– day 7 –
Prepping Your Launch – the unsexy step most authors miss (and why they fail)
You’re 7 days into this course, or about 90% of your way to a bestselling book launch.
At this point, you have the foundational elements of what you need to successfully launch a book to bestseller.
And this is a big however…
You still need to “prep” the launch.
It’s funny (or sad), but this is the part so many authors skip. They do all the hard work of building out their plan, creating their book sales page, maybe (in a few cases at least) even identifying alternative marketing channels…
Then they launch their book and…
More importantly, how do we avoid the same fate?
Today, I’ll answer both questions. So let’s start at the beginning…
Book Battlefield Preparation…
I spent 9 years in the U.S. Army – 4 years at West Point, 5 years as a commissioned officer.
During my military career I worked at the Platoon and Company level, all the way up to Battalion and Brigade level. Because I had a knack for strategic planning, I became responsible for much of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) training for our Battalion.
One of the first things you learn as you’re going through MDMP (which is another way of saying: creating a plan of attack for an operation), is that no mission starts until you’ve conducted Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (or IPB for short).
IPB is a process where military leaders define the battlefield environment, describe what effects the battlefield will have on friendly and enemy forces alike, evaluate the enemy threat in the area, and determine possible enemy courses of action.
In other words, IPB allows military leaders to get a full picture of what’s going on…which allows us to mitigate the greatest potential risk and failures with our plan BEFORE we move forward with it…
In combat, lives were on the line, so you can bet I took this topic very seriously…
While the stakes aren’t quite so high in book publishing, you can bet the same rules apply to a book launch.
That’s why steps 11, 12, and 13 of The Bestselling Book Launch Sequence are so important – it’s when you put together the remaining pieces of your book launch to make sure everything is lined up and ready to rock and roll for your launch…
And the secret that most bestselling authors know (that most amateurs miss) is that launch day is not the most important day – it’s the days leading up to launch that matter the most.
So let’s get to it…
A Review of The Bestselling Book Launch Sequence
The bolded items are the ones we’ll cover today.
Step 1: Create a Book Launch Sequence Working Document
Step 2: Identify Key Players
Step 3: Set Your Launch Date
Step 4: Clarify Your Goal
Step 5: Centralize all Materials for Your Book
Step 6: Create an Early Notification List
Step 7: Create an Ambassador Group
Step 8: Develop Your Influencers Circle
Step 9: Identify Alternative Marketing Channels
Step 10: Build Your High-Converting Book Sales Page
Step 11: Get Your Book Ready for Distribution
Step 12: Notify Ambassadors and Influencers
Step 13: Final Prep and Pre-Launch Marketing
Step 14: Launch
Step 11: Get Your Book Ready for Distribution
Now that we have the backbone of our marketing and promotional effort ready, it’s time to square away the distribution.
Primary Ways to Distribute Your Book
- Amazon.com (to sell your book on the largest digital book platform in the world)
- Createspace.com (for print on demand)
- Gumroad.com (for selling directly to your audience)
There are of course many other platforms for book distribution, like Barnes and Noble, the Apple store, the Google Play store etc. – but those listed have the greatest reach and marketshare (Amazon + Createspace), and the greatest ease of use (Gumroad.com for direct-to-reader sales), which is why I recommend them.
How to Get Your Book Ready for Distribution
As noted above, there are dozens of ways to distribute your book. Depending on which route you go, you’ll need to collect and assemble that information LONG before your book launch (so nothing goes wrong at the last minute).
If you intend to leverage the market leaders (Amazon / Createspace), here’s what you’ll need to do at a minimum;
- create an Amazon KDP account
- create a Createspace account
- create an Amazon Author account (yes, this is separate)
- secure your ISBN. This comes free if you want to use Createspace as your “publisher”; otherwise it costs about $125 for a single ISBN. Note: you do NOT need an ISBN for a digital-only book (ignore anyone who challenges this statement – they’re wrong).
- generate an ASIN. This is like an ISBN but for digital books – Amazon creates this automatically for you when you upload a book into KDP.
- create your book description
- create your about the author description
- consolidate editorial reviews
- set your pricing and distribution options
- upload final documents and review them online and offline (you should order a physical print copy weeks before launch so you can make changes if need be)
You’ll want to make sure that no matter which route you go – whether digital or physical (or both), direct to your reader, or via a platform like Amazon.com – that all the necessary information is plugged in and ready to go BEFORE launch.
I recommend getting this part setup at least 30 days in advance (more if you’re publishing a paperback or other type of physical print version of your book).
When you do this stuff on a platform like Amazon, there is generally a 24 – 48 hour lag time for most information. That means if you wait till the day before to start filling in your information on Amazon, you may miss your ship date!
This is not a smart move for any author…so please, make sure you do your due diligence and get your distribution channels set up BEFORE launch day.
Otherwise, you’ll feel like this kid when you miss your ship date:
Step 12: Briefly Notify Ambassadors and Influencers
Now that you have everything setup on the back-end for your book launch, it’s time to share your book with Ambassadors and Influencers.
Ideally you want to give ambassadors and influencers 1-2 weeks lead time to read the book. This will give them ample time to read (or at least skim) the book, which will allow them to honestly share it with their audience.
If you’re on a time crunch, I still recommend sharing a free copy with both groups before launch day, even if it’s only a few days in advance (for Dan Norris’ The 7 Day Startup, we didn’t have the book finalized until the week before…it wasn’t ideal, but it worked out fine in the end).
#1. Email your ambassadors a free copy of the book
For ambassadors, I recommend sharing a link to the book that is hosted on Amazon S3 (or an equivalent hosting platform).
That way you can track downloads with something like S3Stat.com (which is what we did for The 7 Day Startup).
Alternatively, you could use LeadPages Leadbox + Lead Magnet delivery feature to capture emails and deliver the book (this might be redundant, but would allow you to track every download, which is helpful).
Also let your ambassadors know when the book officially launches, and to have their review ready to go! Don’t leave a review reminder to the last minute (the day of launch). Instead, let it be know to your ambassadors – who signed up to read, review, and share your book – that you expect a review day one.
Here’s some “swipe copy” you can use for your ambassdors:
* * *
Hey guys, just wanted to let you know NAME-OF-BOOK launches DATE-HERE.
Here’s a free copy of the book (please keep this a secret!!): [link here]
Can you please:
2. write a review (so it’s ready to go on launch day)
Really appreciate all your support thus far, guys. Let me know if I can help out with anything, or if you guys need anything to help with promoting, marketing, and/or sharing the book.
* * *
#2. Share your free book with influencers
There are generally two types of influencers:
- Infuencers you know
- Influencers you don’t know
How to Approach Influencers You Know
Keep the email simple, short, and to the point.
Add a ClicktoTweet (more on how to do this below) to make it painlessly easy to share your book. Influencers are busy people – don’t make them work to support you.
How to Approach Influencers You DON’T Know
First, I don’t recommend cold emailing influencers and asking them to share your book. There is a 99.9% chance you’ll be ignored.
Instead, you want to start months before your book launches, and always lead with GIVING.
Step 1. List out every influencer who has an audience you’d like to reach. If you’ve been working in your industry for a while, this should be an easy list to compile (just think about all the people other people talk about in your niche or industry).
Step 2. Join their email lists and follow them on social media (Twitter, FB, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.).
Step 3. Respond to their newsletter emails and offer your services (sharing, promoting, or otherwise doing something small but useful for them).
Step 4. Reach out on social media – engage personally and in a helpful manner.
Step 5. Continue engaging is an unobtrusive manner, continue to offer help and support, promote these influencers to your list or on your social networks…
Step 6. Now you can send them an email about your book, and let them know you’d like to share a copy with them. Don’t send it until they say yes. If they don’t respond, follow up. A simple email that says “hey, just checking in to see if you got this” is more than enough to remind a busy person to get back to you.
Case Study: The 7 Day Startup
When it came to The 7 Day Startup, we had Dan reach out to every influencer on the list personally and let them know about his new book that would be coming out in a few days, with an offer to share the free book with them. For those people Dan knew well, we shared the book in the email.
For others, we asked if they would like a free copy (otherwise it comes off presumptuous).
In either case, the emails were low pressure and allowed the influencer to choose not to take action.
Here’s an example of an email we sent to certain influencers. I’ve changed and modified it a bit so you can use it for your own purposes.
* * *
Hey *NAME*, how’s it going? Just wanted to let you know my new book is going to be coming out shortly, NAME-OF-BOOK-HERE, and it will be [free? / discounted? / bonus incentive?] for a few days.
Here’s a link to a free copy (please keep this link private): [link to free copy]
I would love your feedback if you get the chance.
And if it resonates with you, a share would go a LONG way.
(no pressure though)
Also, I’m putting together a huge list of free resources here [link your resources section here]. Thought your audience might get some value out of that.
Thanks so much and let me know if I can help you with anything.
* * *
As you build your Influencer Circle you’ll realize you know some influencers better than others.
Those you know better you can be more direct with (I need help spreading the word – please share), but for those you don’t know quite so well, it helps to approach these conversations more politely and get their buy in before you send the free book (I have a new book I think you’ll love – it releases next week but I’d love to give you a free advance copy. Let me know if you’d like one!).
Bonus Points: In some cases, offering a signed copy or physical print of the book will go a long way, creating a much bigger impact. In very rare cases, where the influencer is quite hard to reach but you believe would enjoy your book, finding his contact information and mailing a signed hardcopy and personal note could go a long way (although there are certainly no guarantees).
Step 13: Final Prep and Pre-Launch Marketing
Before you reach your launch date, you’ll want to make sure all marketing and promotional wheels are in motion.
What to do BEFORE Launch
- Confirm everything is finalized and ready for distribution
- Confirm the majority or all of your copy is created (to notify ambassadors, your main email list, influencers, etc. about the launch)
- Confirm you’re not missing something (because we’re almost always missing something).
Here are a few steps to make sure you cover all your bases:
#1. Confirm all files and distribution channels are ready to go
If you’re going the Amazon route, it’s so important everything is ready at LEAST 24 hours out from launch. Amazon’s system takes a while to update when you have new changes.
If you’re going the KDP route, it takes a MINIMUM of 24 hours advance notice to create a free promotion or countdown deal (exclusive to KDP select enrolled books…meaning – you must keep your book exclusively on the Amazon platform for at least 90 days)
#2. Create ALL promotional material for the first few days of the launch and preschedule where appropriate
When the launch happens, your job is to lead the movement. This means building awareness of the release and creating energy and excitement around it. The more excited people are, the more willing they will be to download, review, and share.
For The 7 Day Startup, because we were doing a 5 day free giveaway promotion, we knew we needed 5 days worth of content. While we didn’t write out every email and social media message before we started, we did create key milestones and times that would trigger certain emails.
For example, I would recommend having an email for your newsletter and social media posts (on all platforms) ready for:
- when your book hits #1 in its category
- when your book hits 1,000 sales
- when your book breaks top 100 in Amazon
- second to last day of promo / discount / incentive
- last day of promo / discount / incentive
When your book launches, you want to be everywhere. That’s where it helps to have multiple platforms (blog, newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ etc.) sharing content in multiple mediums and formats (text, images / graphics, videos, etc.).
How to Create Promotional Text
For text, creating ClicktoTweets out of quotes is an easy, effective way to spread the message.
Here’s exactly how you can do it:
Go to Bitly.com to shorten the link to your book – either the splash page or directly to Amazon or whatever platform you’re using.
(Bonus: this is also great for tracking purposes, so you should definitely use it)
Next, go to Clicktotweet.com
Create a ClicktoTweet message that is generic enough that anyone could share, but also encourages people to click through (notice the clear Call-to-Action at the end: “Get it!”).
Also make sure you tag yourself in the message (alternatively, hashtags work fine in a situation like this):\.
Example of what a ClicktoTweet might look like…
Here are some more examples of ClicktoTweets I created for this free course.
Feel free to test them out (and get bonus cool points in the process);
Wow, on day 7 of @tmorkes new book launch course and my mind is melted. Check it out! http://bit.ly/1NKiuwe [CLICK TO TWEET]
Almost finished with @tmorkes course: “LAUNCH YOUR BOOK TO BESTSELLER”- best publishing training online! Check it out http://bit.ly/1NKiuwe [CLICK TO TWEET]
Wow, that @tmorkes guy is so handsome and smart. I wish he was my friend! [You’re really awesome if you CLICK TO TWEET this one]
Creating Promotional Graphics
For graphics, I recommend something like Canva.com if you’re not a Photoshop whiz or don’t have a full-time artist on staff. The best part: Canva.com comes with templates for all your social media needs.
Using something like Canva, you can quickly and easily create a full social media “press kit” – including images and marketing copy to be used on various platforms.
Today we talked about:
- How and why the Army conducts Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB)…and how to apply it to your book launch
- How to get your book distribution channels ready
- How to reach out to ambassadors and influencers so your major marketing effort is prepped before launch day
- Several hacks for creating compelling marketing material (graphics, ClicktoTweets, and more)
- Examples of email and social media swipe copy you can use for your own launch
And now you are ready for the big day: LAUNCH DAY!
Next lesson, we’re going to cover all the things you need to do launch day (and launch week) to skyrocket your book to #1 in Amazon (and keep it there for the weeks and months to follow).
HOMEWORK!!!!! (will only take 12 seconds)
Don’t worry, today is easy (and should take you approximately 12 seconds to do).
In the comments below, answer the following two questions:
- What distribution channels are you using? Amazon? Createspace? Apple? Google Play? Gumroad?
- Why did you choose this channel?
Oh, and if you’re not sure of the above, let me know. I am happy to talk through the pros and cons of the various distribution channels out there (as well as help you figure out alternative distribution channels not covered today).
This free course is your oyster, so take advantage!
See you in the comments…
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