What’s the most critical element of a successful book launch?
You might be surprised to learn that it’s NOT a single appearance on a big TV show. The most critical element of your book launch is a written plan.
You may have ideas in your head or a general timeline in mind, but just as you need to make a timeline for your novel, you need a written plan for your book launch.
Authors who fail to plan are planning to fail.
Every activity, from podcast interviews to your own email marketing schedule, should be written in your launch plan. To help you outline your plan, we’ve created a downloadable Book Launch Plan Template, and we’ll walk you through it in this article.
Enter your name and email below to unlock the download link for the Book Launch Plan Template below.
Section #1 Preparation
The first section of your written plan will cover preparation for your book launch. Before you launch a rocket or a book, you need to prepare a launchpad.
You’ll want to begin your preparation at least two to four months in advance. If you can plan six months in advance, you’ll be even more prepared.
You may not need to do all of these sample tasks, or you may need to add other tasks specific to your situation. This list will get you started and spur ideas.
2-6 Months Before Launch
Tweak Your Website
Fine-tune and prep your website for maximum impact. Make sure links to online booksellers are working. Double-check your newsletter and onboarding sequence so that people who visit your website for the first time can easily get the information they want. You might even ask someone unfamiliar with your website if they find it easy to navigate. Make changes if needed.
Make sure all the links on your website are working correctly. If you’re using WordPress, the free Redirection Plugin will track 404 errors and detect old and broken links. You can easily turn those 404 errors into 301 redirects.
Spit-shine your website and refresh your content if needed. We have an entire session in the Book Launch Blueprint that shows you how to ready your website for your launch.
Optimize Your Amazon Page and Presence
Your Amazon book sales page and Amazon author page must be pristine when you launch. Your copy needs to be error-free and exceedingly clear. Read your Amazon page and ask, “Would this make sense to a stranger?” and “Would this impress a stranger?”
If it’s been years since you created your Amazon author page, you may need to update your bio. Review your book’s categories and make sure they’re congruent with your genre, message, and audience.
Schedule Media Interviews
Many journalists and influencers require several months of lead time to record, write, or schedule your interview. Blogs and podcasts with the widest reach will sometimes schedule interviews up to a year in advance. Use these months of preparation to research shows and influencers for whom your book would be a good fit. Your written plan will help you organize and track interview times and the dates when your interviews will air.
If you’d like a head start on getting booked for media interviews, listen to our episode on How to Get Booked as a Podcast Guest. Our course by the same name is included as a bonus when you enroll in the Book Launch Blueprint.
Schedule Guest Blog Posts
Write and schedule your guest blog posts in the months before your launch begins. Guest blog spots on popular blogs fill up quickly, so be sure to research, pitch, and schedule these long before your book launch.
As you reach out to blogs that might want an interview or a guest post from you, make sure you choose blogs that will provide a return on your time investment. You can check a blog’s Alexa Score to determine how much web traffic they receive.
Find a Venue for Your Launch Party
Never underestimate the power of real-life events in the real world. Book your venue for your launch party, and figure out the logistics ahead of time. Many venues are booked months in advance, so make this one of your first tasks if you plan to have an in-person launch party.
You can also host it at your house if you want, but you should still schedule it on your written plan, so you remember to allow time to clean the house or order (or make) refreshments.
Recruit Your Launch Team
You’ll want a small group of dedicated allies for your launch team. Assembling a launch team is easy to put off because many authors are hesitant to ask for help. Do not procrastinate. Spend the time to invite and train the right folks. As you prep your launch team and interact with them, you’ll quickly discover who the best helpers will be.
A small but invested team will be more helpful to you than a huge team of non-committed members who just wanted a free book.
In the course, we’ll detail how to find members, get them signed up, incentivize them, and make them raving fans.
Build Your Email List
The bigger your email list, the bigger your launch can be. In the months (and years) preceding your launch, you want to build a highly-engaged email list of readers who love your work. In terms of book sales, email converts better than any other form of communication with your readers.
We have an eye-opening yet practical session in the course on how to build your list, how to use it, and how to plan the emails you’ll need to send.
Optimize Your Goodreads Page
Your Facebook fans and friends might read one book a year. Some of them read zero books every year. But your friends on Goodreads are already super-readers! Some Goodreads users are reading more than 100 books every year. They love to rate and review books, make lists, and recommend books they love.
If you’re not on Goodreads, create an account and explore the platform as a user. After you have a sense of how readers use it, create your own Author Profile Page on Goodreads.
Section #2 Pre-Launch
Your pre-launch phase starts about 30 days before your launch window and lasts until blast off, also known as release day.
30 Days Before Launch
Finish Planning Your Launch Party
A well-planned launch party can be great fun. In this phase, you’ll make any follow-up calls and tie up loose ends to make your party a great event.
An in-person launch party is a great way to generate local word-of-mouth marketing. You’ll typically get most of your sales in the region closest to your home. Online parties are great for reaching far away places, but don’t ignore the opportunities close to home.
Some media outlets might want to interview you before your book’s release. You’ll want to have those on your written plan and prepare for them during this time.
Launch Email Sequence
You’ll start sending a sequence of emails to warm up your list and get them excited to buy your book. You don’t want to spam them with emails saying, “Buy my book! Buy my book!” You need an intentional, long-term plan to build their excitement and anticipation.
We’ll teach you when to schedule those and what to say so that your readers will be saying, “I want to buy this book now!”
Activate Your Launch Team
You gathered your team in phase one, and you’ve established a mode of communication with them. Decide what activities you want them to perform and when they should be done. In this phase, you finalize your action plan for your team.
Host Your Launch Party
You might want to host an online launch party as well. For traditionally published authors, launch parties are especially important. If Barnes and Nobel doesn’t sell your book in the first 30 days, they’ll send your books back to your publisher.
As a reminder, you don’t have to do all these tasks. If you hate hosting people, maybe a launch party isn’t where you should spend your time and money. Tailor your plan to your strengths.
Section # 3 Post-Launch
Your book has been released, and the rocket is in the air! It’s gaining altitude and getting sales.
The post-launch phase usually lasts for a month or two after your launch, maybe longer depending on how often you’re publishing. In the months following your release, you can continue to fuel your rocket, so to speak, by maintaining your marketing momentum.
1-2 Months Post Launch
You’ll do the bulk of your media interviews after launch day. Whether you’re giving an interview on TV, on a podcast, or on a blog, remember to be entertaining. Maybe you’ll provoke or educate the audience. Maybe you’ll make them laugh. In any interview, remember these cardinal rules:
- You are the guest, and the interviewer is the star of the show. Your interview should make them look good.
- Do not bore the audience. A boring interview will hurt your sales, and you won’t be invited back to the show. Practice your interview and get feedback before the big day.
- Have fun and be engaging.
Post-Launch Email Sequence
These are the emails you’ll send after your book releases. We teach you how to make them invitational so that your readers want to take action.
Launch Team Tasks
In the post-launch phase, your team will be posting their reviews to Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, and other online retailers. They’ll be sharing about your book on social media and in real life. Write those tasks and their due dates in this section of your plan.
If public speaking is one of your strengths, it’s a great way to sell books because you can have a book table at the back of the room. Schedule your speaking engagements after the book has launched, and be sure to give attendees a way to sign up for your email newsletter list.
Book Signings, Public Appearances, and Public Readings
Keep a detailed schedule of all these events, so you don’t double book yourself.
If you do a book signing at a bookstore, invite your friends and family even though they probably already have your book. A crowd draws a crowd, and other bookstore customers will be interested when they see a crowd forming around you and your book.
Amazon Book Advertising
If you’re indie-published, you’ll start advertising on Amazon. Advertising will be part of your ongoing marketing plan that reaches far beyond the launch.
If you’re traditionally published, stay in contact with your publisher’s marketing team. If you present them with a strong plan for ongoing marketing, they’ll be glad to help and may even provide additional author copies for you to give away. They want your books to sell just as much as you do.
Authors who have a written launch plan will get the most out of their publishers’ marketing team’s meetings. Your publisher may have a written plan too, and together you can combine your best strategies to give your book the best chance at success.
If it Sounds Overwhelming…
If all these ideas sound overwhelming and you want help, we will walk you through every step of your launch in our Book Launch Blueprint course.
This course is not cheap. It’s only for serious authors. That means your classmates will also be dedicated authors. You’ll learn from your instructors, but you’ll also get input and suggestions from your fellow students. They’ll be walking through the course at the same pace. The community of past and current students will provide encouragement, ideas, and accountability to help you finish strong.
We only open this course once a year, so register today.