“You are your own brand. You are selling yourself as an author just as much as you are selling your novels or stories.”
Launch days are stressful. There’s really no other word for it. As an author, I know firsthand how many weeks, months, and sometimes years go into writing a book. Not to mention the oftentimes LONG wait for publication if you take the traditional path.
Launch day is important because so much rides on the initial momentum.
While I am by no means an ‘expert’, I launched two books in 2022, and am in the throes of launching my third. I learned a lot releasing I Loved You Yesterday, book one in the Trading Heartbeats trilogy with Inkspell Publishing. I learned even more launching book two, I Love You Today. And day-by-day, I’m picking up more knowledge as I prepare to release book three, I’ll Love You Tomorrow this April.
If you’re getting ready to release your book—or maybe you have previously launched a book and didn’t garner much success, read on to learn my five cornerstone strategies for a successful release day.
1.) Build a Launch Team. While this seems obvious, it’s become abundantly apparent to me that authors either struggle to find a street team or choose to ignore this foundational tool all together. A launch team is critical for momentum building. Personally, I recommend creating a list of 30-40 individuals who will help you get the word out about your upcoming launch. While this team can include your mom and BFF, it’s wise to include others you may not personally know. Why? Well, it’s likely that both your mom and your BFF share a similar network to you—a network you’re already reaching on your own. In addition, your mom and BFF might not have the same taste in book genres. You’re guaranteed a good review because they’re in your immediate support camp, but you likely won’t get anything more than “I loved it!” While it’s a kind review, it will not entice a buyer on Amazon. Find readers who know the genre and will have genuine comments to share.
Once you have your launch team assembled, create a communication plan spanning 8 weeks prior to your launch date. I use Mailchimp and plan a mailing campaign with strategic checkpoints:
- 8 weeks out: ARC copies delivered in ePUB or PDF
- 4 weeks out: tease and share cover reveal
- 3 weeks out: plea to push presale
- 1 week out: request to have review written and ready to post
- Release day: share, share, share! (and post review)
This schedule works well but can easily be modified to fit your needs. In addition to keeping your team on a timeline, create your own promotional graphics to ease information sharing as much as possible. In the past, I’ve created a private Facebook page and dropped graphics of book reviews, pull quotes, and book teasers in there periodically. If you make it easy for people to help you… you’ll only help yourself!
2.) Leverage Social Media. I have seen several posts from supposed six-figure authors who do not rely on a social media presence to find readers (*try and ignore the irony of that statement!) I use social media as much as I can to help me reach my target audience and make it a goal to post daily the full month leading up to launch day. From cover reveal and presale to post-party photos, I rely on social media to build my brand and keep the buzz going strong. I post graphics with book tropes, teaser reels, pull quotes, small excerpts, and early book reviews (shoutout to Canva!)—and collectively, it builds momentum and reaches new readers across a multitude of platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and even LinkedIn).
3.) Collaborate with Book Blogs & Promotional Services. Releasing a book can be expensive, but keep in mind that every penny you spend isn’t just an invest in your story, it’s an investment in your career as an author. With this perspective, I take advantage of proven book bloggers and promotional services to help me reach readers I can’t find on social media. Using third-party services like these not only guarantees ready readers of romance, but it helps establish and boost my brand on important platforms like Goodreads and BookBub.
I highly recommend Silver Dagger Book Tours, Itsy Bitsy Book Bits, and Romance me with Books (if you’re publishing romance, of course!) Services like these allow you to customize your promotional efforts while still meeting your budget. Be sure you’re booking these services early because they do fill up!
4.) Plan a Launch Party. A party is fun. There’s no doubt about it. I love basking in the moment of a new book release, celebrating with my friends and family. But beyond the moment of celebration, a launch party does more. It helps you build your brand. In an increasingly digital world, readers are oftentimes not local and cannot participate in a hometown celebration. I hire a professional photographer to capture the moment and then I capitalize on the end result later.
A lesson I learned on my path to publication is that readers are not just buying your book… they’re buying you too. You are your own brand. You are selling yourself as an author just as much as you are selling your novels or stories. A launch party is so much more than just a party. You’re leveling up your brand and credibility when your launch party photos appear on social media, on your website, and in your author newsletter. If you appear successful and confident, readers will be drawn to what you have to offer.
5.) Become a PR Pro. Awhile back, I wrote a blog about jumpstarting your author PR. And nothing has changed since the day I penned that advice. PR is one of the most undervalued and unappreciated components of a launch plan (which baffles me!). Authors flock to marketing tactics before a release, but the true value and bang for your buck relies in a solid press release, pitch letter, and a strong media list. I recommend sending a press release to your local media outlets 72 hours in advance of your launch. Invite the press to your party or upcoming author signing. This is FREE exposure and a great opportunity to engage new readers—not to mention another way to level up your brand!
All book launches are nerve-wracking. Will people like my book? Will they say kind things about it? Will they even buy a copy? These questions will plague any author no matter what, but if you follow the 5 cornerstone strategies listed above, you can at the very least take the guesswork out of reaching enough readers to push the momentum further. My very best luck to you!