The following is a guest post from Nick Thacker.
While any kind of launch – whether the launch of a book, a product, or something else entirely – usually involves many steps and lots of pieces, it can also be distilled down into its core components.
I’ve launched a few things over the past two years, including nonfiction books and products, and I am also in the middle of a fiction book launch. And while each of these launches were different in style, methodology, and subject matter, I’ve found that there were three basic elements that went into each one.
Let’s assume you’re launching a book. You’ll need to have a few things taken care of before you even begin planning your launch:
- A great product (book). “You can’t polish a turd…” maybe you’ve heard that expression before. If not, I’m sure it makes enough sense that I don’t need to explain.
- An audience. You don’t necessarily need a large audience, but at the very least you should have a good idea of who that audience is. Know what they’re interested in, know how they like to find new authors and books, and know how to reach them.
- A goal. Want to make money? Want to break into the Amazon bestseller lists? Want to have something to show off to friends and family? These are all great goals, but without specifying that goal, you’re going to feel lost.
Once you’ve nailed these prerequisites, you’re ready to launch a book – in three steps!
A quick note: I know you’re going to think that these “steps” really represent “phases” of multiple steps, and you’re right. Just understand that each of these phases can include as many steps and as much detail as you’d like (and are able to accomplish).
Step 1: Plan
“Fail to plan, plan to fail.” You must write out a marketing plan for your book – this should include at the bare minimum:
- A timeline
- A list of marketing/advertising/promotion venues
Your timeline can be as simple as, “by next month, I will have written x blog posts, spent x dollars on advertising, and hosted x book signings.”
Obviously the more detail you put in this timeline, the more use you’ll get out of it, but it doesn’t need to be ridiculous – things change, and nothing goes exactly to plan. Keep it simple and save the stress.
For the “venues list,” you’re just trying to get your ideas down on paper (or into a computer). By writing down your chosen advertising/marketing venues, you’re setting up a psychological “accountability partner,” and getting a feel for the logistical side of your launch.
Lastly, set goals.
Write them down – make sure you know exactly what those goals are. Don’t be vague. And don’t set hopes – ideals that are just results out of your control – set goals: actionable, measurable, check-off-able items that help you feel like you’re getting somewhere.
Step 2: Prepare
Once you’ve taken some personal “brain time,” move into the “action time.” This phase is when you’ll write, send, and schedule guest posts, interviews, Q&As, and any other marketing “collateral,” and when you’ll want to actually do the things on your Action Plan list from above.
It’s great to follow your timeline, but it’s really difficult to stick to the plan once things start rolling – give yourself ample time (more than expected) to knock out the to-do list you’ve set for yourself.
Step 3: Launch and Measure
This is it – the moment you’ve been waiting for!
It’s time to press “Go” on that launch!
…And when you realize that there’s no “Go” button, don’t freak out – the “launch” phase is just that: a phase.
It starts with the book launch (if you’ve set up a pre-order on Amazon, this date is the “publish” date), and the first order of business will be to tend to any comments you’ve received on those guest posts, respond to emails regarding any “pre-launch” giveaways/specials, and try to not go crazy during the (soon-to-be) busiest week of your life.
Plan some time to not think about the launch as well – it’s great for your sanity, relationships, and long-term health. Schedule downtime, relaxation, going to the movies, etc.
Most importantly, measure the results of your efforts. Use tracking software – Google Analytics, MailChimp’s reporting features, Amazon’s KDP Select Reports, or whatever – to keep tabs on how well your “launch campaign” is doing.
Don’t worry too much during this phase about tweaking and/or changing your plan mid-launch – just go with it, and let the measuring work for you. When all is said and done, you’ll have plenty of time to figure out what when on under the hood.
Rinse and repeat
Launching – anything – takes time, effort, and practice, and the first time you launch a book you’re going to do something wrong.
Actually, every time you launch something you’ll do something wrong – but that’s okay.
There’s no better way to learn than to make some mistakes and try it again. Scrutinize the results closely (remember that part about measuring?), and figure out what you can improve upon next time around. Figure out what really didn’t work, what took too much time for too little ROI, etc.
Above all, do it again. Launch another book, and then another. There’s no marketing quite like having a large backlist, and that’s the only type of marketing that you can actively pursue while you’re writing (‘cause it’s the same thing…).
Good luck, stay sane, and add your thoughts in the comments section!
Do you want to write a book? Check out Nick Thacker’s FREE 20-week novel-writing course. Also, he runs a self-publishing blog and resource site LiveHacked, and has recently launched his first fiction thriller, The Golden Crystal.