Writing a book doesn’t guarantee that your book will sell. Even if your book is the next Great American Novel, if it doesn’t get into the collective consciousness of the public, it won’t be a success. That’s where book marketing tactics become indispensable.
Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s work. But the good news is that marketing your book is also about connections and relationships, so it can be fun. You’re the only person who knows your book from cover to cover (pun intended), your backstory and reasons for writing, and who your ideal reader is. It’s just a matter of putting a plan in place to connect with your intended audience and share your story.
We’ll walk you through play-by-play sales and marketing steps so readers find your book and buy it. Book sales = profits for you. You deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Don’t Launch Your Book Without a Book Marketing Plan
Before you launch your book, you’re going to need a plan. We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing and editing, and getting your book ready for publication. Adding another layer of “work” to the calendar may not sound like the most appealing idea.
It may be possible to launch your book without a plan, but it’s not wise. Here’s why: If you launch without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read your book. This is going to hamper the success of any books you plan on publishing in the future. If you dream of making a career as a writer or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing plan is an essential key to your success.
The good news is, you’re not doing it alone. Your book marketing launch team is an indispensable part of the successful marketing of your book.
A solid strategy to market your book and a solid team behind you can lead to more sales, more readers, and more network connections. Are you sold on the value of having a marketing plan in place before you launch your book? Good, we thought you’d heed our words. Let’s get started!
Create a Book Marketing Launch Team
Your book marketing launch team is a dedicated, hand-selected group eager to make your book launch triumphant. Your team will donate their time, skills, and networks. Having a strong team in place should reduce your stress, take some PR pressure off your shoulders, and expand the valuable skills and personal and professional networks at your disposal. Wow, right?
How do you get started putting together a team like this?
- Who? First, look to your book’s message to help you brainstorm about potential launch team members. Who are the people who care deeply about your message and want to spread the word? Next, think about those people who care about you, both as a person and as an author. Finally, think about those who you know would welcome the chance to be part of something exciting, like your book launch.
There you have it, how easy was that? You’ve made a mental (or actual) list. These three facets of people are those who you should reach out to as prospective book marketing launch team members.
- How? You might be wondering how, exactly, your launch team works to promote your book. It’s not just one action; your book marketing launch team is going to use a multifaceted marketing approach.
Marketing tactics may include:
- Sharing a link to your book on social media
- Mentioning your book to others who would be interested in your topic
- Reviewing your book on Amazon
- Downloading your book from Amazon to boost numbers
- Reaching out to bloggers or other media
- Helping out with your webpage or social media accounts
- Creating sellable products
- Establishing a Goodreads page
- Why? Each member of your launch team will have their own unique “WHY” for joining, based on their own motivations and goals. Some may love you and want to support you (Hi Mom!). Some want to share your book’s message because it resonates personally with them. Others may want to author a book of their own, and being part of your book marketing launch team can provide them with vital experience.
Regardless of the overarching reason, most people are altruistic. They want to help, and would consider it an honor to be asked. When you reach out to potential team members, that you’re not asking them to work for “nothing” — you’re providing experience, connections, and a community.
Creating your Book Marketing Launch Team: 7 Simple Steps
If you use your team’s talent and communicate well, there’s nothing your launch team can’t accomplish! Read through these 7 steps to get started:
Step 1: Size
The first step is to determine the projected size of your book marketing launch team. The one determining factor for how many team members you ultimately end up with is the size of your following, since this will be your recruitment pool.
“Your following” is those interested in you, your book, and your products. This may mean five of your lifelong friends. Others involved with businesses or big organizations may have connections in the hundreds. There’s no right or wrong number. Generally, if you have a smaller following, strive for a launch team of 10-50. Those with hundreds in their network can aim for 100-250 team members.
You may be thinking, “What if I don’t have a following?” If that’s the case, it’s time to build your own. Look at your personal inner circle—family, close friends—then branch out to their connections, families, and colleagues.
Now look at your outer circle, such as those from school, college, or your first job. Consider acquaintances—parents at your child’s school, fellow dog owners at your vet, women in your yoga class. Even though you may not know these people well, you may be pleasantly surprised to find they’re inspired by your book and would be eager to share it.
Once you’ve done the mental exercise of thinking of your following, your inner circle, your outer circle, and their inner and outer circles, you should have a plethora of potential launch team members!
Step 2: Recruit
Now that you’ve determined your potential recruitment pool, the second step is to initiate contact and gauge their interest level. If you detect some interest, propose they join your launch team. The most important lesson to consider about your book marketing launch team is that QUALITY trumps QUANTITY. You don’t want a group of people who give you lip service but aren’t actually committed to helping you. One top-quality, dedicated team member trumps a handful of mediocre ones.
Begin recruitment with an email to your followers. Describe your book, give clear expectations about the team, and share your selection process. At a bare minimum, you should require that each team member read the book and write a review on the date of your book’s release.
How do you pick top candidates for your team? Create a simple application process. This meets three goals: 1) It makes your chosen team feel exclusive. 2) It lets you screen candidates for sincerity before you share your book’s secrets. 3) It sets a precedent that your launch is serious business. To sweeten the recruitment deal offer perks, like a free signed copy of your book or inclusion in the “acknowledgments” section.
Send out your application at least a month prior to your launch date, and give applicants one week to apply. Suggested questions to include:
- Why are you interested in supporting my book?
- What part of my book speaks to you?
- What specialized skills can you contribute?
- What’s your available time commitment?
- Who are influential people you can reach out to?
- Why would these influential people be interested?
Step 3: Establish Communication Style
Here’s the secret to a successful book marketing launch team: Effective communication.
When you send out applications to your potential team, make sure it’s from the email address you’re going to use. Communicate frequently to keep your team engaged and to share weekly tasks, progress, and innovative ideas. Strive for one email per week in weeks preceding launch, and ramp up during launch week.
You’re the virtual team coach, so think of ways to boost morale and build rapport. Inspiring quotes, fun contests, and goofy photos can keep energy high and build vital connections.
The idea of sending tons of email may be odious. Keep yourself on track by pre-writing emails that you plan to send, then save as drafts.
Create a private Facebook group and use this as home base for your team. Set the tone for your Facebook page by posting “Dos and Don’ts” and aim keep the conversations focused and positive. Use this Facebook group to engage, share ideas, and post feedback.
No matter which mode of communication you’re using, remember people like to be treated well—not like grunts thanklessly doing your bidding. Always make sure your team knows how grateful you are for them and their dedication!
Step 4: Welcome Video
While you’re waiting on applications, use the downtime to record your welcome video. Your welcome video should accompany your acceptance email, and be added to your team’s Facebook page.
In your video, first congratulate your team for being selected and express gratitude for their help. Then, detail your expectations, your unique mission for writing your book, and why you want to share it with as many people as you can.
Step 5: Book Marketing Launch Team Assignments
Facebook will be the most effective way to dole out weekly team assignments. Some tasks you may ask for help with:
- Read your book and offer feedback
- Reach out to bloggers and industry influencers
- Promote the book on social media
- Buy the book on launch day
- Write a review
Step 6: Utilize Talents
Some of your team members will be go above-and-beyond for you, since some will have the ability to spend more time helping out. These people will be key in your launch and you want to make sure they know just how awesome they are.
Write a post during introductory week and ask the following:
“Would anyone like to go above and beyond (more than you already have)? If you have any special talents or connections you’d like to lend towards my book launch, please comment on this post and let me know. I’m looking for ways to help spread my book’s message to a wider audience.”
Step 7: Have Fun and Say “Thank You!”
Your launch team has committed weeks of their time, energy, and talents, so make sure you let each and every person know how thankful you are! Hand-written notes are always a heartfelt touch, while group thank you’s and individual acknowledgments are also appreciated.
Make sure to make each person on your team feel valued and appreciated for their efforts.
And most importantly, let them know how to get your book for free (or at least at a deep discount)! Which brings us to…
Pricing Your Book
To find out how to price your book for success from the start (and in the long run), read Book Launch—but don’t despair—I’m going to let you in on some big secrets that will allow your book to soar up Amazon’s charts. Believe it or not, pricing is a key reason some books make it big and others flop.
The right pricing at the right time is how you’re going to reel in some big sales. If you’ve already got a sizable audience, then Self-Publishing School recommends launching your book for $0.99, and then increasing the price to $2.99 or higher after about a week.
That’s all well and good if you’re an established author or if you can market to a large social media platform or email list. If you’re just starting out, like most first-time authors, then it’s a good idea to use Amazon’s Free Book Promotions for your book launch. You won’t get paid any royalties by putting your book out there for free, but it’s a successful strategy in that Amazon will support your book sales by featuring your book on other author’s book pages, and potentially even by advertising your book by email. This increased exposure will lead to more sales once the price of your book goes up.
Towards the end of your free promo, switch your book’s price to $0.99 to keep your sales momentum high for the following week. Then slowly inch the book up to your targeted price a dollar at a time for 5 to 7 days—first to $1.99, then $2.99 or higher—until sales begin to slow.
Beyond Pricing: Getting Readers to Your Book
All marketing—no matter which market or industry—is fundamentally about people and making connections. Part of pitching your book will be figuring out how your book relates to your readers and how they will benefit from it. Aside from pricing, what’s the motivation to buy?
Each of the below marketing strategies should allow you to build connections, while also shedding light on what motivates your readers. Knowing your audience will be key to marketing to them and driving sales.
You’re building your author platform and brand from the ground-up. Luckily, there are, literally, thousands of ways to garner attention and build publicity. Choose just a one or two natural fits within your book and take the opportunity to invite your reader to connect with you and your brand. Then give readers the call to action and the URL to find you.
Free Author PR
As a new author, the opportunities for FREE promotion options are virtually limitless. The key is reaching out and putting your name and face out there before your new biggest fans! It takes a little effort and coordination to make this happen, but the pay-off will be worth it. Here are 5 ways to capitalize on free PR:
- Interviews and Press. A radio or podcast interview can introduce you to new readers. While this may sound intimidating, with preparation you can pull this off like a pro, after all YOU’RE the expert on your book. Look to local colleges, podcast hosts, or Internet stations for interview opportunities. Hosts love to interview up-and-coming authors, so you may be surprised at the many offers that come your way when you reach out.
- External blogs. Seek out other blogs in your book’s genre and ask the blog owner whether you can write a guest post. Guest blogging is a win-win for the new author: it gets your name out there, improves your SEO, and keeps your writing skills sharp—there’s always another book around the corner, as long as you keep writing.
- Inbound links. Set up a Google Alert so you can be notified about where your name and your book show up online. If someone gives you good feedback or a stellar review, reach out and thank them. You might ask them to link to your book, if they didn’t already. You may make a connection which can help in the future.
- Speaking and Appearances. Schedule an event where you can sign and read your book. You can answer Q & A and get your readers excited to meet you and read your work. Indie bookstores, libraries, and colleges are good places to get your face out there and meet new readers.
- Book Clubs. Local book clubs are another goldmine of new readers; you already know they like books! Find and connect with these groups. You can offer to attend a meet-and-greet meeting and hand out copies of your free signed book. There’s nothing people like more than free gifts, so you’ll earn some new fans for your efforts. If there’s nothing in your area, why not check out online book clubs for a good fit opportunity?
You can also get your book listed in Facebook Groups and other groups dedicated to readers. There are also paid lists, such as, Buck Books, that can reach tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. We teach Self-Publishing School students what lists are out there, and which ones are the best to use. You can also read more about that in Book Launch.
When it comes to marketing your book, experiment and evolve to keep pace with the shifting wants and desires of your readership. No matter which marketing tactics work best for you, choosing a few key strategies and executing on them regularly is crucial to increasing book sales. Use our tips to find and connect with readers, and you’ll be well on your way to success.