Do you want to know how to launch your book so buyers take notice?
Listen as Sue Campbell shares her secret sauce to making book launches successful.
Do you want to know how to launch your book so buyers take notice?
Listen as Sue Campbell shares her secret sauce to making book launches successful.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Best Launch Your Book to Attract the Right Attention" you will discover:
Why it's important to have a book launch
The components of a successful book launch plan
The consequences of marketing your book to everyone and what you should do instead
Which of the different book launch strategies is right for you
What you need to know to go from the book launch plan to the actual book launch execution
How to avoid the BIG book launch mistakes
And a whole lot more...
Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast, where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas and tips from the masters. Every week, I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. Today my special guest is Sue Campbell. She's an author and book marketing coach at Pages and Platforms. She helps authors both traditionally and independently published embrace their marketing, build their audience and sell more books. Sue, it's an absolute pleasure to welcome you to the show. So thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
Sue Campbell: Thanks so much for having me, Susan. I'm delighted to be here.
Susan Friedmann: Sue, you and I have been chatting a lot about book launches, and I know that that's a subject that's important to our listeners. Let's just dive in and learn some of your secret sauce for making book launches successful. Let's start off with understanding, why is it important for us to have a book launch?
Sue Campbell: Well, there's publishing a book and then there's launching a book. And some authors think that getting your book out available on Amazon or in wide distribution, okay, I've launched. Really, launching is a separate process to get you an audience, to get people interested, to get people visibility for the book at all. Publishing is one thing and launching is another. And I think when we write books, even if we don't want to admit it, we do want them to be read. We do want them to make an impact. And a launch is really a way to do that. So it's a set of activities that you're doing to make sure that all your hard work is paying off and your book can have that impact
Susan Friedmann: Based on what you're saying, it really sounds as if you need a book launch plan. Would I be correct in saying that?
Sue Campbell: Absolutely.
Susan Friedmann: Talk to us about a plan and what actually are the components of a book launch plan?
Sue Campbell: Great question. And plans don't have to be overly complicated. I actually offer a service where I help you do a book launch plan in just one day. Sometimes we want to procrastinate, and stretch it out and think that it has to be this big, intensive process. When really, if you really focus on it, you can get it done in a day and give yourself a very good roadmap to do the rest of your launch. The components of a book launch, the first thing I want everyone to do is really think about who is the ideal reader for this book? Because every choice that you make about your launch should serve that ideal reader. The reason we only want to pick one ideal reader and one kind of person, is because in a launch you have limited time, energy and resources, so you want to saturate the space for a specific type of reader.
So they're hearing about it every time they turn around, and then they read that book, they're the perfect person to read it, and then they can't stop talking about it. So now you have someone else helping with your marketing because they've become a true fan. I always encourage people, pick one ideal reader for your launch, really saturate the space where that ideal reader shows up. Then post-launch six months out, you can switch to a different ideal reader and move along from there. But that's where I want everyone to start is really think of, who is the ideal person to get this book? And don't think in terms of vague, demographics. Get really, really specific about that.
Susan Friedmann: Rather than just saying women, we're talking about maybe 50 year old women who are professionals in the healthcare industry.
Sue Campbell: That's more specific. And then once you even have that, that's still somewhat broad, then I want you to even hone in and create a reader persona as if you're talking to one specific person. And of course you aren't, you're trying to reach a broader demographic. But when you can get really specific and be that intimate in that you're talking to one specific person, it actually resonates more broadly with everyone. So you don't even need to say a woman who works in healthcare in her 50s. We're going to say her name is Gail and she works at this company. She lives in this city. This is her partner's name. She has two grown children. Really, really specific. And it sounds silly, but I just went through this exercise with a client, and by the end of it he was blown away. He's like, oh, I know exactly how to write my website copy. I know exactly how to talk to this person. I know exactly where to find this person. And the specificity really gives you that.
Susan Friedmann: Well, I know, and I'm sure you've come across it before too Sue, and that is the fact that so many authors think their book is for everyone. They've got a universal message. And this specificity, oh, I get that word right, is so challenging for them.
Sue Campbell: And I get it. I totally understand that. But one of the tools that I use to kind of unpack that assumption or that hope that your book is for everyone is that only 25% of people have read a book in the last year in the United States. Your book is not for everyone. And the more that you try to reach everyone, the fewer people you reach. You can't catch anyone's attention when you're trying to reach everyone. Not to say your book doesn't have a broad appeal, but for example, there's a book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It's sold over half a million copies at this point. I think we'd all be really delighted to sell a half a million copies of a book.
And that book started out and caught fire because it was targeted just to writers. Just to writers, and writers loved it and started spreading the word in adjacent spaces. Now you have artists who are clinging onto it. And it's any type of creative person is clinging onto it. Athletes latched onto that book. And it is an absolute classic and a runaway bestseller over the long-term, which is way better than hitting a list one time, because you saturated the space for the perfect reader and that helped it spread.
Susan Friedmann: One of the things I believe you said earlier was that you can go after one avatar, one specific persona with one launch, and then you could potentially launch to another persona at a later date.
Sue Campbell: Absolutely. And those two people, the two avatars you come up with, should not hang out together. It's not Gail and then someone in Gail's book club, to use my prior example. It's Gail, and then it is someone of a completely different age, background, gender demographic, but who would still love the book for a very specific reason. And maybe thematically what's important in the book or something like that. But yes, you can have more than one persona, you just don't have the energy and resources typically to concentrate on more than one at a time and really make that impact.
Susan Friedmann: I say that when we talk about niche marketing with my authors, it's yes, go down one path first, saturate that and then go into another niche, because there's this fear of focus. And I could see this happening in a book launch as well, is literally, well, I want more than this one person to read this book.
Sue Campbell: Yeah. And I get the impulse. I totally understand it. But it really is self-sabotage. You're watering down your efforts. You're not being as effective with the tools and resources you have when you try to spread yourself too thin, and you're going to end up sabotaging your own launch.
Susan Friedmann: Yes. Number one, your ideal reader. What's another element or component of a successful book launch?
Sue Campbell: Well, then the next step is to pick what type of launch you're doing. And there are a couple of different types of launches, and you want to choose the launch that's right for you based on the platform that you have right now. The first type of launch is for those of you out there who already have a gigantic email list, and I absolutely applaud you. If you have a list of 100,000 people or more, you can just do a list launch. You can have a perfectly successful book launch, basically just emailing your own list. That's the first type of launch. The second type of launch, for those of us who don't have that big of an email list, my email list is not that large yet, I would do what's called an influencer launch. This is where based on your ideal reader, you're going to go find the right influencers who our is in the audience of all of these influencers.
That influencer is going to be the key to getting you access to people you wouldn't be able to reach on your own. Influencer launches are what I often recommend probably 80, 85% of the time, because you can make connections with these influencers in the run-up to your launch and be on podcasts, or write guest posts, or speak at conferences, or whatever your thing is based on your ideal reader and where they are. Influencer launch is very popular choice, highly recommend it. Then there's another type of launch, which is basically if you're trying to hit a major list, New York Times Bestseller list, Wall Street Journal, you want a combination of a bestseller launch and an influencer launch. Not to say that you can't hit a list with an influencer launch, but it's much easier if you have your great big list of your own, plus the influencer outreach.
Susan Friedmann: Well, I would think that most of our listeners are probably like you and I that have a much smaller list. Mine is very targeted, however small it is. And I'm sure yours is too. So it's looking at maybe that influencer launch. Let's talk more about that, because I'm really interested for our listeners to better understand the idea of an influencer launch and how you would really go about that. Because there are a lot of influence is out there. You know many, I know many. And you and I in our own fields are influencers. Talk to us about an author finding that influencer and approaching that influence. Well, what are your recommendations?
Sue Campbell: Sure. And it's a really important question. And I want to back up just a little bit, because sometimes when I'm talking to writers and authors, and I say influencer, they kind of picture the millennial or the gen Z person on Instagram who's selling boutique clothing for a big retailer. An influencer, I want you to think more broadly than that, is anyone who is the gatekeeper for an audience. Anyone who has the keys to get you in front of a specific audience. That could be anyone from a librarian, to someone with a large Instagram following, to someone with a large email list, to some prominent person in government, for example. Starting with that definition, because I don't want people to get hung up and think this doesn't apply to them. You definitely can find influencers for your ideal reader, no matter who your ideal reader is.
And ideally, again, if we really paint the picture of how to do this in an ideal setting, you want to build some good will with that influencer before you make an ask to have them promote your book in whatever fashion that is. You can spend the time when you know your book's going to be out in a year, if you're 12 months out, then you can use social media to introduce yourself to people, to share their things, comment on their things, build some good will with that influencer in the run-up before you ever make a request. Now, not to say that you can't pitch someone fairly cold and get a yes, you absolutely can. But again, we want to think about this is a long-term relationship building project, and you can help this person, and they can help you and you can have an ongoing long-term relationship with them. So that's ideal.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. So this is a little contradictory almost to the fact that you're saying, build that relationship, but yet you can have a book launch in a day. It's more the planning behind the scenes that's going to take the time versus the actual launch itself. Is that correct?
Sue Campbell: Right. And the book launch plan in a day is the plan. You're creating your book launch plan in a day, not executing in a day.
Susan Friedmann: Oh, got it. Just a minor detail there.
Sue Campbell: Yes. But we want to get the planning out of the way so that you can start the execution of it, because I think we get bogged down in planning too often. We want to build that relationship ahead of time, if we can. If you are two months out from your book coming out and you have not done that, do not panic. You can still, if you're writing your pitches really, really well, you can absolutely still get yeses from influencers who don't know you and you haven't approached before. And the way to do that is really to be really diligent in your research of the influencer.
You may off the top of your head already know the influencers in your space and not need to do a lot of research. But as you dig deeper to make that list more comprehensive, you will need to listen to their podcast, or read their blog, or read their book and really get to know what they do. Influencers by their very nature get approached by a lot of people and asked for a lot of things. Most people don't take the time to write a thoughtful pitch. They're basically blasting influencers with their press release, and it's me, me, me, me, me, me, and making that ask of the influencer. I get pitches and I'm not a big influencer. I get pitches all the time where I'm like, this person obviously does not know what I do and who I serve, because this is not in line at all.
Susan Friedmann: And that's interesting you should say that, because I get that too for this podcast, that I get PR agents who contact me with a press release, that they've got a client who's just written a book. This would be a great place for them to talk about their book. And I'm like, that's not what this podcast is about. We're not talking about specific books, and they obviously haven't taken the time to really look at that. And obviously I write back and give them a no.
Sue Campbell: Yeah. I mean, it's a form of disrespect really, because asking something from you, but they're not even taking the time to vet if it's a good fit or not. They're just sort of doing this ammo spray approach to it, and it is disrespectful of your time. And it's really wasting their time too. I encourage people to slow down a bit, do your research, make that thoughtful pitch. You're looking for the win-win. You're looking to make that influencer say, oh yeah, this is an easy yes. This person knows what I do and what my audience needs and is offering to help me do that. With thoughtful pitches based on your research will have such a high rate of return compared to just blasting your press release to thousands and thousands of people, because you're just not going to get very many yeses at all that way. My clients, with the methods that I teach them or when my team is doing the pitching, we get at least I'm aiming for a 30% yes rate, and generally it's more in the 40 to 50% yes rate.
Susan Friedmann: And the ask is to be a podcast guest, or to be a blog post guests. What are the kinds of asks could you have?
Sue Campbell: Sure. It's really important to match the right ask to the right influencer, but I can give you general categories that you can think. So one of the best things that is really easy for you and generally easy for the influencer, is if you have an influencer who has a very large email list following, you can pitch them to just mention the book in their newsletter and recommend it to their readers. And you can give them all the copy they need to do that. It will just take them a few minutes. That's good content for their audience. If you can get that, that's a win for everybody, because it takes a very small amount of time for everyone involved, but you have the big win because you've leveraged somebody's very large audience. So that's one type of ask. Definitely being a podcast guest is another.
Writing a guest article is another, but generally those are time consuming. So you don't want to base your entire outreach launch strategy on those because you will burn yourself out, unless you're the Stephen King of writing guest articles, then go for it. Other types of asks, to speak at a conference. To have another author join a bundled giveaway in support of the launch. You can get really creative and really match that ask to what that influencer has available with their audience, how they serve their audience. You want to consider everybody's assets and what everybody can get out of it, and make the best pitch you can based on that influencer.
Susan Friedmann: Excellent. We've got the ideal reader, the influence approach. What else do we need for the plan?
Sue Campbell: You also want to take a look before you start doing your outreach just very briefly. And when we do the planning, it's like, okay, we need to look at our website and we need to look at our email list. Even if you don't have a big email list right now and you're not doing a list launch, you want to grow your email list in the process of this launch. That's a great opportunity to grow your list as well. You need to look at your website through the lens of, how does this website get people onto my email list? And if it's not doing a good job of that, then you need to make some changes. One of the best things that you can do is offer a sign-up incentive for subscribers, or I call it a reader magnet.
And that is something that you've designed that's going to be very appealing to your ideal reader that they get in exchange for signing up for your email list, for your newsletter. So if you don't have a reader magnet at all, you definitely want to get that in place now. And again, using your ideal reader, you can figure out what that should be. Maybe it's a white paper. Maybe it's a case study. Maybe it's a little, miniature email course. There are lots of options for non-fiction writers. Non-fiction writers have it dead easy when it comes to reader magnets because there are so many possibilities.
Susan Friedmann: I know that many of them think about just giving away a chapter, but I don't always think that that's as attractive as maybe, I don't know, some tips or a checklist of some kind. People [crosstalk 00:18:53]-
Sue Campbell: Yeah, I completely agree. It's just kind of worn out. When authors 10, 15 years ago first started offering, oh, you can read a chapter before you buy it. That was really cool. People were really into it. And now it's just not enough for readers anymore. And I think you are absolutely right, in the non-fiction space, how do we solve one of their problems right away? How do we give them something really condensed and short that's actually going to solve a problem and prove that you know what you're talking about in this space? So I like those kinds of reader magnets for non-fiction.
Susan Friedmann: In fact, I was just interviewing somebody about book funnels, and they talked about the idea of even just giving away either a digital version of your book, or there are those promotions where you actually give the book away for free and the potential reader just pays for shipping. What are your thoughts on those?
Sue Campbell: Yes. There's actually a tool as well called the Book Funnel that will facilitate you giving your books away or giving part of your books away. You can do just a part of it if you want to. They also have promos. So you can give away parts of the book in exchange for people signing up for your email list. Email list is really valuable, then you sell not just this book, but potentially every other book or service that you have. So building that email list is really, really important. You need to be a little bit careful about services that offer to give away your book for free in exchange for shipping. Just vet that organization carefully, because there are a few scams out there related to it and I don't necessarily know all the details of that.
But if you want to just get a big boost in readership, if this book is really a business calling card for you, and you can afford to not sell it and to give it away because it's going to actually grow your business, then I highly encourage you to do that. That can be a wonderful thing. And you don't have to do it forever. You can do it for a limited promotional period of time and get that really big list in your email list. But make sure that you have a way to get them onto your email list, not just give the book away and make you never see them again.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. And that's really important. And what I love, Sue, is that you're stressing the idea of building your own list, because I know so many authors, I'm sure you have them too, that, oh, I've got a Facebook group or I've got a huge LinkedIn following. The fact is that you're building on rented land there and you don't want to do that. You can't necessarily promote to these people. And you want to look at ways of being able to promote, and you can do that best with obviously your own lists. So I love the fact that you've stressed that. Let's talk about mistakes. What are some of the big mistakes that you see when it comes to book launches or just even planning a book launch?
Sue Campbell: One of the biggest mistakes I see is just taking a sort of laissez-faire, I'll see what happens approach. I was just listening to a wonderful audio book by Jay Shetty called Think Like a Monk, and he was telling a story in it about Matthew McConaughey when he was in college, wrote this list of goals for himself. And one of them was to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. And 20 years later, he did it. And when Jay Shetty asked him about that, he said, "the target attracts the arrow." If you started at a book launch and you're like, well, I've never done this before. I just kind of want to see what happens. The chances of not very much happening are much higher than if you actually set some metrics for your launch. Even if you don't ultimately end up hitting those metrics, you will get much closer to them by having set them in the first place.
I want you to be really clear about your goals for the reach of the book and your goals for the launch. One of the ways you can do it without feeling like your heart is in your throat and you're setting your goals too high, is I like to set three different goals. You can set one that's like, I really need to have this and I'm not going to stop until I reach this number. So maybe you're saying, and I'm just going to pick arbitrary numbers, so nobody feels like this is the number you have to choose, but let's say I have to sell 5,000 copies of my book within the first month of my launch. That's my, I'm not going to stop until I get to that point. Then you can set a main target goal, which is what you really want to happen. So maybe that's 8,000 copies.
And then you can set a unicorn goal. You have your have to hit it, you're wanting to hit it, and then your unicorn goal, which is the pie in the sky goal. But having those three tiers lets you know where you're working toward, but also what's possible. What's the ceiling of what's possible? And that can be very motivating when you hit that first goal, then you're like, oh well I can do this. I can keep going. Look at all this momentum. Momentum is a beautiful thing. When you have that momentum, then you're willing to go for that main goal. And then once you hit that main goal, you're willing to go for that unicorn goal. And you're going to get much better results and return on the time and hard work you've put in when you actually have a target that you're trying to hit.
Susan Friedmann: I love that, having those three different types of goals. Love the unicorn goal. Rainbows and unicorns. [crosstalk 00:24:20] ... If our listeners wanted to find out more about your pages, and platforms and your services, how can they do that?
Sue Campbell: You can go to pagesandplatforms.com. And I highly recommend you sign up for my newsletter, because I have a bunch of free resources, both for writing your book and for marketing your book.
Susan Friedmann: Perfect. And I also know you have a membership site as well. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Sue Campbell: Oh, sure. When I first started doing this work, I got the rude awakening that most of the clients my mentor got were the people who had the very big, traditional advances from publishers. He was working on big launches with the people who got a half a million dollar advance. And I'm like, well, that's great, but I also like the little guy. I'm invested in the writers who are just starting out and who don't have the resources necessarily of someone else. My way to solve for that problem was to create a monthly membership that was a low price point, and be able to give writers the fundamental strategy information that they need instead of just the tactics that you find in all of these articles online. The club has a bunch of resources inside on fundamental strategy plus tactics, plus we have a weekly call where I'm presenting on some sort of marketing technique, and then there's a lot of time for questions and answers because I really want to be able to clear obstacles for people as quickly as they're put in front of them.
We also work a lot on mindset, because we will self-sabotage ourselves. And I say we. Our human brains will find a way to get in the way of our dreams because they want to keep us safe. So we do a lot of mindset work, because if I hand you a list of everything you need to do related to your marketing, if you don't have the right mindset, you're not going to do it. You're going to stick it in a digital drawer and forget about it.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. I'm with you there. I spend, in fact, my three-day Author to Authority virtual retreat, I spend the first day of that three-day retreat talking about mindset and the importance of that. Because if we're talking about becoming an authority, you've got to have the right mindset to even believe that you can be the recognized expert authority in your field. So totally with you when it comes to mindset. If you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be?
Sue Campbell: I think the golden nugget is just to remind everyone that it's not necessarily about how many copies you sell, it's about who you become in the entire process of writing a book and marketing a book. It is a personal growth curve like almost no other. It's right up there with becoming a parent. It is just such an opportunity to enrich your own life, learn about yourself, learn about your field. Even if you're an authority in your field already, the act of writing a book about that topic will increase your knowledge, because you are trying to communicate it in a way that other people can absorb. Don't miss out on the personal growth opportunities that present themselves. Really savor that. I do want you to set those targets, but I don't want you to be only target focused. I want you to enjoy the ride.
Susan Friedmann: I love that. Enjoy the ride. That is so important, because yes, you've given birth to this baby, and you want to love and nurture it and you want to enjoy the process. So thank you. Fabulous wisdom. Thank you for sharing. And thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. And I sincerely hope that it sparks some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book and author marketing success.