by Guest Blogger Lynn Baber
Launching a book is like planning a wedding; you begin with the event date and work your way backwards. Authors who achieve success within their own lifetime get their books into the hands of readers, obtain feedback, and use reader comments to fine tune promotional plans.
The first step toward your book release is high quality photography.
Invest in a flattering head shot, a great book cover, and a variety of action shots designed to either promote you as an authority or showcase the content of your book. Assemble an album of high-resolution .jpeg images to use online and for printed materials.
Each published element on your road to launch day and every promotion must include the book cover and author photo or attention-grabbing content shot.
2. Analyze the Competition
What three books offer the most competition or greatest appeal to your readers? Study them. Consider writing a series of comparative articles that contrast your new book with those titles. Potential readers will ask if you’ve read your competitor’s work and will ask how your book differs. Have an intriguing and intelligent answer prepared.
Use these articles as a topic for speaking engagements and online posting. Where do readers find references to your competition? Are you planning to be in these same places?
If competing authors have already cleared a path why spend time and money blazing a new one? Readers can’t choose your book over the others if it isn’t listed, promoted, or mentioned in the same places.
3. Coordinate Book Formats
If your book will have multiple formats (Kindle, print, audio, downloadable file) maximize your marketing response by scheduling your launch when all versions are ready, not when the first one is ready.
4. Prepare a Niche Marketing Plan and Reader Profile
Don’t just give lip service to niche marketing. BELIEVE IT. OWN IT. Ignore it at your own peril. The direct path to failure is marketing your book to everyone you think should read it.
Promotional materials must showcase you or your book and not the publisher. Bookmarks, one-sheets, push cards, websites, videos, and press kit elements must be targeted, have a specific purpose, share a common message and include your contact information.
Be prepared to give away a number of books in order to kick-start the feedback loop. People read the same books their friends, colleagues, and rivals read.
If you’re not sure what your niche is, define and describe the characteristics, attributes, challenges, needs, location, and lifestyle of the person most likely to benefit from reading your book. Ask the folks who have already read your book for their thoughts.
5. Gather Reviews and Testimonials
Plan a soft launch well ahead of your release date to gather reader response, reviews, critiques, and accolades so you can set the proper tone for the formal launch and target the proper audience for your book. What you gather in this step provides the foundation for your promotional materials.
Your most valuable marketing research tools are people who have already read your book. Readers will tell you what it’s about, why they read it, which parts are the best and which ones to rewrite if you ever do a second edition.
6. Honestly Inventory Your Weaknesses and Strengths
Do you have an extensive client list of people or organizations that are waiting breathlessly for your book? Are you a good schmoozer in a crowd? Can you sell your message to an audience? Are you prepared to ad lib a radio interview?
Search for opportunities where you will shine! Weight your promotional calendar more heavily with virtual interviews and online seminars if you are a brilliant writer who needs to polish rusty speaking skills.
Load your calendar with events, interviews, speaking engagements, and appearances. Many authors sell more books to people who attend their events than all other avenues combined. Book events to coincide with your release date. In other words, get the bride and groom to the wedding at the same time.
7. Produce Coordinating Marketing Materials
Every printed piece, photo, video, website, and online post must have a call to action, a purpose, and fit into your marketing mix as a whole. Each promotional piece should coordinate and complement every other piece to produce a clear and cumulative call to respond.
Small intimate weddings don’t require as much preparation as elaborate affairs. If you plan a huge launch, begin preparing and executing your plan well in advance of the actual release date.
Your book only has one opportunity to make a first impression. Make it great!
Author of four books, Lynn Baber, is a retired World and National Champion horse breeder and trainer who shares messages of worthy leadership and right relationship online, in print, and in person – often in the company of horses.