You just had your first book launch, and you're still on cloud nine. Don't get me wrong, you're exhausted but there's something so heartwarming about seeing your project finally come to life. To see the reviews pour in at a steady pace, the pictures pop up in your inbox, and the royalties continue to rise.
Your book launch was a success, and you're so proud of what you accomplished...how do you make the next one even better?
In this blog post, I'm going to share my top strategies for scaling your book launch so that you can get more done in less time while increasing your book sales and your impact.
#1 Analyze your book launch marketing plan
Before you make any changes, you first need to take a deep dive into your book launch to learn what went well and what didn't. Sometimes, authors will decide that a specific strategy just doesn't work for their book so they'll never try it again...when what really happened is that their execution didn't work for them.
For example, let's say you tried posting in Facebook groups but it didn't result in anything. No comments, no launch team members, no engagement. Before you cut this strategy from your future book launch plans, you need to look at what you did with an analytical eye. What types of groups did you post in? Were they high quality? Does your target audience hang out there?
What about the post itself - is there something about the text that didn't speak to your target audience? Did your post get lost in the shuffle?
These questions should just keep coming. The more you know and understand about what you did and why it did (or didn't ) work for you, the better prepared you'll be for your next book launch. You'll be able to make meaningful changes that attract leads and sales like a magnet, rather than you fighting for attention. But getting there doesn't always happen right away. Celebrate your successes, figure out why those strategies got you results, and then do more of that. And for the strategies that flopped, discover what might have held you back and see what you can try next!
#2 Start early
I can't stress this enough - time is your friend. So many authors think that marketing begins after a book is published but that's not the case. If you wait that long, you'll be fighting for every sale instead of watching them snowball.
Start marketing as soon as you can. If you're being traditionally published, they'll set a publication date for you about 1-2+ years in the future. If you're self-publishing, you are the publisher so you'll get to set that date.
Books release on Tuesdays
Books don't release between mid-October and mid-January (and there's a good reason for that!)
Time is your friend (I feel like I've said this before... 😉)
It is not a good idea to get your final files in hand and hit "publish" right away. Even a few weeks isn't enough time to have a well-done book release! So what do I recommend?
If you're self-publishing your children's book, pick a publication date 6-9+ months from when you receive your final files from your formatter. (If you're being traditionally published, start marketing 6-9+ months from the publication date set by the publisher.) This gives you plenty of time to do things like:
Gather editorial reviews (takes 2-3+ months)
Build a launch team and send out ARCs (takes 2-3+ months)
Set-up preorders (takes 4-6 weeks to appear on Amazon)
Order offset print books, if applicable (3-4+ months)
Grow and nurture your email list (3-4+ months)
...just to name a few strategies. By the end of this month (August 2023), I'll have the finished PDF files for my next picture book in my inbox, ready to go. But I already know that I'm not releasing this book until March 2024. Could I release this book before Christmas? Sure! But what would happen is...
❌ I'd either release too late and my book would get lost in the shuffle
❌ release too soon and have no time to do 90% of the things I need to do
I'd get little to no sales, few reviews, and I'd be a ball of stress through it all. By giving myself time, I'll be able to spread out the workload, so I can keep a healthy work-life balance. I'll also be able to cast a wider net - pitch more media outlets, reach out to more influencers, make meaningful connections with my target audience, and network. You can't rush quality!
As exciting as publishing a book is, slow down. Taking your time builds excitement! There's a reason that movies have trailers leading up to the big day. It's the same reason why events will advertise the date in advance. The anticipation will make people more excited and invested in your book.
#3 Automate as much as possible
This is widely talked about in business, but I wish authors talked about it more. Automation has allowed me to work more in fewer hours. Yes, you read that right. Setting up automations can take some time but once they're up, they're up. They work like little 24/7 employees that you don't have to pay. Honestly, there's so much you can automate.
A few examples:
Grow your email list: You can set up a lead magnet on your website and when subscribers enter their email address, an automated email will deliver the freebie for you.
Email marketing: There are all kinds of emails and sequences that you can send to people based on actions they take or pages they visit. For example, if someone on your website added your book to their cart but didn't purchase, you can have an automation send them an email reminder to check out!
Deliver digital products: If you have templates, coloring pages, lesson plans, or other digital downloads on your website, and automation can deliver them to buyers for you.
Bookings: If you're offering in-person or virtual author visits and events, going back and forth with your availability can get time consuming. Instead, you can use a booking link like Calendly or Wix Bookings and send that to your contact. They can click the link, pay, and pick a date/time that works for both of you. You can also put this link directly on your website so that anyone can book you for a presentation, if that's okay with you.
The possibilities are endless! I have funnels running in the background that grow my email list on autopilot. For my book launches, I sit down early on and preschedule every email in advance so that I can focus on the other parts of my launch plan - the parts I can't automate.
Really, that's the whole point. If you automate the busy work, that frees up your schedule to do the things that only you can do. The things you can't set and forget or outsource.
#4 Outsource when it makes sense
There will come a point where there's just too much to do on your own, especially as your publication list grows. When that happens, you have a few options. You can prioritize and let some tasks go (which may hurt your growth) or you can find ways to take some of the work off of your plate.
If there are specific marketing strategies that you know you aren't good at or you just don't like, start there. You can hire a virtual assistant for around $25/hour but you'll have to make time to train them. They aren't going to have the same writing and publishing knowledge and insight as you, so if you're hiring them to help with your book launch, it would be smart to start training a few weeks before that.
Not everyone has time to train an assistant though so if that's the boat you're in, hire a publicist or a service provider who is an expert in that marketing strategy. There are plenty of Facebook ad agencies out there, for example.
Personally, I don't have a designer's eye so I outsource any and all book mockups, marketing materials, and other graphics that I'll need for my book launch. Yes, it costs money but having a professional do it instead looks better and saves me a ton of time. This lets me focus on the parts of my marketing plan that I am strong at and ultimately, allows me to scale my success with every launch.
A book launch is an invaluable tool for your growth and success as an author, so don't settle! Your book launch marketing plan should be a repeatable process that you improve with each publication, allowing you to reach more and more people. Need help? Join our Profitable Picture Books program.