I am delighted to announce that Adventures in Expatland blogger / @in_expatland / Linda Janssen has agreed to write me a series of super guest posts on the nitty gritty of writing words that make a difference. Here is the first of the series, focusing on the Anatomy of the Online Book Launch…
Ideas for Launching and Marketing Your Book Online
Recently I caught an interview by D’vorah Lansky, host of the Book Marketing Conference Online teleseminar series, in which she spoke with author Joanna Penn on the topic ‘Anatomy of an Online Book Launch’.
Penn has some experience both in the evolution of the publishing industry and in book marketing having self-published her first book, How to Enjoy Your Job, in 2008 both in print and as an eBook in PDF format. Her next two books about developing, writing and marketing books were released as PDF eBooks before she turned her hand to writing thrillers. Her first thriller,Pentecost, was self-published both in print and as a Kindle eBook this year and has sold more than 7,000 copies; she’s now in the midst of writing a follow-on, Prophecy, which she’s decided she’ll release only in Kindle version.
Here are some of the highlights of her suggestions to launch and market your book(s) online.
Your blog is your base: have one and use it. It is your connection to the outside world. Whether you are self-published, published by a smaller niche publishing house or by one of the (ever weakening) ‘giants’, you need a presence online. People want to feel that they know, like and trust you. Give them quality content on a regular basis, and a way to interact with you via comments and social media (at a minimum Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn). Build your mailing list of interested followers by offering a regular newsletter, free report, tips list, audio recording of an excerpt or a self-interview. Don’t forget interacting with and supporting your fellow writers and bloggers, either. If it doesn’t feel like a community, why will people want to join?
Set up an ‘editorial calendar’. As you plan your pre-, during and post-launch marketing and promotional activities (e.g., blogging on your own site, guest blogging, tracking book review requests, focused use of your multiple social media streams), you’ll need a schedule to keep it all straight and yourself on task and on time.
Author page or book page? Yes you have links on your website to sell your book, but you’ll want to also create a separate landing page before your launch date that you can direct book traffic to. Penn recommends deciding early on if you want individual landing pages for each book you write or an author page to strategically build your brand. You can post a chapter or excerpt along with book publication and ordering information. Better yet, seek fan input on what they’d like to see: solutions to specific problems your next how-to book could address, what to name a new character, the setting of your next novel. Reward loyal followers by allowing them to pre-order at a reduced price, thus also building your mailing list.
Use your book as a springboard. Make your book work for you. Whether you’re writing a fiction or non-fiction series or discrete books, it’s beneficial to think ahead to your next project. Consider developing something your audience needs and wants: a workbook, exercises, a sequel or simply your next novel. Then include a page at the end of your current book with some info (title, highlights, short excerpt, the book cover if possible and landing page URL) to encourage continuation of the relationship you’ve developed with your readers. Builds your – you guessed it – list, too.
Reviews before launch, say what? Penn is a huge fan of giving away eBook copies to fans (known to her through their interaction on her website and social media as well as being on her mailing list), asking for reviews before a pre-set launch date. She’ll already have her eBook up for sale on Amazon and other sites where these fan reviewers can post their opinions. She then focuses her marketing blitz on a ‘soft launch’ (i.e., after the actual availability date) to help make the book a hit. The greater the number of reviews, the better your sales statistics are based on Amazon’s algorithms.
Make use of Goodreads. Think of this as a book group of your 5.4 million closest friends. Developed as a site for book lovers who read a LOT, want to share their own recommendations and learn about other great reads, goodreads.com welcomes authors with open arms. Penn did a Goodreads giveaway in which interested readers signed up (there’s that mailing list again!) fora chance to win a book: for the cost of a couple print copies and postage, she generated buzz and gained new followers. Authors can also host Q&A sessions with readers on this site.
Guest blogging: less marketing, more branding. Penn wrote 32 unique, tailored guest posts on various websites that ran during her launch week. That doesn’t count those that loyal followers/fellow bloggers may have written about her. Since many purchases are based on a sense of relationship, she knew she was going for indirect brand awareness and not so much for direct sales. However, she’s since decided that while it did give her broader exposure, it didn’t forge deep enough connections to help spur sales. Her response? For her upcoming thriller she will choose a half dozen sites and blog 3-5 times on those sites to build deeper brand connections.
Connect through non-verbal communication. Penn sees great value and appeal in creating video podcasts for use both on your own site and on YouTube; the same holds true for audio as well. People like to see and hear you, and it helps to build a rapport. She also did a one minute book trailer that she put on her email signature.
Keep prices down to generate future sales. Ever wonder why Kindle eBooks, delivered electronically to your light and portable Kindle e-reader, are sometimes available for $2.99, $1.99, 99¢ or even free? It bumps up sales volume and helps build momentum for later books. Besides, with negligible costs for creating a Kindle eBook, the author can make the same or greater profit based on volume than on fewer sales of more expensive print books. While many of Penn’s 7K+ copies of her first thriller may have sold at these lower prices, she’s captured a large, loyal following who are clamoring for her next book and it isn’t even completed yet!
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