As I slowly update the website with our back episodes, I often end up thinking about what we’ve learned since. Listen to the episode, and you’ll hear things I did that I don’t think were worth it (like a physical giveaway) and things I’ve got my doubts about (pre-order bonuses).
But I was talking to a friend this week about the things I DO think were worthwhile in launching How to Be a Happier Parent.
I used Tim Grahl’s advice from his books Your First 100 Copies and Book Launch Blueprint. I took advice from my agent, from Jess, from Sarina, and from anywhere I could find it. I also tracked what worked, and what didn’t, and have been since the launch. These are the 10 things I did that actually sold books.
- Publish an excerpt or an original piece in a major newspaper with a wide reach–but not too early. The week of publication is best. Unless you really think you’re going to hit the list with your pre-orders–and in case you’re deluded, unless your agent and editor think so too–doing this when people can actually buy the book is best. A few thoughts on this–you’d think you need to be writing on the same topic as your book, and it probably helps–but any topic will do if people like what you’ve written. I had pieces in the NYT, Boston Globe and WashPo around the launch, and those sold books. I had another piece in the Times on a completely unrelated topic four months later–and that sold books, too.
- Go on a morning show. Sorry. You asked what sold books. That sold books. I know it’s hard to achieve, but it works.
- Ask your friends and family and all your people to buy the book. Directly. In so many words. In a series of emails, the day you launch and over the following week or so. You don’t have to spam them. We’re talking four emails. (Most of them won’t buy it the first time.)
- Ask people to share in their emails. I’m glad I used Share Link Generator to make it easy for people to share on social, too, and I will do that again–but the only time I could see the sales result was when someone with a big following put my book in their email, and recommended it.
- Be a guest on a podcast for people who don’t read books. This is weird, but true. I got more results from podcasts that were not for readers, but for people with a different interest group–in my case, health and wellness, and inspiration.
- Build a quiz. People love quizzes. Mine helps you find the parenting mantra you need right now to get happier. I built it using TypeForm. When I publicized it–and even more, when someone ELSE put it on their email list–that sold books.
- Write something else for a major outlet. Post launch, that’s still the thing that pops book sales up most–a nice shareable piece with the name of the book at the bottom of it. About pretty much anything.
- Be a guest on any podcast, go anywhere, do anything. During weeks when I do something, more copies sell than during weeks when I don’t do anything. Go figure.
So I guess the upshot is this: Always. Be. Launching.
It never ends, and we really don’t want it to.