Top 8 Tactics to Power Your Online Book Launch

by | Oct 24, 2011

Okay, you’ve finished your book, filled out all your book metadata, and gone through the publishing process. Soon, your book will become available for sale online. For many authors, this is a critical time in the lives of their books.

Why? When your book is new, it’s the natural time to do a book launch. In fact, it’s possible to re-launch a book any time there’s a reason to do so, but the vast majority of book launches are, appropriately enough, at the time of initial publication.

The idea of a book launch is to turn the publication of the book into an event. Events, by their nature, draw more attention from the public. Your event is one-time-only, happening live, and the more ways you can attract attention during the launch period, the more eyeballs you will attract to your book (and your other books, if you have related books in print already).

Let’s look at the elements that can go into a book launch. You won’t be doing all these things, so don’t immediately become overwhelmed. Think of this more as a menu of options you can choose from.

8 Ways to Make Your Book Launch Take Off

First, decide whether you want to run all of your activities on a single day, over the course of a week, or extending to a longer time period. Any of these options is workable, and I encourage you to spread them out if your time is already at a premium. Remember that you’re in charge, so you get to decide the exact parameters of your book launch. Here are some things you might include in your book launch:

  1. Media Kit – This is essential. It’s the established way for you to get your information to book reviewers, media contacts and other bloggers. I won’t go through the whole media kit here, but it should include your book launch media release (see below for more information), photo of your book cover, photo of the author, marketing information, sample interviews, and a concise cover letter.
  2. Guest Posts – One of the best ways to bring your message to new groups of readers is by offering to write guest articles for other bloggers. This can be done as part of a blog tour or on its own. In any case, by introducing yourself and your subject to new networks of readers, your book will get more of a boost at its launch.

  3. Book Trailer – Short videos that act like movie trailers for your book have become more and more popular in the last couple of years. Some books seem to lend themselves to this treatment more than others, and some of the most effective I’ve seen are for fiction, like thrillers and romances.
  4. Media Contacts – One way to help your book get off to a good start is to get the attention of the media. This might be through an interview with the local newspaper or radio station about your book, or it might be articles you submit to magazines or online periodicals in your niche. Developing a list of media contacts who are interested or who have reported in the past about your topic will be very useful for this effort.
  5. Book Reviewers – Planning your review campaign well in advance will allow both print and online reviewers plenty of time to prepare a review about your book. Although we can’t dictate the schedule on which these reviews are released, let reviewers know when the launch will be happening and other events scheduled for the time period of the launch.
  6. Contests & Giveaways – One of the techniques that’s been used to good effect by lots of authors is to give away a set number of books during the launch period. These may be offered by lottery, for leaving comments on your blog, for posting Tweets about the book launch, or any other way you can dream up to attract people’s interest. Free anything is still a powerful pull for lots of people, and getting your book into as many people’s hands as possible is the aim of your launch, so get creative here.
  7. Blog Tour – A blog tour organizes the guest posts, giveaways and blogger networking into a formal schedule during your launch period. Setting up guest appearances on blogs, which allows the bloggers to introduce you to their readers, is a terrific way to grow your own reader community and enhance your relationship with lots of bloggers in your niche. You can promote your tour schedule on your own blog and through social media to create some excitement for all the events you’ve planned.
  8. Media Release – Although your media release is an integral part of the Media Kit I mentioned at the beginning, it’s really a key piece of your book launch as well. Why? A well-written and targeted media release will bring together all the best reasons people should be interested in your book, your subject, you and your book launch. And if your book legitimately addresses more than one audience, take your basic media release and re-write the headline and first paragraph to highlight the connection to other groups.

Taken together, putting together a book launch can be a lot of work. But there are a lot of tangible and intangible benefits you get from going through all this trouble. And while our basic aim is to sell books, if you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll recognize that these benefits will repay your efforts in many ways. For instance, by going through the launch, you can:

  • Create better relations with other bloggers in your field
  • Better understand your readers and why they respond to you
  • Explore aspects of your subject that might be of interest to different groups of readers
  • Learn which approaches work best in driving traffic, and interest, about your book.

Running a book launch can be a demanding, exhausting and exciting adventure. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll be able to use that learning for your next book. So give it a try.

More Resources

How I’m Going to Book My Blog—Getting Testimonials

Book Launch Media Kit—Using Your Testimonials

Example of an Online Media Kit: A Self-Publisher’s Companion

Photo by stevendepolo. Originally published by CreateSpace under the title “Your Online Book Launch: What You Need to Know” and reprinted here with permission.

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5 Comments

  1. Katy Pye

    Hi Joel,

    I’m about to launch my debut indie book in a month+ and found your article helpful. Re:#6, you had attorney Sara Hawkins’ post on legal issues this month (Mar. 2013) and she also has a very helpful article “Social Media Promotions and the Law: What You Need to Know,” at the Social Media Examinar site. Worth reading if one is planning give-away type promotions. So much to know, so little time–but made more efficient through all of you.

    Thanks, as always.

    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-promotions-and-the-law-what-you-need-to-know/

    Reply
  2. Serena Casey

    Helpful article, Joel, thanks! Can you tell us what the link in #5 should have been, though? It seems to be missing.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Sorry about that Serena, I’ll fix it up. It was going to link to an article I wrote for Jane Friedman’s blog but it looks like her old blog has disappeared.

      Reply
  3. Michael N. Marcus

    There is nothing to stop you from writing your own release and emailing, snailmailing or FedExing it to appropriate media. However, it’s much more efficient to use a distribution company that already has a list of media contacts. Some companies work for free. Some do not. In general, you get what you pay for. Some freebie services consist of nothing more than posting a release online and hoping that search engines will notice it.

    From my Brainy Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing: Learn How to Make the Right Decisions and Publish a Superior Book:

    Some PR distribution companies, and therefore the “news” they carry, have more credibility than others. In general, the paid-for services get better pickup than their freebie competitors. Self-publishing companies generally use the less-effective free distribution for their public relations and marketing packages, but they seldom reveal the details. The top companies are probably Business Wire, PR Newswire and PR Web. PR.com is in the second tier, and pretty good. You can pay $680 if you go direct to PR Newswire, or just $399 with eReleases.com, which offers a discounted path to PR Newswire.

    Michael N. Marcus

    — Just out: “STINKERS!: America’s Worst Self-Published Books,” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983057257

    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.BookFur.com (information, help and book reviews for authors)
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
    — “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983057249

    Reply
  4. adan lerma

    wow, this is info i’ll have to come back to many times i think ;-)

    btw, re press releases, are there any free services, or ways a person can submit a press release on one’s own?

    thanks so much, enjoying your articles,

    adan

    Reply

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