Guest Expert: Jim Kukral
I’m a first-time author. My first book, “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money” was published and released in August 2010, just over a month ago by John Wiley & Sons. So being a first-time author, I’ll admit it, I was kind of a rube when it came down the traditional book publishing business so I expected to get a lot of things wrong. However, the good news for me was that I’m a marketing and sales person with a lot of Web experience, so I was able to design and produce a very effective launch strategy that helped me sell a ton of books on my launch day. Here’s how I did it, and how you can do it as well.
The first thing you have to do is pick a launch date. Everything you do builds up to that moment, so you have to have the date set in stone. I chose a date that was a few weeks after the book was available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (online) because I wanted to make sure my books were also in the retail stores. If your book isn’t going to be in stores, you don’t have to worry about that.
Once I had the date set in stone, I was able to begin my plan of complete and total domination (hehe) of the Web on that day. I mean it, my plan was to completely saturate my brand and my book as far as I could on the Internet. I wanted people to say “Wow, you’re everywhere!” And they did. More on the results later.
Remember as well, that there’s something about having a specific date that makes people want to be involved. Whether it’s people who want to buy the book, or help you promote it, if it’s an event, it’s more important and people react to it easier. As a marketer… it’s all about creating reactions. By the way, if you’re an author, guess what, you’re now a marketer too… you have no choice. :) But I digress.
I went out and contacted about 100 bloggers and friends and other people with influence and reach and asked them if I could write a guest blog or article for them. The pitch was pretty simple…
As you may or may not know, my new book (Title) is coming out this August. Actually, on (launch date) exactly. I wanted to ask if you’d agree to let me write a completely original piece of content for your website or blog? I’d only ask that you publish it on my launch date, or that week. Please let me know if you have any guidelines for me to follow and if you’re accepting content.”
Of course, I added some personal information in the email so it didn’t look so pre-fab. This email went out to about 100 people, some of which I knew, and some I didn’t know. How did I get that list? Well, like I said, some of them were people I knew, and the rest were people I researched. I chose these people because they had a platform for reaching my prospective readers. Some were big-time websites with millions of readers, yet some were very small with hardly any readership. My goal was saturation, not just reach.
Another thing I did was go on Twitter and Facebook and ask my friends/followers if I could write a guest post for them. I ended up getting about 20 new people I didn’t even know about requesting content from me. Many of which had some big followings. Many had hardly any, but again, this wasn’t just about reach.
Another key thing was that I included a standard byline at the bottom of every post. It included a link to my book site (for backlinks) and a link to my Twitter and main website. Here’s a copy of that.
For over 15-years, Jim Kukral has helped small businesses and large companies like Fedex, Sherwin Williams, Ernst & Young and Progressive Auto Insurance understand how find success on the Web. Jim is the author of the book, “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money”, as well as a professional speaker, blogger and Web business consultant. Find out more by visiting www.JimKukral.com. You can also follow Jim on Twitter @JimKukral.
Results: On my launch day/week I ended up with about 50+ guest postings/articles live on the Web. The aggregated range of exposure for me based upon my own traffic estimates was about 10 million potential readers. My goal was complete. I was everywhere that day.
The Bad: I spent a few weeks writing all of these articles on my own. I had it quoted by some writers and it would have cost me about $4,000 (at least) to have all of that content created. So yeah, it was a LOT of work, but it was well worth it in my opinion.
Tweets Don’t Sell Books?
Not really, it’s true. However, don’t underestimate the power of having a ton of people saturate your name and book link on Twitter during your launch day. Imagine you keep seeing my name and book title all day from different people, over and over. Eventually you might say to yourself, “Wow, this guy is everywhere today, I should think about buying this book.” Or you might say, “This person is annoying. I’ll never buy his book.” The truth is that that will happen, but the percentage of people is smaller than the other.
As part of your launch day, the night before you want to email all of the people on your guest post list and remind them that tomorrow is the launch day. Include for them pre-written Tweets they can copy and paste if they want to use them. Then again, on the day of the launch, email them once again. Ask for their help. Always be closing. They will either do it, or they won’t. But at least you asked them and made it easy for them to do. Easy is key, and one of the main things I talk about in the book. If you can make things easy for people, you stand a much better chance of getting them to buy from you, or in this case, help promote you.
A lot of the same people I asked if I could write content for were part of the 100 people I decided to send early copies of the book to. I determined these people the same way I did the guest posts. I will admit that many of them were people who were friends who had large followings. What I did was first ask them if I could send them an early copy. If they said yes, I got their address and put them on the list. As soon as I got books (a few weeks before launch date) I had the early copies sent out with a letter that thanked them for their help and included some bullet-pointed ways they could help me promote it. If you want a copy of that letter, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to share it. The key to that letter was that I was making the case that “you are one of 100, and I’m asking for your help”. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Doers get what they want, and everyone else gets what they get. Remember, you’re a marketer now.
Other things that played a part in my launch date:
- Interviews – I did about 20 interviews, both audio, video and text, with people before my launch date. Again, I asked them to not release the content until my date.
- Press releases – I am not a huge believer in press releases unless they’re written really well. I did a few before my launch, but I should have done more. It can be expensive though. Get a good release writer or you’re wasting your money.
- Friends and family – Nothing wrong with going to the friends and family well. I asked pretty much everyone I knew to help me get the word out. You never know when someone you know might have a list of 1,000 people on an email list they’d be willing to email for you.
- Contests – Prepare to give away a bunch of copies. I offered multiple copies of my book to top-tier bloggers to give away.
So there you have it. That’s the short version. A lot of the specific details were left out (maybe for the next book) but you get the idea of what you NEED to do to sell a lot of books on your launch date. Yeah, it was a lot of hard work. And very time consuming. But that’s what it takes, unless you’ve got an Oprah appearance in your back pocket. Now go out there and get to work.
For over 15-years, Jim Kukral has helped small businesses and large companies like Fedex, Sherwin Williams, Ernst & Young and Progressive Auto Insurance understand how find success on the Web. Jim is the author of the book, “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money“, as well as a professional speaker, blogger and Web business consultant. Find out more by visiting www.JimKukral.com. You can also follow Jim on Twitter @JimKukral.