Imagine launching your own cupcake shop in a prime location. After putting painstaking effort into making the best product possible, you throw open the doors on opening day and expect the masses to come flooding inside. When 24 hours goes by with no customers to speak of, you feel like you may have made a huge mistake. This sensation clouds the minds of most indie authors when they launch their book to a chorus of crickets.
When many authors think of a book launch they picture hundreds of readers beating a path to their door. They hope that by crafting an impressive work and attaching both a shiny cover and an electrifying blurb, that they’ll stand out from the crowd. In most cases, it’s not enough. Authors are now publishing books on Amazon every few minutes. You can’t expect to click a button and get a thousand people to visit your book listing.
While there are no guarantees when it comes to launching a book, you can improve your chances of selling more books by planning ahead. If you include some of the following tips in your plan of action, then you’ll be in much better shape when potential fans sample your cupcake on opening day. Here are five ways you can supercharge your book launch:
1. Gather 25-50 Reviewers
Would you buy a thousand-dollar piece of jewelry online if it had one review? Probably not. While an ebook is a much less expensive commodity, many consumers take the same approach to buying their entertainment as they do purchasing high-ticket items. You need to remove all doubt from the minds of your potential fans. The best way to do that is to get 25 to 50 honest reviews posted during your book launch week.
Gathering reviews isn’t easy, which is why many books you’ll see on Amazon have under 10 reviews. To stand out, you’ll need to work harder than the other authors do. Message reviewers through blogs, Author Marketing Club’s Reviewer Grabber, StoryCartel, and other sites where reviewers hang out. Offer an advance review copy (ARC) of your book at least two to three weeks before your launch.
Reviews are one of the first four things readers look at, in addition to your cover, blurb, and sample. When you don’t work hard enough to get the reviews you need by launch day, you may miss out on readers who believe your book isn’t worth clicking the buy button.
2. Run a Viral Giveaway
Fans love generosity. When a person who loves your book finds out about a giveaway or contest, she is likely to spread the word far and wide. It’s a lot easier for people to share a link to a giveaway than it is a book’s buy page. Readers might feel bad about asking a friend to download a $3 book, but they’ll feel like they’re helping their comrades out by giving them an opportunity to win prizes. When you connect a giveaway with your book launch, you have a much better chance that something associated with your book will go viral.
Use software like Rafflecopter or KingSumo Giveaways to collect the giveaway entrants’ email addresses. Once you’ve gathered their addresses and gotten the necessary CAN-SPAM Law compliance, you can tell them more about who you are and the kinds of books you write. The readers who stick around may be more than willing to buy your book on launch day.
Over time, as you write more books, hold more launches, and give away more prizes, you may start to gather several hardcore fans. This can form the basis of a street team. The street team can later help you to make each future giveaway a huge success.
3. Tap Into Podcasts
Building up a mailing list is the number one way to hold a successful launch, but tapping into podcasts may be the new number two. Podcasts are making a comeback in a big way, and even medium-sized shows have thousands of listeners per episode. Setting up your own podcast tour can put news about your launch into the earbuds of many potential readers.
Podcasts allow you to make a personal connection with fans. While the posts on a blog tour can be easily skimmed over, most people listen to a podcast in their entirety. Additionally, listeners get to hear your voice and feel a personal connection with you.
To set up your own podcast tour, conduct a search of podcasts related to your genre. Since iTunes has a poor search tool for podcasts, it’s best to use another podcast site like Stitcher or a general search engine like Google. Once you’ve cobbled together a few dozen candidates, give the shows a listen to see if they’ll be a good fit or if they ever have guests on the program. Contact the appropriate podcasters at least a month before your launch to schedule them in conjunction with your book’s release. Make sure to account for how far in advance the podcasters’ tape their episodes. You should expect only about 5 to 10 percent of the shows to respond, so plan accordingly when it comes to how many podcasters you contact.
After securing a few interviews, it’s a good idea to have a special bonus prepared for listeners.
4. Include a Special Bonus
Readers, like most people in the world, like to procrastinate, so they may be lazy when it comes to buying your book on the release date. To get people excited for picking up your book as soon as it launches, include a bonus that’s only in the book for the first few days. Pick something that will get your ideal fans excited. For example, if you’re writing a sprawling fantasy epic, you might include a free high-resolution map of your story world for those who buy on day one.
The Self-Publishing Podcast trio recently used this strategy when they released their Fiction Unboxed book. When they discussed the book on their show, they mentioned that readers could get access to a $50 Udemy course for free if they picked up the book in the first few days. When you make your bonus worthwhile, there’s a good chance that your fans will get very excited. As long as you make sure to tell them about it.
5. Update Your Blog, Books, and More
Life can be crazy when it comes to a launch. If you’ve spent all your time trying to edit, perfect, and format your book, you may have forgotten several key steps in the launch process. Remember to post about your book’s release on your blog and throughout your social media platform. You’d be surprised at how often a prolific author’s website might be one or two installments behind because he forgot to update the home and book pages.
Go through the previous entries in the series and update your calls to action in the front and back of those books. Sit down and brainstorm for 30 minutes about all the people who said they wanted to spread the word or support you. Message them and ask them to boost the signal for your latest book. When you plan your launch, make sure to add all these updates into your procedure, as they tend to be the first ones that get lost in the shuffle.
Tasting All The Flavors
A vanilla cupcake is less likely to be a top seller than a pastry with four or five delicious toppings. Combine all of the above tips to grow your chances of selling more books on launch day. With each successive launch, you’re bound to get more returning customers. Fortunately for you, while cupcakes tend to run out by the end of the day, you’ll have the benefit of delivering unlimited print-on-demand and digital copies of your delicious work of art.
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