Book Launch: 12 Day Timeline, Tactics, & Strategic Guide

Posted on Dec 27, 2023

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Written by Scott Allan

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“Build it and they will come” is advice that rarely works when trying to sell books. In the ever growing self-publishing space where thousands of books are released on Amazon daily, making a big splash with your book launch is vital for its long-term success.

No initial sales = no rank.

No rank = no visibility to buyers on Amazon.

No visibility = no ongoing sales.

No ongoing sales = a book lost in the depths of millions online.

You didn’t put in all this work only for your book to be lost in the internet ether. You want it seen, bought, reviewed, and bought again by more and more new people.

It’s straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There is a certain process that’ll make releasing your book more successful in the long-term. And no, it doesn’t involve your mom buying 80 copies.

It’s a tried-and-true method for not only getting your book ranked on Amazon, but getting it in front of the right people: your ideal audience. Because the fact is, Amazon’s algorithm is meant to benefit Amazon, not you as the author. Knowing how to work with it will help you be in Amazon’s good graces so you get a piece of the hefty Amazon pie.

That’s the simplified version, at least.

If you’re ready to sit down and plan your book’s launch with an effective strategy that’s worked over and over again, you’re in the right place.

Here’s what you’ll learn about running a book launch:

  1. Pre-launch
  2. Checklist
  3. Amazon Algorithm
  4. Launch Strategy Overview
  5. 12-Day Launch Plan
  6. After Book Launch

Pre-Launch To-Do List

Before you go any further, there are a few things you need to do in between finishing your manuscript and your book launch. I put together a 12-point checklist of these action items.

You don’t need to carry them out with perfection since they can be tweaked later, and much of these are the steps required to self-publish your book in general.

Here’s what to do before your book launch:

  1. Write Your Book Description: Create your book description using the Book Description Generator. If you’re one of our authors, this will be done for you and written with a sales focus.
  2. Select Keywords: Select 7 keywords for your book. I use KDP Rocket and Kindlespy. Make sure to think about these keywords from the perspective of someone searching online, and not as the author.
  3. Choose Your Categories: Choose 2 main categories for your book in the KDP dashboard. Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories. And remember, there is a thing called ghost categories you’ll want to be aware of.
  4. Create Your Lead Magnet: This is a freebie, also called a “reader magnet” offered within your book as an additional resource for readers to consume in exchange for their email address. Insert the lead magnet into your book, both at the front and back (typically done during the formatting stage of your book). Connect this to your email list provider such as MailerLite or ConvertKit or another email provider.
  5. Build a Landing Page: This is an optional step, but one we do for our authors as a way to grow an author email list so you own contact with readers. Many email providers offer a landing page or opt-in page, like MailerLite.
  6. Upload Your Manuscript: Upload your manuscript to KDP. Proofread your book using the KDP online previewer. Make sure your book is in the correct format
  7. Upload the Cover: Upload your Kindle cover to KDP. Make sure it’s the correct format or your book will be denied, and you’ll have to upload again.
  8. Set the Launch Price: Set your launch price at your determined number. There’s more below on what the best price is to set it at for the book launch process, to make sure to review that part first.
  9. Create or Commission the Audiobook (Optional): Get your audiobook created. Plan to release your book through Audible or ACX.
  10. Have the Paperback Created: Get your paperback version created. You can set up your paperback during the formatting stage, and most formatters will give you both the ebook and paperback formats.
  11. Create a Goodreads Account: Goodreads is a website where readers make lists of books to read and often review books here. Make an account and set up your author profile. Your book will end up there either way, so it’s worth setting up an account to associate the book with.
  12. Create a Launch Plan Goal: What are you trying to gain from this launch? What will you be happy with? Remember to be realistic, but stretch further than that. Write down what this book means to you and why you’ll go through the steps necessary for a successful launch. Map out the specific action steps you are taking for each day of your launch. I have provided a model for this further down the post.

Download Your Book Launch Checklist

Just like there are a variety of business models to choose from when planning your venture, there are a variety of book launch strategies to choose from. These are all plans that work because of one thing: They are strategic in their planning and strategic in their execution.

However, while there seems to be a lot of steps, an effective book launch plan isn’t complicated.

We encourage you to download this book launch checklist to make sure you have a physical list you can move through and check off throughout the process, so you don’t miss a thing!

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Grab yours and let’s continue with a deeper look at how the Amazon algorithm works and how you can work with it.

Understanding the Amazon Algorithm Before Your Book Launch

Amazon uses an algorithm to measure and track book sales, and everything else on their platform. Knowing how it works will aid in your book launch ventures. It’s worth remembering that Amazon wants you to succeed: if you make money, Amazon makes money. But they don’t necessarily share all the ins and outs of what works and what doesn’t.

It’s only because we’ve been teaching this process (and updating it for every algorithm update) for the past near-decade that we know what works and what doesn’t. Knowing a few basics of it can help you to have a greater launch and to sustain the life of your book for months (and years) after the launch buzz wears off.

Here’s how it works.

The Amazon algorithm for books in a nutshell:

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

Many factors can impact whether or not someone buys the book when they see it; reviews, the book description, Amazon A+ content, and the like. The key is simple: get sales and Amazon will reward your book by increasing its visibility.

A book launch that runs a promo and gets 200 sales in one day, but then nothing else for the week, will not perform as well as a book that gets the same number of downloads over the course of a ten-day period.

Slow, steady traffic and a long-term plan is the way to succeed with your book.

Steady, organic growth will always outperform a sudden burst of downloads.

It’s worth noting also that while reviews and the price of your book do not affect your sales rank, they’re still worth having. The more quality reviews you have, the more credible your book will be to shoppers and the more people will be likely to buy when they see your book.

This is why book reviews are such a big focus during many book launch plans. Buyers believe other buyers at a higher rate. So if your book description looks good and you have good reviews to back it up, it’s a much easier decision for someone to buy.

Book Launch Strategy Overview: What Works & Why

There’s a very specific formula to follow during your book launch that will have you hitting those Amazon bestseller lists (which increases your ranking and visibility). And you definitely want to become a bestseller so you can increase your sales and maintain your position at the top.

When you get a bestseller banner, your book is in a very high position of visibility, and with the right title and cover, you’ll get more clicks, and possible sales. The mark of a successful book launch is often this banner.

Before we get into the 12-day plan, let’s take a look at overall strategies for a good book launch and why they work because understanding the strategy behind the actions can help you alter and tweak certain advice to fit your needs and the ever-changing self-publishing landscape.

1. Book Pricing

Sometimes you have to hack the Amazon algorithm during a book launch. It’s not necessarily hacking as much as it is speaking Amazon’s language so they see your book as a beneficial addition to promote and show to more people. This is a key part of the book launch strategy.

We have a couple different pricing methods to consider that work great for our authors.


I know what you’re thinking, “$0.99? Why would I essentially give my book away for free? I didn’t get into this business to fulfill the starving artist stereotype.”

I know how you feel, but trust me, there’s a good reason for running a book launch at this price. You may be selling it at a super-low point now, but the rewards are coming later.

Remember: think long-term.

It’s better to have a book launch that has steady sales in the long term than to just have a burst of downloads now, then zero in the future.

How to change your price to $0.99 on Amazon: Go to the KDP dashboard and set your book at $0.99. With the exception of the free promo period (which we’ll get to shortly), your book will be at $0.99 for the duration of the launch.


I mentioned that our strategy will have a 3-day free launch. Setting this up is easy. If you plan to run a free promo for your book, you can set this up as soon as your book is live on Amazon. To run a free promotion, your book has to be enrolled in the KDP Select program for 90 days.

A book that is listed for free will be ranked in the free store and books set at a price are ranked in the paid store.

If you don’t have a following (email list) or you are just getting started, I suggest you do the free promo. The free promo gets your book into more hands (that will hopefully read it) and increases its visibility across more platforms.

How to set your book as free on Amazon:

  • Go to the KDP dashboard and set your book price to “free”
  • BONUS: send your launch team to grab free copies through Amazon so their reviews show up as “verified” in search

2. Book Promotion Sites

Think of this part of the book launch strategy as borrowing someone else’s large platform so your book can be put in front of new readers.

When launching your book, especially during your free book promo, you want to put it into the hands of as many readers as possible. This is where book promotion sites come in. You can use them for both your paid and free launch. In the launch scenario later on in the post, I’ll show you how to batch these sites together to give your book the boost it needs.

Amazon ranks your book in the free store based on how many downloads it gets. The higher you rank, the more downloads you’ll get from Amazon browsers.

This means, to maximize your launch, you need an initial surge of readers that don’t come from Amazon.

An aside if you have a healthy email list: you won’t need to rely on these sites as much. This is especially beneficial for authors who are just starting out and don’t yet have a strong platform.

Keep in mind that results vary for each site and your performance will largely depend on your book’s quality.

You still need the essentials: a great book cover design, a compelling book description, and an eye-catching book title.

Below is a list of my favorite promo sites that I have personally used, in combination with an email list to launch multiple bestsellers. The price for each promo site varies depending on the niche and category. And remember, many book promotion sites will have requirements of your book, so make sure to read the guidelines.

Book Launch Promotion Sites to research and consider:

  1. Buckbooks: If you can get onto any of these promo sites, Buckbooks is the one you want to try to get into for your book launch. You need 10 reviews before they’ll schedule you. Note: You can promote the 2nd book on the same day for only 25% of the price. Great deal. But you can only promote once every 6 months for each book.
  2. Robin Reads – $55: You’ll need 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating. It takes a couple days to get approved. Great results. I usually get anywhere from 60-100 downloads with this one. Note: They have a calendar that is usually booked out weeks in advance. In this case, consider using Robin Reads for future promos of existing books already launched.
  3. BookSends – $40: If you can match this up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day it’s a great little boost.
  4. BKnights (Fiverr) – $5: You can’t go wrong for this rate. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. Downloads average 12-30 depending on the book.
  5. eReader News – Various Prices: Great gig but hard to get approved at times. takes several days for a response.
  6. Booksbutterfly – $90: You are basically paying for downloads during your book launch, one of the few (if only) sites that do that. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle that gets you 50+ downloads + KU borrows.
  7. The Fussy Librarian – Various Prices: Great promo but very hard to book in advance. They are usually booked out 2-3 weeks ahead. Need 10 reviews to get accepted. Strong results.
  8. Bargain Booksy – $25: I love this one, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and good results.
  9. eBooks Habit – $10: Great little promo, I recommend the guaranteed placement for $10.
  10. Awesome Gang – $10: This one is great for the price. They have a free option but go with the paid.
  11. Many Books – $29: Great little gig, average returns. You can also sign up to become a featured author.
  12. Digital Book Today – $40: Good gig, average returns and works better with fiction than non-fiction.
  13. eBook Stage – $10: Another great little promo site, reasonably priced.
  14. Book Runes – $25: Global reach with over 50k mailing list. Average to very good results.
  15. BookBub – Pricey: This is by far the biggest and the best promo site for a book launch. Very tough to get accepted and it is expensive, but worth every dime. At the very least you should set up an Author profile on BookBub and start to get people to follow you. They have a great blog too that gives powerful tips on how to get a BookBub feature.
  16. Email your list (if you have one): If you don’t, BUILD one. This is by far better than all of the promo sites combined. If you don’t have a list yet, start building one with Mailerlite or Convertkit. You’ll have a stronger book launch if you have one, but it’s never too late to start.

3. Launch Teams

You can’t do a good book launch alone. It’s incredibly difficult and nearly impossible to launch a successful book without many people helping you. That’s why you see so much information online about how to get a launch team and why they’re important.

In short, your launch team are the people who will get a copy of your book, read it, and review it on your designated timeline. They’ll be a part of the initial sales process, as well as promoting the book from their own social media channels and even in their personal social groups.

We have an entire post about building a launch team, and you can watch the video below for more.

What’s not covered here is the idea that you want to stagger your launch team.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • Reach out directly to as many people as you can and invite them to your launch team
  • Many will say “I’d love to help out!” but you’ll want to give them specifics
  • Give each “yes” one of three options: Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3.
  • Tier 1: they’ll buy your book on launch day, leave a review, and share it on their socials
  • Tier 2: they’ll review your book on a day you designate but won’t buy a copy (they will get a free PDF) and will share on their socials
  • Tier 3: they’ll leave a review on a designated day
  • Keep track of each person and their tier in a spreadsheet
  • Prior to launching, reach out to each and remind them of their tier, thank them, and give them next steps

There’s far more to a launch team but this basic idea will help stagger your book launch so your book’s page is getting activity at various times (to appear more natural to the algorithm).

4. A Replicable Model

There’s a lot of advice online about running a good book launch. Some of them are great, some are not and are filled with outdated information and worse, information that goes against Amazon’s guidelines and can get your book penalized.

The idea behind this strategy is that it works, and it works well.

While you may have variability in what you do and when, following this method will help set your book up for success in the long term. That’s what a model gives you: a set of actions you can take that have been tested and proven across thousands of authors over the years.

Let’s get into the full book launch schedule.

12-Day Book Launch Plan

To keep things simple, I’m giving you an example of a book launch that covers 12 days. This is similar to the launch that I did for my book Relaunch Your Life, except that I didn’t run a free promo. For this post, I will look at how to include a free promo as well.

Your launch will look and perform differently than this, but you can use this as a model and tweak as required. This book launch assumes you are launching your book at $0.99 with a free promo set up through KDP for 2-3 days.

The strategy here is simple: by staggering the launch phases, you’ll be utilizing your launch team over the course of many days in order to feed the Amazon algorithm what it wants to see: varied sales consistently. Plus, this method uses a soft launch instead of a classic hard launch many new authors use (that typically falls flat after a couple days).

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

I use the term soft launch below, which is different from your actual book launch. Your soft launch begins from the moment you hit publish.

TIP: As Amazon takes about 24 hours to set up your book, I recommend hitting the publish button at least 24 hours before you begin your actual launch. For example, if your launch plan begins on a Sunday, then publish your book on a Saturday.

Ready for your book launch? In this book launch model we use 3 days for our soft launch window, and then begin the actual launch on day 4.

Day 1: First Day of Soft Book Launch

The first day of your soft launch is critical. This is the day when you are going to set up your book to successfully launch over the next 11 days. The price point is set at $0.99.

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

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

For your free promo on days 4-5 contact:

If you combine these promo sites with the organic traffic you’ll get from Amazon, you should do very well for free downloads.

Day 2-3: Soft Book Launch (Optional: You can extend this up to 5 days)

Social media burst to your Facebook page, mastermind groups, and other sources to spread the word. Don’t forget about other social platforms with large reader audiences like Twitter and Tumblr.

Don’t just blast these pages though. Give people a reason to visit and buy, which can be done by sharing initial reviews for the book or hype shared by your launch team. You can even share your own reactions and excitement as a prompt for your followers to take action.

Hannah Redden did a great job of this during her launch of Me and Jesus Covered in Pee, and you can see an example of how she used Facebook below.

Book Launch Plan Day 2 Example

Day 4-6: FREE Promo

The promotional sites you got in touch with will be advertising your book. Send an email to your team to notify them that your book is now free. While this isn’t a “sale” according to Amazon, the “download” will still count toward the momentum.

Promote to social media!

Day 7-10: Paid Promo Sites

Run paid promo sites recommended from the list above. You can cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos a day. You can also extend this and spread them out for 10-30 days in order to maintain consistent book sales to feed the Amazon algorithm.

Day 11-12: Winding Down the Book Launch

If you followed the plan you should have had a considerable number of downloads for both your free promo and your $0.99 promo. Remember that your numbers will vary depending on your platform, book quality, niche, and sometimes, luck.

Email your list and remind them the book will be $0.99 for only one more day. Contact your launch team and thank them for reviews and their support.

This is the last call for reviews and downloads, at least from your launch team.

Day 13: Increase the Price to $2.99

Leave it there for one week and raise it to $3.99. You can test the pricing by going up to $4.99 and watching what happens (these are ebook prices, adjust your paperback to similar ones in your niche). Monitor the sales and adjust accordingly.

Of course, if you sell a paperback copy, you’ll price it at a competitive but accurate price for the genre you’re in.

I usually spend around $300-$400 per launch minimum on promo sites but how much you spend is up to you.

Post Book Launch: What to do Next for Long-Term Book Sales

One of the biggest challenges authors have is where to go after the initial book launch is over.

How do you promote, market, and keep bringing in traffic so that your book doesn’t drop off into oblivion? Here are two things you can focus on:

1. Write another book

Multiple books create momentum. Look at the army of fans that Game of Thrones had before the TV Show launched. How did George R.R Martin build that? By setting up and writing the books as a series.

Do you have a series of books you could write?

A series is a great way to build your brand, a list, and to keep traffic growing with increased interest in your books.

This also allows you to create box sets if your books are a series or related (nonfiction), which is another product in your Amazon author page. This also means more opportunities for potential buyers to find your books.

2. Build your business on the back end

Create a business around your book with coaching, a course based on your book, or an automated email course that gets readers engaged after they are finished your book.

They want to know more about you and so, if you have a business set up to kick in for subscribers, this is the start of what could be a great author business.

Launching a book is a combination of strategy, imagination, and hard work. If you have a great book to promote and a team of people (a small team will do) backing you up, you can have a great launch that gets your book into the hands of your market.

You could even pitch your book to various media outlets.

With every book launch, there is more to learn. If you keep launching, you’ll get better. And as you get better, you’ll get more fans.

Eventually, you can turn your launch into a massive movement with thousands of fans standing behind you pushing your book towards New York Times Bestseller status or get featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Imagine that.

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