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The first 30 days after your book’s release date are the most important days of your book’s life.
If you are an indie author, the first 30 days are your coveted chance to earn the “#1 New Release” badge on Amazon. Readers are suspicious of books that don’t have many reviews unless they are new releases. If your book does not have a few dozen reviews before your launch window ends, it becomes increasingly difficult to get sales and reviews as time passes.
If you are traditionally published, the first 30 days of your book’s life determine whether bookstores keep your book on the shelf or return it to the publisher. If your book sells well in those first 30 days, bookstores will order more copies and may even start to promote your book in the store. If sales stagger, they will return all copies to the publisher.
Whether you are indie or traditionally published, a strong launch of a well-written book leads to good sales, which leads to even more sales. To paraphrase a parable from the Bible, “To him who has strong sales during his launch, more sales will be given. But to him who has poor sales during his launch, even the sales he thinks he made will be returned.”
A weak launch and poor initial sales often kill an author’s career. Sadly, it may take years for them to realize it.
How can you get your sales to spike right out of the gate?
An ancient fable tells the secret of a good launch:
One summer day, a grasshopper danced and played while on the other side of the ground, a colony of ants was hard at work, storing up food for the winter. The grasshopper invited the ants to play, but the ants replied, “We don’t have time to dance and play. We need to prepare for the winter, and so should you.”
“Stop worrying so much! There’s plenty of food and time to prepare for winter. Let’s enjoy life,” the grasshopper responded.
The ants just ignored him and got back to storing up food.
That year, winter came sooner than expected, and soon all the food above ground was gone. The grasshopper found himself without anything to eat, so he went to the ants’ house begging for food.
“I’m sorry we can’t help you,” said the ants. “We don’t have enough food to feed a creature as large as you. If we tried, we wouldn’t have enough food for ourselves.”
“I should have followed the ants’ example in the summer. I would be so happy now,” the grasshopper thought sadly as he starved to death.
The moral of this fable of Aesop is to prepare now for future challenges.
Preparation is also the key to a good book launch. It’s not as much about knowing what to do as it is about preparing ahead of time. Both are important, but preparation is key.
Why do you need a book launch?
Launching your book is like storing up food for the winter. It takes time to get everything in place. A good book launch is like a snowball rolling from the top of a mountain, triggering an avalanche. You want the launch to lead to greater momentum and success.
Such momentum ultimately makes your book a bestseller.
What is the difference between launching and planning?
If you have a big platform, you can have a big launch. In preparation, you prepare the platform for the launch. A small homemade rocket doesn’t need much of a platform to launch from, but a space shuttle needs a giant, concrete platform.
Your launch will succeed to the degree that your platform has been prepared. A larger platform means you can conduct a bigger launch.
If your launch is well-executed, it will actually grow your platform.
No matter how big or small the platform is, every successful launch first requires a good book. A good launch will only help a bad book fail faster.
Your book must be a “good book,” according to your readers. It doesn’t matter if your agent, editor, or publisher thinks it’s a good book. It doesn’t even matter if you believe it’s a good book. Your book must be the kind of book your readers want to buy and finish reading. It needs to be the kind of book they finish quickly because they can’t wait to tell their friends about it.
Secrets of Book Launching
Secret #1: You may not need to launch your book for it to succeed.
Some authors use other methods to help their books succeed.
Many professional indie authors spend $10,000 or more on advertising and have a tremendously successful book. They don’t use the book launch method partly because they are writing so many consecutive books but also because their advertising strategy is already operational.
Indie authors with well-oiled advertising engines know which keywords to target, what copy to use, and who to target. They’re able to “buy readers” at a low cost-per-reader through advertising, and they don’t have to do a big book launch. They save the time and money that would’ve been spent on a launch, and they spend it on advertising.
But, if you haven’t yet spent $1,000 profitably on advertising, you can’t spend $10,000 profitably. Success through advertising is an advanced technique. When you have $50,000 in the bank from the sales of your previous books, it’s far less risky to spend $10,000 on a month of ads.
Be cautious when you hear advertising advice from an author who spent $10,000 on ads for their twentieth book. Their advice probably doesn’t apply to you and your first book. If you haven’t made any money from your books so far, it’s risky to spend $10,000 on advertising. You have no guarantee that those ads will pay for themselves.
The rapid release strategy does not work as well as it used to. Authors used to release a series of new books within a relatively short period of time as a way of juicing the Amazon algorithm.
Occasionally, it still works for authors who can write fast, but it only works for authors who can truly write a good book every two or three months.
I don’t recommend rapid release, and you can learn why in my episode on Why Rapid Release is a Risky Book Launch Strategy.
As time passes, rapid releases work for fewer and fewer authors. For every person who makes it work and makes a lot of noise about it, there are hundreds who quietly fail and don’t tell a soul.
Every author hopes that someone famous will recommend their book. If a well-known personality mentions your book on their TV show, podcast, or in a speech, your book sales will rocket! Of course, you want that to happen, but you can’t make it happen.
Interestingly, you’re more likely to experience such luck if your sales are strong in the early days after release. If your launch helps your book garner a lot of word-of-mouth buzz, famous people are more likely to find out about your book and mention it.
Oprah will only recommend your book if one of her friends tells her to read it. It’s no use sending Oprah a copy of your book because she probably receives 100 books every day. She can’t read that many. But if one of her friends tells her about a book (word-of-mouth), she’s much more likely to read and recommend it.
A book launch is the most reliable promotion strategy for most authors, no matter your genre or publishing path.
Secret #2: A good launch takes time to prepare.
If you’re traditionally published, you have no choice but to wait for the release day to arrive. After you finish your book, your publisher and the publishing process forces you to wait 9-12 months before the book releases.
I see many traditionally published authors sitting on their hands during those months, expecting their publicist will do all the work for them. That is a mistake.
You want to build your launch plan with your publisher while you wait for the release date. In fact, you can have a meeting with your publisher to talk through your written launch plan. Use those intervening months to prepare with your publisher for your launch.
Indie authors often make the mistake of publishing the book right after it’s finished. They’re so excited about their first book. In most cases, they’ve been dreaming and working on it for years. They can’t wait to get it out. They finish the edits and upload the book to Amazon, hoping people will find it.
It’s probably the most common mistake I see authors make early on in their careers. Almost every indie author makes this mistake unless I’m able to get to them first.
The problem with simply uploading your first book to Amazon is that 1,000 new books are published on Amazon every day.
Do you know about any of the new books published today? No, you don’t. Neither do I, which means that being on Amazon is like putting a sign in your front yard, hoping to sell books. No one will see it.
Your book could be the greatest book in the world, but if you don’t have a way to put it in front of readers, they won’t know about it. If they don’t know about it, they can’t read it. If they don’t read, they won’t talk about it, and the book is tragically dead.
Book launching is a bit like farming. It takes time to prepare the soil and plant. It takes more time for the crops to grow.
In the same way, it takes time to build an email list and set up media interviews that are scheduled to air around the release date. It takes time to recruit and train a launch team.
No one skimps on the last edits because it’s so obvious. You see the track changes suggestions, and you work your way through the edits. But if you’re not careful, your edits will kill your launch.
You can’t put together a strong launch while you’re still working on your book because you won’t have enough time. The book launch plan gets squeezed out.
Give yourself some time. I recommend allowing six months, give or take two months, depending on how prepared you are. Less than three months of preparation is really pushing it.
If you have the time, money, and energy to work on your book launch full-time, you may be able to pull it off within three months, but I recommend putting it off. Whenever I hear that an indie author is about to publish their book, I try to convince them to delay their launch. They never want to hear it.
But I’ve also never had an indie author come back to me and say, “I should have launched sooner.” They often say, “I should have waited. I should have had a stronger launch.”
I’ve never heard an indie author say, “I spent too much time preparing for the launch.” If that’s your story, I’d love to hear from you. I’m curious.
A book launch works, and it can work for you if you allow yourself the time to do it right.
Secret #3: Effective book launches are weird.
A good book launch plays to your unique strengths, weaknesses, and author brand. If you’re copying someone else’s launch, you’ll be weird and unique in all the wrong ways.
How do you create a custom book launch plan that plays to your strengths and your audience and fits your book?
We’ll teach you how in our most popular course, the Book Launch Blueprint. James L. Rubart and I will be your instructors.
We open the course to new students once a year, and registration is now open for the 2022 Book Launch Blueprint.
The Book Launch Blueprint is a 28-day course. All students work through the material at the same pace. Each day, you’ll have the opportunity to share your homework and receive input from fellow students who have been working on the same assignment.
By the end of this course, you’ll have gleaned ideas from your instructors as well as your fellow students. I love watching the interaction between students every year. Authors are so encouraging and helpful to each other. Sometimes our students even join each others’ launch teams.
Book Launch Blueprint Course Overview
Each module of the four-week course is based on a weekly theme.
- Week 1: Ready
- Week 2: Set
- Week 3: Go
- Week 4: Run
We provide highly-edited videos that present the material clearly, and then we follow up with interactive office hours when you can ask your questions and get answers.
You’ll get a lesson and homework assignment on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Office hours will be held each day at various times in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate students in other parts of the world. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, either Jim or I will host office hours.
On Wednesdays, you’ll have a catch-up day, and Jim and I will host office hours together. There will be no new assignments or videos on Wednesdays. Office hours are, of course, optional, but they are also extremely beneficial to all students and add so much value to the course.
Week 1: Ready
Monday: Session #1 How to Sell Yourself (Updated for 2022)
Some book launches fail because the author feels guilty about promoting their book. You can’t successfully launch a book if you feel guilty about launching a book. Before we discuss any other aspects of book launching, we must first address the important issues surrounding guilt and promotion.
Tuesday: Session #2 How to Create a Breakthrough Author Brand
Jim and I tackle branding from two different angles. You’ll get my four-step branding method that I’ve talked about before, but I’ll walk you through each step:
- Look in the mirror and ask, “Who am I?”
- Look at your readers and ask, “Who are they?”
- Listen to what your readers say about you.
- Look in your readers’ mirror and ask, “What does my brand let my readers say about themselves?
Then Jim will present his secret branding exercise.
We explain branding in two different ways so that you leave with a good understanding of what branding is and how to pull it off.
Wednesday: Combined Office Hours with Thomas and Jim
During regular office hours, we limit questions to the day’s topic. But on Wednesdays, you can ask any launch-related question. Wednesdays will be your day to catch up on homework or videos.
Thursday: Session #3 From Tech Timid to Tech Savvy: How to Master Any Technology
During your book launch, you’ll have to interact with some new technologies. If you see yourself as non-techy, you’ll limit yourself. Everything about your launch will be harder.
But this module will help you tackle those technologies, and every step of your launch will be easier. Once you learn how to master any technology, you’ll start having fun rather than dreading it. As it becomes fun to learn, you will be transformed from a tech novice to a tech master.
Tip: The secret to mastering technology is to become like a child and reawaken your sense of wonder. I’ve been giving versions of this talk for over a decade, and it’s one of my most life-changing talks. People have approached me at conferences to say how this talk has changed their life.
Friday: Session #4 How to Maximize the Impact of Your Author Website
A good website makes everything easier. Your website is especially useful for building your email list, but it makes every step of launching much more effective.
It’s important to realize that your website is not for you. It’s for your readers. Write your copy with your readers in mind.
Tip: Use the word “you” on your website more than the word “I.”
Tweaking your website takes time. While we’ll focus on your website for one day of the course, you can tweak it as you learn more throughout the course.
We provide most of the website material as soon as you register for the course. If you sign up before the start date, you can begin working on your website ahead of time. Advance preparation of your website will dramatically reduce the amount of work you’ll do during the four-week course.
Week 2: Set
Monday: Session #5 How to Build a Rabid Tribe of Fans (Updated for 2022)
You’ll learn how to connect with and motivate your readers to help spread the word about your book. Building a tribe can’t be rushed. It’s a relationship. Even if a relationship begins with love at first sight, it requires time to build trust. Your readers have to trust you before they’ll be willing to help you.
Tuesday: Session #6 How to Create a Launch Team (Updated for 2022)
Building a tribe is the general approach, and creating a launch team is how we apply it. Your launch team must be ready to buy your book, leave you a review, and tell their friends about it.
Tip: Never use Facebook to organize your launch team. Facebook sells data to Amazon. If you are Facebook friends with your launch team members or even in the same author Facebook group with your launch team, Amazon may consider their reviews invalid, and they may delete those reviews.
Having lots of reviews is critical for your book’s success. If you don’t want reviews deleted, don’t host your launch team on Facebook.
Wednesday: Catch Up & Combined Office Hours
Thursday: Session #8 How to Write Bestselling Marketing Copy
In this session, you’ll learn how to talk about your book in a way that makes readers want to buy it. You can use these principles in your back cover copy, on your Amazon sales page, and anywhere you write about your book.
Tip: Readers don’t care about you. They care about themselves. Once you realize that, you can write about your book in a more selfless way.
Friday: Session #7 How to Use Email to Launch Your Book
We apply the copywriting lessons to your series of launch emails in this session. You’ll learn what to write and when to send them. We’ll also talk about how you can grow your email list.
Tip: You can get away with a higher-than-normal email sending frequency during your launch.
Week #3: Go
Monday: Session #9 How to Use Goodreads to Find Your Readers and Sell More Books
We’ll walk you through some Goodreads strategies for connecting with hordes of raving fans. It’s important to realize that Goodreads was not designed to help authors promote books. It is a tool to help readers find new books. By serving other readers, you can grow your readership.
Tip: Start using Goodreads as a reader so you can learn how it works before you start using it as an author.
Tuesday: Session #10 Amazon Optimization for Authors (Updated for 2022)
It’s important to know how to optimize your Amazon page if you want to have a strong launch. In this session, you’ll learn how to create an effective Amazon page. We’ll talk about amazing book covers, compelling back cover copy, how to get more reviews, and how to have clean “also-boughts.”
Amazon was a big deal in publishing before the pandemic. They’ve only gained market share in the last couple of years. Even traditionally published authors need to understand how Amazon works because no one at your publisher will care about your Amazon page more than you do.
Tip: If you come to your publisher with specific suggestions to improve your Amazon page, they will listen and will often implement your suggestions.
Wednesday: Catch Up & Combined Office Hours
Thursday: Session #11 How to Use Marketing Psychology to Create a Frenzy for Your Book
Understanding the psychology of your readers and how to create a Black-Friday feel for your book is critical for making those initial sales. You want readers to buy now, not later. Once you understand marketing psychology, you’ll understand the importance of the book launch.
Tip: If you have 50,000 sales in five years, you’ll never hit a bestseller list. But if you can get 50,000 sales in one week, you’ll have a New York Times bestselling book.
Friday: Session #12 How to Have a Wildly Successful Launch Day
The big day has arrived! The starting gun has echoed, and you’re off and running! In this session, we’ll help you plan what to do on the day your book launches.
Tip: Host a party, even if it’s just for your friends and family in real life. You may also consider hosting a launch party online. We’ll coach you on how to do it.
Week #4: Run
Monday: Session #13 How to Create a Media Editorial Calendar
Now that you’re a published author, you’re ready to sell like crazy. But you must be organized.
Creating an editorial calendar is perhaps the most stress-relieving session of the whole course. Once you have a good system for capturing all of the tasks and all of the events for your launch, you’ll realize it’s not nearly as overwhelming as you thought it would be.
Tip: Get a head start. You’ll want to pitch TV, radio, and podcasts three to six months in advance (sometimes more) of the date you want them to air. You’ll also want to schedule rest days because a book launch is an intense time of work.
Tuesday: Session #14 How to Write Winning Content for Guest Posts and Articles
Having your writing featured on popular blogs and websites can be the key to maintaining the momentum of a successful launch. You can connect with new audiences and build relationships with other writers, authors, and bloggers.
Tip: Before you pitch an article to a blog, find out if the blog is popular. Does it get a lot of traffic or not? Invest your time in blogs that have the most readers. In this session, you’ll learn exactly how to find out whether a blog is popular with readers or not.
Wednesday: Catch Up & Combined Office Hours
Thursday: Session #15 How to Go on a Media Tour (Updated for 2022)
A media tour can be fun and effective. It’s fun to give podcast and radio interviews and appear on TV, but good media training costs several thousand dollars. If you worked with a PR firm, you’d spend a lot of money.
The media training you receive in our course is based on expensive, high-end training I received back in my political days.
After this session, you’ll be better prepared, more confident, and less nervous when giving media interviews.
In this session, we’ll teach you how to pitch podcasts, TV, and radio. We’ll tell you what gear you’ll need, how to nail the interview, and how to thrill the audience. If you thrill the audience, the host will likely invite you back.
Tip: Realize that you are not the star of the show. The listener is the star. Focus on thrilling the listener because that will get you invited back.
You’ll also want to create a media kit and make it available through your website. A media kit will make your media bookings much easier.
Friday: Session #16 How to Grow Momentum During the Next 30 Days (Updated for 2022)
After the final session, we won’t have our regular office hours. We’ll have a party! Consider it a graduation party where you can share the number-one thing you learned.
It’s a super encouraging event because many authors undergo a life-changing marketing shift. Before the course, marketing and book launching seems like an insurmountable, overwhelming task. But after the course, authors know what to do and how to do it.
In many cases, that previously overwhelming book launch is already underway before the course ends.
It’s fun to hear how the course has empowered our students to take control of their launch.
But it sounds too overwhelming!
If you think the whole book launch thing sounds like drinking from a firehose, I encourage you to take this course. We break it down into small steps you can accomplish each day.
If you do the daily homework, you’ll be guided through the material. By the time you’re done, you’ll have built a custom book launch plan for your book. In fact, you can reuse that plan for your futures books.
Since our students have lifetime access to the course, many of them go through the course again. Sometimes they complete the course for every book they write, and they’re doing the homework right along with you. They can offer tips and encouragement from their previous experience.
But I don’t have time to take a course!
You may be asking whether you want to invest your time and money.
But first, you should ask yourself how much time you have already invested in your book. Authors often spend 200-800 hours writing their books. If it’s your first book, you may have spent thousands of hours or several years.
What is your time worth now? It’s hard to put a price on time. We can always make more money, but we can’t make more time.
Let’s imagine you could make $25 per hour working as an editor, and your time is worth $25 per hour. Multiply that hourly wage by the hours you’ve spent writing, and you’ll see you could have earned anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 with those same hours.
Once you realize the kind of value you’ve already invested in your book, you must ask, “Does this book deserve a strong launch?”
The more you’ve invested in your book, the more you need to invest in the launch and marketing to help your book be successful.
In Hollywood, a studio will spend $100 million dollars making a movie. Sometimes they’ll spend the same amount marketing it. If they’re going to make their money back on the movie, they must get people to the theatre.
Frequently Asked Questions
What comes with the course?
Private Online Community (That’s not on Facebook!)
Besides a custom plan—a blueprint—for your launch, we also offer access to our private online community at AuthorMedia.social. We have a space dedicated to students of the Book Launch Blueprint.
We switched from Facebook to AuthorMedia.social last year, and it was an incredible success. Students much preferred AuthorMedia.social. If you are a regular community member, you can’t see the Book Launch Space, but when you become a student, you’ll gain access.
It’s a great way to connect with the other students. You have lifetime access to the community, and you get the special Rocket Badge next to your name to identify your student status.
Within the Book Launch Blueprint space there are different “lounges” for different kinds of writers. All students have access, but you can hang out in the fiction space or the nonfiction space.
Once you enroll, you will get immediate access to the following bonus courses for FREE.
- How to Get Booked as a Podcast Guest ($249 value)
- The Art of Persuasion ($49 value)
- The Ultimate Crowdfunding Course ($99 value)
If you register early, you’ll receive the bonus courses right away. You don’t have to complete the bonus courses before the official start date of the Book Launch Blueprint (April 11, 2022), but students who complete the bonus courses ahead of time get better results.
How much time will this take?
We recommend setting aside about two hours per day. You won’t have homework on the weekends or on Wednesdays, but on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, we encourage you to reserve two hours for the course.
Some authors find those two hours by canceling Netflix for a month. They turn off subscription streaming services. It will require your time, but you also have lifetime access.
If you want to go through the course at your own pace, you can, but I don’t recommend it.
Will I get future updates to the course?
Yes. If you’ve already gone through the course, you’ll get access to these updated sessions. Every session has been updated since we first launched the course in 2018, and we’ll continue to update a few sessions each year.
Is there a payment plan?
Yes, we have a payment plan. You can find the details at BookLaunchFun.com
Is it too late for me to go through the course?
Ideally, you want to have a book that has not been released yet. If your book is already published, it’s too late. That’s a hard thing for me to say, but most of the magic of a book launch happens in those first 30 days.
It’s almost impossible to relaunch a book later. It can be done. There are ways to do it, but it requires money, effort, and usually a new book cover.
If you’re looking to relaunch a book, I don’t really recommend this course. If you want to learn the principles for launching your next book, that’s fine. But just realize it’s not going to be quite right for you if your book is already published.
Is it too early for me to take this course?
The Book Launch Blueprint is for authors who have a book releasing in the next 18 months. If you’re more than 18 months away from your release date, I recommend my other course Obscure No More, which is about building a platform.
Obscure No More is like basic training, and the Book Launch Blueprint is like the Normandy invasion plan. Obscure No More students also receive a special discount on the Book Launch Blueprint if they decide to take the course because there is some overlap between the two courses.
Is there a money-back guarantee?
Yes, there is. We have a 30-day money-back guarantee. We want you to be happy with the course.
Eloise Whyte, author of Soul Inspirationz
You’ll gain a new relationship with Jesus as you trust him to be your confidant, healer, and life-giving friend.
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My debut book comes out April 12th one day after the course begins. I want to sign up, but will miss the window of opportunity 😕 😢 😔
This is great advice! Thanks! I will log this information away for when I’m ready to launch a book!