So how might you, a Christian fiction writer, tailor your book launch to the writing world? Here are some ideas from author Randy Ingermanson and speaker Michael Hyatt.
Ingermanson operates a book launch more or less along the lines of an Internet marketer. And he’s quite successful.
- Choose a launch date several months away or more.
- Set up a newsletter emailing account.
- Set up a Web page to capture email addresses, offering free content attractive to your potential readers.
- Set aside ad budget. Advertise your freebie to the right people.
- Use the newsletter to talk up your product and give plenty of useful information to readers interested in your topic.
- Prepare a launch day package with substantial freebies and discounts, only for those who buy the book during the launch window of several days.
- Launch the book. Count the money. Return the item to its original price. If you will launch more books, keep issuing the newsletter at least monthly so that people recognize it in their inbox and don’t mark it as spam.
No money for ads? There are some variations on this. Instead of using ads, you can gather interest using your time. Provide an e-newsletter or blog with plenty of useful content to your potential readers. Doing this over a long period of time will gather you a loyal following. Of course, you’ll need a freebie to get people to sign up for your blog or newsletter.
This is what Randy Ingermanson does. His Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, aimed at writers (who are also readers and will go for discounted books), has gathered a large following because of his formula:
- Valuable freebies on signup
- Regular, once-monthly issuance
- No-nonsense help with writing or marketing, just what readers want to hear
- Encouragement at the end of every newsletter to pass it on to a friend
- Very very occasional mentions of opportunities to purchase Randy’s books and software. For a launch of a new product, he gives a substantial discount to newsletter readers, for a limited time.
Ingermanson seems to spend plenty of time on his ezine crafting his articles, so readers are happy to open the email when it arrives every month. (He says he picks up most of his new contacts through Google, not through paid ads there but through search engine optimization.)
So, can you spend time on an ezine? If so, you may have a winning formula.
Note that Ingermanson captures the email addresses of his fans. He doesn’t gather Facebook likes. (Facebook can obliterate your page for no reason if it feels like it, and has done so.) He doesn’t use Feedburner to gather email addresses of people who want notice of blog posts emailed to them. (Want to look at your Feedburner list of addresses? Can’t do it.) He uses an emailing service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.
So does Michael Hyatt, who is not a novelist but a public figure, former head of Thomas Nelson publishing, now a speaker and writer. He uses a version of the Internet marketer launch formula to sell his nonfiction.
Hyatt’s popular blog offers a freebie for those who sign up to have blog posts emailed. He is gathering those email addresses not in Feedburner but in his MailChimp account, where he can see them and use them. MailChimp has a setup where blog posts can be emailed to those who have signed up, but he retains control of the address list.
So, unlike Ingermanson’s newsletter, Hyatt’s content is quite visible to the casual reader on the Internet. Is that good or bad? Well, his freebies are good enough that he’s been able to gather a lot of email addresses. People seem to like the convenience of a reminder in their inbox to check his blog.
Ingermanson, by the way, also has a blog. On it he fields questions and occasionally promotes his books. Here’s my question for him: when does he find time to write more novels? Not to mention his day job? His answer: he’s been concentrating on building his business, but now he’s starting to write again.
I need to mention that Ingermanson is targeting writers rather than readers, something that I am not encouraging you to do. (See his comment below.) Writers spend money on books, but not much. They hope and expect to get free ones for judging or review from time to time. So how is he so successful?
At launch time he discounts his ebooks steeply. There are thousands of people on his list. Even a poor writer can afford a couple of dollars for his ebook. And if thousands of them do that, the total adds up fast.
If YOUR vision of a blog or newsletter involves less time commitment than Randy’s, you may want to target readers rather than writers.
Here’s my question for you today: how can you work some of these ideas into your book release schedule?
http://michaelhyatt.com/ Photo courtesy of MichaelHyatt.com
Comment from Randy Ingermanson:
You noted in your article that you advise against writers trying to promote their work to other writers; instead they should target readers. I agree with this. Early in my writing career, I made the mistake many writers make of adding articles on the craft of writing to my web site. Usually, this is a bad idea, but I got lucky and those articles became immensely popular. At that point, I split off those articles into a second web site and turned it into a business. Hardly any authors do this successfully, but as I said, I was lucky and it worked for me. But it’s generally a bad idea because you should be trying to attract people in the target audience for your fiction, and writers are only a tiny fraction of that target audience.