BOOK BUZZ TIPS
A successful book launch can really make a difference:
- Early sales help a book start out with a good sales rank.
- This gives the book better visibility, especially if the book lands on any of the bestseller lists (even in a subcategory).
- The customers-also-bought list also builds faster.
- If sales taper off, those early sales prevent the rank from sliding as quickly.
- Early sales improve the chances for early reviews.
In this article, I will present a variety of ideas to assist with book promotion before, during, and shortly after the book launch.
To help illustrate some of my points, I will feature strategies used by fantasy author Charles E. Yallowitz, who is presently promoting his own book launch for Curse of the Dark Wind, the sixth book in his Legends of Windemere series.
Your book launch goals are:
- Spread awareness of your new release.
- Motivate some fans to plan to read it shortly after its debut.
- Get people talking about your book. They make buzz for you.
- Start branding an image for your book.
Exposure, branding, early sales, and word-of-mouth—these are the four keys to a successful book launch.
An appealing cover that clearly signifies the genre and content can be valuable not only as a marketing tool, but even as a pre-marketing tool.
The cover also plays a strong role in branding. People often don’t buy a product the first time they see it. But after seeing the same image multiple times over a long period, the image becomes branded. Months later when they are shopping, if they see this image again, they recognize it. Brand recognition is how effective advertising works.
Series authors have the advantage that the buzz can snowball. As more readers discover the first book in the series, each book’s launch has the potential to earn more support than the last, plus a successful launch of the newest book can improve the sales of every book in the series. I give an example of this, featuring author Charles E. Yallowitz, in the next section (see below).
A so-so cover may not benefit as much from a cover reveal as a fantastic cover, but even then the cover reveal helps to get your current supporters and fans interested in your new release.
Just throwing your cover out there isn’t enough. First, you need to build a network of supporters and grow a modest following. A newbie who hasn’t made any connections and who doesn’t already have a following isn’t likely to reap many rewards from a cover reveal. But any help is still better than none at all; you have to start somewhere.
There is another small added benefit: If your blog post or tweet about your cover reveal feeds into your Amazon Author Central page, customers who view your author page at Amazon will see your effort to launch your book. All the little things help to distinguish the perception of the professional author from the perception of a newbie.
Even a newbie author isn’t forced to release a book without a following. Who says you can’t grow a modest following with a blog and social media before releasing your book? It’s a choice.
Remember, you can reveal your cover offline, too. Print it out or order proofs or author copies to show in person. Ideally, you want to reach your specific target audience, but, again, any help is better than no help. The more you interact with your specific target audience and with people who are in a position to recommend your book to members of your target audience (if they like your book enough to do so), the more potential your cover reveal has.
You don’t have to do just one cover reveal:
- Toss your mock-up of the concept out there. Seek feedback. People who share their opinions and see you consider and use some of their input over the development of your book are more apt to feel vested in your book, which improves your chances for reviews and recommendations. You can reach a point where your supporters want your book to be successful and will work to help make that happen.
- Later, follow this up with a draft of your cover.
- Do a cover reveal for your final cover.
- Spread it out so you don’t create fan fatigue. Online, post useful content between your cover reveal posts so your blog or social media don’t seem to be all about your book.
COVER REVEAL EXAMPLE
Fantasy author Charles E. Yallowitz has done cover reveals for each book of his Legends of Windemere series. (I’ve actually read this series and really like the storyline and characters.)
He has just released the sixth volume of his series, Curse of the Dark Wind. You can see what Charles’ cover reveal looks like here:
Charles receives much support for his cover reveals, and he simply has to ask for it in a post on his blog. Isn’t that cool? But he earned it. Everyone on WordPress who knows Charles appreciates what an amazingly supportive author he is. As much time and support as he volunteers toward others, it’s no surprise that many other authors reciprocate when he has a small request like a cover reveal. It helps to be supportive. (It probably wouldn’t be helpful to try to seem supportive just for the sake of potential reciprocity. People can see through such acts. What helps is to be naturally supportive, and in this case, marketing karma often brings its own rewards.)
By the way, I also volunteered to help with a cover reveal. It was my idea to turn my cover reveal into a post about building buzz. It’s my hope that this proves to be a win-win-win situation. It helps the content fit my blog better, it hopefully helps Charles with exposure for his new release, and I hope it also helps authors who read this post.
A cool step that Charles takes for his cover reveals is that he first prepares his own cover reveal and then sends a text file with the HTML for his cover reveal to the volunteers, along with straightforward instructions for how to use it. Such time-saving convenience removes the inhibitor that it’s too much trouble.
One tactic that you can apply to a series is to put one or more of the volumes on sale during the book launch, or just before the book launch, in order to help build timely sales momentum.
You can also do a blurb reveal. This plays two roles:
- Help to create book buzz.
- Help with valuable feedback to improve your blurb.
It’s really hard to craft the perfect blurb, so a blurb reveal helps you get input from your target audience while simultaneously helping to build buzz for your book.
A great cover helps to deliver more traffic to your product page. A great blurb helps to increase the closing rate for sales. Neither the cover nor the blurb will be much help for a lousy story (especially in the long run), but they can make a huge difference for very good stories.
Along with cover reveals, Charles also does blurb reveals. He also promotes his books on sites like Goodkindles and AskDavid.com, which require specialized blurbs. This presents the challenge of writing three good blurbs instead of just one, so it’s even more critical to seek helpful feedback.
Another way to gain exposure for your new book is to do author interviews on blogs for which the audience is a good fit for your book. It’s a chance to gain some exposure from people who don’t already know about your book.
There is a better chance of people reading your author interview if you show your creativity wisely. And you want that creative element to shine early in the post to entice people to read it who might otherwise pass on the interview.
Here is a mirror interview that Charles did at Readful Things (Ionia Martin’s blog):
I like the question that it starts off with:
“What is one of the most difficult questions I have ever been asked in an interview?”
The picture for that interview also has a great quote:
“Never judge a book by its movie.”
CONTESTS & GIVEAWAYS
More than just announcing your new book, you can announce the chance to win something. As opposed to just giving your book away freely to everyone, people who win free books through contests often perceive that they’ve received something valuable.
In the past, Charles has included his book in Rafflecopter contests. (Before you run any contest, be sure to research the rules. It would be wise to also search for tips.)
Another option is a Goodreads giveaway. This has the added benefit of getting a hundred or so Goodreads customers to add your book to their to-read lists, which helps make your book appear somewhat more popular. With a wise choice of tags, you can get about 1000 views for a month-long giveaway. Most of the views come on the first and last days, but all the days in the middle do add up. When you can get exposure for an entire month, why not take it? (Note: You must have a print edition to run a Goodreads giveaway. You can use CreateSpace, for example, to make a print edition for your book.)
Tip: Browse through the list of tags at Goodreads to find the best matches for your book. Don’t dust throw darts at it.
Many of the reviewers are likely to post a review at Goodreads, and only a smaller percentage will also post it at Amazon. Some won’t review it anywhere. If you give away 5 to 10 copies, you have pretty good prospects for getting a few reviews or ratings.
I happen to have a Goodreads giveaway going on presently. You can enter for a chance to win my self-publishing 4-in-1 boxed set (presently available in the US only):
SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER
A special, limited-time offer can help draw more interest in your book, or encourage earlier support for your book.
This could be an introductory sale price, for example.
Or it could be a coupon or discount code, such as one you can generate through Smashwords or CreateSpace.
Often, when a book is launched, friends, family, and fans support the book with initial sales, and then sometime later the book goes on sale. What? The most loyal readers miss out on the savings? With a special introductory offer, it pays to be a loyal supporter.
Once you have a loyal following, you can benefit from preorders.
- Kindle Direct Publishing now offers a preorder option.
- You can also run a preorder for CreateSpace books through Amazon Advantage. There is an incredibly helpful post regarding this on the CreateSpace community forum.
One big advantage of preorders that not everyone realizes is that it gives you extra exposure:
- Coming Soon
- Last 30 Days
- Last 90 Days
Every book benefits from the Last 30 Days and Last 90 Days filters at Amazon. But only preorders derive added exposure with the Coming Soon filter. Get all the exposure for your book that you can (so long as you can draw enough support to generate preorder sales).
Tip: If you publish at CreateSpace, leave the publication date blank. This way the publication date will automatically be the date on which you press the Approve Proof button. It automatically maximizes your exposure in the new release categories.
There are many wonderful offline book marketing ideas that you can implement to build buzz for your book, and these can be a new author’s secret weapon.
See my Offline Book Marketing post to learn more (that post also features an author who uses this method effectively and creatively):
ABOUT CHARLES E. YALLOWITZ
Charles E. Yallowitz is the sword & sorcery fantasy author of the Legends of Windemere series.
Check out his WordPress blog:
Here is his Author Central page at Amazon:
Start with the first book of the series, Beginning of a Hero:
Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
- 4-in-1 Boxed set now available for Kindle and in print (both at special introductory prices)
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