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How to have a successful book launch

With ebooks it’s harder to have a proper book launch. Amazon doesn’t let you put an ebook up for pre-orders unless you’re one of the big 6 publishers. The rest of us just have to pick a day and upload it and that becomes our published date. Then you have to wait for the Amazon bots to process the book and publish it, which can take anywhere between 6-24 hours.

This makes it quite hard to build a hype towards the launch date to get the boost from initial sales to all the loyal fans waiting for the next book. There is, however, ways around this.

So far I’ve had a fair amount of success in picking a day about 1-2 weeks after the ebook appears for sale on amazon and making a facebook event for this day. This becomes the books ‘official’ launch day.

Having it so far after the upload day gives people time to get a few reviews, build hype and also make sure as many people as possible hear about it. (believe it or not, not everyone is on facebook) So here’s my step by step guide to a good book launch once the books published.

Step 1

Set up your facebook event. Use the front cover as your event picture and ‘the name of the book- book launch’ as the title. Location, the internet and fill in the details of the event with the date you want everyone to buy the book, why that day (it makes the amazon advertising robots go into overdrive if you have lots of sales in one day) the blurb of the book and the link to it on amazon. Also if you have any reviews already you can add choice comments from those, making sure to credit the reviewer.

Once your review is set up, consider having a friend to help you on the day and invite them and make them a host too. This is optional but it can be tiring running the event by yourself the entire launch day. Tag teaming with someone can be a great way to keep the buzz without having to be glued to the computer for 15 hours of the day. Do make sure you trust them to be encouraging and not rude while also singing your praises too.

Invite all your friends on facebook, and I really mean all. If they don’t like being invited by you beause you’re happy you’ve published a book and take offense at it they aren’t worth having as friends, in my personal opinion. Obviously use your discretion if you’ve got some friends on facebook that are actually only business contacts. I’ve assumed all your friends on facebook are all friends, family or non business acquaintances in some kind of way.

Step 2

Email anyone else who isn’t on facebook that’s a friend or family member and give them the details in your facebook event and the link to amazon. Let them know the date and thank them for their time. Also if there is anyone else you know who might be interested and you’ve not got them on facebook (or other social network) and email then send them a text with the details and the name of the book, again thank them.

Step 3

Ask 3-5 people right away to read and review the ebook, provide free copies if necessary. Make sure they’re not going to just be friends gushing about how long they’ve known you and that they always knew you’d be successful. You want honest reviews from people who know how to review well to get you started. This is easier when you’ve had a few books out because you an approach people who’ve reviewed earlier books but in the case of the first book, try any other authors/writers you know and make sure you point out you want an honest review. Getting loads of friends to give you 5 star reviews regardless won’t actually help at all. People see through it!

Step 4

Every day or two post something in the event on facebook. Ask friends who are coming to invite any of their other friends who might be interested. Post links and excerpts from the reviews as they come rolling in and chase any slow reviewers a couple of days before the event.

Step 5

The 3 days before do a count down on the event and I don’t mean hourly just the number of days to go. It’s also a good time to post a link to something like the list of kindle apps on amazon and remind people they are free and also work on computers. It’s surprising the number of people who don’t know this. I’ve been published over a year and posted the link to the apps a number of times but I still find at least one person every couple of weeks who doesn’t realise they can read my ebooks.

On the day before the event check all your reviews are on amazon where people can see them and post on your blog about the launch event. Also text everybody who’s only reachable that way again and towards the end of the day send another gentle reminded email to your email invitees. Then get a good nights sleep and put the bottle of champagne in the fridge to chill. Include reviews if you’ve not done so already.

If there are one or two friends you know really well who are going to buy the book really early, maybe even just after midnight, ask them if they’ll read the book quickly and post in the event when they’ve done with a small snippet of what they thought, even if that’s later evening on the actual day.

Step 6

Launch day. Get up reasonably early, depending on the day. You can get up later on the weekend but you want to be up before most of your attendants so you can post to the event page and tell people it’s time to start buying. You can also coordinate this with your helper if you have one. I’ve been a helper and got up first so posted that message for the author. It doesn’t matter as long as people know it’s time.

So far I’ve always found there’s quite a spike in the mornings about the same time as the initial message. Then every couple of hours I post the amazon rankings (check them every hour and note them down somewhere, or take screenshots), especially if they shoot up quickly, making sure to thank people. Don’t start with the overall ranking unless that’s all you’ve got to go with. It sounds a lot better to say I’m 69th in the fantasy section of kindle. If your ranking gets above a few thousand then by all means include it, even point out the million or so books it’s out of.

Also like and thank any time anyone puts that they’ve bought it on the launch page. It will encourage others to do and make the person who has realise how grateful you are.

Finally if it gets to about 4-5pm in the afternoon and no ones posted to say they’ve finished reading, check on your few friends who you asked before to read quickly. Give them a very gentle nudge to post something, possibly even if they’ve not finished. This can often boost sales from the people still making their minds up. The ones who stilla ren’t quite sure that you’re the amazing author you say you are.

When others start enthusing they will be more likely to buy it. I had a lot of success with this on the last book launch I did, about 3pm someone posted they had finished and that they loved the book. Less than two hours later another couple posted the same thing and there was another very large sales spike, almost as big as the starting spike which catapulted the book up the rankings a lot further. I’ve no doubt that it wouldn’t have happened without the recommendations coming in.

Step 7

At the very end of the day, just before the event is going to close, post the highest ranking you achieved that day, maybe a new reivew or two and a thank you message to everyone who helped. This bit’s all about good manners and that triumphant we did it feel. Make sure it’s toned to say ‘we did it’ rather than ‘I did it’. Then go crack open that bottle of champagne in the fridge and as a very awesome guy (Ben Cooley from Hope for Justice) I know said recently, celebrate what you want to replicate.

Step 8

Yup, you’re still not done. A few days later when some people have had time to read your new ebook (give different lengths of time depending on the length of the book, but no longer than a week) post a status asking thos readers who bought it and have read it to give some reviews. Stress being honest again and that you are very grateful.

That’s the job done. With any luck it will get your book off to a good start though you probably can’t expect your book to stay that high unless you’ve had a few successful books already. All I’ll say is this has worked well for me. I hope it works for others too.

Of course Print book launches done yourself are a whole other kettle of fish and not one I feel qualified to speak on yet.