I was privileged to join Joanna May Chee's book launch for her premier book, Forever Loved: Eve's Story a few weeks back. I love book launches because it gives authors, bloggers, and everyone else involved in the journey, a lovely chance to connect and get to know one another on a more personal level. Getting to preview an incredible book is also a nice side perk! (You can read my review here).
From day one, I was incredibly impressed with how well Joanna organized and executed her book launch. From fun launch team contests to incorporating the team's feedback, and providing interviews and graphics for everyone, Joanna was on her A game and her book launch prep-work reflected beautifully in her sales! Forever Loved reached number one in multiple categories during its first week!
I knew I needed to start taking some book launch lessons from Joanna so I interviewed her to learn more about the behind the scenes process!
Q: When did you start planning your launch? Are there any resources that you'd recommend for writers to check out while authors are in the finishing stage?
A: I don’t think there was a definite point when I started planning the launch. I did a lot of research into self-publishing during the three years I was writing the book, so I picked up a lot of ideas, had notes all over on scrappy bits of paper, and knew that it was important to launch a book, rather than just put it out there and hope for the best!
I created a launch team page and put out invites in the two weeks leading up to my book publication. It was rather last minute. As a first-time, self-publishing author, I had so much to learn and do. I was so busy that the launch just happened as it happened without much forward planning. Thankfully, one of the gifts God’s given me is creative ideas, so I thought up most of my launch ideas on the go. Obviously if you have the time, then it is definitely good to plan as much in advance as you can!
It’s probably too late to check out resources in the finishing stages of your book’s publication. I recommend you google ‘how to launch a book’, read as widely as you can, and subscribe to self-publishing/book launch webinars and courses, as early as you can, at least at the same time as writing your book. Author entrepreneurs that I highly recommend, and who often offer free courses if you sign up to their sites, are Mark Dawson of SelfPublishingFormula.com, Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur.com and Tim Grahl of BookLaunch.com. I highly respect these authors, and have learnt a lot from them, without having to pay for expensive courses.
Q: You had such a lovely launch team! How many people would you recommend inviting on to a team?
Yes! My launch team is wonderful!! It is incredible to have a group of ladies who are willing to actively share my book, really at very little benefit to them. I am so grateful to them.
I don’t think you can have too many people on a launch team! The more people you have actively sharing your book, the better! I had almost 60 sign up to join the team, but I’d say only about half got actively involved in the end. That’s fine. Those 30 did a great job!
Q: Do you have any thoughts on "finding your tribe" of people to join you?
Networking is key. I had built relationship with other bloggers and authors in the months and years before publishing. This is something I love to do anyway, so it wasn’t just for launching the book. I love to connect with others online by commenting on their posts, sharing their content, writing guest posts for them, participating in blog parties etc. I’ve made some lovely friends this way. It’s wonderful to be able to learn from and help each other. When it came time to launch my book, I reached out to these bloggers/authors personally, and many of them joined the team.
I also posted launch team invites in as many related Christian Facebook groups that I knew of eg women’s book clubs and Christian blogger/author groups. Again, these were groups I’d (mostly) been active in previously. I asked permission of admin before I posted invites, and several women from these groups joined the team – women I didn’t know before. It’s been lovely to get to know them. I also had several personal friends and relatives join the team.
Once I had my team, I felt it really important to cultivate community and friendship. I mean, here’s a group of people sacrificing their time to promote my book. That’s incredible! I wanted to give them as much as possible in return, and let them know how much I valued and appreciated them. I did this in several ways. I engaged with every comment and post in my Facebook launch group. I invited team members to share their own blogs, books and things about themselves. I offered incentives and rewards for sharing the book. I shared regular tips and ideas for sharing the book to make it as easy as possible. I also sent out daily emails, so those not on Facebook were equally included. I think we built a lovely community. We’ve made new friends, and there’s excitement already about working together on future projects, whether mine or theirs. It’s a wonderful feeling to have that kind of community to go forward with!
Q: Did you use any paid marketing (Facebook, ad words, Amazon promotions) that you would recommend?
I didn’t use any paid marketing! All my sales so far have been through my email subscribers, my own network of friends and family, and the networks of my launch team. I want to go wider now and sustain/increase sales, so I’m planning to run Facebook ads, and probably later Amazon ads too. Advertising is new to me, so it’s another learning adventure! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Q: What do you feel was most beneficial to spreading the word about the book?
Several things. One was the build up to publication. My friends, family and email subscribers knew the book was coming for a very long time. I talked about it over a period of several years! I asked for their input on titles, the blurb and cover. A lot of people felt very involved. There were many delays to the book’s publication. I had to push back the publication date several times. Frustrating as this was, it actually helped build people’s desire for the book! I had people going into shops and trying to order it before it was even out there!
I also offered a free Eve devotional on my site that included extracts from ‘Forever Loved: Eve’s Story’. This was very popular and raised interest in the book (as well as growing my email list). I ran a book giveaway just before the book launch which gave me a huge swell in email subscribers. I don’t know how that translated into book sales, but I can continue to build relationship and market to those people now over the coming months. Other than that, the efforts of my launch team have been incredible, sharing the book through email, social media and their blogs.
Q: If you could do it again (or next time), what would you change?
There will be a next time! I’ll be more prepared for sure. I’ll be able to recycle much of what I’ve used this time – my launch team emails (with some changes, of course), and many of my promotional ideas. One thing I would change, is leaving more time to prepare! The two weeks pre-launch, and one week of launch, was absolutely exhausting! I have never worked so intensely. I’m looking forward to next time!
With that lovely interview, we are concluding our three part look at self-publishing, I hope gained a few glimmers of knowledge and feel more prepared for the publishing journey! If you missed the other two parts of the series, check them out below!
3/18/2018 07:02:28 pm
Thanks Joanna, that really means a lot to hear :)
3/21/2018 05:04:27 am
Hi Dave! Nice surprise to see you here! Yes, really, you have been inspirational, and a large part of my first book's success! I've used so many of your resources along the way :) Thank you!
3/21/2018 08:37:20 am
Wow - totally makes my day. Thanks and congrats on your book :)
9/28/2018 06:39:52 am
Hi Lizzy - just seen your comment many months later. Thank you! Hope your book launch was/is a great success :)
9/10/2019 03:26:00 am
Amazing read that is, as me myself on my current cutting cycle and trying to follow proper guidelines and your articles helped me a lot in my cycle.
9/16/2019 12:51:59 pm
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is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.