If you’re preparing to launch a book, you’ve got a lot of things to think about—your social media presence, your website, paid promotions, blog tours, book trailers, podcasts, etc. All of these things come back to digital branding, which is why it’s so important that you have a carefully crafted branding strategy for your book launch. At Digital Delane, we help many authors with digital branding. Here is our recommended book launch checklist:
Brand the Author, Not the Book
Sometimes this can be confusing. Don’t you want to sell your book? Absolutely. When we say “Brand the author, not the book,” what we want you to remember is that often what you’re selling is yourself. People buy the book because you have done a good job selling yourself as an author, and they expect to find your personality in the book. Branding the author also helps if you decide to write a second book.
So How Do You Brand Yourself in the Digital Sphere?
It’s important to have a cohesive strategy. First, figure out what your brand is. Funny comedian? Serious expert on a professional topic? Try to distill your brand into a single sentence, or better yet, a few words, if possible.
Next, figure out how best to communicate these qualities in everything that you do. (Hey, we never said this part was easy!) There is no one way to do this, and it may help to make a list of all the ways you can communicate your brand attributes. You may want to make TikTok videos. You may write informative blog posts about your area of expertise. You could start a podcast, tweet about related subjects daily, or contribute to magazines.
Should You Do All These Things?
No, probably not. After making a list of possibilities, consider your target market. If you don’t know who they are, do some research. You can look up demographics and psychographics for the genre you write in, or the industry you’ve written a non-fiction book about. Once you know who will most likely be interested in your brand, you can determine where to spend more of your time. For example, Facebook skews slightly older than TikTok or Instagram, while Pinterest reaches more female users.
Psychographics (activities, interests, opinions) can also be important. If you’ve written a book about juicing or health food, you may consider finding a social media influencer who speaks on that topic regularly. Their audience is already both engaged and interested in the subject of your book.
Understand That Branding Takes Time
You don’t want to start your branding efforts the day before your book launches. Ideally, plan to start branding yourself at least six months ahead of your launch. If you have a traditional or indie publisher, you will likely have plenty of time to do this as they typically take anywhere from 1-3 years to publish a book.
If you’re self-published, you can technically publish your book any time you want, but that doesn’t mean you should. It can be tempting to publish as fast as possible, but many authors get better results if they spend several months editing, choosing a cover, and building their digital brand.
Choosing an Ideal Cover
Let your cover stand out to help you during your book launch. This is part of digital branding, as you will be sharing your cover in all your digital spaces. Your book cover, and any other art or graphics you use, should communicate your brand personality as much as any text. If they don’t, they can derail your other branding efforts.
It’s highly recommended that you invest in hiring a professional artist. Even if you’re experienced in graphic design, it’s helpful to get an outside perspective on your cover. Ideally, you want to choose an artist who has worked on covers for similar books in the past and is familiar with your target market and what they respond to.
The Importance of ARCs
Getting ARCs, or Advanced Reader Copies, to book bloggers and reviewers pre-release is also helpful in the branding process. By this point, you have a cover that clearly communicates your brand. Reviewers will use this and other materials you provide them when publishing a review, which will link back to your website, social media, and eventually book link. Essentially, it allows you to visit more venues in the digital space.
Your branding efforts should help you network with bloggers and reviewers, so you’ll know which ones review books like yours. There are also various lists of reviewers floating around online, and you can go through these, choose the ones that review your genre, and send them a cold email. (Make sure to read and follow each reviewer’s instructions carefully, as they are often very different.)
However, if your branding efforts are successful, some of these bloggers should be familiar with you already, which can give you a boost when they see your request come through. It helps if you interact with them on social media or their blogs, such as replying or commenting on some of their reviews. A reviewer is more likely to take a good look at your request if they recognize your name and brand.
Many writers say they’d rather write another book than write a synopsis! It can be a daunting task, but it’s also an important one. You need to sum up the most important, suspenseful plot points for fiction. For non-fiction, you should summarize the most important questions your book answers (but not the answers—you want people to buy the book to find those).
Start by looking at synopses of similar books by successful authors in your genre or field. Make note of words or phrases you see a lot, as working some of these into your copy is probably a good idea.
After writing a first draft of your synopsis, edit for clarity. Often things can be shortened or summed up more succinctly. Have a few fellow writers look it over and make suggestions.
Once you’re happy with the synopsis, you should go over it again for keywords. Usually it’s fairly easy to find places to replace a few words with keywords. Finding the right keywords may be more difficult, although you can research with Google Trends and Adwords. A professional SEO expert is worth considering.
Building a Website
Some authors know exactly what they want for their website, but aren’t sure how to translate it onto the screen. Others aren’t sure what to do. It can be confusing to figure out everything from what colors you should use to what kind of content you should produce. Even authors who have clear ideas about these things may need to give more thought to their target audience.
At Digital Delane, we know how complex web design is, and how carefully it needs to fit within an overall digital branding strategy. If you need some guidance, please contact us for a free consultation.
Social media is another complicated space. First, you need to find the right platforms to reach your target market, then you need to post and engage with others while communicating your brand’s core values. This is much harder than it sounds. Many authors make the well-intentioned mistake of thinking they should post about their book all the time. Unfortunately, this is not the key to success on social media. In fact, posting too much promotional material can be a turnoff for many viewers, and may just lead to your target market ignoring you.
The 80/20 Rule
While it’s fine to post book trailers or cover reveals from time to time, we recommend the 80/20 rule: No more than 20% of your posts should be promotional. The rest should be either entertaining or informative. Which one depends on your brand and book. If, for example, you wrote a business strategy book, most of your posts should probably be informative. You can share content from places like Forbes or Business Insider, but you should also produce some original content—a list of productivity tips, a blog post about recent business trends, etc.
BookBub and Goodreads
Make sure to claim your author profile on BookBub. Once you reach 1,000 followers, you can send BookBub Preorder Alerts to your fans.
You should also establish a profile on GoodReads, which is a social platform specifically for readers and authors to interact. Follow other authors in your field or genre, write helpful reviews, and join discussions to help build your network.
Leading Up to the Launch
As you approach the book launch, you can add more promotional posts, as long as you don’t overdo it. Let people know the release date and how to pre-order your book. For pre-launch post ideas, you can share a sample or first chapter, or a brief passage in the book that you think will be of interest to a lot of people.
Book trailers can also be shared both on social media and your website. In some cases, you may be able to hire an influencer to share them as well. These trailers help people get excited about your book, in the same way movie trailers draw people into the premise of a film.
You’ll need to write and distribute a strong press release about your book. Writing a press release is more complicated than it sounds, requiring a specific structure and strategy. Distribution also requires spending some money to get your release in front of the right people. This is another area where hiring a professional can be well worth the investment.
The Day of the Launch
Plan fun activities for launch day, so that the focus is on your book, but not on hard-selling it. Contests are a fun idea, and a great way to get people to sign up for your mailing list. Maybe everyone who joins the mailing list or comments on a post gets entered to win a free copy of your book, or some book swag you’ve ordered for the event.
You can also plan a Zoom or social media chat where fans can interview you about your subject of expertise. Or you can do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) where people can quiz you about any topic.
Digital branding for a book launch requires months of careful planning and execution. If you’re overwhelmed or unsure where to start, contact Digital Delane for a free consultation. We’re always here to help you improve your digital branding.