Launching your book & harnessing your community

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Photo credit: Iulia_L, Shutterstock

Launching a book is a juggling act. Not only are you managing the pre-launch process of getting the cover designed, having your book edited, working out the formatting and deciding on the best distribution routes (which I covered in my last post), but you also have to plan ahead for the launch by laying the foundations of your marketing plan.

I’ve spent the last 18 months learning about launch strategies from various digital entrepreneurs through their blogs, podcasts, conferences, online training and webinars. There’s so much free content out there even if you don’t buy into any courses or programmes. The best part is I’ve fitted my learning around family life – listening to podcasts in the car after the school drop off and watching webinars while washing up – it’s amazing how much dead time you can find when you get into the swing of it.

Here’s some of the things I put in place for the recent launch of my book.

Before the launch:

On the blog
The first thing I did was set up a book launch page on my blog and added this to my main navigation. This was a place to tell my backstory, explain to people why I’ve written the book, outline the problems the book can solve and take people on a journey to show the transformation the book can bring about.

On this page, I collected email addresses so I could send out emails on the run up to the launch and on launch day. I created a relevant opt-in bribe and used the free version of MailMunch for the sign up form and connected this to my MailChimp account.

On the run up to launching the book, I continued to mention my upcoming book in posts (linking back to my book launch page) and I wrote some posts specifically around the theme of the book so it was a common thread and people were anticipating the launch. (I’m also now going back through and adding live book links to relevant old posts to make the most of the ongoing traffic to those pages).

On social media
I changed all of my social media bio links to go to my book launch page instead of my blog homepage. I also pinned a post about my book on Twitter so that it would always be visible. I started posting some long-form content on Facebook around the theme of the book. These were like mini blog posts, and I found I got good interaction with these (just remember to ask your readers to share at the bottom as they might not think to share it otherwise).

I used Instagram to share image quotes as teasers. I tried to pick out the most memorable parts of the book to promote (Top tip: a good way to find this out is to ask some beta readers to read your book and then two weeks later ask them which bits have stuck in their minds). I’m now creating some quotes with snippets of reviews. People love to follow a crowd – if they see other people have enjoyed the book then they’re more likely to buy.

Harness the community
My book is in the niche of twins and triplets, so I put a call out in some twin Facebook forums for some mums to help me out with the book development. I got about thirty volunteers and set up a private Facebook group for my book launch team. I shared cover designs with them, asked for feedback on bonus content and we chatted about marketing ideas. The group really helped me to shape the product and packaging. They felt like they were investing their effort in helping with the book which gave them a sense of ownership over it too. In return, I sent them all a free copy of the ebook (with their names on the acknowledgments page) before it launched and asked if they’d consider leaving a review on Amazon when it launched.

It worked really well and I learnt a lot. Next time, I’ll aim to get a larger launch group together (maybe 100 people) and will make sure I send them the free book three weeks ahead of the launch date to give people time to read it so they can leave reviews on launch day.
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E-mail addresses

Selling through Amazon is great as you benefit from their SEO and you have access to a new audience, but this also means many people that buy your book have never heard of your blog. I knew I needed to capture people’s email addresses so I had a way to communicate with them in the future. I found the easiest way to do this was to create some bonus content on my blog that required readers to opt in. I created a ‘Twin and Triplet Toolkit’ that is basically a range of downloadable documents such as a hospital bag list, questions to ask your consultant, a birth plan wish list and lots more and I link to this webpage throughout my book. When people sign up to my email list on this page, they are taken through a seven-day automation series of emails before I move them over to my main subscriber list.
Figuring out the tech took me some time, but it was so rewarding to finally have it all set up and to see the subscriber alerts. (Note: Six months ago I had never used MailChimp and had no idea what I was doing, so this is something you can teach yourself!)

Having people on my own list now means I can go on to upsell to them, either with my own digital products or by promoting relevant products via affiliate links.

Another great tip I picked up this year (which really works!) is to ask your friends to sign up to your enewsletter via a short, personal Facebook message. It’s a great way to increase your subscribers instantly and subscribers are more likely to buy your book than anybody else. If you ask your friends to subscribe AND ask them to invite a friend they think would enjoy your content, even better.

Launch time

When your book launches, you can kick your marketing plan into action and use a combination of your blog, social media and your community to boost your book’s visibility.

Gaining new audiences Guest posts and partnering with influencers to reach their audience are both going to form an important part of my book promotion going forward. (If you are a twin or triplet parent blogger and are interested in having a chat about ways we could collaborate, please drop me a line Karen@talesofatwinmum.com!)

Finding newsworthy angles for press releases is also important – just launching a book isn’t enough in itself to be of interest to journalists, so instead I’m looking for angles that make it relevant and timely. Subscribing to Google alerts helps me keep track of any new news angles.

Big splash versus slow burn

Some book launches can make a big splash with their audience and others have a slow burn. Although I launched my book on my blog, most of my readers are out of the demographic for my book now (the book is aimed at people pregnant with twins or triplets or with newborn babies whereas my readers tend to have older twins or triplets, or a number of children of different ages) so I knew that limited my launch platform. That’s OK though – I know that my readers will tell their friends about my book as and when they find out they’re expecting more than one baby and word of mouth will carry it forward. With a niche non-fiction book, it’s not about being an immediate best-seller– it’s about my book being there and helping people consistently so that it becomes the go-to book for expectant parents of multiples.

This is all just a small part of the marketing process – there is a whole heap of other things going on behind the scenes; hitting publish is just the start.

Karen Bleakley

Photo credit: Karen Bleakley

About the author:

Karen Bleakley is a blogger and freelance writer who relocated from the UK, halfway across the world to Brisbane, Australia! She has three children (a girl and twin boys) and is the author of Don’t Panic! A Practical Guide to Twins, Triplets and More. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and at her blog www.talesofatwinmum.com.

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