Friday 30 June 2017

Indie spotlight: how to launch a new book like a pro by Tim Gurung

Hong-Kong-based Tim Gurung edits indie spotlight, Asia Books Blog’s monthly column on self-publishing. Tim is the self-published author of both fiction and non-fiction titles. His non-fiction covers topics as various the Gurkhas, the afterlife, fatherhood, and women's rights. Launching a book can be nerve-wracking. Tim here draws on his own experience to offer a few tips, particularly for debut authors.

Whether you are an established or a new author, launching your book can be scary as well as exciting, and for new authors, who must generally take on all the responsibilities of marketing themselves, it can even be quite intimidating.

You need to be fully prepared if you are to get a decent result, as I know from direct experience, most recently with the launch of my 9th book, The Broken People From God’s Land.  Here I list a few tips you may find helpful while launching your own new book.

Marketing experts say you should start marketing your book even before the very first word is written, and I agree with them. Get a plan in place early! Whether you are a traditionally published or a self-published author, without a solid marketing plan your book will go nowhere.

In addition to the all-important polished and well-edited manuscript itself, self-published authors must have seven things decided and available, or completed, well before pressing the 'publish' button: cover; title; brief description; keywords; category; formatting, and pricing.

Even before you press publish, you must also have functioning a clear, attractive and easy-to-use website. Here you should at least have the details of your new book, as well as your biography, a link to your blog, and a subscription pop-up. And yes, you should start blogging as soon as you embark on a career as a self-published author.

You should also have an author page, or account, either with Facebook or Twitter, or best of all with both. Your author accounts should be separate from your personal ones. I use both Facebook and Twitter for my marketing but I prefer Twitter as it's quicker to use.

Facebook ads can help you gain readers, but the cost per click, or CPC rate, can make them prohibitively expensive.  If you can afford them, ads should be connected to a free book offer, and deliver the free book through email marketing providers like MailChimp and Bookfunnel. If you don't know how to connect your book to a marketing provider, you should consider hiring an expert to do that job for you. One warning: I found out that Facebook ads mostly work for authors who already have a huge following, and unfortunately that's a real problem for the rest of us!

Once you have Facebook and Twitter sorted, you should create an online review group, a sort of book club, where readers can both read and review your new book, and any subsequent ones. You need to offer incentives so readers stick around. You could offer access to unpublished material, or to work-in-progress. A thriving review group enables you and your readers to grow together.

Next, you need to do several things concurrently: offer advanced reading copies (ARC copies) to your readers and friends; cross-promote with fellow authors; organise free giveaways of your book; arrange as many free promotions as you possibly can.

A big challenge comes once your new book is listed at Amazon for pre-order.  You must then promote it almost nonstop and try to create as much buzz as possible through different social media platforms and word-of-mouth.

Amazon gives you 90 days for pre-order listing. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP Select) gives you not only a 70% royalty, but also an international market covering thirteen countries, plus friendly and helpful customer service.

We now come to your email list - and I can't emphasise its importance enough here. The earlier you start building your email list the better. You can offer a free book giveaway, the chance of reading your next book, gift vouchers, signed copies and anything else you can think of as incentives for readers to subscribe to your email list. Alternatively, you can buy ads or pay experts to help build your subscription list. Note that building an email list will take time and you should be prepared for the long haul.

You should send subscribers to your email list a regular newsletter. The success and reach of your newsletter could determine your success or failure as an author and it should be a high priority for  each and every author, whether new or not.

In the first week of the launch, you should aim for as much promotion as possible. Place ads with book marketing blogs. Some of these offer free exposure. During the launch week, use different blogs each day, and squeeze in as many as possible. It costs to place ads with the bigger blogs, but your baby certainly needs wings to fly at the beginning, and ads will help provide them.

After the launch, you must build on the initial burst of promotion according to your marketing plan; keep up the buzz and good results will eventually start rolling in. Sales figure should grow, reviews should start showing up, and readers should start commenting on your book on their own social media sites. If necessary, add a few more ads a few weeks after publication, to encourage the marketing engine to keep rolling.