Strategy and collaboration tools for a modest book launch

I’m about one month from the publication date for my new book Build a Better Business Book, and I’ve built an ad-hoc collaboration environment for the launch promotion.

I’ll describe what I’ve built. I’m hoping it may be a model for some of your own book promotion efforts.

Promotion strategy for my book launch

My objective is to make this book well-known as the clear choice for anyone planning on writing a business book. So some promotion is imperative. Given the sheer number of advice books on this and related topics, I need a concentrated effort to create awareness.

As I describe in Chapter 21 my book, the first step in any book launch is to examine five aspects, which you can remember by the initialism PQRST:

  • Positioning. Who is the book for? In this case, the audience is current and prospective business book authors and other similar “thought leader” types, such as consultants, entrepreneurs, and analysts. Positioning also includes the type of book: in this case, the book is a how-to book, rather than a book about strategy or a big idea book.
  • Question. What question does the book answer? The question answered by this book is “How can I make sure the planning, writing, and promotion of a potential business book is successful?”
  • Reach. What will I do to reach the largest possible segment of the target audience? My reach tactics include my blog, my own social media channels, and outreach bloggers, podcasters, and others who write about publishing and thought leadership. I’m also planning a webinar with my publisher Amplify on the publication date, June 20 (details to come).
  • Spread. What will I do to get content to spread? I’ve decided to work with the publisher to create some infographics. I also plan to launch a YouTube channel with author advice, because there is remarkably little available on video right now. Finally, I’ll be posting some meaty blog posts coming up and will spread the word about those using my social channels, most notably LinkedIn.
  • Timing. Since the book is launching on June 20, I have timed most of these activities to peak in June and early July. It’s important to get as much impact as possible in a short time period. This helps people in the target market to get the impression that the book is everywhere and everyone is talking about it.

My team

Given the targeted nature of the book and the focused audience, it doesn’t make sense for me to try to create a huge splash. But if I did minimal promotion, the book would not become well-known, regardless of the quality.

So I have a small launch team. In addition to my own efforts, the launch team includes:

  • Carlton PR and Marketing, a small promotional firm in Massachusetts that I’ve successfully worked with in the past.
  • Amplify, my hybrid publisher. While traditional publishers have well-established publicity and marketing groups, they typically focus on books for only a few weeks. Hybrid publishers are more author-focused. In the case of this book, Amplify and I have a strong partnership because my target audience, authors, is also their target audience. So I’ve gotten excellent support from the publisher.

Elements of my book promotion

Here’s a list of what I’m doing for the book:

  • Blog posts. I’ll continue to do blog posts every weekday, which reach my 3,600 subscribers.
  • Blurb program. This has already been successful; the book has more than 50 endorsements from successful business authors. I managed this outreach myself, with individually tailored emails to each potential blurb contributor; Carlton provided some administrative backup.
  • Amazon marketing. Managed by Amplify.
  • Webinar. Managed by Amplify, with content from me.
  • New web site. You’re looking at it. A contractor recommended by Carlton built it. The cutover from was not without a few challenges.
  • Media outreach. Managed by Amplify.
  • Podcast outreach. Managed by Carlton.
  • Book launch squad. I’m recruiting individuals into a small team of friends who will help me spread the word, share content I’m creating, and generate reviews on Amazon and similar sites. (If you want to be on this squad and support me, send me an email and say so).
  • Video program. I’ll record the videos; Carlton will do some minimal editing for me before I upload these.
  • Email program. I don’t have a big mailing list. But several hundred people have downloaded content from my site in the past; I’ll be reaching out to them via email.

Even with such a small team, the key is to be efficient. I want to make sure we coordinate all of our activities and don’t work at cross purposes. We use two main coordination methods.

First, we meet once a week to go over promotional activities. (When I asked a bunch of authors in a Facebook group how they coordinate activities between their publicity firm and their publisher, I got few answers — the only suggestion was to insist on weekly meetings.)

And second, there’s a master to-do list spreadsheet (Google Doc) that lists all the tasks we’re working on, who’s responsible, and deadlines.

Managing shared content

I use a Google Drive Folder and a series of Google Sheets to manage all of this. I’ve also started to use MailChimp to do email outreach and bought a new Webcam for recording my upcoming videos.

For such a small and focused program, there is a lot of content to keep track of. So I’ve created shared subfolders that include the following:

  • Promotional graphics for use with Amazon and elsewhere.
  • Short promotional book descriptions of various lengths — these are used in all sorts of different contexts.
  • An electronic press kit.
  • My bios and photos.
  • The blurbs.
  • Electronic copies of the book for publicity distribution (NetGalley and watermarked PDFs)
  • The podcast pitch.
  • Content for videos.
  • A presentation with the results of my author survey.

We use Google Sheets to track the following:

  • The overall plan and deadlines.
  • The podcast targets (both Carlton’s targets and mine, which we have to keep straight)
  • The list of people getting comp copies of the book from Amplify (entered via a Google Form)
  • My book launch squad of friends and supporters.
  • The list of posts I’m planning to write.
  • The list of videos I’m planning to create.
  • The list of infographics that Amplify will create.

Many of these are sheets within the main shared promotional spreadsheet.

They key to managing all this outreach is to create customized contacts for high-value people, but also to be efficient.

For example, I recently used MailChimp to send an email to a group of about 90 people that are very valuable to me: the people I profiled for the book and the people who provided blurbs. While I have done a lot of individual outreach to these folks in the past, now I need to treat them as a group. So I sent them to a form that asks (1) where should I mail your book? (2) Do you have a blog or podcast that could feature me? and (3) Would you be on my launch squad of friends and supporters? Now I have a simple system that will track each of those. This is a place where efficiency makes sense, since we already have an established relationships around the book. (I’d never, for example, send a mass email to generate the blurbs in the first place.)

It’s a lot to keep track of, but with these tools, we’re working together pretty well. Now I just have to see if it works!

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