I’ve made my fair share of book launch mistakes over the years, but I’ve also had fairly successful launches.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of new authors repeating the same mistakes I made as a first time author, and knowing exactly where it got me (hint: nowhere good) I don’t want the same to happen to you.
So take a look at these five launch mistakes you may or may not be making, and self assess: are you making one of these critical mistakes? What could you change moving forward from today?
1) Not Investing In The Quality Of Your Book
What a lot of authors don’t realise when they first start out is that their book is a product, and that publishing is a business.
Even if you’re not in it to make money, your readers still expect a quality product. It needs to be on par with other books in terms of editing quality, cover design and formatting (for readability).
Not investing in the quality of your book, or even choosing to do everything yourself when you don’t have a strong enough skillset for it might seem like a good idea when starting out because:
- It saves you upfront costs.
- You just want to get your book out there.
But it also damages the credibility of your brand. That book is the first impression a reader gets of you as an author brand. It can influence whether they choose to buy from you again, and it can deter from them actually enjoying the story.
It’s so important to put your readers first as your customers and loyal advocates. Give them a quality experience with your books. Show them you care about them by putting effort into the production of your product.
I always tell my students that if they don’t have the funds for an editor, they can’t afford to publish. It’s just the truth of it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. You always have options—you can save up, pay it off in instalments, or choose to go the traditional publishing route.
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2) Not Implementing A Launch Strategy
Another big mistake authors make is not ‘launching’ their book. I’ve met quite a few indie authors who simply upload their book to Amazon and call it a day.
No prior marketing efforts.
No launch strategy.
No social media presence or readership.
And that’s the problem.
This was a huge mistake I made when I first published—I didn’t take the time to build readership for my book, or create awareness that I was launching a book to begin with. As a result, I made next to no sales on launch day.
And despite this, I also dedicated a month to social media promotions and hosted a virtual launch party to my audience of exactly 72 people—all people who did not care about my book.
That means that even if you’re out there posting right now, you may not be doing it properly.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your audience needs to know you exist, first and foremost. You need to be easily discoverable, because they’re not going to think to just ‘Google’ your name.
- They also need to like and trust you as an author and a brand before they’ll buy from you.
- You need to do more than ‘sell at them’. You need to actually nurture them with content.
- And finally, you need a way to close the sale—not just ‘hope’ that they’ll think to check out your book.
In my book marketing course, I teach the Attract, Nurture, Close method which is essentially this. It’s a way to attract readers, nurture them, and close book sales.
This is what an actually book launch strategy might look like—but in addition to getting readers engaged, there’s a lot of other milestones you need to hit when launching a book too.
3) Not Establishing Online Presence And Branding
Continuing from the previous point, a lot of the reason why book launches fail is because the author or the book (usually both) are not established and well branded.
That means they’re not easily discoverable. Not only do people not think to search for your book because they don’t know about it, but their chances of magically stumbling upon it are also quite slim.
This is why it’s so important to have a brand presence, both online and offline. Your end goal should always be to make it as easy as possible for people to find your book. Think of it as a trail of breadcrumbs leading from the place they hear about you to your book listing.
Because there’s a lot of other sales stuff that comes into the customer buyer journey, it’s not as easy as spamming your book buy link on social media. You need to be strategic, and this is why in my book marketing course I also teach the Funnel of Discoverability. It shows you how you can go from ‘discovered’ to ‘sale’.
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4) Not Creating A Mailing List
Let’s say your book doesn’t release for another few months, and you have all these interested people gushing over your newly revealed book cover.
What are the chances of them remembering your release date?
Or even writing it down?
Or even still engaging with you on social media 6 months from now?
You can never guarantee book sales this way. You need to have a system in place that retains leads who have expressed interest in your book—and one of the ways you can do this is through a mailing list.
The biggest benefit is that this opens up a direct line of communication to your reader. It means that over the course of 6 months, you can send them aligned content and reminders about your upcoming book. And when the release day arrives, you can tell them personally and drop a direct link to purchase in their inbox.
The chances of someone buying your book when you’ve done this as opposed to hoping they remember 6 months later, or see your social media posts on launch day is far greater. And it’s another reason having a book launch strategy in place is so critical.
(P.S: I have a great post on mailing list building here)
5) Not Doing Pre-Orders
Pre-orders are debatable as being effective in this day and age, but I personally advocate for them for the same reason that you should have a mailing list—it secures your sales.
In addition, any launch day sales will boost your ranking (and chances of being discovered by more readers) so it’s worthwhile to build up pre-sales leading up to the release day.
The reason pre-sales usually don’t work is because there’s no incentive for people to pre-order.
However, I’m going to dive into some sales psychology here real quick.
With a book launch, you’re putting your efforts towards a single event. And people like being part of things, so they’re less likely to pre-order and more likely to buy the book on release day when everyone else is doing it.
(This is also a reason why lots of people tend to buy a book after it releases and everyone is raving about it—they develop what’s called ‘fear of missing out’.)
But if you offer incentive to pre-order? The game changes.
Incentive means there’s something in it for them when they take action sooner. This could look like them receiving a bonus gift, or a bonus novella that’s completely free. Sometimes, it might cost you to send out gifts, but free novellas don’t have to cost anything if they’re in eBook form.
AND, if you secure a large number of pre-orders, your book rankings will rise and therefore you will attract more sales and readership naturally.
So next time you launch a book, try pairing your pre-orders with an incentive and see what happens.
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Written by Pagan Malcolm
Pagan is a copywriter and coach helping fiction authors tell & sell their story.