Tomorrow is a big day for me. My latest novel, the third book I’ve ever written, is being published by Kindle Press. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I submitted and won a Kindle Scout contract. Well now that same book, Dead and Breakfast, will be released to the world. Tomorrow. On Amazon. And I’m anxious, of course, that I won’t sell a copy.
When my debut novel, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, was released, I hosted a Facebook party and invited everyone I knew. My critique partner, with a lovely following, offered to use her blog as a landing space for blog posts and giveaways — all in the name of drumming up sales. And it worked. I sold 50 copies on Amazon and got my ranking down as low as 7K. I know that sounds like nothing, but for a small press book with no name recognition, it was a fabulous start. As a comparison I only sold 14 copies of its sequel, The Lady in Blue, on opening day.
A writer friend of mine said I could just sit back and relax and enjoy the book launch. I got an advance, didn’t I? The marketing is on Amazon to do. Well no, it isn’t. Sure, I received a $1500 advance, but if I don’t earn out that advance and get reviews, who’s to say Amazon will feature me in a promotion? If I don’t appear to be making an effort to market my work, Amazon may not make an effort either.
And this is not just an indie problem. In fact, veteran indie authors often have successful book launches. Some offer up a cheap introductory price to their mailing list which drives up the ranks and gets them a nice spot on the Hot New Releases. Very successful trade authors have big marketing money from their publishers. It’s usually the small potatoes author, hustling to get a following, who struggles.
So, how can one launch a book? There are lots of ways to get attention, some I’ve tried, some I haven’t. But you never know what might work for you. In no particular order, I present ways to launch a book:
Host a Facebook event. It’s easy and no one has to leave their house. Get author friends to offer up prizes and take shifts. The key here is reader engagement, so ask questions. Use your book’s setting to your advantage. My first novel, Grunge Gods, was set in 1996, so I had a lot of fun posting stuff about the 90s.
Host a Twitter party. Pick a unique hashtag and get friends to interact on Twitter for an hour.
Run an Instagram giveaway. This is great for the YA crowd who mostly hang out on Instagram and less so on Facebook where their parents are.
Boost a Facebook post or buy a Facebook ad. Create a graphic on Canva to make the post extra attractive. Just posting to your FB page alone isn’t going to cut it. Unless, of course, you have thousands of followers. I don’t.
I made this nifty one in Canva.
Send out a release day newsletter to your subscribers. I’m in the camp that authors must have a mailing list. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — social media trends ebb and flow, but email feels forever. Sometimes offering up a cheaper introductory price to newsletter subscribers is a great way to drum up early sales and keep people loyal to your list.
Trade spots on author friends’ newsletters. A friend of mine who writes romance novels got a nice boost from her author friends who promoted her new release to their lists. I offered to feature a YA author in my newsletter in exchange she feature me in hers. We both write YA so naturally our audiences may be interested in our respective books.
Announce your book to your professional listservs. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, a mystery author organization. We announce our book launches there. Chances are my fellow mystery authors might be in the mood to read a new mystery and support a fellow author.
You can book promotional spots on some sites who happily feature new releases. I haven’t done this and am not sure its worth the money.
Lastly, yell into the ether and don’t be afraid to ask for help. So often book launches are successful when fellow authors are supportive. If you noticed, many of the ideas I’ve mentioned rely on networking.
There’s probably a myriad of ways to launch a new release. If you know of some I have not mentioned here, please tell us in the comments.
If you’re strictly a reader, I ask that you support an author an author by reading his/her work and telling friends. The best advertisement for an author costs nothing — word-of-mouth.
Tweet: Tips for a successful book launch. http://ctt.ec/Yf86x+ @mysteristas