Does launching a book sound stressful to you? You’re not alone. Here’s the thing: a book launch has a lot of moving parts, but it doesn’t have to be INSANE! And it all starts with me telling you to stop wasting time on your book launches.
Specifically? On things that DON’T SELL BOOKS. Just… stop.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 179- STOP WASTING TIME (AND MONEY) ON YOUR BOOK LAUNCHES
A HUGE CAVEAT ON DEFINING “WHAT WORKS”
I need to give a big caveat before I dive into things that people waste time on with their book launches. Why? Because things an vary widely depending on genre.
What might work for a nonfiction book doesn’t necessarily work well for fiction. Or, even within fiction, what works for me with romance and what works for me with YA aren’t always exactly the same. Also? Even within subgenres of romance, what works might be different.
Also? Some people might have one experience and another person might have the complete opposite experience. I’m sure I’ll get some comments saying, “But that worked really well for me!!” And I’m sure they’re right.
SO, HOW CAN I POSSIBLY TELL YOU WHAT WASTES TIME AND MONEY?
First of all, I want to keep in mind what the goal of a book launch is. Or, more specifically, the goal of a book launch FOR THIS POST. And that goal is: to find readers who buy your book. Aka: sales.
I’ve had book launches with another purpose and I defined success in a different way. You might also! But for the sake of this post, we’re talking about the bottom line: what sells books.
As for the “data,” I don’t have hard data. I’m not a data nerd, nor do I have the resources (or time) to do a sweeping study of launches. What I DO have is experience launching almost twenty books in various genres over the past six years.
I also talk to a LOT of authors and gathered anecdotal information from them. I saved posts in Facebook groups on things that work and don’t work RIGHT NOW.
If you’re a hard-and-fast data person, you may sneer at this post. THAT’S FINE! But even anecdotal experiences coming from authors publishing and launching right NOW is important to at least consider before you throw down your cash and your time.
Please, PLEASE! If any of these things did work for you, I’m happy for you and happy to hear about it in the comments!! Feel free to share that.
HOW TO STOP WASTING TIME AND MONEY ON YOUR BOOK LAUNCHES
1 // HAVE A PROFESSIONAL, GENRE-APPROPRIATE COVER + GOOD BLURB
I have to start here. Even if the dead horse I’m beating has been dead for quite some time.
Why am I starting here? Because we can often have blinders on when it comes to our own work. I’ve seen countless people ask why their book launch isn’t working well, only to look and find that they have an unattractive or unprofessional cover, or a nice cover that says NOTHING to the reader about the kind of book it is.
If you want success with your book launch, you HAVE to start with the cover and blurb.
Research. Know what other covers in your genre look like. If you’re an indie author, look at the INDIE covers. Not to discount the traditionally published covers, but they have an ad budget you don’t. So your cover needs to send an INSTANT signal to people visually about the book.
Same with your blurb, but no one will get to your blurb if the cover is off, so start there. Then craft a blurb that has a hook, gives intrigue, and draws in the right kind of reader.
My source for writing blurbs: Mastering Amazon Ad Descriptions *this is an affiliate link
2 // RECONSIDER PR FIRMS AND PAID BOOK LAUNCHERS
While I’m sure there are some fabulous services out there for book launches, these tend to cost more than they’re worth.
One reason that people are so eager to hire out book launches is because WE DON’T WANT TO DO IT. And the idea of a PR company sounds fabulous. It’s what traditional publishers do.
They also do a lot of other things that waste money on launches. Like, sending expensive gift baskets to bloggers for a book launch.
(A friend with a traditional publisher bemoaned the launch dollars her publisher spent sending expensive gift baskets to bloggers who didn’t read the book and simply copied and pasted the press release on their blogs.)
Sometimes, as indies, we want validation. And doing things that we know traditional sellers do sometimes FEELS like that validation.
If a PR company or launch company sells books for you, great! Use this method. But overall, this seems to be something that gets the word out about a book, but may not translate to sales. Exposure is fantastic! But exposure does NOT equal sales. And remember, that’s the goal in this post. Sales.
I’m lumping launching services in here because I this is another area where I think the expense outweighs the cost. It sounds LOVELY to pay someone to do all your marketing for you. But often the services I’ve seen for this are FAR MORE than what you need to launch a book and make sales. They aren’t all scams, but they do prey on our desire to avoid marketing.
3 // BLOG TOURS
Similar to the whole PR idea, blog tours are often about getting the word out. They can provide exposure. And, a few years ago, these worked really well for many authors across genres.
I have not seen more than a handful of authors in the past year saying they work NOW. There are a lot of reasons this may be, one of them being that social media platforms like Instagram have in many ways become what blogs were five or so years ago. Blogging still has a place, but people don’t read blogs as much, or in the same way.
This can also be costly, especially if it’s just giving exposure, not necessarily sales. This might be something a PR company sets up or a launching service does, but you can also pay for a blog tour through a company that organizes them.
My question is always: what else could you have purchased with that money?
At the end of the day, what does exposure BRING you? Sometimes… something. Sometimes… nothing. It’s very hard to measure what being talked about around the proverbial water cooler does for you.
And if you aren’t paying for blog tours, that means you’re researching and spending time seeking out bloggers and contacting them directly about this. So, if you’re not wasting money, you might be wasting time.
4 // FACEBOOK PARTIES
Another thing that used to work really well in specific genres is having a Facebook party in a group or groups. These still happen, and I’ve taken part in a number of takeovers or parties.
If you haven’t seen these, they can work in different ways. Some are more massive events, planned and using Facebook events for a specific day and time where the author hangs out in a group and does giveaways. I’ve seen these with multiple authors showing up almost like guest celebrities.
There are also more low-key takeovers where an author has a specific day or time slot where they can post about their books and do giveaways, games, and contests.
While I know in some genres, these can still work well, they don’t tend to move the needle on sales as much. I’ve taken part in these (and still will) across genres. I’ve seen them sell a handful of books. They aren’t BAD to do and I will often plan to do them, but it’s good to realize the limitations.
With the YA urban fantasy I write, I saw one group that was SUPER niched down to specifically academy books sell some copies. It helped probably move 50 preorders over a month of time spent posting once a week and doing a brief takeover. With sweet romance… I’ve tracked maybe a few brief sales from takeovers in a few different groups. Barely a nudge.
I would file these under free marketing that is mildly effective. You CAN do them, and they might be good to include in your marketing under your free promotions. But unless other authors in your genre are still finding this effective, I would say that this is something where you don’t want to invest too much time or pin too many hopes.
You can plan takeovers and parties, but don’t spend three hours creating graphics for games in a FB party or book so many of these that you’re spending your writing time hanging out in groups where you MIGHT make a sale or two.
Here’s are a few examples of a few graphics I created for a parties, in case you haven’t seen these kinds of things. I used these graphics multiple times in various groups, including my own, so I didn’t waste too much time churning out graphics for no ROI. 😉
One for Sullivan Gray:
*Side note: When looking for graphics for parties and things, be careful of the source. It’s best to create your own rather than take a graphic if you don’t know where it came from or have permission to use it. I’ve seen people get in trouble over this.
5 // ANYTHING THAT SOUNDS “FUN” OR IS “WHAT PEOPLE DO” THAT DOESN’T TRANSLATE TO SALES
I have hit a few big things that I see people doing that wastes time and money, but there are tons of tiny things that we might do that, when added up together, amounts to way more than we realize.
I’m not sure what all those things might be for YOU. If you’ve already launched a book, you might be able to look at what you did and ask if that translated into something measurable.
How about that cover reveal party? (Or paying for graphics for a cover reveal…) These can be great for building excitement, but I wouldn’t spend a ton of time and money on this.
How about that podcast interview? Unless it’s a podcast that is SPECIFICALLY for readers of your genre, this might not translate. A friend who got on a VERY popular podcast saw no sales… but some Instagram followers. That’s something, and maybe they’ll buy books sometime… or not. (Podcast interviews CAN be amazing for nonfiction!!)
How about a series on your blog about the behind-the-scenes of your book? I mean, this can give readers an insight into your process. But these kinds of things work best when you ALREADY have superfans and they’ve probably already purchased your book without you needing to blog about it.
What about trying to get family and friends excited? Unless you have a mom who loves your book so much she becomes your personal saleswoman (looking at you, Suzy’s mom!), your friends and family can’t be counted on. And, likely, they SHOULDN’T be, as they might not be your ideal audience. I found that with my first books, friends and family were hugely supportive. Then it trickled down to only those who really loved reading that genre. You don’t want to irritate them. And it’s not the best method for sales.
SO, UM, WHAT DO YOU REALLY NEED TO LAUNCH A BOOK?
What you REALLY need is to get your book in front of people who read and buy books in your genre. If I had to pare down what really sells books and what I need to make a dent, it would look like this:
- Writing a good book with a solid cover for the genre and a good blurb
- Building my own email list so I have readers prepared
- Running a sale and paying NL sites to send my book to their readers
- Swapping with other authors in my genres as a free way to get in front of readers
- Paying for ads on Facebook or Amazon
- Sharing in relevant FB reader groups
You can do these things over time and you can write a new book and do these for the new book, which will likely give older books a boost as well.
The long and short of it all is that you shouldn’t do things JUST because you see other people doing them or because they work for traditional books or worked five years ago. Keep it simple.
Do what works to sell more books to the right readers. The end.
Want more resources? Keep scrolling.
I go into more detail on many of those aspects of book launching in other posts, and I’m going to go even deeper in my workshop coming up in March.
Sign up for the paid workshop HERE if you want a more in-depth, practical guide to launching books. You’ll walk away feeling confident about your book launch, and ready to do more while wasting less.
Or, check out these relevant posts!
- SIMPLE BOOK LAUNCH PART 1 – a simple framework
- SIMPLE BOOK LAUNCH PART 2 – getting other people to share your books
- SIMPLE BOOK LAUNCH PART 3 – using paid promotions
- SIMPLE BOOK LAUNCH PART 4 – building your email list
- BOOK LAUNCH DISASTERS