A surprising book launch case study

Today I want to share a case study of a book launch with an author I have been working with — her novel will be released in late October. The other day, she and I were reviewing the book marketing plans we crafted, and the early results so far. Her book has been receiving a lot of support, and this was her reaction: “It shook me a little bit. I never had an experience like this before. I’ve had books do well, but never had this success so fast.”

Okay, let’s dig into the book launch case study…

Mary’s Book Launch Plans

I’ve been working with Mary Carroll Moore who will be releasing her novel A Woman’s Guide to Search & Rescue on October 24th. We are still weeks away from release date, and she said “I’ve met my goals of pre-orders already!”

While she has a rich history with publishing books (14 since the late 1980s!), this is her first book in over a decade, and her first novel since 2009. What that means is that this is her first time publishing into today’s marketplace, which is quite different from how books were marketed years ago.

She says: “I’ve been published forever, and now I’m doing so much myself, it’s amazing how much is out there that you can do. I feel like a kid in a candy store.”

What are the results so far? Here are some:

  • Her book is already hitting Amazon bestseller lists in multiple categories.
  • On Goodreads, her book has 19 reviews and 22 ratings so far, with a 5.00 star average.
  • She has a street team with 60 people who are embracing her book and helping to spread the word.
  • She will be a guest on at least 6 podcasts in the coming weeks.
  • Her book has been featured on a #bookstagram tour for her cover reveal on Instagram, ensuring the cover is seen by thousands of potential readers.

But, I would also say that a clear result of her marketing efforts is a feeling of validation and joy that Mary has been expressing — knowing that her book is being seen and embraced. This is what so many authors dream of: to not feel alone in this process, and to know that their book has a viable chance to reach readers who will love it.

What else has Mary been working on in the lead up to launch? So much! When I work with a writer, we use a shared spreadsheet template that I have honed over the course of years while working with thousands of writers. Mary’s spreadsheet is filled with specific ideas and plans, and a clear book launch timeline every week through publication. It includes:

  • Book giveaways
  • Online launch events
  • An in-person launch party
  • Developing a reader guide for book clubs
  • Sharing long and useful posts every week in her Substack newsletter, which she has sent since 2008 on various platforms
  • Drafting emails to her network and beyond that will be sent at different points around the book launch
  • Developing marketing campaign ideas
    Social media posts, including text, photos, videos, and audio

Do you need to do all of this for your book launch? Nope. Mary’s plan is 100% customized for her book and readers, as well as for her preferences and ethos. We are doing what feels right to Mary, because the experience of how you share your writing is an important part of living. I want it to be filled with meaning and joy, and true connections to actual readers.

Oh, and we are also working on marketing plans for her next book after this one!

Key Messages and Understanding Her Ideal Reader

When I’m working with a writer, one of the first things we do is define their Key Messages, and then create audience personas that describe the writer’s ideal reader.

Working with Mary, this process culminated in one of the oddest ideas I’ve ever encouraged a writer to do for the sake of book marketing. Her book features women pilots, and her mother was a pilot, so I suggested: “You should take flying lessons, then use experience, photos, and videos from that to promote the book.”

A few weeks later, Mary was in a plane taking flying lessons! Here she is in her first lesson inside of a Cessna airplane:

Mary Carroll Moore

Now, her reasons for taking lessons go much deeper than book promotion. But it was amazing to see how this random marketing idea that I shared turned into a deeply meaningful life experience for her, and one completely aligned to her book. She says:

“My mother flew everything from Spitfires to four-engine B-29’s in World War II as a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot. She promised to teach me, but four kids and two full-time jobs got in the way.”

She shared how the Key Messages exercise not only helped her frame her book marketing, but understand her own writing in new ways:

“Do you have histories you carry with you, which end up in your writing in some form or another? I didn’t realize, when I started writing my novel about women pilots, that I was retrieving memories of my mom’s life, in an attempt to know her better.”

“It wasn’t until the novel went into publication that I saw clearly its purpose in my life, and that clarity came from my publicity coach, Dan Blank, the guru of ‘human-centered marketing.’ Dan asked me in one of our earliest sessions to find the Key Messages in my story—the meaning or message behind the characters and plot. I came up with some lame responses to Dan’s question, he urged me to dig deeper, and I began realizing the novel was about my history, my desire to get to know my elusive, charming mother on paper.”

“Do we all dig into our history to find material for our writing? Dan’s questions about Key Messages were the startle, the wakeup call, I required to see the connection between my ten years with this story and why I spent those years.”

These insights were all extended to identifying her ideal readers, how to engage them with her Key Messages and book, and where to find them. That is what lead to so many of her plans for marketing and launching her book.

Time and time again, we were uncovering not only new ways to promote a book, but new ways of communicating that felt authentic and meaningful to her. As we explored the connective tissue between her longstanding email newsletter, her Key Messages, and her social media, she concluded: “This has changed my whole view of social media.”

Of course, you can learn more about Mary and her book below!



P.S. You can find Mary on Substack, her website, and Instagram. Her book is available via bookshop.org and Amazon. You can also find it on Goodreads.