So, you have completed the hard work of writing your book. Don’t just put up your “masterpiece,” sit back and wait for sales coming in. It’s not how it works. In order to earn money from your book, you need to have an effective launch strategy.
If you are a self-published author, you usually don’t have a big marketing team who can support you and implement many activities at once. Therefore, you need to be very selective on what tactics to use and work only on those who have the highest potential to be effective. I highly suggest you try the tactics I have described in this article. They are used by many successful authors, including, myself and, as you can see in the picture below, have led me to getting #1 Bestselling spots in different Amazon categories.
Step 1 – Build a Landing Page for Your Book Review Copy
The first step in building your launch team is to build a landing page for your book review copy. A landing page is a standalone web page that is created to advertise your book and invite your target audience to support your book’s launch. It’s where people “land” after they click on a link in an email, an advertisement, social media post, or whatever marketing channel you will use.
This is the page where you describe your book, show its mock-up (you can easily create one with these tools), list prerequisites for becoming your launch team member, and the benefits everybody will get if they join.
The good news is you don’t need to have a website to build a landing page (although, it’s good if you have one), because you can build your landing page with GetResponse, Bookfunnel.com, MailChimp or other similar solutions. That will cost you either nothing or a small monthly fee.
This is an example of a landing page of one of my books.
In order to motivate your potential launch team members, you need to offer them something for their effort and time. Here is a list of some ideas:
- The free digital version of your book. If the person belongs to your audience and your book can provide valuable information, this one thing alone can be very motivational. You don’t need any fancy tools to implement this – just a PDF file and an email marketing service, like GetResponse, MailChimp, or other similar solutions. If you want to be more advanced, you can also use Bookfunnel.com that helps to deliver your book file in different formats and offer other automations designed specifically for book authors. They have a yearly subscription fee, but it’s up to you to choose whether you need it. My experience is that it’s OK to have a simple PDF on Google Drive and an autoresponder on GetResponse that automatically delivers the link to your downloadable book.
- A free hard copy of the book delivered right to your most loyal reviewers’ doors. Although it would be an additional cost for you, it might be worth it. You can use a print on demand services for this (for example, Lulu.com or others) so that you don’t need to pay for unnecessary copies.
- If you want to make closer contact with your team and give them additional value, offer a free webinar or a Facebook Live Q&A session. Tell them about yourself, your book, and behind-the-scenes strategies for the launch.
- Create a private Facebook group and invite your launch team members to discuss the issues related to your book launch. Post videos, share posts, and communicate with your team in real time.
The goal is to motivate your team and give them a lot of value so that they feel involved. This will increase their level of commitment, and they will work harder during your book launch week. However, remember to strictly follow the Amazon rules that state:
”You may provide free or discounted copies of your books to readers. However, you may not demand a review or ask for a specific kind of review (for example, 5-star) in exchange for a gift or other material bonuses. The only thing you are allowed to offer is your free or discounted book in exchange for an honest opinion.”
Step 2 – Build Your Launch Team
Start creating your launch team months before the actual launch. It’s optimal to start this process one to two months before the launch. However, you first need to understand what a good launch team is. These are people who belong to your SPECIFIC TARGET AUDIENCE and are ready to participate in your book launch process. I deliberately stressed the words “SPECIFIC TARGET AUDIENCE,” because this is the key factor to your success.
It’s very important to understand your target audience and define it as precisely as possible. It’s not enough to say that your book’s audience, for example, is social media marketers. You need to precisely define whether they are social media marketers who are facing a specific problem or are in a specific stage.
Look at these two examples:
- Experienced social media marketers who need tips on how to create more good-quality content in a shorter time – facing a specific problem.
- Social media marketers who are just starting out and need an introduction on what the principles of good social media content is – being in a specific stage.
Additionally, you can add demographic data, like, age, location, occupation, for example, self-employed, solo entrepreneur, starting blogger, etc.
Why is this important? If your book contains introductory information about social media marketing and you send it to experienced social media managers, most probably, you will get bad reviews because it will sound boring to them. But if you give it to a starting blogger who has no idea what first steps to take, he will be very thankful and give you a good review.
Next, why do you need a launch team? Because you will give them an advance review copy of your book so that they can read through it and write an honest review on Amazon when the book goes live. Amazon favors books with a good review activity. The more reviews your book receives during the launch period and later, the better it impacts its sales and increases the possibility of getting promoted by Amazon in various lists and sections. Many reviews work as social proof that your book is getting read and people are giving a high value to the content.
This is one of the main reasons you need a good-quality launch team because these people will write good reviews during your book launch period. What’s more – they will also give you valuable and honest feedback before your book is launched.
Note that your launch team members must have an active Amazon account with past purchases of at least $50. Otherwise, Amazon won’t allow them to leave a review.
When I launched my book “Book Cover Design Formula,” I had a launch team that consisted of about 50 beginning self-published authors. They all were complete strangers to me. I didn’t know any of them personally. However, when I sent them my book’s review copy, many of them contacted me personally and gave really valuable feedback on the preferable structure of the book, its introduction, and even some grammar mistakes that my editor didn’t noticed. It was really a great experience, and I’m very grateful to them. Moreover, the book made the number one spot in the “Hot New” releases list on Amazon.
So, my opinion is that when it comes to launching a bestselling book on Amazon, the most important activity to invest in is building a stellar book launch team.
The next big question is – where do you find people that belong to your specific audience to join your launch team? This might be a real challenge, especially if you don’t have much of a following, have no email list, and have never launched a book before. So, let’s see what steps you can take to implement a good book launch strategy.
When it comes to finding launch team members, remember that the goal is to find your specific target audience because the quality of feedback is the most important thing. The numbers are not so important.
It’s much better to have 20 people who are committed and ready to support you than 200 that don’t care about your topic and won’t read a word.
The worst thing is if your launch team members do not belong to your target audience and therefore leave negative reviews instead of positive ones.
So, what are the strategies and how do you approach your target audience, even if you don’t have an email list?
Some self-publishing “experts” advise that you involve your friends and family. But I don’t think it’s a good idea. First, because most probably, they are not your target audience; second, because Amazon can find out by IP addresses when a review is published by the author’s relative and will block it. Therefore, this would just be a waste of time. I’m a firm believer in honest reviews by real readers, and I’m proud that all my books and online courses have only honest reviews.
But back to the topic – when I was about to launch my book “Book Cover Design Formula,” I had no appropriate contacts in my email list. Moreover, I didn’t know anybody personally who would be interested in this topic. Therefore, I had to find and invite each contact personally. After several tries and tests, I decided that the most effective way would be by using Twitter. Are you surprised? I’ll explain.
Case Study – How I Used Twitter to Build My Launch Team?
First, I worked on getting self-published authors who are potential readers of my book to follow me on Twitter because you can send direct messages only to your followers. If you want to follow this strategy, you need to start building your Twitter following at least a month before your book launch date. So, if you are preparing for a book launch, make sure your Twitter followers are interested in your book topic, so you can contact them. How did I find them?
I used Twitter search to find those Twitter users who use relevant keywords in their bios and followed them. My assumption was, if a person described himself as an aspiring book author or a cat owner in his profile, then apparently, he is an aspiring book author or a cat owner. Sounds logical?
When you find them, follow them and then wait, if they follow you back. Usually, the follow-back ratio is about 25-30 %, although it depends on your niche, targeting, and profile branding and content. To have better results, make sure you have a good-looking profile and valuable and trustworthy tweets on your profile.
Warning! Don’t follow too many users at once, especially if you have just created your profile. Start with some 30-40 followings and wait for a day before you go on. If you immediately follow too many users, Twitter will block your profile for spamming. Most probably, you will be able to unblock it, but still – why do you need this? If you break any of their rules again, your profile can be permanently blocked, which is not what you want.
Second, when you have at least a few hundreds of followers who belong to your target audience, contact them. In case you don’t have many followers, it will be very easy to identify them manually, but if you have thousands of followers like I do, it might be a problem, because Twitter doesn’t offer an option to search within your own followers using keywords.
In this case, you will need to use Twitonomy.com to find the relevant profiles. Don’t worry, it’s free. Log into this tool with your Twitter account, go to your followers’ section, and then enter your keyword in the search box. You will get the list of all your followers who have mentioned the keyword in their profile bios. Moreover, you can see when they published their last tweet and how active they are. Apparently, there is no point in contacting somebody on Twitter if he hasn’t posted or logged in for several months or even years. Additionally, you can sort them by the number of their followers. It might be useful if you want to contact influencers with a huge following.
You can be even more specific and open each profile and analyze its activity. You will see their latest tweets, users’ most retweeted and replied to, favorites, and the lists the user is following. Therefore, you will have a lot of information about the user and will be able to prepare a really personal direct message or email. Add all the profiles that you want to contact to a separate Twitter list. Then go to Twitter, find the list, and send an invitation to join your launch team to everyone on the list. In case you have trouble with this, watch my video on YouTube with detailed step-by-step explanations.
Third, create your message. When you have found those Twitter followers who have your keywords in their bios, send them polite and personal direct messages with an invitation to join your book launch team. Don’t be afraid of doing the so-called “cold messaging” and getting negative replies. If you are polite and personal and the target audience has been identified correctly, you shouldn’t get negative replies. The most negative answer I got was not answering at all. All other answers were positive – either they subscribe to my launch team list or send best wishes and apologize for not being able to participate because of their busy schedules. I also received some guest blogging invitations, and few bloggers reviewed my book on their blogs.
But, back to the direct message… You can either compose it right in the messenger or create a tweet first, and then forward it with your personal invitation. I forwarded my tweet because it took less time than creating each message individually. But you can choose the option that works best for you.
As a result, I managed to involve almost 50 people who joined my book launch team. After launching my book on Amazon, I got great and genuine reviews, and my book earned the Amazon tag “#1 New Release in Graphic Design of Books”.
So, I would encourage everybody to use a similar strategy for forming their book launch team. I think this is a good example of how a self-published author without an email list can create a small buzz around its book launch and earn great reviews and build relationships. You can use the same tactic either on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or whatever social media platform you feel comfortable with.
Other Practical Techniques to Recruit Your Launch Team
If you hate Twitter or your target audience can’t be found here, there are a few more tactics to use. Let’s look at some of them:
- Facebook groups for book authors – these are groups you can join to make contacts with other authors, ask for advice, invite them to join your launch team, and post your book’s reviews. These communities are usually very supportive and helpful. Just remember to be polite, friendly, and follow the group rules.
- Your niche Facebook groups – find those groups that your audience follows. If you write about cooking, join Facebook groups about cooking. Be active there and share useful information. Look at the people who liked and commented on your posts. Add them as friends and invite them to join your book launch team. You can even be more straightforward and post your invitation on the group feed if that is allowed.
- Use a book reviewer’s platform – use Booksprout to create beautiful landing pages for your book advanced review copy and connect with potential reviewers. Booksprout has its own audience that consists of other authors and people who want to read new books and write reviews. They boast that they have a 75% review rate, so it’ s definitely worth trying. Potential reviewers on Booksprout can browse book covers, titles, and authors to choose the ones they are interested in. Then they can also opt-in to receive notifications when their favorite authors have a new advanced review copy available. This way, you can start building your following on this site. Additionally, Booksprout sends reviewers a reminder a couple of days before the review is due and let them know when a book “goes live.” Authors, too, can directly contact their book reviewers to get feedback and remind them about the upcoming book launch.
- Strive for more – invite people who can help you with promotions and marketing, such as podcasters, bloggers, and influencers in your niche. Unless you are an influencer with a huge following in your niche, don’t go after the biggest influencers that own big companies and have millions of followers. Look for smaller bloggers and micro-influencers who are more open to cooperation with new and unknown authors. When you contact an influencer – remember this is not about promoting yourself but how you can serve them.
- Invite your social media followers and email list subscribers and use any other resources you have to build your launch team. Just keep in mind that they must be your target audience. Don’t ask your friends, relatives, or colleagues to leave reviews on Amazon. Although they can support you by sharing promotional information about your book launch, it wouldn’t be wise to involve them in writing reviews for two reasons. First, Amazon will most probably ban them. Second, if they write reviews and they are not your target audience or actually not interested in your topic, this will confuse Amazon’s algorithm and it will start showing your book in “Also Boughts” by irrelevant audience. For example, if you write about business management and your sister leaves a good review, but she usually buys cooking books, then Amazon will start offering your book to people who are interested in cooking, which you don’t want because they won’t buy it. You want your book to be suggested to people who are interested in buying books about business. This is the reason you need to get reviews from people that belong to your target audience.
So, that’s all for now. Build your book launch team and let me know in the comments how it works!