how to get isbn

How to Get an ISBN: Cracking the Code for Self-Publishers

In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth. The Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables. But how did they crack this complex system? MI6 recruited a young mathematician named Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he scanned millions of numbers looking for patterns in the code.

Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking programme in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.

This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967, and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide. Several years later this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.

ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and, before it was implemented in 1967, the method and system for cataloging, ordering, organizing, and locating a specific book was a chaotic mess.

Today, to get your book into a bookstore, a library, or almost any book distribution channel on the planet, you need an ISBN.

But how does this long string of numbers on the back of books work? How do you get it? If you’re a self-publisher, do you need an ISBN? Why would you need one?

These are all questions answered in this article. It’s a mammoth of a post and will get quite technical at certain points. If you just want to know if you should get an ISBN as a self-publisher, and where to get it, feel free to skip these sections.

With that disclaimer, let’s unweave the intricate web of ISBNs and how they work in the publishing industry.

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How To Read an ISBN: What do the Numbers Stand For?

As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year. Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors it’s a necessity. If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.

The 13 digit ISBN number helps:

  • Identify the specific title
  • Identify the author
  • Identify the type of book they are buying
  • Identify the physical properties of that particular book
  • Identify the geographical location of the publisher

Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.

ISBN Breakdown

Here is the ISBN for a particular book:

978-3-16-148410-0

You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. if we remove these digits we have:

3-16-148410-0

First is the initial digit, in this case: 3

The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.

Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:

0 or 1 for English

2 for  French

3 for German

4 for Japan

5 for Russian

7 for People’s Republic of China

It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.

Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.

“148410” — This six digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.

“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit. This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.

The ISBN and Barcode

The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book, so it’s reasonable to assume they’re the same thing, right?

Except, they’re not. The barcode isn’t the same as the ISBN.

This is an important distinction because:

  • When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
  • The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.

We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in. Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.

The standard barcode is known as the EAN (European Article Number) barcode, and your barcode must be in this format to sell your book in bookstores.

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(Breakdown of the typical EAN barcode on the back of a book by Publisher Services)

Reading a barcode: If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number. The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5, and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.

For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change. This would only be replaced by a new ISBN if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.

To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:

  • 1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
  • 1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.

The Difference between ASIN and ISBN

If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners. You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.

However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.

Reasons Self-Publishers Need an ISBN

And now we come to the most pressing question on your mind: do you need an ISBN?

If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.

However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.

If you want your readers to get a hold of a print version of your book, then you’re going to need an ISBN. This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.

Should You Get a Free or a Paid ISBN?

You might have noticed that self-published authors can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company owned by Amazon. You can also get an ISBN when dealing with a whole host of On-Demand or self publishing companies, like Draft2Digital, Smashwords or IngramSpark. If you can get a free or cheap ISBN with them, then what’s the use in paying for your own one?

Here’s the problem: most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.

Let’s say you get a free ISBN with Draft2Digital, but then you notice that there are some retail channels you can access through Smashwords that you can’t with Draft2Digital. You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN with Smashwords. Smashwords will only let you use your own ISBN or an ISBN they assign to you. So what do you do?

You get a free ISBN with Smashwords.

And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.

You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.

Now you have three ISBNs for the same book. This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.

Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore? Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?

On top of this, each of those free ISBNs identify the self publishing company as a publisher. It’s the equivalent of using your business email address as businessname@aol.com or businessname@yahoo.com instead of Matt@businessname.com (assuming you’re named Matt). Not only does this make you look unprofessional, but there are some stores that will refuse to stock your book on this basis. If you have a CreateSpace ISBN, there are a number of bookstores that will refuse to carry your book.

All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.

If You’re Publishing An eBook, Don’t Ignore Libraries

We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?

A big one.

Libraries are becoming more important to the distribution of eBooks. Overdrive are the largest supplier to schools and libraries in the world (serving more than 30,000), and they circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014, a 33% increase from their previous year. They also supply to retail stores globally, making $100 million in sales in 2013.

And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.

How do I get an ISBN?

Hopefully you’re convinced that if you want to look professional in the industry and be able to access all distribution channels, you need your own ISBN.

But how do you get one?

ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBNs are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively, and require you to pay.

If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.

If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.

How to Register Your Book and ISBN

As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker, or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink. This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print. I recommend you download the free PDF “ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration” with step-by-step instructions on setting up your title.

How Many ISBNs To Get

So how many ISBNs should you get?

First off let’s clarify a few common mistakes:

  • You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
  • You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
  • You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book, and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
  • If you create a series of books you can’t use the same ISBN for them. You can use the same ISSN, however. Many fiction and nonfiction authors, have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number, and can be purchased from the Library of Congress. However, each book in the series will need its own ISBN.

We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:

Number of ISBNs You Get Price
1 $125
10 $295
100 $575
1000 $1500

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First off, it rarely makes sense to purchase a single ISBN. A single ISBN would cost you $125, but a bulk of 10 only costs $295. Meaning if you purchased 10, each ISBN would cost you $29.50, a 76% discount.

Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBNs for your eBook and print versions.

Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.

We recommend that if your serious in making book sales you purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBNs to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for books you publish in the future.

Wrapping It Up

Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBNs. Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.

For more information, you can find out anything you want to know by visiting the official Bowker page or at myidentifiers.com

Here’s a simple actionable checklist for ISBNs.

To buy an ISBN for your next book, here is what you should do:

  1. Go to the website https://www.myidentifiers.com
  2. Under the ISBN drop down tab, click on ISBNs—Buy Here. You can select 1, 10 or 100. For a bulk purchase, go to “Buying ISBNs in Bulk” and you can contact Bowker directly to discuss your options.
  3. Once you have your ISBN assigned, you can then use it everywhere that requires your ISBN number.
  4. At Createspace, under the “Setup” channel, you can choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN. When you buy your own ISBN at Bowker, just put in the 13-digit number and Createspace will use this in your paperback.
  5. If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
  6. Register your ISBN here at Bowker as soon as your book is ready for sale. Download the free ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration step-by-step guide.

Helpful Links & Resources

These links appeared throughout the post but here they are for easy access.

International ISBN Agency

https://www.isbn-international.org

ISBN.org by Bowker

http://www.isbn.org/faqs_general_questions

Bowkerlink Publisher Access System

https://commerce.bowker.com/corrections/common/home.asp

Bowker Identifier Services

https://www.myidentifiers.com

U.S. Copyright Office

https://www.copyright.gov

ISBN Set Up Guide

ISBN Guides: Basic Information

How to Self Publish a Book

How to Self Publish a Book in 2018

Historically, if you wanted to publish a book, you needed an agent to get a traditional publisher to look at your manuscript. In fact, many publishing companies won’t even open a manuscript if it doesn’t come through an agent. What’s worse is that even if they do open it, it’s still unlikely that your book will be published and sold in bookstores!

Is there a better method?

Yes! In fact, there is another way for your book to not only be published, but to even become a bestseller! This method has led to the success of many authors, and is changing the book and traditional publishing industry.

It’s called, self-publishing.

Personally speaking, I’ve self-published 6 bestselling non-fiction books on Amazon, sold tens of thousands of copies, and continue to collect thousands per month in royalty checks. The success of my books has been directly responsible for the strong performance of my business, which has grown to over 7 figures in less than 2 years.

Five years ago, in order to achieve this level of publishing success, you would have needed to be extremely lucky to even land an agent who would attempt to find you a deal at one of the “Big 5” publishing houses.

This is no longer the case. Not only do you no longer need one of the “Big 5” companies to publish your book, now self-published authors are actively turning down offers from publishing companies!

So If you are trying to publish your book and are having no luck landing a publisher, self-publishing could be the best option for you.

Because many writers get overwhelmed with the abundance of information about the self-publishing process, I’ve created a step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide that will walk you through on the beginning steps on how to write your book all the way to self-publishing it on Amazon’s Kindle (KDP) Network.

This guide will cover:

  1. Deciding Why You Want to Write a Book
  2. Writing Your Book
  3. Getting Feedback on Your Book
  4. Choosing a Book Title
  5. Hiring a Great Book Editor
  6. Designing a Book Cover that Converts
  7. Creating Your Kindle Direct Publishing Account
  8. Formatting and Uploading your Book
  9. Self-Publishing Your Book
  10. Pricing Your Book
  11. Forming a Launch Team
  12. Maximizing Book Launch Exposure
  13. Celebrate!

Let’s begin.

1. Deciding Why You Want To Write A Book

What you need to decide first when self-publishing a book, is WHY you want to write a book. I encourage going through this brainstorming process as it’s the only way to ensure that you’re 100% committed to writing a book (and doing it for the right reasons).

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Are you an entrepreneur or freelancer with a new business trying to get a leg up on your competition by publishing a book?
  • Do you want to leverage your skills and knowledge to become a paid speaker or coach?
  • Do you have a well established business and you want to write a book to diversify your income streams and land speaking engagements?
  • Or do you already have a successful story, and want to build an asset that will share the knowledge and skills you’ve gained over decades of experience?

Action Plan: Come up with at least 10 valid reasons why you want to write a book. Use the questions above as a starting guide to brainstorm.

2. Writing Your Book

If you’ve ever tried to write a book, you might have had moments where you’ve stared at a blank page for hours with nothing to show for it Feeling frustrated, you resort to procrastinating and get nothing done! This is normal, writing a book is hard work.

In order to start writing your book, you must develop a writing process.

Here’s are some effective ways to develop the writing process:

  • Buy a calendar. The best way to have your book complete is to have a calendar that schedules your goals per day/week.
  • Create an outline. An outline is like a map of your book that provides direction to your story. It keeps you on track and ensures that your ideas are organized.
  • Develop a writing habit. Condition yourself to write at the same time every day. With this practice, it will soon become a habit that will make writing a book automatic.

To learn more tips on how to write, here’s a tutorial video of the simple process I use to write over 1500 words per hour:

Action Plan: Create a resistance plan! Figure out which methods best filter out negative noise to get you into the writing process.

3. Getting Feedback on Your Book

When writing your book, it’s important to get as much feedback as early in the process as possible. As writers, it’s all too easy to retreat into your cave for a long period of time, spend countless hours writing what you think is the perfect first draft, only to find that a) your draft doesn’t make sense to anyone else or b) no one else is as interested in the topic as you originally thought.

Not only can a fresh set of eyes on your book help you catch typos and grammatical errors, but a new perspective can give you ideas for tightening up your story and making the theme more clear. Giving your book to one (or more) “beta readers” before giving it to an editor can also cut down on the time and cost of paying a professional editor.

Action Plan: Reach out to a few friends who could provide good feedback, and ask them if they’ll be willing to read a chapter or two (or the whole book!) as you finish writing.

4. Choosing a Book Title

Contrary to popular belief, you should never decide on a book title until after you are done writing your first draft. This is because choosing a book title first often results in you “writing yourself into a corner” because you’re trying so hard to align your story to the title of the book instead of writing what needs to be written.

Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.

The key to choosing a perfect title is: the simpler the title, the better. As you’re brainstorming ideas, always remember to keep it simple. Your title should also be clear on what your readers will receive by reading your book because experts state that a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.

Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable title:

  • Is your title going to teach a high demand skill?
  • Can your title impact someone’s life?
  • Can your book solve a very difficult problem?

Action Plan: Once you’ve narrowed down your book titles, send out an email to your friends and family or put a poll up to your audience asking what title they’d prefer. You could also ask a community of other authors what they think. To learn more about book titles, check out our article on Book Title Ideas.

5. Hiring a Great Book Editor

Hiring a great editor can mean the difference between writing a bestseller, or a mediocre book. Therefore, it’s important to take as much time as necessary on this stage of the process.

To find an editor for your book, begin with your personal network. Do you personally know any English teachers or others in the editorial field? Start there. If you don’t, then do you know someone who knows an editor?

If you don’t have any luck finding an editor within your personal network, don’t worry! Depending on your budget, you can either hire a professional book editor, or hire a more budget-friendly editor from Upwork. Self-Publishing School also has a Rolodex of approved and vetted book editors who all do a great job.

No matter how you find your editor, make sure you’re a good fit before committing to the full book by paying them a small sum ($25 or so) to edit a few pages or a chapter of your book. Make sure the editor is interested in the subject matter, that they can get your whole book edited in 3.5 weeks or less including back-and-forth revisions, and that their edits are both accurate and make sense to you. If you don’t feel you’re a good fit following a sample edit, then let that $25 go, and find an editor that’s going to work out rather than sinking more money into a relationship that might be a mistake.

Whatever you do, don’t give up during the editorial process! If one editor isn’t working out for you or meeting your needs, find another.

Action Plan: Find a friend or professional editor who can make sure your book is error-free, and start working with them sooner rather than later!

6. Designing a Book Cover that Converts

When it comes to self-publishing, a high quality book cover is one of the most important elements that will get your book to convert into sales! The reason is because your cover design is what readers see first and will immediately determine whether they want to read your book or not.

So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.

You can find amazing book cover designers on freelancing sites such as:

Prices will vary depending on what type of service you want, but the end result will be well worth the spend.

Action Plan: Find a book designer with any of these sites and your book will stand apart from the rest of its competition!

7. Creating Your Kindle Direct Publishing Account

Amazon has a self-publishing service called Kindle Direct Publishing where you can create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and audio books. You can even link it with CreateSpace to offer print books to your audience. It’s the best way to start selling books quickly, and I’ve used it for all my self-published books. I highly recommend it for all new self-publishers!

Setting up your KDP account is very simple! Start by following these steps:

  1. Visit https://kdp.amazon.com and create an account with either your existing Amazon account or your email address.
  2. Next, you must complete your tax information. You will not be able to submit your published book if you do not complete this step.
  3. Once your tax information is complete, hit “Finished” and your account is complete!

Action Plan: Follow these steps to create your KDP account! With this platform, you can publish your book within minutes and soon have it appear worldwide!

8. Formatting Your Self-Published Book

If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of resources online that can tell you how to format your book yourself for free. You can start by looking at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forums where there are plenty of discussions on book formatting. You can also use KDP’s free resources to help format your book. Formatting can be a frustrating experience for the uninitiated though, so if you have a few bucks to spare, you might consider paying someone to help you.

Here are 5 book formatting mistakes to avoid.

If you want to pay for formatting, Liber Writer is a low-cost, effective option for converting a Microsoft Word file to Amazon’s Kindle format. If $60 is too much, you can also find people on Fiverr to format your book for Kindle.

Action Plan: Make sure your book is formatted properly by using the free online resource above, or hiring someone who can handle the formatting process for you.

9. Self-Publishing Your Book

When you feel confident your book is ready for the public, you can create a KDP account and upload your book.

  1. On the KDP mainpage, locate and click on “Your Bookshelf”.
  2. Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions”.
  3. Then, locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
  4. Finally, click on “Upload eBook Manuscript”, and upload your manuscript file from your computer.

Amazon also allows you to select 7 keywords or keyword phrases to make sure your intended audience can find your book when searching on Amazon. It’s highly recommended you also select two different categories your book might fit into so you can reach a broader audience. To select keywords and categories, look at other best-selling books in your niche and notice what keywords and categories those authors chose.

Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors.

Create your Amazon author central account after uploading your book. Include a bio, photo, and link to your website or blog to help you stand out among authors. After a few more steps, you’ll be ready to publish your book, at which time you’ll click “save & publish” in your KDP book dashboard.

Afterwards, you should be ready to publish your book, at which you’ll click “save & publish” in the book editing screen!

Action Plan: Follow these steps to upload your book. You are allowed to upload your manuscript as many times as you want with each upload overriding the previous.

10. Pricing Your Book

One of the most important decisions when it comes to self-publishing a book is how to price it. The most common question I get from new writers is, “How much should my book cost?”

To answer this, my general rule of thumb is to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $5.99.

To be more specific, when beginning a launch, I would begin by pricing the book at $0.99 for the launch period. Then I would set the price to 2.99, and I would moderately increase the price by $1 every week and measure how well the new price performs. Once you see a sales dip, that will determine the exact price of your book that will guarantee book sales.

Action Plan: Find the perfect price by using this strategy that will attract your readers and best drive long term success.

11. Forming a Launch Team

Your launch team is the group of people who are dedicated to helping make your book successful. should be a passionate group of individuals who are eager to make your book launch successful. Remember, one highly skilled team member is better than a group of mediocre ones!

To find quality candidates, here’s an questionnaire you can use to assess applicants and see if they’re qualified to market your book:

  • Why do you want to support my book?
  • What goals are you trying to reach with this project?
  • How would you market this book?
  • Which influencers would you reach out to and why?

Action Plan: Create an application with questions that align to your thought process. Try to be open-minded with those who think outside the box – they maybe the perfect candidates that can get your book to become a bestseller. To learn more about book marketing, check out our article on How to Skyrocket Sales of Your Book.

12. Maximizing Book Launch Exposure

As soon as your book goes live on Amazon, be sure to leverage your launch team and your audience to help you market your book! It may be odd to ask your fans for help, but your fans are there to support your project and want to see you succeed. You might be surprised how willing they’ll be to help you if you just ask!

Here are some marketing initiatives you can assign your team and audience to do:

  • Share content from your book as blog posts across social media
  • Submit reviews on Amazon
  • Help build your book’s website
  • Reach out to influencers for a future guest post or podcast feature
  • Share a book review on their YouTube channel
  • Buy extra copies to gift their friends

The additional exposure generated from your launch team and audience will help push your book up Amazon’s rankings, which will drive more sales!

Action Step: Create your book marketing launch plan using these methods. Measure each of these methods to see which will best get your book in the hands of new readers and convert into sales.

13. Celebrate! (Now, decide what’s next)

Publishing a book is just the beginning. Depending on your goals for your book, self publishing can get you more customers, free publicity, and establish you as an expert in your niche. This can help you land speaking gigs and build a business within your area of expertise. Your book sales can also help fund your lifestyle with passive income.

Dream big about what you want your book to do for you. When you have a vision for where you want your book to take you, it will be easier to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Getting clear on what you want will also help you to be more effective when expanding your network along on your journey.

So there you have it…that’s how to self publish a book. If self publishing a bestseller is something you want to do, and you’re serious about changing your life and your business for the better by getting your book out there in the world, then you need to watch this free 4 part video training series, where I walk through the exact steps I’ve taken to write, publish, and market 6 of my own best-selling books (and how I’ve helped 1,000’s of students do the same).

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

amazon categories

How To Get Approved for More Amazon Book Categories

When it comes to self-publishing your upcoming book, do not make light of selecting your book categories! Although it may appear to be a small detail, you must realize that your readers often resort to categories when looking for books on a specific topic. Therefore, selecting the best book categories for your upcoming bestseller is a critical decision as it will impact your book sales.

Here are more notable reasons why your book should have best fitting categories:

  • It can help you become a bestseller. Like the New York Times bestseller, Amazon can also tag your book with an orange badge that says “#1 Bestseller”. And with thousands of Amazon categories to compete and rank for, this means that there’s plenty of opportunity for you to become an Amazon bestseller!
  • You can gain more exposure on Amazon. By appearing on different categories, your book can appeal to different audiences. And if your book ranks in the top ten of any category listings, Amazon will include your book to its “Recommendations Engine”  which will generate more publicity!

But with plenty of book categories on Kindle Direct Publishing as well as the plethora of books competing for attention, how do you choose the right categories to make your book stand out to your reader?

In this post, we will share our best strategies to help you pick the right categories for your book that will increase your sales rank and obtain maximum exposure through Amazon’s search engine.

Here are the three topics we will cover:

  1. How to Research Your Competition
  2. How to Strategically Select Your Category
  3. How to Acquire Additional Categories

Let’s get started!

1. How to Research Your Competition

If your goal is to appear on the first page of search results on Amazon, then you must take advantage of every window of opportunity to succeed. In order to do so, you first must research your competition.

When you begin researching for book categories, you should start by scanning the bestselling books on every first page results of your target category.

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The reason is simply due to the fact that the first page results are most likely what your readers are going to be looking for! Therefore, it’s important to identify the top selling books for each category you want to target.

Next, go through each of the books on the first page results and study its category string links. For example, here are the category links for Taylor Pearson’s book, The End of Jobs:

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Notice that for a book on Entrepreneurship, it’s ranked highest for “Labor & Workforce” and “Economics”. This goes to show that by placing their book into such unique categories, the author completely understood their target audience which is why The End of Jobs appears on several first page results.

So if you want to have a high ranking for your category, make it a priority to research your competitors’ categories and emulate their methods with your book.

Action Plan: Research the first page competitors in five categories of your choosing. Take note to any unique categories your competitors rank in, and apply them to your upcoming book.  

2. How to Strategically Select Your Category

Because the Amazon’s Kindle Store has thousands of categories to choose from as well as an overwhelming amount of books fighting for attention, the competition can be relentless and unfair to new writers. But there is one approach that will have you stand out: Select trending categories with little competition.

What is considered a competitive rank?

We find that any categories with books ranking higher than #2000 is considered very competitive and not a recommended category for new writers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t place your book in a competitive ranking, but if you do, be sure to have a well planned book launch with a sizable audience that can provide a lot of verified reviews. For new authors with a smaller following, we recommend aiming for certain categories with books that rank between #10,000-30,000.

Once you’ve completed this research, you should have a list of thriving categories to place your book in that will outrank your competitors.

Action Plan: With the five categories you’ve researched, take the time to review your competitors’ ranking that fall between #10,000-30,000. For even better results, we also recommend using the KDP Calculator to calculate how many books you would need to sell in order increase your ranking.

3. How to Acquire Additional Categories

When you upload your book for the first time, Amazon will offer you a select list of categories to choose from. At a first glance, you will notice that the selection seems rather limited and is missing plenty of categories that you’ve seen other books rank for. Unfortunately, Amazon has done this intentionally so that they can place new books into their own kindle categories.

Don’t let Amazon determine your categories! There’s thousands of sub-categories you can rank for, and you can even include an additional eight sub-categories not found in the usual channels.

Here how you can acquire these categories:

  1. Use Amazon Keyword Selection. Include the name of your category as one of your “Amazon Keywords”. In order to obtain a particular category, you must include specific keywords in the Kindle submission form. For more information on Keyword requirements, visit Amazon’s browse category page to learn more.
  2. Place your categories in strategic places. To convince Amazon that your book should be placed in specific category, strategically work the words of the category onto the title, subtitle or even the summary of your book page.
  3. Contact Amazon. You can contact Amazon and request your book to be placed in a particular category. Amazon will then assess your entire book and determine if it’s an appropriate fit for the specific browse category. If approved, These categories will appear in the “Look for similar items by category” at the bottom of the book page.

Action Plan: Experiment with these strategies to acquire additional sub-categories for your book. Remember you can include eight additional keywords that can convince Amazon to place your book in the categories of your choosing.

If you want a successful book launch, you must not overlook even the tiniest of details. By following these guidelines on how to select your book category, your first book will have maximum exposure and the best chance to appear in the Amazon bestseller list.

Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!

self publishing on amazon

The Definitive Guide For Self Publishing on Amazon

Publishing a book today is easier than ever. You no longer need to go through painstaking efforts to land a book deal which locks you into unrealistic deadlines and cuts you out of most of the earnings. You can now have complete control of your book, and its revenues, by self-publishing.

But many writers get overwhelmed by the abundance of information about self-publishing. It can be intimidating for first-time publishers. So we created a step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide for you to follow in order to get your book published on Amazon’s Kindle (KDP) Network.

This guide will cover:

  1. Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account
  2. Crafting Your Book Title/Subtitle
  3. Writing Your Book Description
  4. Choosing the Right Keywords
  5. Selecting the Right Categories
  6. Utilizing the Preorder Option
  7. Uploading Your Manuscript
  8. Creating a Book Cover
  9. Pricing Your Book

Let’s begin!

1. Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account

Amazon has a platform called Kindle Direct Publishing that can create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and audio books. It’s widely used to build books from the ground up. Fortunately, setting up your KDP account is easy, and should be the first step you complete.

  1. Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
  2. Next, click “Update” in your account information and fill in your tax information. It’s important to note that you need to complete your tax information BEFORE you can publish your first book. So don’t skip this step!
  3. Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
  4. Your profile is complete!

With your KDP account setup, proceed to setting up the details of your book.

2. Crafting a Book Title and Subtitle

In your KDP profile, you need to fill in the title and subtitle of your book. While a subtitle is optional, having a good subtitle is something you should definitely consider.

Here are a few tips to crafting a great book title:

  • Use a Book Hook: Your book hook should speak to the reader in a unique voice that grabs their attention and feeds into what they are looking for.
  • List the Benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they will get from reading your book. One technique is to deliver the benefits in the subtitle,providing enough tantalizing information to further attract readers.

For more book title strategies, check out our guide on How to Choose the Perfect Title for Your Book.

3. Writing Your Book Description

Here’s what people notice first when seeing a new book:

  1. Title
  2. Cover
  3. Book Description

A book description is essentially a short written narrative that illustrates what your book is about. It should be written like a sales page to capture the interest of your reader. This is crucial because the description, in many cases, is the final factor that determines whether the reader will read your book or not. Done correctly, a well-written book description can practically sell a book on its own.

Here are some strategies to help craft your perfect description:

  • Make your first sentence as enticing as possible  
  • Write your description like a sales page or advertisement, not a dry summary of your book
  • Have the description feel personal and empathetic
  • Detail the benefits your reader will gain by reading your book

Here are our favorite books with great descriptions:

Spend some time crafting your eye-catching book description. It will make your book stand out to your readers and motivate them to purchase your book. For the best results we recommend using the Free Amazon Book Description generator at kindlepreneur.com

4. Choosing the Right Keywords

If you want your book to show up in Amazon and Google search engines, you’ll need the right mix of keywords. Since Amazon allows only seven keywords per book, keyword selection requires strategy.

You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as:

  • KDP Rocket: This is a great tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-99, keyword results from both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making.
  • KW Finder: This tool gives an analytical view of the keyword popularity using a competitive ranking. You can search five keywords for free per day.
  • Amazon’s Autofill Function: Take advantage of Amazon’s search box to find good keywords. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand with little competition.

Make a list of possible keywords for your book, then leverage the tools above to test your keywords. Putting in the time to get keywords right will have your book rank higher and appear more frequently to readers.

5. Selecting the Right Categories

Amazon provides a collection of categories and subcategories to choose from. Like keyword selecting, your goal is to look for trending areas that don’t have tons of competition. You can also check the rankings of the top three books on the first page of each category.

Amazon sales ranking measures how well a product is selling compared to its competitors. All books that are ranked 2,000 or less are considered to be highly purchased products in that particular category. Unless you have an established audience with significant downloads and reviews, try to aim for categories with books that rank between 10,000-30,000.

Do you want to know how to rank for ten categories? Check out our blog post that details How to Get Approved for More Categories on Amazon.

6. Uploading Your Manuscript

To upload your manuscript, it first must be saved in a supported kindle format. Once that’s complete, you can upload your book very quickly:

  1. In your KDP account, go to “Your Bookshelf”.
  2. Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the title of book.
  3. Locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
  4. Click on “Upload eBook manuscript”.
  5. Upload your manuscript file on your computer.
  6. Upload complete!

Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors. You can upload the manuscript as many times as you want and the new version will override the existing.

It’s important to check how your book looks using the “Look Inside” feature once the book is live on Amazon. This feature is often the first thing your prospective readers will click on when checking out your book. If the formatting is off here, it can deter readers from picking up your book. Take this extra step to make sure your formatting looks good here too.

7. Creating Your Book Cover

When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon, having a perfect book cover is one of the most important aspects to get right. Your cover is exactly how your book will be judged on first glance.

So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.

You can find cover creators on freelancing sites such as:

Prices will depend on the level service, but these sites will give you plenty of amazing graphic designers to choose from! It’s a great investment that will make your book stand out perfectly.

8. Pricing Your Book

A question often asked is: “How much should I be pricing my book at after the initial launch is over?”

This is up to the author, but generally the best range to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $9.99.

The royalty payments vary depending on the country, but you can learn more on KDP Select pricing page.

One popular strategy for beginners is to price your book at $2.99 and gradually increase it by $1 per week. At some point, your sales will begin to dip. And while that’s normally a negative statistic, for this case, it confidently tells you the perfect price of your book that guarantees profit.

Here are the 4 main pricing strategies to consider in order to be competitive and sell books:

  • Know the price of your competitors. Compare the list price of your book to the books around you and determine if you would be able to sell your book for a higher price.
  • Know the size of your followers. Famous authors can charge a lot for their books because they have a big following. If you’re not in this category, your book should be priced lower to encourage new readers to your work.
  • Determine price based on size of your book. Size makes a difference when it comes to books. Don’t charge $20 for a 75 page book. Customers will immediately be turned off with the lack of content at that price point.
  • Measure price based on reviews. Reviews carry a big weight on influence, and is social proof that your book has been read and well received. Therefore, a book with higher reviews (1000+ reviews) can be priced higher compared to a book with fewer reviews (30+ reviews).

You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:

  • Your personal launch team
  • Amazon’s top reviewers
  • Fans of your social media page
  • Personal email list

Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success.

If you want to become a self-publishing author, you must be fluent with platforms such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Use these guidelines to self-publish your book, and it will appear on Amazon’s bestseller list in no time.

Book Title Ideas: How to Choose the Perfect Title for Your Book Book Title Ideas self-publishingschool

Book Title Ideas: How to Choose the Perfect Title for Your Book

When it comes to writing a book, creating a book title is surprisingly one of the hardest parts to complete. It’s difficult because titles are essentially short hooks that advertise your book using the fewest words possible. It’s also what readers look for first when they discover new books, and can take less than 5 seconds to make a decision. This is why it’s so crucial to craft a perfect name.

To help spur your creative process, we’ve created a few essential guidelines for you to follow as you craft your perfect title. Since there are different title considerations for fiction and non-fiction, we broke these two topics down separately into:

  • How to Choose a Book Title for Non-Fiction
  • How to Choose a Book Title for Fiction

Let’s create your selling title!

How to Choose a Book Title for Non-Fiction

As you begin crafting your title ideas for your non-fiction book, the key is knowing that non-fiction readers are looking for solutions. Whether it’s losing weight, becoming a master in sales, or better at fostering relationships, they’re simply looking for a book that will solve their problem.

To leverage this idea, here are a set of rules to consider:

Rule of Thumb #1: Your Title Must Include a Solution to a Problem

Your title should be crystal clear on what your readers will achieve by reading your book. Experts say that a title with a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.

Here are some questions to consider when creating your title:

  • Are you teaching a desirable skill?
  • Can your personal discoveries impact someone’s life?
  • Can your book solve a very difficult problem?

Here are our favorite book titles that offer a clear solution to a problem with promising results:

  • Asperger’s Rules! How to Make Sense of School and Friendship by Blythe Grossman
  • How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
  • The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss

Action Plan: Write down the best solutions or teachings your book offers and form these into potential book title ideas.

Rule of Thumb #2: Use a Subtitle for Clarity

A great non-fiction title employs a subtitle to clarify what the desired outcome will be from reading your book.

In this video clip, Chandler explains in 5 simple steps how to create a compelling subtitle:

Here are some questions to consider when creating your subtitle:

  • How can your subtitle further expand on achieving a desirable outcome?
  • What are the biggest pain points that your subtitle can provide a solution for?
  • How can you further address your innovative solution in the subtitle?

Here are our favorite book subtitles that spell out what their readers can expect from reading their books:

  • The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna
  • Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
  • Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

Action Plan: Make a list of 10 attention-grabbing subtitles that promise big outcomes and other positive benefits.

Rule of Thumb #3: Make Your Title Unforgettable

Catchy titles are memorable, boring titles are not. So make an effort to be more creative and fun with your book title! Use alliterations to make your title easier to read and remember. A memorable and light hearted title adds additional character to your book, and is also a great way to attract readers.

Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable title:

  • Will a fun title turn a normally boring subject into something more interesting?
  • Will adding humor to your title further entice readers?
  • Will a cleverly written title stand out from other books in this genre?

Here are our favorite books that engaged us with clever titles and subtitles:

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
  • Trust me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt

Action Plan: Experiment with different types of styles and poll your audience to determine whether a comedic, shocking, or even bizarre title will be the most appealing to your target audience.

No matter which method works best on creating a compelling title for nonfiction books, a good thing to remember is to always test multiple titles with different audiences to determine which title generates the biggest response. Feedback is the only way to know for certain which title is perfect for your book.

How to Choose a Book Title for Fiction

Generally, fiction titles are allowed more creative wiggle room than their non-fiction counterparts. That being said, an effective fiction title must still pique your readers’ attention.. And while it’s true that you can title your fictional book with random names, it still must pique the reader’s attention.

Here are some key guidelines to keep in mind:

Rule of Thumb #1: Your Title Should be Appropriate to Your Genre

Your novel title should use language that resonates with both your genre and target audience.. For example, a romantic book can call for dreamy language whereas an action book can warrant strong and powerful words. This means that you must know your book’s genre and words that best fit the style of title.

Here are some questions to consider for appropriate genre titles:

  • What genre best fits this story?
  • Which are the perfect choice words for your genre?

Here are our favorite fictional titles based on genre:

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Action Plan: Based on the genre of your book, pick out a few keywords that best suit its category and evoke strong emotions in your readers.

Rule of Thumb #2: Your Book Title Should Pique Your Reader’s Interest

A great fiction title teases and leaves your audience wanting more. You want your audience to read your title and think, “I must read what’s behind that cover!” Create fictional titles intriguing enough to capture the imaginations of your readers, and get to them to read your story.

Here are some questions to consider on how to pique interest with your title:

  • Which key component of your story best captivates your readers?
  • What emotions do you want your readers to have once they read your title?

Here are our favorite fictional titles that drew our attention:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Action Plan: Choose a theme that will best draw your reader’s attention. Come up with 5 titles that will catch your reader’s attention and pique their curiosity..

Rule of Thumb #3: Look to Your Characters for Book Title Inspiration

A great book title captures the spirit of the protagonist. Some authors simply use the hero’s name for their title. Others have combined the names of their hero along with their special qualities to inform the audience about their protagonist’s accomplishments like Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.

On the flip-side, a formidable antagonist can also be an amazing book title. A sinister name can convey a sense of dread and expectation for what’s to come like Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Both choices are great title ideas and should be seriously considered for your fictional book.

Here are some questions to consider when including a character as a title:

  • Between the hero and villain, who impacts the story more?
  • Are there any stunning qualities from your characters that will draw a reader’s emotion?
  • Can the plot of the story be summed up as a title?

Here are our favorite fictional books that uses characters for its title:

  • Harry Potter (Literary Series) by J. K. Rowling
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Action Plan: Determine which character best conveys what the story will tell in your title. You may also include creative words or themes to further showcase the character’s unique qualities or the journey itself.

Free Webinar: Go from Blank Page to Published Author in 90 Days… and use your book to grow a SIX figure income.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • The 3-Step System I use to write, publish, and launch a bestselling book in as little as 90 days (and how to use your book to leave a legacy).
  • An approach to find your book idea in under an hour – and turn your idea into a finished book in just 3 steps and a few hours.
  • How I wrote my first book – 200+ pages – in just 1 week (and how you can too)
  • How to leverage your book to grow your authority, income, and business
  • …and more!

Get FREE behind-the-scenes access now

Ultimately, the title of your book depends on you, the author. By following these constructive guidelines, you will be able to create a marvelous title that will grasp the attentions of readers and soon become an Amazon bestseller in no time!

build a book launch team

How To Build and Manage Your Book Launch Team

When it comes to launching a bestselling book on Amazon, the biggest leverage an author can invest in is building a stellar book launch team. Your team will receive an early bird copy of the book, read through it, and write an honest review to be posted when the book is live. But a launch team can be much more effective in other ways too that we will look at in this post.

In this post I will walk you through the steps for building, guiding and managing your book street team. If you follow this system, you will be investing in the most critical part of your book launch, setting your book up for the long term success it deserves.

What is a Book Launch Team?

Your launch team is a group of people who are going to set you up for success when your book launches. They could be fans of your previous work, readers of your blog, friends who want to support you, or the members in your mastermind group. And, ideally, a combination of all of the above.

The launch team has a massive impact on, not only the success of your launch but, the long term success of the book. They are a group of people who are passionate about your book, your brand, and they want you to succeed as much as you do.

Your job, as the author of the book, is to guide your team to take action both before the book is launched and then during the launch window.

Why do you need a book launch team?

Launch team members will help you to get reviews during the launch and, help you to share the book launch as well as get downloads for your book. If you have a weak launch, you have weak book sales and you’ll be forever struggling to drive traffic towards your book.

Your launch team will read the book before anyone else and prepare an honest review of the work to be posted during launch week. Amazon favors books with review activity. The more reviews you can get posted, your book moves up the rankings faster and gets promoted by Amazon under the “books you also might like” section.

Reviews also sell books. If you manage to get 20-30 reviews in the first week, this would create serious momentum for your book rankings. It is the best social proof that your book is getting read and people are taking an interest in the content. The bottom line: Reviews convince browsers to buy. Amazon will rank your book higher as well if there is activity taking place.

Building Your Team: Where do I recruit?

The question that I often get is, “Where do I find people to join my team?” This is a challenge if you don’t have much of a  following and have never launched a book before. Let’s assume that this is your first book launch and you are looking for people to join your launch team. Where do we begin to build? Who can we ask?

Here are a few suggestions:

Make a list of 20-30 people you can contact directly.

These can be business contacts, online relationships, or subscribers to your email list. This list functions as your core team, what I call your level 1 launch team. They are the most committed to your launch. Perhaps they joined a previous launch you had and now they want to sign up for this one as well.

Post to your Facebook/Social Media Platforms/Mastermind Groups

This is where you can gather a lot of your level 2 launch team members. If you are going for a large launch team, this would be the next phase. If you want to keep it more personal and limit the number of people, just follow through with the first step and leave it at that.

Keep in mind, with your level 2 launch team, you could get anywhere from 20-200 people sign up. The reason we call it a level 2 group is, many of the people joining may not know you personally, but they have an interest in your book. But the question is, how committed are they to following through? It is just a fact that not everyone on your team is going to follow through. Maybe they didn’t like the book, they had no time to read it, or, they were uncertain what to do during the launch. There is the possibility that they won’t leave a review for whatever reasons.

This is why we have to be clear with our team as to:

  • What actions to take
  • When to take it, and;
  • How to implement the action plan

The best you can do is encourage people throughout the launch and keep the pressure momentum turned on. This is where team incentives and providing value will deliver in the end. When people feel as if they are a part of something important, they are more likely to follow through.

Team Incentives: What to offer?

This is the part of the process in launch building that you can really make a difference to the strength of your team. By adding incentives to what you can give your team, you will increase the commitment of your team.

Decide what you will give to your team to offer quality incentives that makes them feel a part of the team.

What can we offer?

Check out Kevin Kruse’s post “Sample invitation to build a launch team.” In this invitation to join his street team, Kevin offered up a bundle of incentives to the launch team when he published 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. Some of these perks included membership into a Mastermind Group on Facebook and an exclusive “ask me anything” webinar before the launch.

Likewise Michael Hyatt, when he launched Living Forward, offered launch members an exclusive look into how the book launch was structured as well as access to a special 30-minute group phone session with him prior to launching the book.

So, what you can offer your team is:

  1. The digital version of the book way before anyone else sees it. This can be in PDF or Mobi file. For creating a PDF or mobi file of the book, check out the free calibre software.
  2. A free hardcopy of the book delivered right to your door.
  3. A free webinar or a facebook Live Q&A session: you can get close and personal with your team by hosting a live webinar where you talk about the book, get into behind-the-scenes strategies of the launch, and share inside tactics that nobody else can get.
  4. Exclusive access to a private Facebook group. Here you can post videos, share posts, and converse with your team in real time as they get excited about the launch
  5. Free training videos based on the content of your book
  6. Additional freebies that you want to share with your team.
  7. An advance copy of a workbook that you will be offering to subscribers
  8. Early access to course material that won’t be available until the book is launched.

The goal is to provide your team with a lot of value so that they know they are part of something important. This will increase the level of commitment you will get from members reading and promoting the book during launch week.

Building a Quality Team

When it comes to launch team members joining your team, it isn’t about the numbers. It is the quality of the team. It is much better to have 40 people who are committed than 200 that just sign up and don’t do anything. You want your team to be involved and take action. So, how do you build  a quality street team fully committed to launching your book to bestseller status?

Here are four strategies:

  1. Reach out to people personally. By contacting people you know on a personal basis you can get a solid commitment from that person with a personal email.
  2. Create an application form process. This creates a barrier to entry. The people who are serious players will fill out and commit. You can check out an application form template right here. In the application process you let the potential member know what is expected and what they will be responsible for. The application process creates accountability and exclusive access to the launch team material.
  3. Invite people  who you have worked with and trust, such as podcasters, bloggers and influencers, to help you with the launch.
  4. Create a team of committed reviewers and promoters to set the launch on fire when it takes off.

Setting Expectations for Your Team: Your Big Ask

This is when you are up front with the launch team about what is to be expected during the launch. What actions are you asking them to do? On what days will they take these actions? What is at stake as far as the success of the book is concerned.

Remember: The success of your launch plan is critical, and the launch team is the all-important component to making it happen.

Expectations should be made clear from the beginning. When you put up a post for early bird readers, let them know that taking action is a must. This is the big ask and what you will expect from the team if they are selected to join your launch.

Here is what you could ask of your launch team:

The ‘Call to Action’ Plan

  1. Read the book before the launch day. Provide feedback if they pick up on such as formatting problems, misspellings, etc…
  2. Write up an honest review of the book and post it during launch week.
  3. Share word of the launch through your social platforms, mentioning the book in a weekly blog post, and starting a discussion about the book in chat forums. This could also include tweets, Facebook posts, or post the cover to Pinterest and Instagram.
  4. Share promotional ideas within the launch group. This is where a Facebook Group would come in. Members can easily post ideas and swap strategies for promoting the book.
  5. Take a photo of you holding up a copy of the paperback. This would require that the paperback be ready in advance to send to select team members so they have time to take the photo before launch.

Provide your team with a list of action strategies they can take during launch week. Let them choose what strategies they like and fits into their schedule. You can encourage the team by adding a points system.

The members who take action and complete each promotional strategy earn a number of points. This could lead to receiving even more freebies.

Organizing Your Team Communication Portal

Now that you have your team together with emails, you have set the expectations, and outlined the launch plan, you have to decide how you will communicate with your team. People need to feel connected to you during the launch or else they lose interest and you lose the trust of your team. Set up your method of communication and invite everyone into the launch.

Email Campaign

Set up at least 6-10 emails to be delivered throughout the launch. You can add your team emails to a campaign in your email service provider such as Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convert Kit. You can set up email autoresponders to go out on certain dates, or customize your emails as you go.

Launch Team Emails: How often and how many?

One question that comes up often is, “how many emails do I send out, how often and what should the content look like? Once again, if you are running a Facebook Group and using that as your main source of communication, I still recommend you have a set of emails set up to be delivered throughout the launch.

I send out an email every second day. Here is a breakdown of what these emails would look like:

Email #1: Welcome Email: Includes Intro to the team and the PDF of the book.

Email #2: How is the book reading? General overview of the launch plan.

Email #3: 5 Days Before Launch. Include a video of how to leave a review on Amazon

Email #4: The day before launch—Are you ready?

Email #5: LAUNCH DAY! It is time to take action.

Email #6: Review reminder, update on book status and current ranking.

Email #7: Final reminder. Leave a review and FREE paperback giveaway reminder.

Email #8: Final email. Thank you for joining the launch team.

What you want to do is take time to customize your own emails. You can space the emails out accordingly. I like to keep them balanced so that the team is getting the support they need without feeling too overwhelmed.

Facebook Group

A group you can add your members to for easy access and communication. You can post regularly and easily add video and communicate with regular updates. Members can, as we mentioned, share ideas for promoting the book during the launch day.

Even if you do a Facebook Group, I recommend sending out regular emails regardless. Not everyone is going to be into joining a Facebook Group, so communicating with regular emails set up to be delivered on select dates will cover all the bases.

Sending Out Your Book

There are three ways you can get the advance copy to your team.

PDF Form. Attach the PDF to the welcome email if you are delivering it this way. For larger files, you can drop the book in Dropbox and share the link with your team. Dropbox allows people to download the book without having to sign up for an account.

Bookfunnel.com This is a great way to deliver your book. BookFunnel has a yearly subscription fee but it’s worth it if you launch regularly. The basic price is $20 a month for 1 pen name and 500 downloads per month. You can check out the features of bookfunnel right here.

the pigeonhole. I’ve used the pigeonhole before and I really liked it. How it works is like this. You upload your book in PDF form to the team at Pigeonhole. You provide them with your launch team emails and then, Pigeonhole posts a chapter a day of your book on their site. Members read right on line and can comment on the book as they work through it.

This is a great platform for improving the quality of the book as well. Early readers catch the small mistakes that were missed and you can fix everything up before launching.

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Team

Sending out email with long gaps in between.

You want to be consistent in communicating with your launch team. Long gaps in between emails will result in people losing interest and not following through when they should. I average an email every 2-3 days. For a Facebook group, you could post something everyday, even if it is just a short blurb.

Failing to set expectations.

Remember the list of expectations we looked at in the beginning? By not setting your expectations you are leaving the launch wide open to chaos. Be sure people know what they need to do and when they need to do it. Don’t just assume people will take action. They need you, the author, to lead them. Be upfront and let them know they are with you until the end to take action.

Setting your initial price point too high.

Okay, you might think this is common sense but, you want to launch your book right away at the lowest price point possible. That would be 0.99, and then possibly free after you’ve set set your promo up in the KDP dashboard.

If your price is upwards of $5-10, people may not download it. You want your price to be low so the launch team especially can download it to leave a verified purchase.

When it comes to Amazon rankings, a book that has the verified purchase tag weighs more than a non verified review. Make it easy for people to download. Set your price low and get the rankings moving. You can increase your price point after the launch.

Directions that are unclear.

You want everything to be so easy for your team that it can literally run itself. What this means is, setting up all the steps so that people know exactly what to so. Some of the questions I have had from team members were:

Where do I leave  review?

How do I leave a review?

Where is the link for the book?

What is this Goodreads website?

You can eliminate confusion and wasting time answering basic questions by setting up the steps so it is like paint-by-numbers. For example, shoot a short video of how to set up a review. Walk people through the process. Video is a fantastic way to visually teach the steps and can be done easily. You can then post it in the Facebook feed or embed the link in an email to be downloaded from Dropbox or Vimeo.

It all comes down to planning ahead. By foreseeing possible problems that can slow down your launch, prepare ahead of time and set your team up for success.

The Power of Sharing

Swipe Copy for Your Team is a set of pre-formatted/written emails and/or posts that the launch team can use to share either via email or online. You want this to be as simple as possible so people can just copy and paste to their social media platforms or deliver by email without it taking too much of their time. The easier it is for your team to deliver, the better.

Create swipe copy for your book launch and make this available to your team via dropbox or upload to your Facebook Group. The swipe copy should be easy to use and provide material for sharing online or via email.

You should include specific instructions as to how to use the swipe copy. Not everyone has used this before and you will get questions from people if they have difficulty. I would recommend shooting a short video explaining how to set this up on launch day. Show people how easy it is. Encourage them to share where they can and as often as possible.

If each of the people on you team threw up a post on their Facebook page, and they had an average of 500 friends each, that would exponentially share your book with a large community that you otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.

Street Team Team: Setting up a permanent funnel for future books

Once the launch is over, your facebook group will most likely be disbanded. You could try to keep it going but after the launch is over, but without a specific purpose for the group that extends beyond the launch, it is a lot of work to keep the interest going. This is where a long term strategy for your books could be put into play.

Are you planning to launch another book? Do you want to use some of your core launch members for another book launch? In that case, you could set up a street team of reviewers that are ready to support you on, not only this launch, but all future launches.

Remember: a launch team is more than just getting someone to review your book. You could take the relationship to the next level. Consider setting up a private facebook group for people who want to stay in touch and support your work in future launches. And, if they agree to this, it will be far easier to tap into a group that is already in place then recruiting new members.

Build Your Launch Team [Master Checklist]

Here is a review of the steps to build your launch team.

  1. Reach out to at least 20-30 people directly to begin the recruitment process. Ask for permission to put them on your launch team.
  2. Expand to social media circles like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
  3. Put together an incentive package: free digital copy, paperback, question and answer group call, or a sneak peak at the launch behind-the-scenes.
  4. Choose your method of communication: email, a Facebook group, or both. [Both methods are recommended together]
  5. Be clear about your expectations for the launch [launch goals for reviews, ranking, and book sales]
  6. Create a series of emails to send to your group. You can set these up beforehand or create as you go for a more ‘on-the-spot customized feel.
  7. Decide the method to deliver emails: gmail template or email server campaign template [recommended]. You can use Mailchimp, free up to 2000 subscribers.
  8. Prepare a “Welcome to my launch teamVideo or Post.
  9. Send out your Welcome Email. This includes the digital copy of the book. In your email outline the expectations for being on the launch team.
  10. Create a “Swipe File” for the team to share. Deliver this to your team the day before launch.
  11. Keep track of your team emails using an excel sheet.
  12. Send out a “review reminder” a week after the launch.
  13. Final email/posting: Thank your team for their support during the launch. Follow up on any final incentives promised.
  14. Stay in touch with members of your team. Continue to build relationships with people so that your book launch can get bigger with every new book release.

Conclusion

Now that you have a roadmap for setting up your launch team, it is time to get to work. Remember that the best time to start building your team is right now. Work on you relationships with people interested in your material. Connect with other authors and begin to get the word out about your upcoming book launch. It is never too early to start.