a book is  combination of strategy, imagination, and hard work. If you have a great book to promote and a team of people [a small team will do] backing you up, you can have a great launch. With every book launch there is more to learn. If you keep launching, you’ll get better at it. Eventually you’ll turn your launch into a massive movement with thousands of fans standing behind you pushing your book towards New York Times Bestseller status. Imagine that.