Welcome back to Suzanne Kelman. She’s been a familiar face around here along with her Blondie and the Brit Podcast partner KJ Waters. Today’s post offers some great tips for a successful book launch, which is something all authors strive for, but often don’t achieve until experience is on their side. Let’s learn from Suzanne’s experience and share our own as well.
Official Bio: Suzanne Kelman is the author of the Southlea Bay series and an award-winning screenwriter. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, she now lives in Washington in her own version of Southlea Bay with her husband, Matthew; her son, Christopher; and a menagerie of rescued animals. She enjoys tap dancing, theater, and high teas, and she can sing the first verse of “Puff, the Magic Dragon” backward.
7 Ways to Have a Successful Book Launch
The book is written, it is edited, and the cover is beautiful, With a mixture of fear and excitement you press send on CreateSpace. Finally, your new work is going out into the world.
But what next?
I have just launched my new book Rejected Writers Take the Stage, the second in the Southlea Bay series. As well as book two, I’m already in pre-launch for book three The Rejected Writers’ Christmas Wedding that will release in October. So launching is all I have been doing over the last few months.
There is data in the advertising world to support the fact that a customer needs to see a product seven times before they will buy. I’m not sure if that is true, but in case it is, here are seven ways I have used to promote my own books.
1) The Book Cover Reveal: If the seven times to buy data is correct, then it is essential to introduce your audience as soon as possible to the most important part of your selling toolkit, your cover.
If you want to build momentum and have the time, have a countdown to your cover reveal. Introduce a blank cover with the words “to be revealed” upon the image and the date. This idea builds excitement and anticipation for your established audience and will also attract the curiosity from any new readers. Once the reveal date arrives, pin your new cover image to all your social media sites and ask people what they think.
Another idea for a book cover reveal is to have a cover voting competition–give your online audience a glimpse of two proposed covers and let them vote on the one they like the best.
2) Giveaways: It makes sense to give away earlier books if you have a series or even the upcoming book as a prize to attract readers. I run a number of giveaways during the launch phase, but one of the quickest and easiest to do is on Goodreads and it’s free. If you already have a Goodreads account it takes about 15 minutes to set up.
A couple of things to keep in mind, first your giveaway has to be approved so that can take a couple of days. Also, I find a month long promotion works best, but if you have longer or even shorter you can still have a great response. My last one had over 2,000 readers add it to their TBR list. I gave away five signed paperbacks as a prize as I find that paperbacks attract a lot more entries than e-books. This is a great way to build excitement for your upcoming release.
3) Sale Promotions: As well as giving away books it helps to attract new readers if you also discount other books you have written during the pre-launch phase. Some of you may only have one book so this may not be a possibility, but if you have other books you have written, offer them at 99 cents or even for free for a period of time. The idea here is to have new readers fall in love with your writing. I usually reduce my books the month before and also use Facebook ads to promote them. Remember to always be thinking big picture through a launch, you will not earn as much on those earlier books but you may end up selling more books in the long run.
4) Reviews: Another great thing to do in pre-launch is start gathering together a list of reviewers. You want as many reviews up on Goodreads and Amazon as possible. So, starting in prelaunch is helpful. I start two months before a release contacting people and giving away free copies of my new book in return for honest reviews. Don’t worry if not everybody likes your books those low scores actually legitimize the reviews themselves. You can find reviewers by adding a link to your blog or website, by reaching out to people who blog about books and also to your mailing list, more about that later. I actually have my review copies up on NetGalley, which is a safe place to have your book and all I need to do then is send a link to my reviewers.
5) Blog Tour: A excellent way to find new readers is to organize a blog tour. This sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It just means asking other bloggers and friends if you can guest blog for them, as I am doing here with Jeri Walker–Thank you Jeri! I usually just put a call out on social media or email to other author friends that I know have regular blogs. If you want to, you can also create a graphic with all the blogs you will be touring, and on what date. The great thing about this idea is you don’t have to only tour during pre-launch, which is a busy time. I actually like to do my blog tour after I launch to keep memento going.
6) Promoting to Your Email Lists: One of the most important things to grow as an author is your email list. You can do that by offering competitions with a ‘sign up for your newsletter’ invitation attached, or by using cross promotion services such as AuthorXPromotions. For a fee, they set up giveaways that collect readers email addresses for you. Once you have a list, I recommend sending out two or three newsletters during launch. The first could be a cover reveal with pre-order information included. The second should have a list of all your giveaways, prizes, a call for reviewers. And the last one can be sent on launch day to let everyone know they can now buy your book.
7) Author Cross-Pollinations: And lastly, work with other authors to help cross-pollinate your book to other writers audiences. I just formed a support launch group with seven other writers; each one contributed to our launches by adding their own skills. One made a video of all of our books, one created copy for our newsletters, one organized a Kindle Fire giveaway, we also had a joint Facebook party. Lastly, I organized an authors roundtable on the podcast I co-host for writers called Writing, Publishing and Beyond.
So, there you have seven idea’s for a successful launch. I hope you try some of these and also add in your own ideas. Happy Launching!
You can connect with Suzanne Kelman and her social media accounts via her author website and blog. You may also be interested in her other guest post Should and Author Have Their Own Podcast? Do be sure to hop over and check out her titles on Amazon.
Have you ever launched a book and how did it go? What words of wisdom could you add to Suzanne Kelman’s tips?
All images are courtesy of Suzanne Kelman, 2017. Please share responsibly.
Check on everything but the discounting other books. (That’s up to my publisher, not me.) We’ve always done giveaways and reveals and I still believe in the blog tour to get the word out.
Congratulations on your books, Suzanne!
I’m sure you have successful launches. And thank you for your kind words!
These are great – I am going to print them out and keep them in mind for the next book launch!
Good luck with your launch! Glad I could help 🙂
Thanks for sharing, Suzanne. These are all fabulous ideas. I would love to try for blog tour as well as NetGalley to entice book reviewers to give my upcoming book a try. I’m also going to go with print books to share and send to reviewers. I’m not sure about peddling my book with bricks & mortar stores though. Any thoughts on that? Thanks, Jeri for hosting a wonderful writer.
Lisa, it’s always a pleasure to host Suzanne and to view her evolution as a writer over the years.
I always sell a lot more of my e-books than I do print copies, but it’s worth knowing ways to sell to people who prefer to shop at their local bookshop. There are ways to get into independent bookstores, and I listened to a webinar back in November by Joan Stewart which was very helpful. She has a blog post about it that might help give you some ideas. https://publicityhound.com/blog/today-how-to-sell-books-to-gift-shops-indie-bookstores
A lot of good ideas. I know a few who did the cover contest. Personally I’d be reluctant to give up control of the cover choice.
Whenever I do a cover competition I run them in a way that is very light, not giving away my own personal preference 🙂 I just ask people to pick which they prefer. Often, I just change one or two small elements to see what works best for the reader. I am always amazed at the themes that come through a lot of the comments. I always have a preference of the cover I want, but the competition helps me fine tune elements of the cover that are working and better still elements that aren’t.
My first book title was picked this way, and it has done pretty well with that name.
Hope this helps, good look with your launch.
Great tips… It seems there is a whole “science” behind a book launch. The differents stages definitely make sense to me… Building an audience is so important, so book promotion could be welcomed. A “catching” book cover and a a good blurb are central elements, for sure… I like how Suzanne describes the winning points involving the cover reveal, by the way. A very useful post for writers!. Sending best wishes. 😉
Thank you Aquileana,
I’m so glad I could help!
Good Luck with your launch.:-)
I think getting reviews before the book is actually launched is really great. Too many times I have seen a great review on a book that intrigues me and when I find out that it isn’t out yet, it increases my anticipation and urge to buy it!
Good point Emily.
I think getting reviews as early as possible is really important, and with Goodreads they can be available as soon as your cover and synopsis is up. Then you can use them in prelauch promotions as well. 🙂 Works great to increase prelaunch sales.
Thanks for those tips Suzanne, I would love to follow them as I have just revealed the cover of my book. A blog tour is on my mind after the release. Thank you Jeri, I would love to be your guest.
Absolutely, the keys to getting it all done is to spread it out over that three month period – Prelaunch – Launch – Post launch. That way it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Blog tours work great for me in Post launch.
Balroop, if you are interested in a guest post just let me know. Otherwise, I’ll be back to interviewing non-Idaho authors in the coming year.
Great tips! I will make a note of these.
There are a number of key priorities when launching a book that one could easily overlook. Self promotion is important and connecting with your audience. I like the idea of sharing two book covers with followers/ friends/family asking them to select their choice.
Thank you Phoenicia,
Any time you can engage your audience is always a great idea, and people get very excited about helping you pick your cover. Then once they are invested they are more likely to buy your book:-) It’s a really fun way to get sales and some really helpful feedback at the same time.
Have a great launch!
I really like the title and look of Suzanne’s book(s). I’m familiar with these strategies but this is a great reminder because it’s been a couple of years and I have a relaunch coming up and a new book this fall.
Maybe I missed it, but something that’s worked exceptionally well for me in the past is podcast interviews. After every interview, I saw a really nice spike in sales. Thanks!
I’m glad you like the titles. The first one was actually picked by a group on facebook in a similar competition to the one I often run for book cover preference. 🙂
Podcasts are also great, I agree. I have my own podcast and I have a special book launch podcast going out next month for Rejected Writers Take the Stage. Also a roundtable of a group of authors who all launched this summer which is going out next month, too.
It’s a great way to get the word out and also to connect with new readers.
Good Luck with your launch!
Great information sure to welcomed by a lot of new authors. I really like the look of your covers Suzanne – they immediately catch your eye and make you want to look inside. Thanks for sharing your know-how.
Thank you Lenie, I glad you liked them 🙂
Have a great day!
All great points. It’s all about marketing and being consistent with our efforts. Congrats on the book Suzanne. I am sure it will prove to be a great success. ???
Thank you Susan 🙂
Great to read this and save it for future reference. I like the ideas. I need to build my email list!
Wonderful! I put off building my email list for a long time as I didn’t want to bug people with emails, but I have found it really enjoyable getting to know readers that way. I wish I had done it sooner as I always have a bump in sales anytime a newsletter goes out. I think the key is not to overwhelm your list just send them newsletters when you have something going on, a promotion or a giveaway.
It’s a brave new world (maybe not even that new anymore). Self-publishing has democratized the writers’ world, but even if a book is published by a traditional publisher, authors should take your advice because the days of well funded third party promotion are, to a large extent, over.
Wow, I never knew how much work is put into book promotion. I mostly focus on writing, though I had thoughts of writing a book. But, the promotion part put me out. These are great tips for any author wants to publish and promote their books!
I totally agree! My first book was self-published but my series was then picked up by a publisher, Lake Union, so now I’m a Pindy! I still do all the same things I did when I was self-pubbed, for the very reasons you just stated. I spoke to another trad pub author the other day and she said the first think her publishers asked her were, how big is your email list? So, it doesn’t just apply to indies anymore.
Thanks for your comment, have a great day!
Excellent and correct list of what’s needed for a successful book launch.
As an author you know how grateful I am to information like this. You may have written the greatest book ever written, but it is useless if no one reads it. Information you posted will help expose it to the world.
Thanks for sharing this with us.
Thanks to Suzanne for this insightful post. It is indeed difficult for us authors to launch our books, and Suzanne has shared some great tips here.
Great tips on having a successful book launch. After spending so much time and energy completing a book, it can be daunting to realize there is still much to be done.
Great tips Suzanne and thanks Jeri for having her over as part of her blog tour (point noted about touring before, during, and after the launch). I haven’t done a Goodreads giveaway and heard some people actually try to sell the books they win rather than read them to leave genuine reviews. Hopefully those people are stopping that dishonest practice.
These are great ideas and I totally agree with your point about growing your email list. I’ll be referring back to this list if I ever get my book put together!
Fantastic ideas, and perfect for me as I gear up to my book launch – aaarrggghhhh!!!
I’d never heard that a customer has to see something 7 times before they buy. So interesting, and something to think about for any business owner. This is all great advice. My husband has a comic book, so I’ll pass this post along to him.
These are great ideas. I’ve read other articles about how to promote your books but there are several new ideas I hadn’t thought of or heard about. I don’t plan to write a book but I will definitely pass along these tips to other friends who are writers.