48
29
The Ultimate Book Launch and Marketing Guide (and Infographic)
48
29

Last week, I officially launched my new book, with much fanfare.

The launch involved a dozen guest posts on major blogs, two video trailers, special launch bonuses, and loads of reviews from people who were kind enough to look at an advance copy of the book.

And while it’s still too soon to know if the book will be called a success, I’m ready to call the book launch a success;

  • 3,504 people visited the book’s site
  • 1,439 people watched the launch videos
  • 83 people bought the book (paperback, or Kindle)
  • 1,587 people (!!!) downloaded the free digital version

Are those numbers that will make a major publisher’s heart skip a beat? No, they aren’t.

But I’m not a major publisher – in fact, I’m not a publisher at all; Engagement from Scratch! was self-published which means that I don’t have a big marketing budget, ties to the media, or relationships with booksellers. And a year ago today, nobody in the blogosphere knew who I was.

All to say that I’m pretty happy with these results, and if you were in my shoes, I think you would be too!

But the point of this post isn’t to pat myself on the back (though it’s nice to do once in a while) – it’s to share what I did in order to make it all happen, and what I did wrong, and would do differently next time. Here is my ultimate guide on how to launch a book…

First, Write a Great Book

I’ll tell you everything that I did to launch and market my book, so that you can do the same. Before you start any of that, though, there’s one thing that you absolutely have to do:

WRITE A GREAT BOOK!

It’s almost too obvious to say, except that too often it isn’t; there’s the misconception that marketing can sell anything, where in truth, good marketing is just a megaphone that effectively spreads the word about what is already there.

In other words, if you launch the hell out of a mediocre product, it’ll crash down like a ton of bricks.

So you have to start by writing a great book, and that requires some real honesty. In my case, I wanted to write a book about building an engaged audience, but I had to admit that I wasn’t equipped to write that book. That’s what pushed me to approach my 30 co-authors, and without their wonderful contributions, the book wouldn’t have been very good.

So start by being honest with yourself about whether you can write a truly awesome book, and if you need help, get it.

Okay, moving on – the first step in my marketing plan (and hopefully yours) is relationships.

Build Relationships by Helping Whenever You Can

This is another one of those “pre-steps”, in that you should start doing it before you ever get to think about launch tactics, execution timelines, or even writing a book at all.

Whether it’s launching a book, growing a blog, building a business, or anything else, you’re going to need help, and that help will come from other people;

  • You’ll need people to advise you about how to do the things you want to do
  • You’ll need people to help you do things when you get stuck
  • You’ll need people to spread the word about your work
  • You’ll need people to stick up for you on the few occasions where trolls start attacking you in public forums
  • You’ll need people to give you a kick in the butt to keep on working when you’re tired

Do you see the common thread here? Whatever you try to do, you’ll need people to succeed.

The beauty of it is that they’ll need you, too. So don’t wait until you need something – go and help them out. Right now. Consume their content, share their work, thank them for their effort, and ask them what else you can do.

This isn’t manipulative, and there’s no quid pro quo – you’re just building relationships and making friends, and people help their friends out; it goes both ways, and it’s the only way that a community can function. In marketing, as in many other areas of life, the right thing and the smart thing are the same thing.

Don’t wait to do this. Whether you’re ready to launch a book (or anything else) or not, you should get out there and start building relationships today.

Learn from the Successes (and Failures) of Others

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Many books were successfully launched before mine, and many will be successfully launched after mine, too.

The cheapest way to launch a book, is to learn from the experience of others, so start by examining it closely (which you’ve already started to do, since you’re reading this post).

Here are some of the book launches that I followed closely while planning the launch of Engagement from Scratch!:

Notice that while most of the books are targeted at the same market as Engagement from Scratch!, some aren’t – you should pay attention to what others are doing to reach your audience, but you should also look for cool ideas from outside of your industry.

With each campaign that you follow, make careful note of what you like, why you think it will be effective, and what went into doing it well. Make sure that if you want to borrow ideas, you do the full work of reverse-engineering their strategies, and not just copying their tactics!

Next, you need to lay out the components of your book launch plan…

Choose Your Book Launch Plans

List out the different tactics that you want to execute, and the infrastructure and preparation that you will need in order to get it all right.

Here’s what I did with Engagement from Scratch!:

  • Build a mini-site to act as a central hub for the book and launch. There were actually two versions of the site; one simple version for pre-launch (which just had the trailer, the option to sign up for updates, and a space below for comments or a pre-launch offer.
  • Create a video trailer to build excitement. I actually ended up creating two trailers (read the whole story here), but basically one of them remained on the site, and the other was primarily viewed and shared on YouTube.
  • Have a great pre-launch offer. With Engagement from Scratch!, several of the book’s co-authors offered bonuses for people who bought the book before it launched. Then, responding to feedback from subscribers, I added a bonus offer for people who pre-ordered just one copy.
  • Send the book to reviewers. We sent out hard copies of the book (not PDFs) to anyone who expressed interest in writing a review. This was an expensive proposition (roughly $2,000 in postage), but I think there’s something very special about holding a book in your hands, that you just can’t get from a PDF file. Keep in mind that a book review is an investment, not an expense, all the major publishing companies use this tactic in their book launching strategies.
  • Guest posts on as many sites as would have me. With any launch plan, you should stick with what has worked for you in the past, and for me that was guest posting. So I approached 19 blogs, and landed 28 guest posting spots over a three-week period.
  • Nominate your Engagement Superstar contest. Inspired by Jonathan Fields’ Ride the Butterflies contest, I invited Firepole Marketing readers to nominate whoever they felt was deserving of the title of “Engagement Superstar”.
  • Launch bonuses and supporting a good cause. During the launch, anyone who bought a copy of the book also got two other books, for free, and a free image pack from Photos.com. Also, all of the profits from sales during the launch went to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
  • Free digital version of the book. I wanted to make it easy for people to access the book, and was betting that if they liked it enough, they’d buy a copy, so I made the digital version of the book available for free to anyone who wants it.

It’s not enough to just make a list of tactics, though – you have to think through how they would all interact with each other.  In my case, it worked something like this:

book launch infographic

(Click here to see the high-resolution version)

Give Yourself More Time Than You Think You Need

Once you’ve chosen the components of your book launch, you need to lay out a timeline for when you need to start and finish work on each part.

At a high level, this is as simple as creating a Gantt chart for the whole project, listing all the tasks so that you can see how they fit together in a timeline, and what the dependencies are between each task (for example, if you want the trailer to be embedded in the minisite, then you need it done by the time you want the minisite to go up).

The trouble with Gantting this out, though, is that we all experience a sort of Doppler effect with regard to planning; the further out we’re planning, the more efficient we think we’re going to be. We know about the little distractions that we have to deal with this week, but we tend to forget that there will be a different set of little distractions in three months, and that we won’t be able to work at optimal productivity on our book launch.

The lesson here is that however long you think things should take, recognize that your attention will be divided between the task at hand and any number of other things, which means that you should budget 150%-200% as much time for the task as your gut is telling you to.

Trust me – I didn’t do this, and I regretted it!

Double-Check Your Calendar

Before finalizing your launch timeline, make sure to check every major date against every major calendar (not just the ones that govern your day to day lives).

In other words, make sure there aren’t major religious or national holidays for any large group of people that you might be targeting.

I screwed this one up hugely with my Engagement Superstar contest. You see, I live in Canada, and up in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving on October 10th. It didn’t occur to me that I was asking people to participate in my contest during American Thanksgiving until it was kindly pointed out to me by one of my readers.

Oops – sorry about that! :S

So anyway, double-check and triple-check every calendar you can find. Just because there’s no conflict that is obvious to you doesn’t mean there isn’t one that will affect your readers.

Clear Your Schedule for Launch Week

If you’ve done everything else that I’ve described here, then you should be all set to do the work leading up to launch week.

Speaking of launch week, I can pretty much guarantee you that if you’ve done everything that I’ve described here, and done it well, then launch week will be very, very hectic.

You can try to keep up with it, and you might even succeed (I did okay, more or less), but don’t make it any harder for yourself than it has to be. Clear your schedule, and make sure that there is absolutely nothing that isn’t essential happening during that week.

If you give yourself the time, and you do the work, then you should see some results!

Then all you have to do is keep on pushing…

Download the Book Marketing Infographic

As happy as I am with the results of the launch, I know that my work is just beginning. There’s a lot of marketing left to do; I have to spread the word about the book, hopefully to the point where it reaches a “tipping point” and starts spreading on its own.

I’ll cover everything involved in doing that in a later post (after I’ve done it, and can report back on what worked, and what didn’t).

In the meantime, I think there’s plenty here for you to get started putting together your own launch timeline, and to help, you can download the snazzy infographic that my friend Matt Tanguay at Fluent Brain put together to go with this post:

book launch infographic

There’s nothing to opt-in for, and nothing to pay – just click here to download it now.

And after you download it, leave a comment, and let me know what you think!

Did you follow the launch? What could I have done better? What launch ideas have you seen that you’re going to try with your own stuff in the future?


(
@DannyIny), a.k.a. the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, teaches marketing that works at Firepole Marketing. Together with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark and Mitch Joel, he wrote the book on building engaged audiences from scratch (available on Amazon, or as a free download).

Danny
Danny
Danny Iny (@DannyIny, +DannyIny), a.k.a. the "Freddy Krueger of Blogging", is the proud founder of Firepole Marketing. He is the author of the Amazon best-seller Engagement from Scratch! (available on Amazon, or for free in our Engagement Toolbox), and creator of the Audience Business Masterclass.

48 Comments

  1. Ryan Hanley says:

    Danny,

    I’ve only been following your work for a short time but from what I’ve gathered and general impression of you and what you can do, I am expressed impressed. I would without a doubt consider your launch a success…

    The fact that you give away so much amazing content for free is a testament to the Engagement strategies you preach.

    Thank you and I look forward to participating in your success!

    Ryan H.

    • Danny says:

      Ryan, thank you very much for your kind words – I’m really jazzed with the results so far, but it’s important to remember that this is only a start… now the real work begins! ;)

      I’m looking forward to participating in *your* success, Ryan – here’s to the both of us! :D

    • Thank you so much for continually sharing your information to help others. In the short time I’ve been following you I have learned a tremendous amount and feel a lot better about the upcoming book launch .

  2. Jason Fonceca says:

    As usual, you’ve rocked it again Danny.

    Not only did Engagement From Scracth have tons of value in it, but you nailed the launch/pre-launch, and now you’ve taken the knowledge and experience and (along with Matt) turned it into a great visual + post.

    4-5 years ago I wrote a couple (really polished) books, and I did almost nothing on your list, and welll… results sucked.

    Since then I’ve read tons book launches, but this is probably one of the most concise / enlightening. Thanks man.

  3. Jai says:

    Its a great idea Danny, giving out the infograph in PDF format before even opting in… :)

  4. Great info! You made it clear that getting the word out starts BEFORE the book launches. Way too often authors write the book, then are like “what do I do now?” We started all kinds of campaigns prior to the launch of our debut novel, including gimmicky promotions like Pick my Book Cover contest. We also blogged about the whole experience of not only starting a new publishing company, but getting the book together for launch. It definitely worked for us!

    • Danny says:

      That’s the key, James – the work begins waaaaaaay before the book ever goes live (and there’s a lot more of it than I anticipated, despite all my planning!).

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with your own book launch – I really like the “pick my book cover” contest idea! When did you launch your book? What results did you see?

      • Danny:

        We launched our first book (which is also my debut novel) Sellout in June 2010. My cover designer has done book covers for many authors (including well-known established authors) and he was excellent. For my book, he designed four cover samples and my partners and I chose two. We posted those two samples on our website and allowed people across our social media networks to vote on them. It proved a great success because not only did hundreds of people visit our site to vote, many of them became invested in the story line and signed up on our mailing list. We did a similar contest for the back cover blurb.

        This happened months before the launch. Also, we did a lot of video, including interviews and scenes from what we call “Hustle Central.” I even videotaped the moment the proof of the book arrived for the first time. It’s all on the website. Video is powerful for marketing/promotion.

        • Danny says:

          That’s very, very smart, James – I really appreciate your sharing. In fact, I’ve copied your comment into an “ideas file” that I’m saving up for my next book! :)

  5. Ashvini says:

    Hey Danny,
    I got your book from the website . I have been able to glance through it and plan to start it on this weekend.
    I would say, I was very impressed with the book . The inclusion of writings by so many engagement leaders is a unique and inspiring idea.
    Congrats for the sales and downloads. :)

    • Danny says:

      Thank you very much, Ashvini, I’m glad that you’re liking what you’ve seen so far. When you have a chance to read through it all, please do let me know what you think! :)

  6. Wow! What an awesome super value post this is Danny! What is interesting is that I am actually writing a book I plan to launch next April and I this post could not have been more timely. Couldn’t have asked for a more thorough analysis of great strategies to launch a book!

    Definitely bookmarking this post Danny! Thank you so much for all of the hard work you put into this post!

    • Danny says:

      Hector, that’s really great to hear – I’m so happy that you found value in the post! Tell me more – what’s your book going to be about? :)

      • Hey Danny

        Sorry about the late response. Been super busy. In short, my book is called de-CLASS-ified: The Death of the middle-class and rise of the Internet Entrepreneur. I am not the first to talk about the death of the middle class but in my books I will offer my background and give my own perspective, along with everything that I have learned through my financial and economics self-education about why I believe that the middle-class in America will soon be wiped from existence and how the Internet Entrepreneur will reign supreme in the global economy.

        • Danny says:

          Thanks for sharing, Hector, that looks really great, and I’m excited to read it! Just to clarify, will this be an e-book, or a book book?

          Also, reading your comment and post, I was reminded of a book that a friend recommended to me a while back called “Rise of the Creative Class”. I haven’t read it, but from his description, I thought that it might interest you. :)

          Definitely keep me posted about your book – I’m excited to get into it!

  7. [...] then, to top it all off, I wrote the ultimate book marketing guide documenting everything that I had done for anyone who was [...]

  8. Essential guide to eBooks for Sharing Superheroes | Word And Mouth says:

    [...] The Ultimate Book Marketing Guide at Firepole Marketing. [...]

  9. [...] Well, I should clarify that I came up with the content, strategies and ideas, but the actual map was designed by my friend Matt Tanguay at Fluent Brain. But yeah, the first [...]

  10. Linda says:

    Danny!!

    Have I told you I love you?? Well, I do – just don’t tell my ‘old man’!
    This post is sooo timely and helpful for me.
    Researching topics for my site has led me to the conclusion that if I were a potential guest/client/customer (whatever the right term might be) to my chalet or even the country in which it is located and relied on the books currently available, I would either die of boredom or just not go. They all talk about the same things in exactly the same way – fine if you happen to be a paid up member of the ‘Dull and Duller’ society, but crap (am I allowed to say that?) if you have any life left in your bones!
    So I want to write the alternative, lively ‘family’ version. I’ve started the ‘getting to know you’ bit and done a couple of bloggy things for key ‘movers and shakers’ in the industry and am getting to ‘know’ some people in related areas (thought marketing might be a good one, cos I know naff all about that really! Consider yourself being co-opted here!) So far, so good, they’ve all been positive and interested – not even put off having checked out my babble on the blog!

    And now you lovely man, you’ve set out what I need to do next and even after that. How could I not love you??
    L x

    ps and I so agree a real ‘live’ book is unbeatable. Just the feel, smell, touch is pue magic, never mind what’s inside the cover (imagine Scrooge with a wad of cash at this point – that’s me with a book!)

    • Danny says:

      Hey Linda, don’t worry, it’ll be our little secret! ;-)

      Seriously, though, I’m so happy to hear that you’re getting so much value out of my work. And you’re right on – you can’t be original and unique if you’re doing the same old thing that everybody else is doing. You certainly can’t achieve greatness that way!

      I actually wrote a post about that on Jon Morrow’s blog a few days ago, that you might enjoy: http://boostblogtraffic.com/viral-report/

      And yeah, a real book is unbeatable. But then, maybe I’m just old-school that way… ;-)

  11. Danny, do you have the updated info on this book?
    Will surely love to read the figures too.

    Sheyi

    • Danny says:

      Hi Sheyi, since the launch, the book has been downloaded over 10,000 times, and sold over 1,000 copies. Is that what you meant? :)

      • Exactly what I meant.

        Now you see the power in giving to the community. With as much as 10k downloads, no one thinks there is going to be such amount of sales but here it is.

        One other thing I guess is that the backends in the book will serve as income generating as some of the 10k free downloaders will surely want to check out the backends.

        Your approach and that of Chris on his $100 start-up is kinda similar and with all indications, it will work, work and work for a long time.

        I’m making enough research I need to and will be coming out with my own product soonest.
        Did you self publish the hard cover or amazon did that?

        Sheyi

        • Danny says:

          Yeah, a lot of people seem to be surprised that so many people would buy the book when they can download it for free, but think of it this way – do you really want to read 241 pages on a computer screen? I think that for anyone who really likes the book, the paperback makes sense. :)

          As for income, the truth is that there’s no real money to be made by selling books; they’re such cheap products with such lousy margins, that anyone who’s planning on making a fortune selling books is probably deluded (though there are a few notable exceptions).

          As for the paperback version, we used CreateSpace, which is a subsidiary of Amazon. Google them. :)

          • Many author seems to be going the create space way and Amazon is just taking over traditional publishing,

            Danny, if i could get just 1000 sales like you did then I am successful – so you have probably made some money selling ebooks and will surely make more.

            In this part of the world, making such number of sales and sharing with fellow like minds makes you a hero – you know what i mean?

            Sheyi

            • Danny says:

              Hi Sheyi, but the thing is that it’s not *just* 1,000 sales – 1,000 sales is A LOT, and it took a huge amount of work to get there.

              The more important thing is that the money made from selling books is minimal; just a few dollars per copy. The much more important thing is that I’ve made many times that since the beginning of the year, and that growth is driven by the audience that I connected with through the book.

              If making $3,000 selling 1,000 books makes you a hero, what will making $100,000 do?

              I’m just saying, if you go to the trouble of writing a book, you should think bigger than just the book! ;-)

  12. Aer you kidding me? $100, 000 selling an ebook or software online as a Nigerian. Be ready for 5000 facebook friends request, unending news paper interview request and an over-night status hero! Though we have people who has made serious money online here and what I listed above is just like 50% of what happened to them.

    Your video to the reply of my question about marketing an e-book makes me re-think and like you said, I’ve made some arrangements to start building list.

    Sheyi

    • Danny says:

      Nope, I’m not kidding, Sheyi, and I’m glad I got you thinking! The key is that the work to build the audience is the same – 10,000 downloads and 1,000 book sales. So why satisfy yourself with just the book sales? ;-)

  13. Lisa E says:

    So glad I stumbled on to this article! I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. I’ve written a travel memoir and have already postponed my book release/launch once and am now considering doing it again. There are many reasons for this–namely that it’s feeling a bit rushed and my stress level is super high as a result. I’m self-publishing and was originally hoping to get the e-book out first, followed by the paperback version. Then, with the holidays, etc, I started thinking that it made sense to push the book out in mid- to late October (as in, 6-8 weeks from now). Perhaps I’d sell more because people need holiday gifts.

    But I’ve hit a couple of snags recently. The formatting is much trickier than I thought it would be. Also, there have been some delays with people working on the book. And I figured out that, with my schedule, there isn’t quite enough time to get advance copies (would just be PDFs and with little time to read) out to certain readers. I’d love to do that so that reviews can be coordinated to be listed the first week the book is out.

    (Fortunately, I’ve had a blog for 2 years and have a good social media presence, etc. Readers have been asking me about the book, saying they’re eager to buy it. Perhaps I should set up a pre-order scenario?)

    Anyway, I’m considering postponing the book release until Jan. 5th and using this time to a) wrap things up and b) do some extra/advance promotion. Would be nice to have everything lined up and hit the ground running in 2013. Your point re: ‘giving yourself more time than you think you need’ really struck a chord. I’m not 100% sure what to do, but I’m leaning in the direction of doing it later and hopefully, better.

    • Danny says:

      Hey Lisa, I’m glad the post was helpful! I don’t have all the facts about your situation, but it sounds like a pre-sell, and postponing the release to the new year would give you the best of both worlds, so I’d recommend going with that. :)

  14. Henry Gaines says:

    I am approaching the finish of writing mygolf book which I have been working on for more than9 months, and I am very thrilled that I was invited to your webinar on Book Launches. I may not be 100% confident yet, because I am a Newbie at this, but I suely know a lot more about what I need to do in the coming days thanks to you. Thanks a million. We need more honest, generious people like you in our world. Thanks again for all your help. God Bless You. Henry Gaines

  15. [...] stumbled across this great infographic outlining the anatomy of a book launch recently on the website of Danny Iny, one of the (many) co-authors of Engagement from Scratch: How Super-Community Builders Create a [...]

  16. […] The Ultimate Book Launch and Marketing Guide (and Infographic): It’s another Firepole Marketing classic from Danny Iny! This is a short master class on relationship building, learning from failure, and time management disguised as a book launch recap. Pull back the curtain and watch the circus master performing some of his most daring – and rewarding – feats. […]

  17. Michal says:

    I read all those tactics and comments and I’m embarrased I’m doing so little to promote my books. Now I have something to ponder about.

  18. […] EngagementFromScratch! was published using CreateSpace, which is a subsidiary of Amazon. It is very simple and easy to use. The challenge is not publishing, but in creating something of value that looks and feels professional. You need to get it typeset and proofread, and professionally packaged and produced. Writing the book, as time consuming as it is, is only the beginning. Another challenge you will face is marketing the book. To see how I marketed EngagementFromScratch! check out my blog on Firepole Marketing, The Ultimate Book Marketing Guide. […]

  19. Percy says:

    Pure gold of content and useful information. Thank you!! keep up the good work Danni. Awesome!

  20. […] The Ultimate Book Launch and Marketing Guide (and Infographic) […]

  21. Hi Danny!

    Great resource! Thank you so much for providing it! I am working my way through your Audience Business Masterclass (which is fantastic by the way) and in the process have started putting the wheels in motion for writing my first book. It is in the editing stage now and I’ve started thinking about my marketing plan. This resource is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve printed it out and will be pinning it on my office wall as a reference point in the coming month.

    Thanks so much!
    Aprel Phelps Downey

  22. Awesome, Danny! Thanks for the info. I’m releasing my book in November, and this will be very helpful. Looking back, how did the Engagement Superstar help? Was it impactful from what you could tell?

    My book is about money and true wealth. I’m so excited about releasing it!

    Thanks.
    Austin

    • Danny says:

      Hey Austin, I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      It’s hard to tease out the effectiveness of individual pieces of the launch, but overall, the campaign was very successful.

      Good luck with your book – it sounds interesting! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *