Monday, April 14, 2014

Steps to a Great Book Launch by Carol J. Alexander

Author Carol J. Alexander knows a bit about book launches. Her latest ebook, Homestead Cooking with Carol was released in January and has caused quite a stir (no pun intended!). It boasts fifteen five star reviews already. Readers are thrilled with Carol's friendly, down to earth style, helpful advice, resources, and recipes. I was pleased when she suggested sharing her book launch experience. Whether you have aspirations of writing a book or not, I think you'll find Carol's tips and insight inspiring.

Steps to a Great Book Launch
                                                                                             
By Carol J. Alexander

Labor Day, 2013 marked the beginning for me. That weekend, while vacationing with my sister in Denver, I started my book Homestead Cooking with Carol: Bountiful Make-ahead Meals. I didn’t intend to begin while at my sister’s. I enrolled in a class to get this thing done and that is when the class began. 

From start to launch, the process took five months. I didn’t begin from scratch, though. I began with a handful of blog posts that I thought would make a great book. The instructor helped me to turn them into something folks would buy. If you’re interested in a class in micro-publishing, check out the offerings of Christina Katz

This post isn’t about the process of writing an e-book that sells; it’s about how to get that book in front of the masses, in front of those folks that will pay for your hard work. So follow along as I take you on my journey to launch.

Have a Tribe

In 2007, I began a blog. I had no interest in blogging. I did it because I read in Writer’s Digest that writers need a platform. The platform that I’ve worked to build since that time is what sold my book right out of the chute. 

I don’t have big numbers. A few thousand, total, if you add my email list with my blog and Facebook followers. But I capitalized on those numbers, and those relationships, when it came time to spread the word. If you don’t have a tribe, it’s foolish to think that your book will be found among the millions of others on Amazon’s shelves.

Collect Testimonials

When I had a final draft, I contacted folks in my niche and asked them to read my book and give me two to three sentences I could use on my sales page. I asked every day folks, and I asked top name bloggers. Once I had the testimonials, I created emails to send out to my list and I created the landing page for my website.

Soft Launch

Before the digital version was ready, I did a soft launch of the PDF version to just my tribe. I had a giveaway for a free copy on my blog; I offered a special introductory price just for my followers; and I hosted a Facebook party to talk about homestead cooking. By doing this, I was alerted to anything that needed adjustment (like pesky typos) before the digital conversion. The soft launch also helped me to earn the money I needed to pay for BookBaby to handle the digital distribution.

Waiting
 
The toughest part in the process of a book launch is waiting on others. I wanted to launch my book in time for the Christmas shopping season. That didn’t happen. The hardest part was waiting on BookBaby, and then for it to hit Amazon shelves. Use this waiting time to get your ducks in a row. It will pay off later.

Hard Launch

For the launch in digital formats, I had a team of 18 bloggers waiting to do a blog tour. Some of them simply reviewed the book. Some interviewed me, some tried out recipes. As soon as I saw the book on Amazon, I emailed them to get reviews up. You want as many reviews on Amazon as you can get before anyone goes to buy your book. 

We started the tour the next Monday and it ran for two weeks. Every day on Facebook I announced the next stop in the tour. The bloggers shared with their tribes, added the reviews to blog hops, and pretty much went out of their way to promote my book. They did this because they wanted to help. It goes back to those relationships I built over the years. These folks also know I will do the same for them when they need it.

Also during the launch, I hosted a teleconference to discuss homestead cooking. It was another way to connect with readers, promote the book, and build relationships.

Ongoing Promotion

Book promotion never ends. I have a review/interview scheduled for a national magazine. I write related magazine articles and mention the book in my bio. Also, make sure you create an author page on Amazon and list it in your email signature. Just this week an editor offered me a regular cooking column because she saw “cooking” in my email signature.



Shortly after my soft launch, I noticed a huge spike in blog traffic. A major blog had linked to my granola post and it was driving a lot of folks my way. To capitalize on that traffic, I created a little ad for my book and dropped it at the end of every one of my food-related posts. "For more homestead cooking ideas like this one, get a copy of Homestead Cooking with Carol: Bountiful Make-ahead Meals." I hyperlinked the ad to my landing page.


Print launch

I’ve had a lot of requests for a print version of Homestead Cooking. I’m looking into the possibilities. When that happens, I will have another launch event to get the word out. I will also have books to carry in my bag wherever I go, to sell at conferences, to give as gifts.




A few more random tips that helped me:

  • Make a checklist of absolutely everything, even minor things that you could forget.
  • Test everything: every link, every page, everything.
  • Do not do technical tasks late at night when you are tired. Things that involve coding, setting e-junkie parameters, uploading, downloading, or things that require a fresh mind. If you do, and a reader finds your mistakes, thank her/him profusely. 
  • Send out winning copies from giveaways promptly. When you send out those copies, ask for an Amazon review.

That’s about it. I’d be happy to answer any questions in the comments. Or if you have a success to share, please let us hear about it, too. :)


Visit Carol:

Her website 

Her blog

Amazon author page

Buy Homestead Cooking with Carol


Great advice, thanks Carol, for sharing with us. Wishing you all the best!

Do you have any questions for Carol? Do you have a "tribe"? Are you part of one?

Have a great week,

Karen

29 comments :

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey and these tips, Carol!

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    1. Sure thing, Tyrean. Anything I can do to help others on the same journey.

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  2. All excellent tips! There is so much to do before a launch - put the waiting time to use.

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    1. Absolutely, Alex. And, prepare before you even decide to write a book.

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  3. This is a treasure trove of tips and hints. Thank you both! And best wishes for great book sales.

    To both. :)

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  4. I have a few cookbooks out and I've never truly promoted them. I should and your tips are inspirational.

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    1. You should definitely promote them. I'm sure you'd see a difference in your sales.

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  5. Hi Carol. These are great tips and I will file this away for later this summer when my book will be (hopefully) ready for launch. I was honored to be part of your tribe! Homestead Cooking With Carol is a fantastic resource, especially if you were brought up eating packaged food.

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    1. Thank you, Janet. I couldn't have done it without you and others.

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  6. Thanks for the excellent advice and tips! I love the cover of your book.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. Don't skimp on the cover. The cover is what will initially sell your book. The contents will get you the five-star reviews that keep it selling. It pays to pay a professional.

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  7. Tyrean,
    You know some about the self pub journey too! You both have done such a great job! :)

    Alex,
    Seems like you can always be doing something, doesn't it? :)

    Rhonda,
    I agree! Carol's offered some great advice. Glad you stopped by!:)

    HP,
    Oh you should, I agree with Carol! I had no idea you had a few cookbooks out. Would love to see them. :)

    Janet,
    It's great to meet a member of the tribe! Carol's a treasure, isn't she? :) Best wishes with your book!

    Donna,
    I love the cover of Carol's book too! So inviting and just lovely! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  8. Great tips, Carol. I hadn't thought of the soft vs hard launch.

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    1. That is something Christina suggests in her class, Natalie.

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  9. Dear Karen and Carol....Thanks so much for the post.

    Gosh, Carol, congratulations on the book. Sounds like an immense task to get the word out there but you DID it!

    That is really commendable. Everything sounds absolutely great!

    This was very helpful post. Thank you both so very much. Susan

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  10. Hi Karen - what a great guest blogger and friend and cookery supremo .. and now book launcher ..

    Carol has done you proud here .. and what an interesting read ... and I've kept it open to come back to re-look at and think around ..

    Thanks and good luck with the book itself format .. sounds like you're definitely on a winner .. cheers Hilary

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  11. Susan,
    So glad to got to hear about Carol's journey. It's inspiring, isn't it? :) Can't wait to read her book.

    Hilary,
    Don't you just love the cover? I agree, Carol has done a great job. I've learned a lot from her experience.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  12. Carol: Thank you for sharing these ideas with us. These may come in handy for me one of these days.

    Thank you, Karen, for inviting Carol to your blog.

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  13. Great advice! Thanks for sharing your insight, Carol! I like the idea of making a list so that nothing will get overlooked. Wishing Carol the best of luck. :)
    ~Jess

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  14. Cecelia,
    Glad you enjoyed the post. Carol has a lot of insight and good ideas, doesn't she?

    Jess,
    Carol offers some great ideas, I agree! I am a list person, but don't always make ones for things like this, so it's a good reminder. Thanks for stopping! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  15. Amazing tips. Carol is a pro. I need to incorporate more of these things.

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  16. Great advice and tips from Carol. Thanks for sharing. All the best!

    Thanks Karen!

    Nas

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  17. Medeia,
    I agree, she is! She knows her stuff. :) I too, need to get going with some of this.

    Nas,
    Glad you enjoyed it. Carol knows what she's talking about, that's for sure!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  18. Great info. Thanks for sharing, Carol, and thanks to Karen for providing the forum!

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  19. I loved her step by step launch information. Very well done.

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  20. Lisa,
    You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Lee,
    I know, me too! It's a big help, isn't it? :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  21. Wow! What fabulous information! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm totally lacking in my foundation should I actually need to launch... Great motivation!!

    Happy Easter, Karen (May God richly bless you in all your efforts.)

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  22. I do have a tribe! I'm still working on it, of course, but I try and help everyone out who asks. Maybe someday they will reciprocate. Great advice, thanks!

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  23. Shannon,
    I'm glad! I wonder if the tribe is always a work in progress, as our projects, interests, and life progresses and dictates, you know. Thanks for coming by!
    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!