Last updated  :  | By Terry Shepherd

Planning a Book Launch

Got a new title coming soon? Here’s a no-nonsense checklist to spin up a memorable launch campaign that will sell books.

  1. Get your “Amazon On.” Create a killer blurb. Choose the right keywords. Ensure that your manuscript and cover look great. Agonize over pricing. Preload everything into KDP but don’t press the publish button until you are ready to go live. Pro-tip: When you do go live, immediately add your book to your Amazon Author Page.
  2. Create your promo page on BookFunnel. Use your Amazon blurb there and make sure to upload multiple file types for users of different digital platforms. If your plan allows it, harvest email addresses before you allow downloads.
  3. Update your biography. Write it so it is easy for others to truncate if they need a shorter version. Remember that, while you are promoting a product during the launch, YOU are the brand. Your bio should reflect that.
  4. Line-up your book blogger and podcaster list in advance. When you reach out, customize your cover email based on what you know about the individual and their blog/show. We can smell a bulk email a mile away and skip over it. Make yours appreciative, authentic and brief.
  5. Anticipate questions and pre-write your answers. Always direct the conversation back to the book.
  6. Get out and talk about it. Build your list of local libraries, book clubs, bookstores, service clubs and media contacts. Create a 15 minute “TED Talk” style presentation that resonates with your audience. Think about the programs that have most inspired you and clone them FOR THE SPECIFIC AUDIENCE. Marshall Kemp’s “Changing Careers” is a great example. We came because we wanted to learn from him but we went away wanting to read his books. What you talk about at a library will be different from what you talk about to a high school writing class.
  7. Celebrate with a launch party. Your best reader friends will love it. Find a local coffee shop with the right vibe, enough space for your anticipated guest list and an interest in building event traffic at their venue. They will likely promote the event on their website and can brainstorm with you about how to best use the space.
  8. Use a service like Eventbrite for sign-ups. They aggregate activities by geographic area and promote them on their website and in search. You will get new fans with this approach and the RSVP list will give you a sense for attendance ahead of time. The email addresses can also be imported to your mailing list.
  9. Invite other author friends to speak briefly about your book and you. We all are attracted to self-promotion and there’s no higher love than to be included in another author’s circle.
  10. Invite the owners of your local bookstores to join you. Point them out and give them sixty seconds to talk about their shop.
  11. Give things away. This is where swag, autographed copies of your past books and free download links are golden.
  12. Have a friend video and take pictures of everything. Post with hash tags on your social media channels in real time. Use the best images in a follow up thank-you email.
  13. Line-up 50-60 people who will agree to post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads within 30 days of launch. Only about one in three will actually do it, but that gives you the 15-20 reviews you’ll need to generate traction. Encourage your fans to visit your Amazon Author Page during the first two months after launch. Reviews and page views impact your placement and placement on Amazon sells books.
  14. Don’t tackle this alone. Your street team, if you have one, can help with the execution. If you don’t have one, recruit friends who get things done to assist. If that’s problematic and your budget allows, consider hiring an event coordinator. You should be focused on working the room and talking about your book. Get others to sweat the operational details.

Your launch is just the first chapter in your promotional plan. The marketing window for a new product can stretch past six months. Next time, we’ll talk about how to keep your title front of mind after the party is over.