Yesterday, I shared some tips to help authors (and aspiring authors) develop a successful book PR launch. Today’s tips hone in on how to maximize the actual launch. Note that these tips are based on the assumption that you worked on building and nurturing a community as you were planning and writing the book. Now, it’s time to put that network to work. Proactive, agressive, smart outreach can drive book sales. Some ideas to get you started:
- Build a blogger program. Many publishers have programs in place to connect authors with new releases, but I’d venture to guess you can get a bit more creative and create an actual blogger outreach program that will extend beyond a handful of bloggers. For example, we when we worked on the launch for One Piece of Paper, a leadership book, we developed a #LeadershipTag program. We began by identifying people who write about corporate leadership and leadership development. Then, we asked them to create their own one-page leadership philosophy (the concept behind the book). When they posted it, we asked them to “tag” a few people in their community to encourage them to create their own leadership outline. By adding a bit of fun to the campaign, we were able to connect with bloggers in the target audience and tap into their existing networks — helping us reach an even wider audience.
- Activate your network. Having an online community – Twitter followers, blog readers, newsletter subscribers, Facebook friends/fans, fellow pinners, Instagrammers and so on – is critical, especially for first-time or up-and-coming authors. But, having a network is different than activating a network. Think through ideas to encourage your readers, subscribers and friends to help you spread the word about your new book.
- Pitch compelling news hooks. If you aren’t a major, famous author, the fact that you’re launching a book may not be enough of a hook to spark significant media coverage. Instead, brainstorm story angles based on themes in the book that are more likely to pique their interest. Be very specific and very targeted. What trends will media be writing about and is there a way for you to offer commentary or examples? Instead of pitching a story about the book launch (which likely won’t be covered by major media), use your newfound status as an author to bolster your credentials as a resource for stories the media will be writing.
- Create connection points. If brand recognition requires requires 5-12 touchpoints, how many connection points do you think it takes before someone feels like they’re part of your community? Especially if you’re trying to develop a broader movement around your the concepts in your book, you need to create opportunities to connect with people in places where they’re already spending their time. That doesn’t mean you need a full-fledged book tour, filled with stops at bookstores in a dozen or more cities. You can also reach individuals via Google Hangouts, exclusive blogger briefings, and Twitter chats. Plus, don’t underestimate the importance of a few well-placed guest posts on high-traffic blogs read by people likely to buy your book. (Some call this the Tim Ferris effect … similar to what used to be the Oprah effect, but for the online world.)
- Maximize Launch Day. After all the hard work, don’t spend Launch Day behind your computer hitting “refresh” on Amazon, trying to see if you’re ranking is climbing or falling. Instead, use the day to build upon the early momentum. One of my favorite recent Launch Day activities came from Amy Jo Martin, author of Renegades Write the Rules. Twice on launch day, she tweeted a phone number to her 1.2 million Twitter followers, inviting them to call the “Renegade Hotline” and speak directly with her. The second time, Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, answered calls with her. This was a very low-cost, fun way to generate extra excitement around the launch.
Ready to launch your next book? Innovate best practices. Be smart, creative and proactive. Planning ahead to integrate traditional and digital PR will help you maximize the launch — ultimately selling more books and climbing the charts. Onward and upward!