In the interview above, Jonathan Fields shares three KILLER tips on how to create a book launch that actually creates meaning with your readers and community, instead of merely promoting your work to them.
This is something I know writers are PINING for, to learn how to market themselves, but not feel slimy in the process.
What worked 6 months or a year ago, may not work now. Writers need to keep up with new strategies and tactics to market their work, which is constantly changing.
His one tip as to what author should do to ensure a successful launch: “write an astonishly good book.” People come to him asking how they grow their list or have a big book launch. But he says that all the tactics in the world won’t save a bad book.” “Just ship it” is not good enough. You have to make it as good as humanly possible with blood, sweat and tears. And even then, this just gets you entry, it guarantees nothing.
“All the marketing tactics in the world won’t save a bad book.”
So let’s dig into the three things Jonathan shared in order to ensure you create a meaningful – not promotional – book launch. One that is about connecting with like minds and giving your work legs, not just exploiting others in order to get more books sold.
BIG TIP NUMBER ONE: OFFLINE CONNECTIONS MATTER WHEN CREATING STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS
When you are writing the book, that is the best time to establish relationships with those who are active in the communities you hope to find your readers. Jonathan calls the last 5 years a “gift” for authors, because of how easy social media has made it to establish connections with others.
He encourages you to build relationships with those who write about, speak about, and have assembled communities around the topics you write about. That these people have spent years assembling the audience you hope to have, so it is easier to build a handful of relationships to access that audience, than it is to reach out to each audience member individually. He offers to mindset components around this:
Build relationships because you are genuinely interested in what they believe in.
And yes, because you know in the back of their mind, those relationships may end up helping you in the future.
Jonathan gave two examples of how important in-person meetings are in this process. That even if a relationship starts via social media, you should work to take it offline. He says that when you ask Tim Ferris what the most important thing he did to launch his first book, the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek, he says it is the $25,000 and spent it on plane tickets to go to where the people actually were and build relationships face to face over lunch or drinks. So when the book came out, he didn’t just know them from social media. He could access the digital tribes of these people because he got on the ground and spent time with them.
I met Jonathan in person at a conference last week, and he says that is the exact reason he shows up to conferences – it isn’t for the sessions. That they allow him to take relationships to a completely different level, just by hanging out and getting to know somebody.
BIG TIP NUMBER TWO: Lead With a Giving Hand, Not An Asking Hand.
Spend a lot of time giving long before you ever ask anybody for anything:
“We tend to lead with an asking hand, which is a horrible thing to do. Lead with a giving hand with everything you do. The first question you ask is not ‘hey, can you share this thing on your blog. the first question out of your mouth is ‘is their anything i can do to help you build what you are building.”
Jonathan talks about how as a someone with a good reputation, he is constantly asked for things by others. But Jonathan focuses on helping those who have made active contributions to the communities he cares about. To those who gave before they asked for anything in return.
“Lead With a Giving Hand, Not An Asking Hand.”
BIG TIP NUMBER THREE: Create An Irresistible Value Proposition Around The Book
It is hard to attribute more value to a book than the $10 or $25 price you pay for it. So he suggests:
“Find ways to position the book as the icing on the cake, and not the cake. What if you can get it in their head that they are paying $15 to get $1500 worth of value. Can you create an irresistable offer AROUND the book. The book becomes the key to unlock additional value.”
Often, Jonathan sees this done badly – with people giving away tons of extra ebooks supposedly worth $47 or $97 each. He also suggests that these promotions are often meant to amp your Amazon numbers for 3 minutes so that you can call yourself an Amazon Bestseller. “I just think it’s silly,” is his reaction.
So how can you create a larger value proposition around your book that creates genuine value? For the launch of his most recent book, he offered limited edition art prints based on concepts from the book. Working with an artist, and a giclée printer, he offered signed limited edition prints if you bought a bundle of three books. He did thousands of pre-orders this way.
He wanted the offer to be so compelling that it would be almost inconceivable that you wouldn’t buy it. Yes, Jonathan knows he has the connections to have had lots of folks donate digital stuff that he could give away with his book. But instead, he worked for months with the artist and printer to provide something that his readers could hold and hang on their walls. Something truly rare and limited.
His mindset around launching the book was: “how can I give more than I can get.” That he wanted the launch itself to provide value, even if it was just the feeling someone received when watching his trailer. Plus, when you embrace this mindset, he says it “radically changes the psychology of the process.” It becomes easier to incentivize or inspire people to take action.
When launching your book, ask yourself “how can I give more than I can get?”
Thanks so much to Jonathan for taking the time to share his wisdom and experiences!
This week I had the chance to speak with Angela James, Executive Editor at Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first ebook imprint. We chatted about the following topics:
Why there is so much opportunity for authors with digital media.
Why authors must treat their writing career as a business, not a hobby.
Why more competition is healthy for publishers, because it pushes us to grow.
The importance for authors to build their brand – focusing their message.
Why the challenge for traditional publishers is how to structure their digital initiatives, and the focus/skills of their employees.
A behind the scenes look at how she deals with topics such as how many ebooks to publish, how to position their brand message, pricing, how to best market these books, and so many other issues.
Why they are publishing fewer books in 2012 (3 releases a week) than they did in 2011 (4-5 releases a week)
Why she doesn’t like it when a writer says in a query letter: “I have been working on this book for 10 years,” because it means that they can’t expect another book from this same author for another decade.
How Angela built her own brand via her own blog and social media presence.