When you self-publish a book, you have several options for launching it into the world. You can host a presale on Amazon and promote it for weeks or even months in advance. This strategy can be effective, especially if you have a following of supporters and want to build sales momentum.
You can also decide to launch your book and hit the ground running, though this strategy can backfire if you promote the book on the same day it’s released and you haven’t yet worked out any kinks. Amazon can be glitchy and a bit frustrating, so your book may not be ready for prime time (no pun intended) right out of the gate.
I prefer to use a Soft Launch strategy for newly published books, which can be surprisingly simple and effective.
What is a Soft Launch?
The idea here is to quietly release your book on Amazon—without telling anyone. This gives you some time to work out any potential issues with Amazon and get prepared to dazzle readers.
When you release your book to Amazon, it will populate your book page in increments. This means you might see your book cover and no description, or a description and no cover. Sometimes it takes a day or more until all data is populated properly.
Amazon may also show shipping delays on new titles or worse, run out of stock after only a few copies have been purchased. To avoid this issue, place an order yourself and ask a couple of friends to do the same.
While waiting for your book page data to update, you can accomplish some important tasks:
- Set up your Author Central account. Login to authorcentral.amazon.com and create your author profile. Here you can upload your photo, share your bio, and post a link to your website. You can also claim your book as the author and update data on your book page. This means you can reformat the book description or extend it by adding more details, post any editorial reviews your book receives, and share a note from the author to potential readers. Learn more about how to set up your Author Central account.
- Order your book. Make sure your book is shipping properly, while also starting some sales history. Ideally, you should order both the print and Kindle editions.
- Generate book reviews. Before you announce your book to the world, ask a few early readers to post reviews. However, be careful with this strategy because Amazon doesn’t like to see a flurry of reviews at once and may ban some users if this happens. It is best to ask friends one-by-one. And while anyone can post a review on Amazon provided they’ve spent $50 on the site in the past year and even if they haven’t purchased the book, ask them to buy the book first. This allows their reviews to show as “Verified Purchase” and gives the reviews greater legitimacy.
If your reviewers received early copies of the manuscript to review, it’s a good idea for them to add a disclaimer: “I received early access to this book in exchange for my honest review.” This will keep their reviews in accordance with Amazon’s terms of service. Also note that you cannot offer incentive for reviews, according to Amazon’s terms.
- Launch Amazon Ads. One of the most effective sales strategies we’ve seen for nonfiction books is utilizing Amazon ads to gain exposure and generate sales. Mark Paul, author of The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told, sold over 20k copies of his memoir in its first six months using nothing but Amazon ads! (By the way, Mark will be sharing his ad strategy at the Nonfiction Writers Conference happening November 12 & 13, 2020.) These ads follow a pay-per-click model. Get our free report on how to use Amazon Ads.
IMPORTANT TIP: How to Share Your Book Link
When your share a link to your book with friends, peers, or your audience at large, don’t just copy and paste whatever shows up in your browser. Find the short link for your book.
Bad link: https://www.amazon.com/Nonfiction-Book-Publishing-Plan-Self-Publishing/dp/1949642003/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=stephanie+chandler%27&qid=1602599274&sr=8-1
You don’t want your link to include erroneous search code, so copy the link with the book title and product number and be sure to test it before sharing with others.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love this book: The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan by Nonfiction Authors Association CEO Stephanie Chandler!