Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Indie Publishing Success- Pre- and Post-Launch Checklist

Listen to the companion podcast episode

What are the steps you take when preparing for a book launch, and then launching your new book? Here is an overview of some of the things I and other authors do.

Well in Advance

Know your genre/subgenre and know what’s selling, particularly among indie authors. Pay close attention to: book cover, product description, and pricing. (Many authors with big publishing houses sell books on their name and publisher’s marketing clout and not as a result of their book cover, etc. No harm in looking at those too, but definitely pay attention to the indies.)
Get a good book cover. This will be a great promotional tool. If your budget is limited, check out some of the great sites that offer pre-made covers. If even those seem to expensive, save your pocket change, skip the coffee and fast food, look for ways to cut corners. Your cover is worth the investment.

Familiarize yourself with the categories and subcategories that will be the best fit for your book. Look for those where you’re likely to get visibility. Don’t go for crowded categories that are dominated by the bestsellers.

Preorder or not? There are valid arguments on both sides of the discussion. I won’t rehash them here, but if you go with a preorder, take the time to understand how preorders work on the various sites, and definitely don’t miss your deadline, especially with Kindle. In fact, it’s probably best if you don’t even get close to your deadline before you upload your final manuscript.

Send out ARCs to review sites. I don’t believe these lead to many sales, but it doesn’t hurt. It can also provide you with promotional material (quotes that you can use on the product page, teasers…)
Solicit blurbs/endorsements from other authors. These aren’t crucial, but, like reviews, they can provide promotional materials, and can also be a source of keywords if you include them with your product description.         

Sparking Interest

Send book to street team/ARC group

Set up an ARC giveaway on Goodreads.

Post teasers on Facebook author page
  •             Cover reveal
  •             Announce release date
  •             Post cover image and synopsis
  •             Preorder link if appropriate
  •             Author blurbs/endorsements
  •             Snippets from the book
 Post a preview of the first chapter on website

Shortly before release, give away a few ebook copies of the previous book in the series. If the new book is not part of a series, you can give away something else, though that’s not nearly as likely to spark excitement in the new book. Don’t give away copies of the new book (except for your street team/ARC group.)

Create a custom header for your Facebook author page, using the book’s cover art. Include the title and the date it’s scheduled for release.

Depending on timing and your relationships with other authors in your genre, you might be able to plan a “newsletter swap” in which each promotes the other’s new book. This isn’t something I’d recommend unless you have a close working relationship with the author, and your books are in the same subgenre.


Your new book should include: an invitation to sign up for your newsletter, an invitation to buy another of your books, and a hyperlinked list of your available books. Invitations to buy book/join mailing list should be immediately after The End and on the same page- not after a page break, otherwise the reader is unlikely to see them. Some authors also like to put a newsletter invite in the front matter. There’s no harm in that, but due to the way reading apps work, there’s a good chance it won’t be seen.

If your book is Kindle-exclusive, use “SmartUrl” to create hyperlinks. If your book is “wide,” use Books2Read. That way you can use the same set of hyperlinks for every vendor (or you can use SmartURL for Kindle and Books2Read for everything else.)

 Make good use of your keywords on Kindle. Utilize them to get your book into as many (appropriate) categories as possible. You don’t have to limit yourself to the two you select.

Remember that your product description can be used to generate keywords. If you have a blurb/endorsement/review snippet that compares your work to that of a popular author, you may include that in your product description as “Praise for…” and that author’s name becomes a keyword attached to your book.

Add the new book to:
  • Website
  • “Books by” lists in other books
  •  Claim the book in Author Central
  • Catalog list on Amazon author page
  • If you use other Author Central Features, such as “From the Inside Flap” or “From the Back Cover” to list your books, add the book there, too. 

If book is part of a series, go to the previous book in the series and, immediately after The End, add an invitation (with hyperlink) to buy the new book.

If book is published “wide,” consider using a service like Books2Read to set up a single landing page with links to all the different vendors.

If book is Kindle-only, create a SmartUrl to create a single hyperlink that will automatically redirect customers to the Amazon store for the country in which they reside.

When Kindle and paperback versions have appeared on Amazon, you might have to contact KDP and request that the two versions be linked. It’s supposed to happen automatically, but it often doesn’t.

Launch Prep

Choose your price. Some authors like to launch at a reduced price as an added incentive. If your regular price is $4.99, consider launching at $2.99 and advertise it as 40% off the regular price (or go $3.99 and advertise it as 20% off.) Emphasize it’s a limited time offer.

Set up a newsletter announcement
  • Snappy bit of copy about the book.
  • Include cover image
  • Synopsis
  • Endorsements
  • “Buy” links
  • Make sure to have something else of interest in your newsletter; not just “buy my book.” I like to include a giveaway of some sort, “Coming soon” info on books in-progress, and maybe something else interesting (anecdotes, autobiographical bits…)
 Update the appropriate part of your website/blog with appropriate info.

Schedule Facebook post(s.)
I like to post the cover and synopsis as the main post, and then post links as replies. Facebook seems to suppress posts with links unless you pay to boost the post.
I restrict almost all of my publishing-related posts to my author page, but I make an exception for new releases and special sales.

Plan/Schedule Tweets
            Twitter isn’t particularly effective for book sales, but there’s no harm as long as you don’t overdo it. Consider separate tweets for various vendors and use the appropriate hashtags for the vendor and genre. You never know- you might get some retweets.
            Spread the tweets out so you don’t overdo it.
            Include the cover image or other visual with your tweet- not just the link.

Plan/Create/Schedule Ads
            I’ve been experimenting with AMS ads with enough results to feel like they’re worthwhile. I like to use custom keywords, with author names and book titles in my genre, and titles of popular new and upcoming releases.
            If the book is part of a series, it might be worthwhile to also run ads for previous books in the series.
            Facebook ads- I’m seeing less and less ROI, but I still work a FB ad into my launch strategy.
            If you publish through Kobo, check your dashboard for advertising options.

Launch Day and After

Post the announcement to your social media, website, etc…

Newsletter blast(s)- I prefer to split my list into segments and send out announcements either on three-four consecutive days, or every-other day. Having several consecutive days of good sales helps your rankings more than one very good day and then nothing.

Ads- I like to run AMS ads from the start and save the Facebook ad until the book has been out for a few days.  Monitor the results of your AMS ads and increase the “bid” amounts for keywords that seem to be performing well.

Bookbub new release announcement- If you have a Bookbub author profile with followers, you can “claim” your new book and Bookbub will send out a new release announcement shortly thereafter. I like to wait until all of my newsletter blasts have gone out, and then claim the book in Bookbub a few days after that.

If your book is part of a series, run a special promotion on a previous book in the series. I recommend waiting until post-launch sales have slowed down. If you can’t schedule a Bookbub ad, look at sites like Freebooksy, Robin Reads, Book Barbarian, or a Bookbub sponsored ad (if you’ve been approved.)

That's the basic overview. If you have other suggestions, please share them!

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