Launching a Book: The Ultimate Step by Step Guide

By Jason Hamilton
Last updated on October 10th, 2022

The book launch is one of the most important steps in the success of a book. It’s the moment when you begin “training” the Amazon algorithm to hopefully favor your book well. It’s the moment when you learn if the money and time you spent on your book is likely to pay off.

In short, it’s a very stressful time.

Adding to the stress is the fact that there is SO MUCH to do in a proper book launch, especially if you want to get any traction.

But thankfully, we’ve got a complete list of the most important steps that you should take during your book launch, broken down into key phases.

First, if you are a first-time author, don’t stress over this too much. Chances are, even if you have a fantastic book launch, you will not make retirement-level income from just one book. Book writing and publishing is a long game, and it’s really after a couple of books that you will start to gain traction. That said, it's useful to practice a solid launch strategy so you can learn, grow, and perfect your process.

So let’s dive right in.

In this guide, you will learn:
  1. How to prepare for a book launch
  2. What to do in the weeks and days leading up to your book launch
  3. What to do on launch day
  4. What to do in the weeks immediately following your book launch

Additionally, we’ve got the ultimate book launch checklist for those of you who want a quick cheat sheet for your book launch. And you can get it for free!

Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you purchase the product through that link, but it costs you nothing extra, and everything we get goes to the coffee fund.

Chapter 1

Phase 1: Launch Preparations

A book launch starts long before your book is ready to release. There is a lot of preparation involved, and even a few considerations to make before you start writing at all.

Before Writing

Before you begin writing, there are a few key steps to take. If you don't get this right, you may end up launching your book to the wrong audience, or to no audience at all.

Here are a few tips:

  • Identify Your Audience: a little bit of market research goes a long way. If you know your audience, you will know what to write, and it will make your later marketing efforts much easier.
  • Set up an Email Mailing List: an email list is the single most important marketing tool at your disposal, so you want to start building that audience as early as possible. How can you do this before you have a book? You can write short stories, share your writing process, document your journey, or anything else that might interest your audience. We recommend writing a “reader magnet” as a way to incentivize people to join your list. This is a specific step that we recommend later on, but you can do it earlier as well.
  • Do Preliminary Keyword/Category Research: as part of identifying your audience, it can help to identify the keywords and categories that have lower competition in high demand. If any of these overlap with the topics you are interested in, that is a good sign that you should write something with those keywords or categories.
  • Create an Author Website: most authors need a platform, and the bare minimum platform you should have is an author website. Setting this up can feel daunting at first, but it might be easier than you expect. Beginning hosting services are cheap, and it is a good idea to reserve your domain name early.

While Writing

Once you are writing your book, the most important thing to do is continue writing. However, if you have additional time, it is a good idea to get a head start on these items.

Technically, you can do these things after you finish writing, but it will take more time:

  • Build an ARC and Beta Team: your advanced reader copy (ARC) team will be essential when it comes time to review your book. You want to begin fostering these relationships early, so that when your book releases, you can immediately count on them to leave you a review. The same goes for beta readers, who you will need at the end of your writing process. Many beta readers go on to be ARC readers as well.
  • Contact Editorial Reviewers: if you want to have a professional editorial review of your book, now is the time to begin researching and reaching out to those people.
  • Start Building Relationships with Other Authors: whether we are introverted or extroverted, a minimal amount of networking is extremely helpful when launching a book. As you write, try to find and reach out to other authors who write similar books. If all goes well, you will be able to cross-promote your book with these people, which will give your book a much wider reach than just your own audience and email list.

As Soon As Writing Is Complete

Once you finish writing the book, congratulate yourself! You just wrote a book! 

Note that I am assuming that you have also edited your book. If you have not edited it, do that first.

Once that is done, here are a few of your next steps:

  • Send ARC Copies out to the ARC Team: Hopefully you have been building a relationship with potential ARC reviewers, and now is the time to reach out to them and give them a copy of your book. It is okay if your book is still a little rough, as long as you make this clear to the ARC reviewer. Giving it to them at this stage gives them plenty of time to read it before the launch.
  • Contact Other Authors and Set up Cross Promotions: assuming you have built some relationships with other authors, now is the time to reach out to them and see if they are interested in doing a cross promotion (i.e. you share their book to your email list, and they do the same for yours).
  • Create the Cover: the single most important marketing asset that you have is your book cover. This is always the area where I recommend splurging a little (if you can) in your budget to get a good cover. Make sure it matches the genre, sets the right tone, and appeals to the audience you are trying to impress.
  • Create a Reader Magnet: if you haven't already (you can do this before you start writing), be sure to create your reader magnet, i.e. a short story or tie-in to your novel that you give away for free in exchange for email addresses. Once you have this, it will be much easier to convince people to join your newsletter.
  • Format Your Book: using a program like Atticus, you can easily format your book for ebook and print. This is also a good time to make sure you have your front and back matter ready, such as the copyright page, your “Also By” page, a link to your reader magnet, etc.

As Soon As the Cover Is Finished

Once your cover is complete, there are a few other preparatory steps that involve the artwork from your cover:

  • Choose Which Social Media You Should Use: social media can be overwhelming, and often poor at delivering, so I recommend that you pick one specific social media platform (preferably the one where your audience hangs out most), and focus on just that social media platform for the remainder of your book launch.
  • Post Your Cover Reveal on Social Media: as I mentioned before, your book cover is the most important piece of marketing materials that you have. Make good use of it! You can start by posting a cover reveal, perhaps in a series of posts that slowly reveal your cover. You can do this on virtually any social media platform.
  • Update Your Social Media Header Image: whatever social media platform you're using, be sure to update your social media header and any other places where it would be appropriate to put an image of your book. You can use a service like Book Brush to create these.
  • Create an Inventory of Promotional Images: later on, you will want a lot of these for your marketing, so it pays to take a moment and create as many social media images as you can, using your book cover as the focal point. Once again, a program like Book Brush is a really good resource to create a lot of these cheaply and effectively.

A Note on Preorders

A lot of people will recommend that you should make your book available for preorder in order to hype up your book. At Kindlepreneur, however, we recommend the opposite for most people. We believe you should only use a preorder in the following scenarios:

  • If you have a strong following already
  • If you can consistently produce sales throughout the entire course of the preorder
  • If it is only 1-2 days before your release date (useful to get your ducks in order)

If you want more information on why this is, here is a video from Dave outlining why he doesn't recommend preorders:

Want more videos like this? Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Chapter 1

Phase 2: Pre-Launch Actions

As your launch nears, there are a few more pre-launch actions that you should take. A book launch is 75% preparation, so make sure everything is ready before launch day.

One Month Out

Your launch day is approaching, and you only have a few weeks left before the big day. Here are a couple of actions to take at this point:

  • Prepare a List of Book Promotion Sites: book promotion sites are still a key part of any launch. We have a list of our top promotion sites, but there are many others as well. Note that many of these sites require advance preparation, so you may need to reach out to them before your book launch. Try to set up a rough schedule of when each book promotion site will promote your book. We recommend one every few days for the first month of release.
  • Announce Your Upcoming Book Launch to Your Email List: you will want to inform your email list multiple times that your book launch is coming. This will build hype, and prepare your readers for the big day. If your book launch comes out of nowhere, you are less likely to get engagement. Instead, you want to remind them multiple times, starting at least a month out.
  • Create a Landing Page on Your Website: don't forget to create a page all about your book on your website. Include your book cover, title, description, etc. If you can, link to this landing page from your homepage, or any other key pages.
  • Set a Budget: a book launch can be an expensive endeavor, but it depends on the author. If you are just starting out and have little in funds, it is okay to have a small budget. In fact, we recommend you don't advertise until you have at least three books. Book promotions can still be useful, so establish what your budget can be, and plan accordingly.

One Week Out

Your launch is just around the corner, so be sure to take some of these steps:

  • Contact Your ARC Team: your ARC team should have had plenty of time to read your book by now, so you want to give them a heads up that your book is almost ready, and that you expect them to leave a review when it is live.
  • Write and Test Your Book Description: you can do this step earlier, but by the week leading up to your launch, you should have a good book description in hand. If you cannot afford to pay for a professional book description, we recommend finding other book descriptions in your genre, breaking them down into their component parts, and writing your book blurb based on those successful blurbs.

One Day Out

The book launch is tomorrow! Just a few final preparations to make:

  • Contact Your ARC Team: once again, you want to remind your ARC team that your book is about to come out, making sure they have no excuses for forgetting.
  • Contact Authors Who Agreed to a Cross Promotion: assuming you have spoken to these authors before, and they have agreed to promote your book, now is the time to reach out and let them know that your book is almost here. You can finalize any dates when they can share your book, and put those on your calendar. Likewise, you want to establish when you will be promoting their book to your audience.
  • Upload Your Book to Amazon: assuming you have not set up a preorder (see note above) now is the time to upload your book to Amazon, and any other retailers where you plan to sell your book.
  • Choose Your Keywords: you should have done some preliminary keyword research already, but as you upload your book to Amazon, you will need to input specific keywords that will help readers discover your books. Make sure to select keywords with low competition and high volume of searches.
  • Publish: once your book is uploaded, we recommend you hit publish the day before your launch. Why a day early? Because sometimes it can take 24 hours or more for your book to be approved and show up in the Amazon store. You can even hit publish two or three days early, because a book launch is not necessarily the same as your book publishing date. A book launch is simply when you begin your primary marketing efforts. If you are adamant about keeping your book launch and book publishing date the same, you can set a small preorder for 1-3 days.
Chapter 1

Phase 3: Launch Day!

The big day is here! You have put a lot of work into this so far, but the end is in sight. Launch day involves a lot of marketing efforts, and it's easy to overstress. Thankfully, we have you covered with this list of recommendations.

A book launch is a stressful time. Not only do you have many things to do, but if you are not careful, you will find yourself obsessing over your book sales, constantly checking and rechecking. We recommend you keep away from any book analytics (especially if this is your first time) and focus only on the process of promoting your book.

Here are a few things to get you started:

  • Set a Discounted Price: first thing in the morning, you want to discount the price of your book (especially if you are planning book promotions). This is usually $0.99, but for larger books or box sets, you might want to set the discount at $2.99. Whatever your discount, it should be a significant reduction from its normal price.
  • Send Personalized Emails to ARC Team Members: you have sent out multiple emails to your ARC team by this point, so they should know that your book is releasing, but now is the time to really engage with them. A personalized email is far more likely to inspire them to action so that they will actually leave a review. Getting reviews can sometimes be difficult, but if you follow the steps we have outlined so far, you will be better off.
  • Send an Email to ARC Reviewers, Thanking Them: as you get reviews, be sure to thank the reviewers as they come in. And it might be a good idea to thank all of your ARC reviewers in a mass email.
  • Contact Amazon to Switch to Preferred Categories: Amazon only puts you in two or three categories to start, and you can have up to 10. After researching which categories your book should be in, contact Amazon to have them make the change.
  • Update Back Matter of Previously Published Books: if you have other books in your catalog, be sure to update the back matter of those books to include your new book. That way, if anyone reads those books, they will have a link to buy your new book as well. And yes, I update every single book when I launch a new book.
  • Claim Your Book on Goodreads, BookBub, and Amazon Author Central: once your Amazon book has an ASIN number, you can claim it to your author account on Amazon, to your Goodreads profile, and to your BookBub account. We recommend doing all of this.
  • Announce Your Book to Your Email List: now that your book is ready, it is time to announce it to the world! Start with your email list, as these are the people that have taken the most interest in you. If you have a large email list, you can segment it so that your book is announced to different sections of your list over time. But this is not required.
  • DON'T Inform Your Friends and Family: there is a place to inform your friends and family about your book, but now is not it. The only people you want buying your book at this early stage are the people who read books like yours. This will train the Amazon algorithm so it knows who to promote your books to.
  • (Optional) Create Amazon Ads: Amazon ads are one of the best ways to keep momentum going with your book, and are one of the most effective forms of advertising. If you have the budget for it, this is the type of advertising we recommend the most.
  • (Optional) Create BookBub Ads: BookBub ads are another useful way to target specific audiences. If you have a list of authors that are similar to you, it can be useful to target those authors in a BookBub ad. However, BookBub ads are really only effective for highly discounted books, so make sure your book is discounted.
  • (Optional) Create Facebook Ads: once again, if you have the budget, Facebook ads can be useful to drive momentum to your book. Facebook ads are not as easy to target specific audiences, when compared to Amazon ads or BookBub ads, but you can target larger genres, avid readers, and readers of “bigger” authors, such as Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, etc.

If you are just starting out, we DO NOT recommend advertising, because it will take a lot of money to move the needle on a newer author. Instead, we recommend you focus on your email list, and on writing more books.

Chapter 1

Phase 4: Post-Launch Strategy

The first month of your book's release is arguably more important than your release day. Why? Because Amazon favors consistent, steady sales over a big sales spike.

In order to create this consistent level of sales, there are a few tricks you can use. You can use advertisements, book promotions, and your own marketing efforts. Let's take a look at some of these:

Three Days Post-Launch

After giving your launch a few days to breathe, it’s time to do more promotion.

  • Check that Amazon Put You in the Right Categories: if you haven't heard back yet, check that your book is in the right categories that you selected earlier. This will ensure that your book is showing up in the right places.
  • Post on Social Media about Your Books Launch: now that your book has exclusively launched to your email newsletter, it is time to spread the word more broadly to your social media of choice. We still don't recommend you share with friends or family yet, but if you have an author Facebook page, a TikTok for your books, or an Instagram account for books, then now is the time to share.
  • Apply for a BookBub Featured Deal: BookBub is the undisputed King of book promotions, but it is very hard to get into. You can apply every 90 days, and you should start within a few days of your book's launch.

Five Days Post-Launch

A few days later, rinse and repeat:

  • Initiate One of Your Planned Book Promotions: this doesn't have to be exactly 5 days out, but this is our rough estimate of when you should have your first book promotion. Ideally, these should be scheduled out in advance, because if you apply for one on the day of, or even a few days early, you might not be able to make it.
  • Schedule Another Author's Email Blast about Your Book: if you have newsletter swaps planned, make sure they begin roughly at this time.
  • Send An Email to Unopened on Your List: with most email providers, you can see who has not opened a previous email. Within a few days, you want to make sure you send another email specifically to those people who did not open your first. This is likely to result in a few more sales, and a bump in engagement from those who did not see your first email.

Seven Days Post-Launch

After a week, it is time to fall into a specific rhythm:

  • Initiate One of Your Planned Book Promotions: a few days after your first book promotion, you want to have another. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule to do it at seven days, but a rough goal to strive for.
  • Send An Email to Your Email List: for the first month after launch, you want to send frequent reminders to your email list about your book, because frankly, people forget. So the more that you can expose them to your book, the more likely they are to buy.

Nine Days Post-Launch

A few days later, here are some steps to take:

  • Initiate One of Your Planned Book Promotions: I think you got the idea now.
  • Send An Email with a Request for Reviews to Your List: in addition to your ARC reviewers, it can be useful to email your entire list about reviews. By now, many will have had the chance to read your book, or to read part of your book. Reviews from these people are even more important, because they will show up as “verified” reviews on Amazon's platform. Verified reviews tend to have more weight.

11-30 Days Post-Launch

For the rest of the month, we recommend you keep up the same tactics that you’ve been using thus far, and keep these in mind as well:

  • Initiate One of Your Planned Book Promotions: continue to schedule these every few days for at least the first 11 days, if not a full month.
  • Raise Price to Normal Level: once you are done using book promotions to promote your book, which can be anywhere from 11 to 30 days, it is time to raise the price back to its normal level. This doesn't mean that you should stop marketing, as a sudden drop in sales could wreck the Amazon algorithm. If you are running advertisements, continue to do so, and continue to periodically promote your book through your email list and through social media.
Chapter 1

Extra Marketing Tactics

There are a variety of ways to market your book at launch. None of these are required, and they can happen at any point in your launch schedule, but they can be useful.

Here are a few additional tactics to experiment with:

  • Stream Live on Facebook or YouTube: a live stream is a great way to get your face in front of your audience. Directly interacting in this way builds a connection that you can't do otherwise, and may lead to, not just more book sales, but higher quality customers. You can ask for questions, discuss your book writing process, and what excites you about your book.
  • Post Celebration Images: it can be good to see an author excited about their own book. Take pictures of yourself with your book, show your excitement, and your enthusiasm will help market your books.
  • Have a Launch Party: while not necessarily a great way to sell a lot of books, a launch party is a lot of fun. You can engage with any local fans, with your friends and family, and you can even have a virtual launch party with those on your email list or social media platforms.
  • Reach out to Bloggers, Podcasters, and You Tubers for Interviews: this is especially useful for non-fiction authors to promote their books. When you reach out to other blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels that cover the same information as your books, you are exposing your books to a wide audience of people who are likely to buy. Try to schedule as many of these as you can, especially if you are a non-fiction author.
  • Share Your Five-Star Reviews on Social Media: when you get a five star review, particularly if the comments in the review are amazing, be sure to celebrate and share them on social media. This provides social proof, and is likely to influence the buying decision of someone on the fence about reading your book.

Final Thoughts: Have the Best Book Launch Ever!

Whew! That was a lot to take in, but please don't feel overwhelmed. A book launch is an important endeavor, and so we recommend taking time. Don't worry, your book will still be there, even if you decide to wait a month in order to make more preparations.

To make things easier, we've put together a book launch checklist to give you a cheat sheet for a great launch. Don't forget to check that out!

And as always, the most important thing that you can do to market your book, is to write the next book. Don't let your marketing efforts completely overtake your writing.

Have fun, and let us know how your book launch went!

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