“Help! What is the secret to a successful book launch?”
As a book launch consultant, I get countless calls from authors who finish their manuscript then nervously realize they didn’t give much thought to marketing their book.
Writing a book is hard. But, it’s much harder getting thousands of people to buy it.
I’ve taught over 800 authors how to face this daunting task, and I’ve helped both fiction and nonfiction books hit The New York Times bestseller list. I’ve also published five books, learned how to build a platform, and made a great living from my writing.
After working with authors on dozens of book campaigns, I’ve found that the success of a book launch usually hinges upon these two key elements:
1. The size of an author’s email list
2. The number of confirmed influencers
Notice that I didn’t mention social media, print advertising, or traditional publicity, such as radio/TV interviews. That’s because those channels have proven to be inferior at selling books compared to email and online influencers. Sure, if an author has their own TV show or is filthy rich, then the possibility for success increases. But, most authors don’t have those options. So, let’s focus on what it takes for a typical author to succeed.
I can usually predict the outcome of a book launch based on the size of an author’s email list and how many influencers have confirmed to help spread the word.
A large email list means at least 100,000 subscribers. Why 100,000? Let’s do the math:
100,000 x 20% email open rate = 20,000 people x 30% conversion rate = 6,000 book sales
Acquiring 6,000 pre-orders is the minimum amount usually required to hit The New York Times or USA Today bestseller lists. Therefore, an email list with 100,000 subscribers can put an author in a good position. Additional pre-orders can come from influencers, which I’ll describe next.
By definition, an influencer is someone who can directly influence people’s decision to purchase a book. In terms of numbers, a decent influencer has an audience of at least 10,000 followers. Big-time influencers may have over 100,000 followers. When an influencer talks about a book, interviews an author, or tells people to purchase, then hundreds, if not thousands, of sales can quickly occur.
When you combine the power of a large email list with numerous influencers, then you’re in position to sell a ton of books and hit the bestseller lists. Plus, you build momentum for word-of-mouth that makes sales continue for the long-term.
Full disclosure: Is it possible for an author to hit the bestseller lists without using email or influencers? Yes, on rare occasions, books will generate uncommon word-of-mouth and take the world by storm. Or, a big publisher might choose to create a bestseller by putting all of their resources behind one title. But, these occurrences are extremely rare.
You would be foolish to base your marketing plan on an anomaly that is difficult to replicate. That’s why I stress the promotional power of email and influencers. Those are elements that any author can replicate with hard work and dedication.
In order to set proper expectations for your next book launch, assess what you’ve done to build your email list and connect with influencers. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I don’t want to you fail. I want you to sell a lot of books.
Based the amount of email subscribers and influencers you have confirmed, there are four types of book campaigns you can pursue:
Let’s look at each type of book launch in more detail:
1. The Bestseller Campaign
Do you have a large email list and confirmed connections with numerous influencers?
If so, you are positioned to run a major book launch that can generate significant pre-orders and make a run at the bestseller lists.
This type of campaign is like the perfect 1-2 combination punch for marketing a book. You get the power of big influencers telling thousands of people to buy your book. Plus, you’re able to rally thousands of your own fans to purchase at the same time.
I’ve had the pleasure to consult with several authors to build this type of campaign and watch them become bestsellers – a rare honor that lasts forever.
2. The Buddy-Buddy Campaign
What if you have a great network of influencers – but don’t have a large email list?
A lot of popular personalities are in this position, such as celebrities, athletes, pastors, TV hosts, etc. They know a ton of influencers, but they’ve never taken time to build their own list. Too often, they rely too much on social media and get burned by it.
In these cases, the author can run what I call a “Buddy-Buddy” campaign. That means the book sales come from cashing in favors with as many influencer buddies as possible. If enough buddies participate, then a lot of books can be sold.
However, running a “Buddy-Buddy” campaign can be tenuous and nerve-wracking, because you’re never certain who will participate. It can feel like you’re herding cats and stressing out over empty promises.
In order to run a successful campaign based on influencers, it’s best to get an early start and develop a solid network. Help out other influencers first, so that they feel a desire to return the favor. For example, take time to promote their books, interview them with your audience, donate to their cause, or whatever it takes to build a solid relationship.
A book launch based on a network of excited influencers can sell thousands of copies right out of the gate.
3. The Email Energizer Campaign
Maybe you don’t know many influencers, but you have a big email list.
In this situation, you can conduct what I call an “Email Energizer” campaign. You are relying primarily on the strength of email subscribers to energize your book sales.
The larger your list, the larger you can generate immediate orders. In addition, you can ask your subscribers to help spread word-of-mouth by providing simple promotional tools for them to use.
Building an email list takes time. But, you can add thousands of subscribers per year by using a combination of enticing free content and online advertising to attract attention.
I routinely use my email list to help launch new teaching tools and video courses. I like the power of an Email Energizer campaign, because it’s a promotional tool within your complete control.
4. The Career Builder Campaign
Are you an author who lacks a big email list and a network of influencers?
That’s okay, because every author starts at the beginning. I remember publishing my first book when I didn’t know anyone. It was a scary feeling, but I was driven by an inner passion to grow my audience. I didn’t become a bestseller. But, as time passed, my sales blossomed into a full-time income. I’ll always take paying my bills over hitting a bestseller list.
Likewise, when you’re starting to build your author platform, you can conduct what I like to call a “Career Builder” campaign. Even though you won’t hit a bestseller list, that doesn’t mean it could happen in the future. My hope is that you take a long-term approach and use your new book to build a solid foundation.
Don’t obsess over becoming a bestseller. Don’t assume you’ll be a one-book wonder. Instead, focus on creating a career that will last for years over numerous books to come.
Hitting a bestseller list is nice, but you can still go broke. It’s more important to continually grow your readership, enjoy being an author, and make enough income to sustain writing as long as you desire.
I’m always more impressed by an author who steadily sells thousands of books and makes a great living, rather than a here-today-gone-tomorrow bestseller.
Let the “Career Builder” campaign put you on the path to pursue your writing dreams.
Which Book Launch Type is Right for You?
Based on the size of your email subscribers and influencer network, which type of book launch campaign makes sense for you?
- The Bestseller Campaign
- The Buddy-Buddy Campaign
- The Email Energizer Campaign
- The Career Builder Campaign
If you’re struggling to grow your email list and unsure how to build a network of influencers, I have the solution.
My Book Marketing Master Class is a premium 1:1 coaching experience where I will personally teach you how to:
- Attract thousands of fans who love your books
- Create your own personal sales force
- Reach millions of new readers every year
- Double your revenue with spinoff products
Dozens of fiction and nonfiction authors have gone through this unique experience and found it to be a turning point in their career.