Monday, June 13, 2011

How to Launch Your Book: A Short Guide

Recently, a friend of mine published a book on the Kindle. He decided to shoot low, and sell it for 99 cents, and see what came out of it.

The dude is smart, and I like him a lot. So if any of the words you’re reading make it sound like I’m bagging on him, just know that’s not the case. I should say that before I say anything else.

At any rate, about two weeks after he put it on the Kindle, I asked him how sales were.

The answer was: He’d sold zero copies. In fact, as I type this, a week or two later, he’s still sold a grand total of zero books.

Now, in all honesty, I don’t know if he’s really that worried about it. He wrote a book (which is an accomplishment in itself) and now people can buy it if they want to. He might have done everything he wanted to in this particular instance.

But I’m guessing most people aren’t like my friend. At the very least, they’d like to sell a few copies of their book. Or write for a living. Or just, you know, have readers.

I’ll flat-out admit, I’m a rookie when it comes to this game. I’ve released three things on the Kindle and nook (one short story, a novelette, and a novel) as of this writing, and I’m selling steadily.

So if you want my kind of (semi)-success, here’s what you need to do to launch your book.

1. Put your book up on the Kindle and nook.

Can you sell it other places? Sure. But these are the big two.

2. Open up a Facebook account.

You probably have one of those. Otherwise, go to and create a Facebook profile. Then go out and friend everyone you know. And I mean this seriously. People you KNOW.

Friending random strangers is not where you’re going with this. Friend your family. Friend your friends. If you’re even a tiny bit social, you’ll probably have 100 friends in short order.

3. Make a Facebook fan page.

Go here:

Create a page. Use whatever name you’re going to use professionally. Which is the say, if you’re named John Smith, and you’re going to sell books as John K. Smith, make sure your fan page says you’re John K. Smith.

4. Start a Twitter account.

Go to Try to use your name, if you can, so people can find you by looking for

Then, set yourself a reminder to Tweet once a day. Twice a day, if you’re promoting your book, because telling people to buy your book gets old. By tweeting twice a day, you can tell everyone about your book, AND about how you really love marmosets.

5. Go to Goodreads.

You’ll find them at

Sign up and get an account. Locate your book.

Then tell Goodreads that you’re the author of the book. You can find out more information here:

6. Create a blog.

Easiest place I’ve found: Also, I’ve noticed most book bloggers use it.

You can make it fancy and use your cover art, but mostly, make sure you set up links on the side of the blog so people can find:

a) Your books.
b) Your Facebook fan page, Goodreads page, and Twitter page.

Then, set yourself a reminder to blog on some kind of schedule. Once a week is good. Three times a week is great. Five times a week is super-awesome.

What can you talk about? Talk about your book. Talk about stuff you like (100 Awesome Things about Marmosets). Try to talk more about stuff you like than about your book. That gets boring. It will even get boring to you, after a while.

7. Link everything to everything else.

Go back to your Facebook page, and tell everyone about your blog, and Goodreads page, and Twitter account, and Facebook fan page.

Most people will not flock to them. But some will, because they are nice people who want you to be happy.

Then go through your Fan page, and Twitter account, etc., and make sure that everything links to everything else.

Why? So people can find your book, of course.

Which leads me to the last part – which maybe should have been first.

8. Find book bloggers, and ask if they’ll review your book.

The fact is, if you’re being published by a publishing house, then, yes, they’re probably going to make sure critics get copies of your book. You can worry about this less.


If you’re self-publishing, and no one out there is talking about your book, chances are you’re not going to sell many (or any) copies.

How do you find book bloggers? Well, that’s a little more tricky.

A few thoughts.

a) Before doing anything, craft a generic letter. A paragraph that tells what your book is about. Really. Just one. Then a paragraph about who you are, and maybe why you wrote the book. Then, tell the blogger you’ll be happy to send them an e-copy of the book.
b) Figure out what genre your book is in. Figure out who writes those kinds of books. Google them. Find out who reviewed their books (a lot of times, authors link to their own reviews).

Email those book bloggers. Don’t email the New York Times.

Actually, don’t email those bloggers. First, look and see if they have a review policy, and then if they review self-published books, and will read e-books… then email them. Otherwise you’re wasting time.

Be sure to email them by name, even if you’re using a generic email. Instead of Dear Blogger, the letter should read, Dear Bob, or Dear Crazy Reader Blog.

If they email you back and say no, email them back and say thanks anyway. Because it’s polite.

If they email back and say yes, send them a copy of your book, and information on where to buy it. And a copy of the book cover isn’t a bad idea.

Then leave them alone, because they’re doing you a favor.

What will happen next?

Well, in an ideal world, you’ve written a good-to-great book, and you’ll get favorable reviews. Tweet those reviews into the world. And let people know on Facebook that people like your book.

Do that mostly on your Fan page, by the way. Or you might start to drive your friends and family up the wall.

After that? Well, it’s mostly about being social.

Check out other author’s blogs and Twitter accounts, see what they have to say. Say hello. Say thanks for the advice. And offer your thoughts on their thoughts.

You can also look into the Kindle boards, or join groups of people who are into your kind of thing online (Marmoset World!).

But more important than being interactive?

Keep writing.

It’s possible that your one book will fly off the virtual shelves and you’ll get rich. But chances are that if someone reads your book and likes it, they’ll want to buy more.

And if you don’t any anything else to sell them… they can’t buy it.

So happy writing, happy Social Networking, and most of all, happy selling!


  1. All good points and steps that should be taken whether you are trad published or self published. As far as sales go, sometimes it does take a while for them to pick up. I think it can be easier (or harder) to make sales right off the bat depending on what genre you are writing in. Who is your audience? And are you successfully reaching out to them in order to garner attention for your book? I'd also suggest becoming active on forums and messageboards that are geared toward your subject matter. That's where the fans are at. Also conventions, or appearances at local events. It takes a lot of time and work to properly promote your book. Exhausting, I know! But the payoff is worth it.

  2. Thanks! Great advice. Most of these I think I've done since I released my books a couple weeks ago on Amazon and Smashwords (which feeds B&N). I need to hunt for reviewers though. The promotion part of writing now seems to take up over half of my writing time. Is this typical or does it balance back after you get it rolling?

  3. In the end, I think you have to figure out what works best for you. After I released my first novel, I took a month or so off from writing and went hunting for bloggers who I thought would like my book (As it turns out, I was mostly right.)

    In the end, if people like your stuff, what they'll want is MORE STUFF. So take a couple weeks off, do a little publicity, and get back to writing. That's probably your best option...

  4. Good tips in this article. Don't forget the power of LinkedIn either. It is growing by leaps and bounds and has some top notch writers associated with it.

    Also, test your market value. Too many people are burned at the 99 cent level, I wonder if he bumped it up a dollar if it wouldn't get a few sells. The ripe price point is usually $2.99

    I'll pass this along to my associates, thanks for sharing!

  5. Great article and plenty of good advice. I had to smile a couple of times... Keep writing I suppose the best advice indeed. Thank you for sharing these ideas and steps with all of us. short but detailed!

  6. Great post. One thing with social media is don't do it unless you commit to it. If you create a fan page (and every author should have one), make sure you are on there regularly with great content that engages your fans. And play with the price point. I've seen authors price at $2.99, then drop it and see a jump in sales, and Amazon ranking, then they'll bump the price up for a while until sales die down. And yes, keep writing :)

  7. Very informative and simple! For people who are new in this business, this will set them on the proper path. Great article, I'm going to take your advice and go write. :)

  8. Great advice and I'm grateful for it! As a first-time writer myself I've been looking for blogs and articles like this one. Thank you!

  9. As an aspiring author I appreciate your post.

  10. Thanks Joshua, for an excellent article. Marketing is my big problem! I know nothing about marketing. Local sales of Book 1 were excellent and it seems that all who read it have bought Book 2, so I must be doing something right. I just need to reach a wider audience. NOEL BEAR

  11. Best tip ever: "Don’t email the New York Times."

    No, seriously. Great tip... the whole text was a great tip.