If you have looked over my posts on marketing and have an idea of how you want to proceed, that’s great. But what if you don’t? What if the whole issue looks convoluted to you?
I have some suggestions for a product launch tailored to a novel.
First of all, make sure your novel is terrific. You want to set up a system where people tell their friends and it goes viral. But that won’t happen if the novel is so-so.
- With your publisher, choose a publication date six months away or more. (This can be after the one set by your publisher. Ask the publisher to hold the book until you are ready. )
- Set up your author Facebook page and your author website, if you haven’t already.
- Send copies out for review six months in advance. Carefully choose bloggers whose readers match your desired readers. Ask them to refrain from posting if it will be a negative review, and ask them to post right after the launch date, within a five-day target window. Ask them to mention a discounted price for that launch window. Ask them to put a version of the review, if favorable, on Amazon and Goodreads.
- Ask your publisher to send copies for review to Publishers Weekly and American Library Association six months ahead of publication date. These must be hard copy books, not ebooks. You can’t send these after publication date.
- Choose “endorsers,” published authors who know you and are willing to read your book for possible endorsement on the cover. Send them the book six months ahead of time. Ask for the response in four months. (Note: these give an endorser exposure, so authors may look favorably on the request.)
- Decide: will you do a newsletter? Or rely on social media? If you’re relying on social media, recruit a group of fellow authors to help promote your book. Promise to promote theirs when the time is right. Make a Facebook group. Get organized and think of great promo ideas. Build the anticipation for your wonderful book. And get some more ideas from others!
- If you’re doing a newsletter, set up a newsletter emailing account six months ahead of launch. Put a form on your website’s front page to capture email addresses, offering free content attractive to your potential readers. Start writing your newsletter as soon as you can. Monthly is the least often you can send it and still be somewhat effective. You can use similar content for your blog.
- Set aside an ad budget. Advertise your freebie to targeted people to get newsletter signups from people you don’t know, hopefully readers. You are targeting only the people who will want to buy your book, your future fans. Have a profile for them? If not, develop one.
- Use the newsletter to talk up your novel and give plenty of useful related info for readers. Maybe some of the research you did, interesting facts. Interview your characters and give a preview. Share your trailer.
- Prepare a launch day package with substantial discounts only for those who buy the book during the launch window of several days. Add a freebie, maybe a short-story prequel or sequel, only for those buying in the launch window. Suggest that people forward the info to their friends, so they can take advantage of the freebie and discount.
- Consider strategic use of Amazon’s KDP Select program, see below.
- Launch the book.
- Link on your Facebook page and website to your favorable reviews. Keep a list of these reviewers and be sure to send them your next book when the time comes.
- After the launch window (five days?), return the item to its original price.
- To help promote future books, plan to keep issuing the newsletter at least monthly so that people recognize it in their inbox and don’t mark it as spam.
Amazon ebook giveaways
Amazon currently has a program called KDP Select where authors and publishers agree to let Amazon have exclusive rights to distribute the ebook for 90 days. In exchange, Amazon does some promoting of the book and also allows you to choose five days during which the ebook would be offered for free.
Personally I am not sure this is a good idea. Why give away your core product? That’s your bread and butter. Give away a related smaller item, yes, but not what you hope is a gold mine.
However, some debut authors have gotten some great publicity by giving their novel away, including Jim Rubart on his novel Rooms which hit the NYT Bestseller List. And then there were the Chicken Soup for the Soul authors who to start out gave away tons physical books to everyone they met, and eventually also hit the bestseller lists. These had to be so good that the receivers passed them on to their friends and talked about them.
One friend who has tried KDP Select says she won’t do it again, because she found that the sales weren’t enough from the KDP Select program to offset the requirement that the ebook release had to be exclusive to Amazon.
Any feedback from you, reader?
As an alternative, you could discount the e-book to 99 cents for a brief time, or $1.99, or $2.99. Poll the people you know. What price point would cause them to buy from an unfamiliar author?
I have heard of authors who are disappointed with the sales results of blog tours. Perhaps it’s because the bloggers we know tend to be writers, and the elusive readers are somewhere else. Or? Any comments on that?
Next Monday: more ideas about Facebook book launches.