What’s the best way to write a bestselling book? Ask a hundred people and you’ll get 100 different answers.
This post serves a couple purposes. The first is to collect and share some awesome book marketing tips from the authors you’ll find below. After all, the “round-up” post format is a proven winner.
The second purpose is admittedly a little more self-serving. I’ve got a new book launch coming up and wanted to hear from some of the best in the business what I should to give it the best chances for success.
Sure, I’ve had some book launch success before, and have certainly learned a lot about self-publishing since my first title in 2012. But there are always new and different tactics to try, and I’m eager to apply some of these tips and get my new book, Buy Buttons, to the top of the charts.
In the responses below, you’ll see a few common themes:
- Build an email list.
- Build a launch team.
- Leverage your network.
I asked “What’s your #1 book launch or book marketing tip?”
Here are the answers from two dozen authors.
Let’s dive in!
My #1 tip is to launch at $0.99 and stagger your promotional efforts.
It’s been my experience that Amazon rewards consistent sales by displaying your books in key sections (like the Top 100 lists, the “Customers Also Bought” section of related books, and targeted campaigns.) But they only do this if they see that a book is getting sales over an extended period of time.
So my suggestion is to launch your book at a low price–like $0.99–and then promote it throughout your different channels. For instance, whenever I launch a book, I will spread out my marketing efforts over 5 to 7 days. During this time, I will leverage these tools/strategies to promote my books:
- My email list of previous customers (2 emails)
- Email lists from other authors who are nice enough to promote it
- Facebook Ads
- Amazon Marketing Service Ads
- Social media updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
- Book Promotion Websites (spaced out on different days)
- Banner ads on my blog and thank you page
- Blog promotional post
- Select Facebook Groups
I think the big mistake that authors make is they try to promote their book all in one day.
So what often happens is a book will shoot to the top of the charts and then drop like a rock few days later. By spacing your promotional efforts out, you give Amazon enough time to see that your book is selling well and will reward you by promoting it on their end.
Steve runs the Authority Self-Publishing Facebook group and was a guest way back on episode 9 of The Side Hustle Show, discussing how to become an author in just an hour a day.
My biggest tip on having a massive launch for your book is to partner with a brand that can send absurd amounts of sales to you–especially if you don’t have a large brand of your own.
Ask yourself this: are you better off getting 100% of 100 books sold or 50% or 1,000 books? or 10% of 1,000,000 books?
Find a larger brand online and work out a win-win partnership where they can make a ton of money without needing to do the work, and you can make a ton of money without needing to have a large brand of your own.
Specifically: I run a big giveaway contest of 10 signed bestsellers in the market I want to enter and target readers who like those authors or subjects with Facebook ads. I can build a list of 5000 readers for under $100, then warm them up for a book launch.
Nick’s Notes: Wow, I love this idea! I can see this working both for fiction and non-fiction.
Generally: Lower the gateway to entry and focus on your funnel. Think of your publishing like you would of your online business: have something free to get them on your email list (plus great content that people share); have a shorter book on Amazon on very specific subjects (you could even publish a short free book based on each subject or chapter of a main book).
Get them on a list, use the list to launch a bigger book. Get your followers to buy and review that book by offering big bonus incentives, but also have an upsell at the end of your books–a discount to a course on the same subject, for example.
Don’t think of your book as a product, think of it as a step in a multi-tiered pricing funnel.
Create a free giveaway that you can mention on podcasts or link to in guest posts. You can see an example of mine, a 42-page Stand Out self-assessment workbook, at dorieclark.com/join.
This enabled me to more than double the size of my email list, from 9500 before the April 2015 launch of my most recent book, Stand Out, to 25,000 by the end of 2015.
People are justifiably hesitant to join yet another email list, but if you can create compelling content, such as a self-assessment; a free e-book; a collection of special videos or audio recordings; a recorded webinar that they can’t get elsewhere; etc., it will incentivize them to sign up.
And having direct communication with your audience, in the form of an email list they’ve voluntarily signed up for, is the best way to break through the clutter of the marketplace and get your message heard.
Dorie was a guest on Side Hustle Show episode 106, where we talked about how to build your unique authority, stand out, and get paid.
When the first edition of One Simple Idea launched, I ran a campaign asking people who had bought the book to send me an image of their receipt and a photo of themselves holding the book in exchange for access to exclusive content, such as webinars.
I did the same thing when the updated edition of OSI came out last fall. This strategy worked on many levels, but especially visually, which was great for social media.
It allowed us to keep engaging with interested readers as well as made it seem like everyone had their hands on a copy! Highly recommend.
Nick’s Notes: I love this creative approach!
Stephen joined me on The Side Hustle Show this year to discuss product licensing–how to turn your ideas into recurring revenue.
Start building your ‘street team’ as early as you can.
These should be people who are passionate about the topic/genre your book is about and people who are committed to providing you with feedback. During my book launches, I like to reach out to my street team about a month before the book is scheduled to be published, asking them if they’d like to help out with developing the title and commenting on the book cover.
By doing this, I find that my team are more engaged and more invested in the end result of the book. I’ll send my street team several emails each week as we get closer to the finished product.
Then once the book is edited and ready, I’ll send them all a copy for them to review. I’ll also ask if anyone wants a physical copy of the book (I always do both ebook and paperback) and send that out to them to. All of this engagement ensures that my book has reviews before it launches and during launch, and that these same people are happy to share the book with their friends/followers because they are invested in the book.
This one single thing has helped me launch my books to a #1 Amazon Best Seller and build lasting relationships with my target audience. These people are also the same people I’ll ask to comment on next book ideas and offer suggestions on how I can improve books before they’re published. For me, it’s about writing books that people want to read!
Lise is a side hustler turned Kindle author extraordinaire. You can hear more about her story and book writing/marketing tips in episode 113 of The Side Hustle Show.
First, you absolutely have to be aggressive and personally ask your friends and family for reviews and to purchase during the first week.
Send out review copies at least a month in advance because it will take some reviewers a few weeks to get around to it. The more the merrier but it seems 10 is a minimum you want to aim for on reviews. The double-digit reviews will help you stand out among the masses of books.
I know people that have had success with a free launch. I’ve never seen it. I launch all my books at $0.99 which is basically free but immediately gets you on the ‘paid’ ranking scale. Launching for free means you’ll lose some momentum when you switch to paid.
Again, personally reach out to as many friends and family by email and then by phone and ask for their support. Having a great first week with launch sales and reviews will give you the momentum when you raise the price. When you do raise the price, do so late-morning/early-afternoon. Your book will preserve its rankings for the rest of the day but at the higher price.
Use every word of your Amazon description limit.
Don’t forget that Amazon is a search tool and it needs to know what your book is about to rank it. Make it like a blog post with a headline, paragraph headings, bullet points and a call-to-action within each section.
Use an html generator to add H-tags for your headline and headings and give the description extra Amazon search power.
Zephan Blaxberg, author of Life Re-Scripted
Send a copy of your book to influencers and endorsers with a personalized letter asking for them to share a picture of themselves with the book on social media. Be sure to have them tag you in the post.
I also recommend creating a shortened link to your audiobook as a free download to use for networking and public speaking opportunities to build your email list.
Make a spreadsheet of all the different marketing and social media services you want to use. Mark the services and groups as either free or paid.
Record which date you will submit your book to be advertised. This way you can create a timeline of your marketing efforts and schedule them accordingly.
Also note if there are any other criteria for submitting your book, such as number of reviews required. As you come across new marketing services or social media groups, you can quickly update the spreadsheet.
This technique made the marketing of my bestseller more efficient. Not only that, I can refer back to my spreadsheet for additional books I may write and self-publish.
If I have to pick just one tip it would be to launch your book for free or at $0.99 and then set up some paid promotions.
You don’t have to spend much money. You can get some great promotions for as little as $5 (I like BKNights on Fiverr). Paid promotions are the fastest way to get your book in front of thousands of readers, especially if you don’t have a large audience who will buy your book.
The key with Amazon’s algorithm is to show that your book sells (by sending LOTS of potential readers to your book page). Once you have a few thousand downloads, Amazon will start promoting your book for you.
If you’re planning to publish your book on Amazon, keep in mind that Amazon doesn’t actually share the contact details of your book’s readers with you. If you want to be able to communicate directly with your readers (so you can promote additional products or services to them at some point in the future) you need their email address.
I recommend creating a free downloadable resource that complements your book, and creating a landing page to collect email addresses in exchange for that resource.
Include a link to your landing page inside your book, and encourage readers to visit that page to download the resource.
Here’s an example of what it looks like inside Lifestyle Business Blueprint:
You will never get a book sale without first getting something else… a potential book buyer’s attention.
This is done mainly through a captivating cover and title. I brainstorm a large collection of book titles and run surveys to ensure I have a hot title that meets the ABCD formula:
- A: Attention Grabbing
- B: Believable
- C: Curiosity Inducing
- D: Different/Unique
I’ll run multiple surveys and split tests of titles and subtitles. This effort is well worth it when you consider that your book has to stand out against thousands of other competing books all fighting for your target reader’s attention.
The #1 book launch or book marketing tip is to take your launch very, very seriously.
If you do it right, your book will transform your business and income overnight.
The problem is, most authors don’t do it “right”… Robert Kiyosaki said it best: “It’s called best seller, not best writer.”
Most people focus on the writing piece and think the book will sell itself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
The most important piece is getting your message out there into the world, making a big splash and ultimately using the book as the great leverage tool that it is to grow your impact and income.
Take your launch seriously, learn the key elements of what matters, put a strategic marketing plan in place, and then leverage your book into more business success and more opportunities than ever before.
Form a launch team.
There’s nothing that will impact your book sales as much as this. It will help you get more reviews, more exposure, on blogs and podcasts, etc. A launch team is an army of people supporting your book and getting the word out.
- Have people apply. Quality > quantity.
- On the application, ask the question: “Who are 3 podcasters / bloggers / major media personalities you know? How do you know them? What’s the site?”
Not only does this help people do some of the grunt work before joining your launch team, it also gives you a HUGE list of people you can reach out to and say “INSERT NAME said I should reach out.”
Nick’s Notes: I didn’t take applications for my upcoming launch team, but I can see how that would give it an air of exclusivity. The “who do you know?” question is an interesting (if not a little aggressive) angle.
Chandler is a two-time Side Hustle Show guest (first about productivity, then about rapid product creation). He’s the author of several best-selling books, and penned a piece on his Self-Publishing School blog on how to skyrocket your book sales with launch teams.
The absolute best strategy for selling or launching a book, that many new authors fail to do, is to build an email list.
You might feel like there’s some tactic or secret to selling *this* book, but being an author is a long-term game; being in business is a long-term game, and you need to put your foundation in place as soon as you can.
If you don’t have an email list, start building one today because one subscriber turns into ten, which turns into 100, which turns into 1,000, and by the time you write your next book, you’ll be on the road to sustained success.
Even if you have a book coming out tomorrow and you’re thinking “oh it’s too late for that one,” start anyway–you’ll be glad you did by the time your next book comes out, and the one after that!
Network. Network your butt off.
The more people you can get to spread the word about your book on your behalf, the more likely you are to get sales. Especially during the first week of your book’s launch.
Dave Chesson, founder of Kindlepreneur
The biggest mistake that authors make is that they believe marketing comes after writing the book. No! The best time to start marketing is when you’ve decided to start writing your book.
Marketing while you write not only gives you a head start in building momentum for your launch, it can improve your book as well. If you do it right, you should have a better understanding of who your target market is, what they are looking for, where they like to shop, and what words they use when shopping for your book–also known as kindle keywords.
So, get out there, build a better understanding of your readers, and grow as you write.
Dave was a guest on Side Hustle Show episode 145, discussing the art and science of “Amazon SEO.”
Get as many people as possible to engage with your book before it’s launched.
Ask peoples’s opinions about the cover, the title and the subject of the book. Send a free copy to everyone you can think of before the launch. I wrote this piece on how to get glowing 5-star reviews.
Rob is the author of several successful Kindle books, and makes a healthy passive income selling these and other digital assets he’s created. He joined me on the podcast to discuss how to build a passive income on the back of what you already know.
Leverage your connections.
Every time I was able to get support from other people interested in my book, my results were multiplied.
Of course the bigger the audience my partner had, the better results, but there is a twist to that: if my book and their audience is highly compatible, it’s even better than size of their following.
For example, I was able to slip my book into Steve Scott’s email broadcast a few times. Steve’s followers are book readers interested in personal development and habits. Every time Steve Scott promoted my book the results were extraordinary.
Networking can be a tough, tiresome process with seemingly little to none return, but it’s worth it. You multiply your reach by allying with others, no matter at what level you are.
John Lee Dumas published his Freedom Journal at the beginning of 2016. John has an enormous following; most self-publishers can only dream about so many subscribers. But John also leveraged his connections; he was giving interviews (if I recall correctly, I heard him at least on Smart Passive Income and EntreLeadership shows, both of which are huge on their own) and reached out to his friends for help. For example my mentor, Aaron Walker, purchased The Freedom Journal in bulk for all his coaching clients.
If you can, try to get on someone else’s email list with your book launch.
Michal is a side hustling author in Poland who credits his success to a consistent execution of a series of Slight Edge habits. Earlier this year, he contributed a guest post about how he’s growing his audience on Quora.
Get your book on Amazon early to enable preorders. Push all of your order through there so you get the maximum impact of any launch efforts. But, above all, make sure the book is good.
My #1 book marketing tip is to identify 7-10 audiences you can target with Facebook Ads and test them ahead of time towards a pre-launch page. Measure how much it costs to drive clicks and downloads of either sample chapters from your book, or a complementary resource.
Then you want to get an idea for how many books per day the #1 best-seller in your category is selling, you can do this by looking the Amazon Best Sellers Rank for that book and using a sales estimator like Dave’s here.
For example, James Altucher’s Choose Yourself is currently ranked #1 in Business and Investing:
When you click on the book and scroll down, it will show you the Sales Rank of 313 in the entire Kindle store:
According to the Kindlepreneur calculator, he’s selling around 311 copies a day:
However, when I choose a subcategory like Investing, I find the #1 book has a sales rank of 1013. The Kindlepreneur calculator estimates this book is selling 113 copies per day, making it a much less competitive category and 3x easier to hit the #1 spot.
This way on launch day you can scale up your reach to drive sales/downloads fairly predictably in addition to any support you get from promotional partners, and know how much of an advertising budget to allocate in order to hit your sales and chart position goals.
Jesse was a guest on The Side Hustle Show way back in episode 62, discussing how to generate lifestyle business ideas that work. Fun fact: we originally connected through HelpAReporter when I was working on this post.
My #1 book launch tip would be to “involve” as many people as possible in the book writing/publishing process. This would create lots of excitement which will lead to downloads & reviews.
Some ideas include asking friends & followers to vote on the title or book cover, sending a survey like this one, interviewing people inside the book, creating a launch team only bonus, asking for connections in the niche, or running a Thunderclap.
Jyotsna was a guest on episode 140 of The Side Hustle Show, sharing her self-publishing success story as a stay-at-home-mom.
Get your readers’ email addresses–even when they buy from Amazon!
When you sell books on Amazon, you don’t have access to your readers’ email addresses – which means you can’t notify them about new books you’ve written, products you’re selling, courses you’re offering, and so on.
There’s a nifty way to solve this. Simply use a page of your book to offer a relevant, useful and valuable free resource, which readers have to sign up for (by visiting a website and entering their email address) in order to receive.
If possible, put this page near the front. Why? Because people who use the “Look inside” feature on Amazon will see it and may well sign up too – even if they don’t actually buy your book!
I followed this strategy with my recent book about business copywriting: the resource was a free email course called Business Writing Bootcamp. I now have hundreds of people on my email list, ready for whenever I want to promote my other books or courses in future.
Mish and her husband Rob joined me on podcast this year to discuss copywriting best practices for entrepreneurs. I remember when the episode aired because it was a rare occasion where I missed sending my weekly newsletter; we were in the hospital waiting for our little hustler to make his debut.
The biggest lesson I learned from launching my book (before it was even written) on Kickstarter, and again this year on Publishizer is, there’s no better time to start marketing it and engaging potential interested readers than now!
As in before you’ve even written it.
By bringing people along on the journey of writing and launching your book from the very beginning, you give them a chance to be part of your journey and help shape the book and it’s outcome.
Whether it’s a Facebook group or Google group or simply an email list where you post updates it’s a great way to have people give you ideas but also hold you accountable to get it out there.
By the time you do come to launch you have a small (or large) army of raving fans who want to shout about your new book and share it with everyone–essentially an inbuilt marketing machine that’s authentic and real.
Here’s a video on how to start writing your book I produced:
I remember attending one of Natalie’s book launch events at World Domination Summit in 2013. I had just started Side Hustle Nation a few months earlier and it was exciting to see the super-engaged tribe she’d built over the years.
Last year, she joined me on the podcast to share how to re-purpose content into multiple income streams.
Gather the troops!
I asked friends, family and readers to help me promote my book by sharing it on social media and leaving a review. It not only helped me sell more copies, but it helped me feel like I had tons of support leading up to my launch day.
Here’s our little hustler enjoying some Art to Self when he was about 6 weeks old, and me getting an important reminder to “love the process”:
On The Side Hustle Show, Steph shared how she’s monetizing her art and on the path to 1000 true fans.
What’s your #1 book launch or book marketing tip?
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Stock photo by Dean Drobot via Shutterstock