What I Learned About Reaching Book Launch Goals

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I've learned quite a bit about book launching since my first book baby was released in January 2016. Let's talk about the number one thing every author needs for a successful book launch.

When I was five or six years old, I spotted the coolest ad I had ever seen in the weekly newspaper. It was an ad for 8 Dr. Seuss classics plus an insanely adorable red book carrying case. Immediately, I did what every child does at that age: I begged my parents to buy the set for me. 

It felt as if an eternity went by but the day finally came. I was sitting on the bottom bunk of my caramel colored bunk bed set when my parents entered my room. My mom was carrying that coveted book carrying case and those soon-to-be life-changing books.  

Now that I am an adult, I still enjoy waiting impatiently for a new book to grace my mailbox. However, I’m not waiting for pretty, red carrying cases or a set of classic children’s books these days (although, who can resist a good Goosebumps or Nancy Drew book?). Instead, I’m waiting for copies of my own creation. 

For months, I have worked tirelessly to put together my latest creation, Write. Reflect. Create.: 250 Writing Prompts for the Creative and Introspective Writer. If you’ve been following my journey for a while, you’ll know that in October 2016 I started a writing prompt challenge called “Write. Reflect. Create.”

Eight or so women signed up to be part of the three-week writing challenge, and I was very pleased with the engagement. The most touching moment was when a participant expressed sadness at not being able to continue our challenge since the three weeks were done. I wasn’t expecting that response but it inspired me to create my next book. 

I’ve learned a lot since writing and self-publishing my first book baby, 11 Ways to Jumpstart Your Thinking. One of the major lessons I learned is that no author can reach her book launch goals without support. 

You may be wondering what “support” looks like.

Support doesn’t necessarily mean “purchase the author’s book” (although, we do want our readers to do so!). If you’ve ever wondered how you can garner support for your next book baby, I have a few ideas for you.

Create a Thunderclap campaign. 

I didn’t know about this when I self-published my first book but I’m glad I know about it now. A Thunderclap campaign is similar to a Kickstarter campaign although there isn’t any money involved. Instead of giving money, supporters give you permission to have an automated message post once to their Facebook timeline or Twitter feed on your book’s release date. You can check out my current Thunderclap here to get an idea of how to create your own.

The only catch, my friend, is that if you don’t have the number of supporters you wanted by your release date, the automated message won’t post to anyone’s social media platform. While you and I may be screaming about how beneficial our books are to the world, nothing beats having others scream it loud and proud for you. Once you set up your Thunderclap campaign, it’s time to think about other ways to garner support and meet your book launch goals. 

Host or attend someone else’s event. 

Selling books digitally is a great way to make passive income; however, authors can’t rely on the internet alone to make waves. Sometimes, you gotta host an event or agree to be part of someone else’s to reach your supporters. 

Think about the themes your book is centered around. If you can’t be part of someone’s event (as a vendor, speaker, etc.), consider hosting your own. As I mentioned earlier, no author can reach her goals without support. This means you may need to collaborate with a few author pals and host an event based on the theme of your choice.

Have a reading of each book and a Q & A segment. End your night with a few refreshments and a time for the event goers to purchase merchandise from each author. I’ve learned from experience that readers are more likely to purchase if they make a connection with you. What easier way to make that connection than through an in-person event?  If events aren’t your thing, there are other ways to garner support.

Create a book launch team.

I did not have a book launch team for my first book because, quite frankly, I was too afraid. I was afraid of asking others to pitch in and help me spread the word about something I created. I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of a team. 

Can I just stop for a moment to tell you something? 

We will never be perfect. We will always have the opportunity to learn from our actions and find a better way to pull off our goals. Although I created a detailed written book launch plan for Write. Reflect. Create., I promise you, I haven’t been able to accomplish every single activity. Most of the items I haven’t accomplished are because I am realizing it’s quite difficult to do everything as a solopreneur who can’t quite hire out yet. For future projects, I will need to give myself more time to pull off a few more tasks. 

In the meantime, I can entrust my beloved book launch team to at least take care of some marketing efforts for me. 

What are some tasks a book launch team can accomplish?

Apart from backing your Thunderclap campaign (because you are doing one, right?), a book launch team can help distribute flyers. Yes, social media is important, and we should leverage its power; however, don’t underestimate good old fashioned flyers. 

If you know your audience, then your team can distribute the flyers to places around town where your readers frequent. If your book is for parents, see if your local library will allow you to post your flyer on their bulletin board. If your book is about fitness, have your launch team distribute flyers at local gym facilities or in sporting goods stores. 

Your book launch team can also help by spreading the word about your book release and launch party (you ARE having one, right?). Create shareable graphics with all the details about your upcoming book release and launch party. Make sure you create different sized graphics for each platform you choose to use. A Twitter graphic size is completely different than one for Facebook or Instagram. Trust me, the last thing you want is to have part of your graphic cutoff of Instagram because you went with one sized for Facebook! (Am I the only one who’s made that mistake?)

Another task your book launch team can handle is conducting a beta reading and providing critiques before you send your manuscript off to be professionally edited. That scene you thought would be a hit may actually cause confusion, and your team can let you know their thoughts. 

Your team can even write a review for you on Amazon or Goodreads on your release day. Sometimes, Amazon ratings can help authors land future gigs (ie. a speaking event, a book deal with a major publishing company). This is one reason many indie authors seek honest Amazon reviews. So, the next time you finish that amazing book, do your author friend a favor and write an honest review on Amazon. 

There aren’t any formulas for “the perfect book launch” because what works for one author may not work for you. However, you’ll never know what works for you and your readers until you give your launch all you’ve got. Write out your plan in detail and find the supporters you need to help you reach your book launch goals. 

If you're interested in helping me spread the word about Write. Reflect. Create., I have four different ways you can help:

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Learn more about what you can expect to find in my upcoming writing prompt book here.

Have you published a book? What did you do to intentionally gain supporters/readers for your book baby? What worked well for you? What didn’t? Let us know in the comments below! (Remember, this is a no stone casting side of the Internet.)