Getting the Word Out About Your Book
We’ve all been there. Exhausted, over-caffeinated, and anxious about our next launch, wondering how to not just attract attention to our new release, but also turn that initial buzz into a ravenous fandom. Regardless of whether you are preparing a launch every year or every month, turning readers into true fans continues to be as important as it may seem mystical. Somewhat like a secret sauce recipe.
To debunk the mysticism, here are a few ways you can approach your next launch with creativity, energy, and originality. For ideas on how it could all work out in practice, we asked Rachel L. Schade, author of two YA epic fantasy series, a few questions about her recent launch.
Psst! Her new YA epic fantasy book, Empire of Dragons, garnered ten times as many pre-orders as any of her previous titles. So what did Rachel do differently this time?
Go where the readers are!
Creating hype on social media is not a novel idea, but authors raise concerns with the time commitment and effort involved, as well as the uncertain pay-off. You can’t and probably shouldn’t even try to cover all channels. Instead, go where the readers in your niche hang out.
For example, Rachel decided to try some new-to-her media, like Instagram reels and TikTok videos, knowing that readers of YA fantasy flock to those platforms. The effort she put into creating the social media content shines through. Rachel commissioned character art, an amazing bundle of covers, including a naked cover for her hardback, and pushed ahead with a reel featuring her cosplaying as the book’s main character. Greek-goddess-style dress on. Complexion sparkling in gold. Hands all bloodied.
She also sought out niches of readers who vibe with the concepts and tropes in her books. If you scroll through the #dragonbooks on TikTok, you’ll see plenty of her videos ranked near the top. But of course, this is not only applicable to YA fantasy. Just ask all those spicy romance authors how #spicytok is working out for them. And Facebook launch parties can still strike gold for various adult categories. Wink, wink, Reverse Harem.
Give fans what they ask for!
Once you have narrowed down the channels you will use to attract fans for your launch, it’s important to brainstorm and create the right content. You can follow similar authors to see what they offer or interact with readers and filter through their suggestions.
This type of reader interaction is what drove Rachel out of her comfort zone and made her prioritize creating hardback editions of her books. Following specific reader requests, she even opened an Etsy shop to sell signed copies during the pre-order period.
Sometimes the answers aren’t so obvious, though, and you’ll need to simply test what works. This is what Rachel did by creating a quote template and sharing a daily quote on her Instagram. She asked readers to share the posts to their stories and received multiple interactions from people trying to guess the character behind each quote.
“Posts, sharing quotes and excerpts, talking about your process, creating fun aesthetic videos, all of it makes the process fun and engaging for everyone. It makes potential readers curious about your books, so they decide to check them out and join the fun.”
Keep it fresh and fun!
Planning social media content for the launch can help you stock up on the right posts, reels, or videos, but leaving yourself some room for fun new ideas could pay off as well. To get fresh insights, Rachel tapped into the suggestions of her street team. But how does one go about building a street team?
Consider where you should host your street team first. It should be your virtual corner, pleasant for you to use and easy for the street team members to join. Ideally, it should be an environment that encourages discussions and spontaneous chats.
Rachel recruited her street team on Instagram, asking them to sign up via a Google form.
“My Street Team is separate from my ARC Team, as the only requirement is a willingness to help promote my books. I do try to engage with them regularly in a thread on Instagram to make the experience fun and personal, and to offer them giveaways or e-ARCs.”
The street team can create legitimacy and genuine hype at every step of the process, from the first cover teaser to re-sharing raving reviews of your books. Visit Rachel’s Instagram and you’ll find her stories filled with re-posts of content shared by her street team. Shout-outs to the street team’s posts make for varied content and can help you evade the dreaded salesy author trap.
“Definitely create a street team to help you spread the word organically. If you can find a few dedicated fans who are truly excited about your launch, their word of mouth can sell so many books for you without you having to spend a penny!”
Once the team gets in the habit of sharing your book-related news, they seem to start doing that organically, even before being asked to share. This is where the frequent group chat interactions really come in handy. Asking the street team about promo and content ideas makes members feel like an integral part of the process, which in turn increases their investment in the launch’s success.
But above all else, Rachel highlights one major consideration for authors—having fun with the promo and launch activities.
“Most importantly, I’m having fun with it. I think when others see I genuinely am excited about these books and have fun talking about them, it makes them want to know more about what I write!”
The genuine hype created with all those interactions and activities allows Rachel to stick to the higher pricing she feels her epic-fantasy-length books deserve. She credits her solid pre-order marketing campaign for selling more books at $5.99 than she previously did at $2.99.
By now you’re probably sold on the importance of a dedicated street team and wondering how to find the time to run and maintain it. Rachel solved this exact conundrum by outsourcing the distribution of ARCs to a few different Instagram review tours, a Facebook group, and a paid service that sends ARCs to reviewers.
She also had a strategy in place to weed out non-participants from the street team. She asked members to sign up anew for her next book and hosted the new street team in a separate chat, adding additional members who expressed an interest. For the third book in the series, she plans to repeat the process again to always keep the team engaged and excited for her books.
The tactics and ideas described here are in no way compulsory or exhaustive, although, hopefully, they’ve sparked your enthusiasm for everything that is possible for your next launch. Boldly follow your marketing senses and, as Rachel says, have fun with it!