When it comes to optimizing and leveraging the internet in order to sell more books, there’s no limit to the list of things you could do. So… what should you do? Which efforts are worth your time and resources? Which ones make the biggest impact?
From my experience helping multiple New York Times bestselling authors launch their books, I’ve identified the three most important ingredients every author should include in their book launch strategy. Successful authors take these steps, and they see a big payoff as a result.
1. Create a dedicated landing page for your book
When I first mention this to many authors, they think, “Oh, I have that. Check.” But… they don’t. A “landing page” is a webpage that has only one purpose and absolutely no distractions. That means no top menu, no side-bar, not even social media icons in the footer. The entire page is designed around one outcome: getting readers to buy your book. This landing page can be on your current website, but it doesn’t have to be.
Often publishers and authors have a limited budget when it comes to their ad spend. You don’t want to waste this money by sending paid traffic to a page that doesn’t convert that traffic to a book-buyer.
2. Make make it easy for friends and influencers to share about your book
Most authors have other author friends who are delighted to spread the word about their friends’ books—that is, if you make it easy for them. If you have connections or close relationships with people who have large platforms, it’s definitely worth reaching out to ask if they will spread the word about your book. But—and this is key!—you have to make it a win/win opportunity.
Unless you’ve been BFF’s for a decade, you can’t expect someone who has spent years (plus some money, sweat, and tears) building their audience to just use it to link to your book’s page on Amazon. It’s just not realistic. I suggest that all authors create what internet marketers call a “Swipe File.”
I recommend setting up your “Swipe File” in a Google Doc so that you can share it easily, or even link to it in your email signature during your book launch. Your “Swipe File” will include pre-written social media content so that friends and influencers only have to copy and paste it (or perhaps customize) and very clear information about when they should schedule it.
Since I’ve worked for influencers who have hundreds of thousands (if not millions!) of followers, I’ve been on the receiving end of these types of requests. It’s always best to have a few types of suggestions, depending on your relationship to the person you’re asking and their willingness to spend their social capital for you.
Remember that reaching out to someone with a large platform about promoting your book is a big ask—and a big opportunity for you. You don’t want to miss the chance to connect with a new community of readers because you didn’t make it simple for an author to promote your book. Maybe the author was willing to champion your work, but didn’t have the time to figure out what to share. Or maybe their social media assistant posted it the wrong day because you didn’t send clear instructions. Don’t let this happen! Make. It. Easy. Create a Swipe File!
3. Design a pre-order strategy.
Most authors know that pre-orders matter, but they don’t quite understand why. Here’s the super short version: Pre-orders create buzz. Buzz = good.
Pre-orders build excitement among retailers and the press because they show which books have a strong appeal to readers. Plus, pre-orders usually count towards book sales for your first week, which can give you a chance at hitting one of the bestseller lists (and I’m not talking about just your Amazon category.) I’ve even heard of an author’s book getting picked up in Target all because of their pre-order numbers.
There’s also a lot of indirect bonuses. The more people who receive your book on the day it’s published, the more Amazon and Goodreads reviews you’ll receive, and the more readers will be snapping photos of your book next to their soy latte to post on Instagram.
The bottom line? Pre-orders matter. Investing your time and money into designing a pre-order strategy will generate buzz and long-lasting value.