So you’ve built your audience, you’ve established your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more. You’ve been building your newsletter and your media kit is built. Most importantly, your manuscript has been reviewed by beta readers or a content editor, a line editor, and has a professional cover. Now, it’s time to talk about actually releasing that book! The book release strategies outlined in this post aren’t a one-size-fits-all, and some have worked with one book and haven’t with others. At a minimum, they’ll help you put together your own plan for success.
Six Months Out
Right about when you finish that first draft, you should look half a year out and pick a publish date. This will give you plenty of time to go through the editing process outlined above, plus enough time to get everything ready. Keep in mind this is purely for planning a book release; you should be building your platform long before this.
When building your book release strategies, start with taking an inventory of all your assets. This includes your number of social media followers, street team, and other advertising revenues. Why? Because it will help inform the rest of your plan.
Your next step is to establish a budget. Take a realistic look at what you can spend to promote the book, recognizing that you’re investing in a product, versus just spending money. Include everything in this number–cover design, editing, and advertising. If you’re giving away books, count on shipping (international can run you up to $30). If you’re doing a street team competition, make a budget for prizes and shipping.
Then, put together your vision, objectives, and goals for the book. This planning method is one part thought exercise, and one part schedule-building. By starting at the 10,000-foot-view, you understand what you really want out of your release. And intention is key.
The book release vision can be something general (I want to release Book X on X date) or it can be specific (I want to increase sales/reviews/reach from the previous book).
Your objectives are the big rocks:
- Have finished book ready for upload by X date
- Obtain additional preorders by doing X
- Continue to grow social media presence by doing X
- Test (particular advertising service or marketing ideas)
Your goals are the specific achievements. There may be a little overlap for the objectives, but it’s better to keep them separated. Generally, we like to add actual numbers to the goals to have something to shoot for:
- Book X will be released to editor on X date
- Write 12 blog posts about the book
- Grow reviews on Goodreads to 50
- Increase Twitter to 2,000
- Grow Facebook to 1,000
- Preorder Goals: 100 on Kindle, 15 on paperback, (etc.)
Finally, put together a list of tasks for each goal. This is where your asset inventory and budget come in handy, because you’ll have a list of tools readily available. For increasing preorders, you can create a task to seek out 10 book bloggers for a cover reveal tour, using your Twitter or Facebook followers to ask for help. To increase Twitter following, set a task to find and strike up a conversation with five people per day, etc. Make sure you’ve got space for contacting people, especially if you’re setting up a blog tour or asking for guest posts.
So go execute that plan.
Three Months Out
As we chatted about a while ago, Amazon will only let you upload a book 90 days away from your publication date. Therefore, we like using that as our official “marketing kick-off” date. Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate this milestone:
- Conduct a cover reveal blog tour: Include:
- The cover (obviously) but also a short snippet of the book
- Your own social media and author photo
- A giveaway on Rafflecopter with entrants signing up for your newsletter and following you on social media
- Links to preorder the book. We recommend sending users back to your website, as you may not get access to Amazon’s link until a day before the blog tour goes live.
- If you’re doing physical books, you can get early copies from Ingram. Find a few Instagram bloggers and see if they want to feature your book for a cover reveal.
- Start your weekly blog posts. We’ve found the sweet spot for daily blog posts is about 6 weeks, but at 12 weeks, you can start sharing one day per week. Ideally, you should have all this content written and scheduled ahead of time.
- Start soliciting guest blog posts from authors in your genre
- Encourage your street team to spread the word, as well as your followers. People will be more willing to share new information than older information
- Create a light schedule of social media posts with links to buy your books. It’s better to have secondary content (blog posts or Instagram photos), but the occasional tweet about the book is fine.
- Start a Goodreads Giveaway
- Announce the cover to your newsletter subscribers
- If your book is 100% ready to go, you can grow subscribers by offering a sneak peek at the first chapter by signing up. Recommend that you align this sign up form to a new list so existing subscribers can get access, too.
- If you’ve got a little money to spend, or you’ve got some know-how, put together a book trailer and post it to YouTube
- Make your book available on NetGalley or send it to reviewers and your street team
For the book itself, if you really want to encourage preorders, set it at a special price of $0.99 until release day. You’ll have to determine if the lower profit is worth it, but we’ve seen three times as many preorders at that price, versus full.
Six Weeks Out
Now is when you kick your blogging from weekly to daily. We like to have a mix of content, including posts written by and about others:
- Mondays – A topical blog post about something related to the book
- Tuesdays – Sharing a snippet of the book for #TeaserTuesday, either on the blog or on Amazon
- Wednesdays – Guest blogs from other authors in our genre
- Thursdays – Character profiles
- Friday – #FridayReads, sharing a short review (positive) about other books in the genre
For the blog posts focused on the book, make sure to end each blog post with the cover and how to buy. Use a program like CoSchedule or Buffer to promote the blog posts, and use all your assets in your inventory.
At this point, you should start seeing some reviews come in from your street team and book bloggers. Feel free to share these as appropriate. It goes without saying you will probably receive some lower ratings, although some bloggers don’t share these until after release. Don’t engage or respond to them. Just share the higher rated ones.
You can also use the six week mark to start a Street Team competition, encouraging your team to post their reviews and/or comment on your social media for points to win prizes.
Six weeks is also where you should be setting up all the channels you want to utilize on release day. If you’re doing a book blog blitz on release day, now is when you solicit bloggers. If you want your book included in new release lists, reach out now.
Week Of Release
At one week out, you can increase your social media advertising, both paid and unpaid. You also have six weeks (or more) worth of content to re-share at this point, so reuse the best-performing content.
The night before release, we like to do our Twitter Chats. If we’re promoting a series, this is the time when we do a cover reveal for the next book in the series. If we’ve got it available, we’ll also share the preorder links.
This is where your asset inventory really comes in handy. On release day, make sure you’re utilizing every tool and channel in your arsenal, from YouTube to your street team to your personal Facebook page (be careful with this one; Facebook is persnickety about selling from your FB page).
- Encourage your Street Team to share photos about the book on Instagram, and tweets with #bookbirthday on Twitter.
- Release a newsletter with buy links and information about the next book (if applicable)
- Use that same content on your blog, and set up a one-day release blitz with other bloggers
- Re-share your best performing, non-blog content (Instagram photos, videos, reviews, other blog posts, etc)
- Send an email to the bloggers who have left early reviews on Goodreads first thanking them for doing so, and then gently reminding them to cross-post their reviews to Amazon
- Set up eBook advertising for sites that will accept new books
- If you’ve set your eBook at $0.99, remind your followers that the price is increasing soon
First, congratulations! You’ve worked very hard up until this point and you deserve an adult beverage of your choosing.
The main difference between indie releases and traditionally published ones is the release curve. For Trad pubbed kids, your sales look more like a bell curve. There’s a big boost at the beginning, and then (for most), it dips significantly. For indies, the curve looks more exponential. Even with all this work, you may release your first book to lackluster sales. But that’s why you have ten more waiting in the wings, right?
Our experience is it takes a minimum of three books for a series to take off. So if the first book doesn’t sell well, don’t panic. The old adage goes: Your frontlist sells your backlist. Besides that, you’ve created a whole lot of content that you can use and reuse for the release of the next few books. You’ve built your network more by connecting with more reviewers and growing social media. All of this work you’ve done will pay off, but it make take two or three books to get there.
To keep up the momentum, set up a regular schedule of eBook advertising. We’re big fans of focusing on one book every three or four months, getting about $30 worth of eBook ads, and letting them do the work. Occasionally, if we have other books on sale (like the second book in the series), we’ll also share on our social media. The “tail” of sales lasts for about 90 days, and then it’s time to do it again.
But by then, you should be ready to release your next book, right?