We chose to self publish for a number of reasons with our previous experience marketing books as a top factor in that decision. In this article, I’ll lay out some of the steps we take as well as link to a few useful articles and podcasts from other authors. If you want to read about the tools we use to write and publish our books click here. Interested in how we design our covers, read the article here.
We’ve worked with a few books published by major publishing houses. Yes, you get some major retailer shelf space when you publish with them, but if those books don’t sell they go back to the warehouse and you don’t get a dime. The bulk of the advertising, as well as the expense of it, falls on the lap of the author. You typically get a portion of your royalties upfront and can use that money to hire a marketing firm but still, the responsibility of getting the word out there falls on you as the author. A dirty little secret of the book publishing industry, right? Below are four actions we take in every one of our book launches.
You’ve got a social network right? I mean who doesn’t have one these days? USE IT! You don’t have to be that super annoying friend with the multi-level marketing scheme that’s constantly plugging a product you don’t care about, just drop simple updates on what you are doing. “Hey, guys it’s been a long day of writing, 20,349 words and counting.” Something simple like this gives them just enough information to get them curious but not so much information that they feel imposed upon. Start out slow, with an update every week or two as you are writing your book (it takes longer than a week or two by the way). Then once you have a finalized first draft you can up your game a little with a post a week. Snap pictures of the proof copy, if you order one, and show all your mark-ups. Don’t give more information than you need to until you have a firm date settled on for launch. Allow your audience to ask you questions!
You’ll have some friends that show more interest than others into what you are writing. When you’ve gone through a proof or two and you feel you are nearly ready, approach a handful of these friends and ask them to give your book a read through before you publish. I know you may be hoping to squeeze pennies out of all your friends at first hoping every one of them will buy your book, but giving away a few copies will be better for the long game. You’ll get helpful feedback and hopefully, your friends will give some reviews and on launch day you can ask all of your “Launch team” to post on their social profiles about your book along with their review of it which automatically extends your reach. I know I just bashed multi-level-marketing schemes, but the fact is they work, so tapping into some of the less obnoxious elements they use can come in handy.
Especially if your book is non-fiction; Facebook groups are a valuable asset. Ask yourself if your topic is something other people might want to discuss or you can build a community around. Chances are the answer is probably yes! If you are writing fiction consider creating a Facebook Group or page around yourself as the author. The group can be a place where they learn what you are up to and talk with (or nerd out with) other fans of your work. Launching a Facebook group at the same time as your book can be a great way to stir up buzz. This also creates an audience for promoting future books and speaking events if that is a goal for you. Here is a really great podcast with Nona Jones, of Facebook, on how best to utilize Facebook groups.
For my book the Conversation Journal I launched a Facebook group for parents who want to have conversations with their kids. The group is designed to help and encourage parents as they are going on this journey. I share relevant content on this topic as well as experts and freebies that keep the book in mind.
I know we are struggling authors and we want to make money off of our work, now I’m telling you to give it away for free? Yes, yes I am. Not all of it, but a portion of it. Drive people to your website with a free offer of chapter one or a simple Google app-based quiz that supports your topic. Freebies serve two purposes, to inform the world about your book with a sample and to build up a contact list. Don't forget to use a tool like MailChimp to capture the contact information of the folks utilizing your freebies. I’m going to give another link to a Carey Nieuwhof Podcast because the dude is great! He launched his book I Didn’t See it Coming in August of 2018 and his rollout and promotion were superb. In this podcast, he details the steps he took, some really great advice here folks!
Now you have read about our four go-to actions and you are thinking “But I just can’t”. You don’t have the time, patience, or know-how - that’s fine! That is what we are here for, if you want to work with us we’d love to help you position your book for a successful launch. Click Here to contact us.