6 Common Book Launch Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs:
Guest Post by Desiree Villena
Launching your book is arguably more challenging than writing it. After all, you’re a writer, not a marketer, and there’s a massive to-do list of tasks:
—sending offers to your email subscribers
—deciding on price promotions
—possibly even planning a launch party!
Publishers will lend you a hand if you’re going the traditional route, but when self-publishing, you’ll do most of the work yourself — and that’s where mistakes can happen.
On that note, let’s talk about six of the most common book launch mistakes and how not to make them, so that you have a smooth(er) launch. We’ll be focusing on the digital aspect because online marketing is essential whether you are a novelist or nonfiction writer and regardless of how much experience you have.
Not Investing in a Strong Book Cover
(Covers, above, by Isabelle Arné, Jason Anscomb and Patrick Knowles, from the gallery of book cover art)
Unfortunately, despite the overused idiom, people do tend to judge books by their covers — at least when they’re considering whether to buy them. Even when buying classic books that have been reprinted numerous times, we already more-or-less know what’s inside, so our decision to buy often rests on how the volume looks.
And for lesser-known books, the group to which yours likely belongs, a visually unappealing cover can lead to readers’ disregarding it altogether. Unless they’re first compelled to click on your book cover, they probably won’t even make it to the first line.
Many self-publishing authors, especially those working on their first launches, are tempted to cut costs by making their own covers. However, unless you are very familiar with design tools and artistic styles, this decision is bound to backfire. Now’s not the time to skimp! A professional cover will pay for itself once you launch your book.
On a separate but related note, your book’s interior design should also be perfected (and, yes, this is crucial, even if you’re only selling ebooks!). Regardless of medium, reading is about more than just enjoying a book’s content; you also need to facilitate a smooth visual experience, and interior design is a huge part of that.
Failing to Utilize Back Matter
Speaking of what’s inside your book, let’s talk about back matter, or end matter. This comes after the main contents of your book and often includes an epilogue, acknowledgements and an appendix. But don’t limit your back matter to just these things — instead, try to tap further into the interests of your readers while they’re still thinking about your work!
Consider providing some personal information about yourself and your book — perhaps its conception or charming stories about the writing process. You might include a Q & A from yourself, ideally led by another author, to shed light on certain details. If this is a nonfiction book, include a guide or a link to your website for more useful information.
Indeed, encouraging readers to visit your primary landing page helps you build a rapport with them. It also increases the chances of their buying your future books.
Marketing has to be continuous if you’re building a career as an author, so don’t make the mistake of passing over this opportunity! Not only will you be adding readers to your leads, you’ll be taking them one step closer to a platform where they can buy and review your book.
Rushing Through the Book Description
Once you’ve ensured your book is optimally designed and structured for its launch, it’s time to return to Amazon and construct a perfect product page. Amazon self-publishing can be your best friend, if you know how to do it efficiently, and that means writing a stellar book description!
But make no mistake, your book’s blurb is not its description, and you can’t just stick it on your product page and call it a day. Ideally, a blurb summarizes the book’s content in a way that makes the reader curious about it, while a description does more than that — it addresses the reader more directly. Think of your description as a sales pitch; if you’ve cranked out an attractive blurb, you’re about one-third of the way there.
The other two-thirds include the parts that sandwich your blurb: a first-line hook and an encouraging ending. The hook should be short but impressive, while the end can be more elaborate.
One effective technique is to let readers know what to expect in terms of genre by mentioning well-known similar books or comparable titles. You could also include a review or two to boost the credibility of such comparisons:
(above, from the Amazon product page for This Changes Everything by Sally Ember, Ed.D., The Spanners Series, Volume I)
Make sure to put your “grabby” bits at the beginning! Amazon only displays the first couple of lines of your description by default — the buyers will have to click “read more” if they’re curious — so this book description structure can really make a difference in terms of converting traffic into sales.
(Note that these tips also apply to your Amazon Author Page, but that’s less crucial to sales than your book product page itself.)
Planning for a Short Launch
Setting your book’s presentation aside for now, let’s dive into actual marketing strategy. As mentioned, book marketing is an ongoing task for most authors, although many believe it’s only a one-time thing. As a result, a lot of authors start their marketing campaigns too close to their launch dates and end them too early.
To combat this, consider dividing your campaign into pre-launch, soft-launch, and the final move in order to generate a constant flow of new buyers. Given that the Amazon algorithm tends to favor books with steady sales over a longer period of time, you should definitely plan for a process that lasts at least a month, from pre-launch to finally letting your book sell on its own.
There are plenty of strategies and tools you can use to fill up this month. For example, for the pre-launch, it’s generally good practice to provide free previews for people who are already following you before the release date, so you can attract reviews as soon as possible.
For the soft launch, consider making your book free or deeply discounted for several days, especially if you are a new author and have limited preexisting reach. Otherwise, just be ready to sell the book cheaply for a week or so to gain traffic and reviews!
The final phase of this gradual process is to increase to the standard price. Maybe do one last round of email marketing to those who haven’t responded to your previous calls to action.
Not Optimizing Your Ads
One cannot talk about launching a book without advertisement — but optimizing your book’s ads can be tricky. There are three main platforms to choose from when it comes to advertising your book: Facebook, Amazon, and BookBub. If you are publishing through Amazon, it’s handy to use its advertisement tool as well, since you’ve already done most of the work by creating the perfect book description with good keywords and category tags.
Unfortunately, things aren’t so simple when it comes to advertising on other platforms. The audiences on Facebook and BookBub are very different, since Facebook is obviously a much less book-focused community. Consequently, advertising on each requires different practices (you can learn more about that from Mark Dawson and David Gaughran, respectively). It may seem harmless to ignore these subtle differences, but you’ll save yourself a world of stress and money if you can adapt specifically to the algorithm of each platform.
Disregarding Professional Help
So you need to maintain an online presence on several platforms, refine your Amazon product and author pages, create extra promotional materials, and get your Facebook and BookBub ads going. Despite all there is to do, most authors simply roll up their sleeves and take it on — because how hard can it be, right? On top of that, doing things yourself means cutting costs.
But of course, the day-to-day responsibilities of promoting a book can really add up. On any given day, you could be researching anything from Amazon algorithms to Facebook ads. The five mistakes previously covered should give you an idea of how much can go wrong when you don’t have the expertise. Also, even if you can handle each small task individually, it’s unlikely that you can give 100% to all of them at once.
The result may be that nothing will be of high quality. What’s worse, you won’t be able to keep track of how each part of your campaign is working, i.e., what is most effective in increasing traffic and fostering conversion. Consequently, it’ll be hard to know how to revise your strategies for maximum success.
The truth is, you’ll do much better with professional help. Most authors have at least one weak spot where they could use some assistance: a fiction author who writes in a popular genre may want advice on how to narrow down the vast market, while a nonfiction writer may want help dealing with metadata and website optimization. No matter what your situation, rest assured that hiring the right marketers will not be a waste. If anything, it’s a valuable investment not just in your current launch, but in your next launch, too.
Launching a book can sometimes feel like launching a rocket. It may be a bumpy journey from here, but don’t be discouraged; at least now you can avoid making some common mistakes (and you can access even more tips through the guide linked here). With the right help and mindset, you’ll be able to get through it all.
Good luck, and happy marketing!
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She’s very passionate about indie publishing and hopes to help as many authors as possible achieve their dreams!
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