Your Book Launch: Soft or Hard?

by | Mar 29, 2011

When it comes time to push your precious little chick out of the nest, you’ll want to think about how to give it the best chance to take flight.

The most obvious book launch strategy online, and one that has become common in many niches, is the Amazon Bestseller strategy launch. This is the unobtanium of launches: it’s as hard as they come.

Let’s take a look at how this work and why people go through the trouble.

  1. Pick a publication date.

    Consider the day wisely. Many book launches have gotten a boost from grabbing onto promotion that’s going on for a holiday, a celebration, or a big event. For this strategy you also want a day when people will be reading their email.

  2. Put together a list.

    Using your own email list is good. Combining it with the email lists of other authors in your genre, with the understanding you will return the favor, is better. A friend who published recently with a traditional publisher was part of a 1.5 million-name emailing to support his book launch. That’s a lot of eyeballs.

  3. Arrange online events.

    These can be guest appearances on blogs, live webinars, contests, or other events that will draw a lot of participation on the day.

  4. Crush it.

    Let people know leading up to the day that the book will be becoming available. Don’t release the book until the appointed day. Ask everyone to buy the book that day.

What you’re hoping is to push so many sales into one day that the book will rise near the top of the bestseller charts, at least for that day. Congratulations, you’re now an Amazon Bestseller!

This also helps later, as books that are selling well may be picked out by Amazon’s algorithms for promotion with other similar books. The collective effect can have a big impact on your sales.

Okay, What’s the Alternative?

The problem with the hard launch is that it requires a huge amount of work, long-term planning, the cooperation of a network of people and the hope that on the one day you’ve picked there are no uprisings, earthquakes, or assassinations to grab everyone’s attention. If you miss the day, you lose.

Another way is with what you might call a soft launch, and that’s what I decided to do with A Self-Publisher’s Companion. With a lot of other work to do and a very short timeframe for launching the book, it made more sense. What’s involved?

  • Pick a publication month, not a day.

    Publication dates, which rule book launches from large publishers with national distribution, are unnecessary for a soft launch. I decided on a two- to three-week period over the end of March and beginning of April. While you can still build excitement and anticipation by mailing to your list and writing about it on your blog, you are much more flexible.

  • Get the word out.

    Mailing to your list, letting bloggers in your niche know about the upcoming launch window, and running special events still work here. They are just more spread out.

  • Do a blog tour.

    Instead of trying to arrange every appearance for the same day, which can be exhausting, spread your events out over a couple of weeks. You’ll find your guest articles are not as rushed and you have more time to spend with each site you visit.

“A Self-Publisher’s Companion” Book Launch Events

For readers following the launch of my new book, head over to Roger C. Parker’s useful blog at to have a look at Roger’s review of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Find Out if Self-Publishing a Brand-Building Book is For You.

Today Roger will be interviewing me live, and you can participate.

He’s asked readers to supply questions for the interview. Here’s his offer:

Whether you’re still on the fence about whether or not self-publishing a book to build your personal brand is right for you, or you’re wondering whether the Amazon Kindle, the Apple iPod, or the ePub format is best, you’ll want to attend tomorrow’s call, Tuesday, March 29, at 4:00 PM EST. The call is free and open to all. To attend, call 218-486-1616 and enter PIN 513391#. Ask your questions during the call, or submit them before the call, as comments, (on his blog).

So call in if you have time, I’m sure it will be informative. Roger is an expert on brand building and book publishing, and I’m really looking forward to it. See you there.

Photo by Matthew Simantov

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Adam iWriteReadRate

    Interesting article, Joel. Enjoyed it, thanks for posting.

    Best regards

    Adam Charles

  2. Kieren

    Hi Joel,
    I don’t usually gush, but I LOVE your blog. Tons of information, very well-written and well-edited, always interesting. I visit every day for your latest post–and as someone who is trying to decide between offset volume printing and POD for my full-color quilt design book, I’m finding the archives invaluable. Thank you!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Gee, Kieren, it’s okay to blush once in a while. But thanks, I appreciate that. You have a challenge with your book.

  3. Christopher Wills

    I went for a soft launch for my book ‘Call me Aphrodite’ but I didn’t know enough to be able to go for a big launch. My soft launch has generated 2 sales in the first week. But thanks to yourself (and others) I’m learning fast and ever hopeful for the future, especially my next book, which I hope to bring out in July… So I’m depending on you to keep up the good work :)

    • Joel Friedlander

      Chris, good luck with your book. It’s a lot more difficult for fiction writers to get traction with their books. You might think about putting some more information on the Amazon page, your description, while it’s good, is pretty brief.



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