I was talking with a fitness expert and trainer who was lamenting the fact that her latest fitness class was not attracting many participants. Unfortunately this meant her class had been cancelled. She said, “I love the training part but selling people on the class is something that I’m lousy at. I’ve just never been any good at selling.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve expressed that same sentiment. I’ve always maintained that I couldn’t possibly sell anything and now suddenly I’m involved in selling not only my books that I’ve written, but also my speaking package that I’ve put together. It’s taken me a while to wrap my mind around this change in perspective but here’s what I’ve learn and what I shared with the frustrated trainer. You have to stop thinking of what you are doing as selling. Instead you have to look at what you are doing as helping others, because if you are selling something worthwhile, helping others IS what you are doing. You are providing someone with a service, a product that they can truly use.
I’m planning a book launch for two (yes two!) books in September and I thought I’d give you some behind the scenes insight into my plans. The most difficult thing about writing and publishing a book comes after the fact. Why? Every writer wants to know that their work is making a difference somewhere, somehow and in order to accomplish that we must get the book out of our hands and into the hands of the appropriate audience. How do you accomplish this? I’m not going to pretend to be an expert but I’ve studied the process and learned a bit over the last 3 or so years and here’s five ways to have a successful book launch.
- First you must create a product that you believe in. You have to have a book that you believe is truly worthwhile. If it’s a story then you must believe that it is a great story with a message. If it’s a non-fiction book then you must believe that it has an important life-changing message to share. No one is going to be successful at selling uninspired work that they don’t believe in.
- Determine who is the best audience to target with your book. Who will benefit from reading it? Is it an engaging story that a young adult will enjoy? Is it a great picture book that a child will learn from? Is it designed to meet the needs of women in transition in their lives? Here's a great post on this very aspect of writing: Dan Blank's blog
- Develop a generous spirit. Find a way to give away something that will help the reader know why this book is meant for them. You can give away a chapter as a teaser. You can give away coloring sheets from a children’s book. You can have a contest and give the book away or provide a free audio book or ebook.
- Build the anticipation. It’s not enough to put out a few notices about a book being available. Begin weeks or even months in advance by telling people about the book. The latest creative method is to actually ask people not to buy the book until a certain date and then have a window of opportunity when they can purchase the book and get freebies—an audio copy, or digital copy for example.
- Recognize and use the resources available to you. Social media is certainly the going thing today and you want to be sure to use it. No matter how you engage with people, whether it is on Facebook or in the local coffee shop, remember to use pull marketing rather than push marketing. In the past selling and marketing was something that people did to you. They literally pushed you into something you didn’t much want to do. They convinced you, they cajoled you, they hammered you over the head with the message. And consumers turned it off. This is especially easy to do on social media. Instead, you must pull people in by offering something engaging and enticing. You pull them in by offering something that meets their needs. You pull them in by establishing a relationship.
Want a whole book that helps you decide how to market your book? I'd recommend: Stress-free Marketing by Renea Winchester. Michael Hyatt's book Platform is of course excellent as well.
Would you agree? What do you think it takes to have a successful book launch? What is your experience?