Moonburner has been out for a little over a month now, and I thought it was time to do a round-up post summarizing a few of my book launch efforts. Over the last month, a lot of friends have asked me: “How do you get people to read your book?” That question makes me chuckle. Because you see, there’s the rub. It’s not easy!
There are a LOT of books out there. A lot of crappy ones, but a lot of great ones, too. People are busy. They may only have time to read one book in a month (many people don’t even have that much time). So how do you get your book to stand out from the crowd?
Well, I don’t have any magic answers, but I’ve done a lot of research, and it seems that a combination approach works best.
I based my launch off of the program Launch a Bestseller, by Tim Grahl, and the Book Launch Toolkit, by Joel Friedlander and Kimberly Grabas. Both of these were super helpful in giving me the lay of the land in what types of efforts I should even be making to launch my book!
Here’s what I focused on:
- Influencer outreach
Tim’s Launch a Bestseller course talked a lot about influencer outreach. Influencers are people within the publishing industry or blog-o-sphere who have an audience you want to reach. Tim recommended classifying these people into three tiers, which helps you allocate your time. Tier 1s individuals are the folks with the mailing list you would KILL for. While you might spend 10 hours on a guest course for a Tier 1 person, you might only be willing to write a 1 hour guest post for a Tier 2. For a Tier 3, all you’ll do is send them the book to review. Since your time is finite, this helps you spend your time on those influencers who have the best chance of selling a lot of books for you.
For me, I spent a lot of time identifying BookTubers, bloggers, and individuals with some minor celebrity that I know. I reached out especially to a LOT of book bloggers. And for the most part, because these were essentially cold calls, I didn’t hear much back.
My Number 1 goal for my next launch is to spend the interim time developing some relationship with well-respected book bloggers. Following them, commenting, being more engaged and supportive of their efforts. This is in the hope that when I approach them next time, they will recognize me and be more inclined to give my book a chance.
2. Reviewer outreach
I also did some direct reviewer outreach, based on a webinar that Tim Grahl did a few years back (Tim’s my go-to book launch guy, obviously)! The gist of it was: Reach out to 75 people to ask them if they’ll review your book and put up a review on the day it launches. 50 will say yes, and 25 will actually put up the review. This way, you can leap out of the gate with a respectable number of reviews. This was a great exercise and got some more friends and family invested in my launch. It didn’t all go to plan, because Amazon mysteriously decided to release my book 5 days before the launch date, screwing up the timing of things, but it was still effective in getting a good number of reviews up there early on.
My publisher also put my book up on Netgalley, which I would totally recommend. Netgalley is a site where book reviewers can download a free copy in exchange for a review. It was ridiculously easy to get almost 100 people to download it (rather than my time-consuming individual emails). If you have the money to spend on it, I would say Netgalley is 100% worth it.
3. Blog tour
I am doing a 20 stop blog tour through Chapter by Chapter, which starts July 18 and runs for two weeks. I will be doing a giveaway as part of the blog tour, as well as author interviews, guest posts, and reviews. This is another way to get in front of new audiences, and while I can’t speak to the results yet, I am optimistic that it will be very helpful. Again, I spent hours and hours trying to get bloggers to review my book with no success, and by paying $50 to a well-respected tour organizer, I ended up with 20 stops with no more trouble than signing up on their website. Again, my take-away from this (like Netgalley) is that some well-placed investments will save you a SIGNIFICANT amount of time and energy.
4. Email Campaign
This is another approach from the Launch a Bestseller course, and due to time constraints, I didn’t do much here. The idea is that you create a pre-order incentive, like some free chapters, or a free resource to accompany your book. You tell your email list that if they pre-order the book, they get the freebie. This way, people are incentivized to actually buy your book, instead of just putting it on the To Read shelf on Goodreads. And, your book will have a nice spike on its first day, and hopefully show up on some of the Amazon ranking lists and such.
I had been busy writing a prequel novella to give to my email list as an opt-in incentive, and my email list is still fairly new, so I wanted to build some loyalty before I started selling too hard to them. I ended up just giving away the novella for free to those on the list on the day of the launch. For my next book, I will create some deleted chapters or perhaps a map of the world to give away for free if you buy the book.
Anyway, I think this is a great approach, I just didn’t quite have my act together to take advantage of it this time around!
5. Social media
This is one of the more obvious launch strategies. Share, share, share on your social media sites! Build some buzz. And ask your followers and friends to share with their friends, too. Tim suggests in his course that you make it easy for people by creating up some preset Tweets, images that can be pinned, etc., so all your followers have to do to share is click a button.
These are the main approaches I took for my launch. There are some other things I did, like hosting a book launch party (so fun), paying for a professional Kirkus Review, and doing a lot of guest posting and interviews on other blogs. My publisher also set up a press release and sent out ARCs for me to reviewers I identified. These are just a few of many types of efforts to take to launch your book.
So what will I do differently next time?
First, I will give myself a longer lead time. I gave myself two months for the launch, but it really wasn’t enough time. The ARC copies of Moonburner ended up going out only three weeks before launch, which wasn’t enough time for the reviewers who had said yes to read and post around the launch date.
Second, I will focus on building up my email list, and run a pre-order campaign with a pre-order incentive.
Third, I will focus this year on connecting with some popular book bloggers and other authors whose work is similar to mine. One thing Tim mentioned in one of the interviews I listened to illustrated why connecting with influencers, rather than individual readers, is so beneficial (of course, you still want to connect with readers!) You could spend the time it takes to connect with 100 readers, or you could connect with one influencer who could influence 100 of their followers to read your book. Clearly, the second option is vastly more efficient, and for a busy author, time is at a premium.
Finally, I’ll spend some well-placed dollars to save myself some time and effort, allowing me to spend those hours on more fruitful efforts (like writing my next book!)
Overall, I’m pleased with how the launch went, as a total newbie author with no experience launching a book. Becoming a published author is a learning process every step of the way, and the launch was no exception!
Featured photo by e.c. johnson, CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/