While talking to inspiring authors and publishers, I noticed that many of them are held back by one thing—they believe they can’t successfully publish books since they don’t have a massive email list.
Because of that, they don’t publish at all or postpone their book success. But here is the thing—there are many legitimate, white hat ways to have a successful book launch (and maintain the sales) while you are still growing your following and email list.
And that’s even if nobody knows you and you are just trying to hustle your way up to success. If you choose self-publishing as a business model, then you will grow your list as you publish.
Of course, things must be done in a certain way, and your books will just sell. This is what this post is all about.
I want to give you freedom from thinking you are not ready to launch a book because your email list is small, and nobody knows you or your pen name. There is a way to do it, and I will show you how.
I will give you proven techniques that you can pick and choose from to launch a book on the Amazon platform successfully.
I will add that it’s one of the best ways to grow your brand and become an authority in your niche. If you already have a following, then that’s great, but before I decided to launch my new book, my following was tiny.
What matters is quality, not quantity, or how you design your book. It must be done in such a way that people want to collaborate with you because they see value in your success. That is the power of networking.
Think about it. Guys like Steve Scott or Derek Doepker had to get started somewhere. I heard it so many times, “Marta, you have an email list, and it’s easy for you.”
Yes, it’s easy when it comes to my old health brand, where I have an audience and a great email list. I hustled hard to get there, though, and everyone can do it as long as they are serious about the self-publishing business model and providing value to their readers.
However, talking about my new brand, Lifestyle Design Success (LDS), my email list was about 200 subs, and that’s it.
When I started LDS, it was more of a hobby and side-project for me to unwind from my other company.
Also, I wanted to lose the fear of putting myself out there on YouTube (YT), and I also wanted to connect with other entrepreneurs and learn social media.
I wasn’t that religious about my email list.
In fact, John was laughing at me because I took the “social media and pump content out on YT” route like Gary Vee.
The goal behind those actions was personal. I wanted to lose those fears of putting myself out there and get more confident in video.
I wasn’t focusing on my email lists, to be honest. I already had other lists that I had to take care of. Maybe I felt burned out? Probably yea.
I was still figuring things out—what it is, who it is for, who I want to help, etc. All I had when I was launching Lifestyle Business Playbook was a tiny email list.
But I didn’t depend on email alone. I decided to put myself out there and network with other entrepreneurs. My goal was to have a good launch. I knew that I could do it because I had previously done it with other books.
To be honest, I felt anxious as I was writing Lifestyle Business Playbook.
Luckily, I cultivated different sources of motivation, one of them is the knowledge that by outing myself out there, I can inspire people like you!
If I can do it, you can do it, too. Remember, English is not even my native language.
When It Will Not Work
Here's the thing. While your email list is a great tool, if you don't have it, then you need to find a way to leverage other people's email lists. And it's not that hard! Have no fear; I will be giving you some cool tips.
The strategies that I will mention here will work both if you are putting yourself out there as an “author-preneur” or are a hybrid, or if you just want to publish books using pen names.
However, and this is very big, HOWEVER, I can't help you if you don't know and understand your niche and have no idea what's going on in your books.
I am not saying that you will not be successful. Only that, it will be tough for you to follow what I will be sharing here. For me, my recipe for success is to know and understand my niche.
This is what I preach all the time.
Confidence & Mindset Issues
If you are new to self-publishing, the idea of sharing your book with other people and asking for honest feedback or networking with niche influencers might be scary.
I know, I was a beginner once. But seriously, if you follow through with what I say and get rid of your fears, you will develop massive confidence!
You must do whatever it takes, and your hustle must be crucial. Your books are your assets. I want you to be proud of your books!
Understand How Amazon Works
Amazon likes it when you publish a book and give it a boost. They like it when you promote Amazon.
When Amazon sees that your book is popular (and you are getting sales), they will start promoting it, too.
In other words, it will fly. During the first week, even the first month of your book launch, you must be proactive about what you do with it. If you just publish a book and don't do anything with it, chances are it will go down.
The only exception is if you published a book with a less competitive keyword and are planning to do high-volume publishing and don't care about launches.
There are people making money with that model, too, and there's nothing wrong with that. But personally, I like to have a strong book launch and think of my books as tools to grow my overall business (courses, consulting, etc.).
The way that I publish is aligned with the Authority Pub Model which is a publishing model created by Steve aka SJ Scott.
Resource: Full Authority Pub Academy review.
What Is a Targeted Launch?
A targeted launch is when your book is getting sales from targeted readers so that Amazon triggers the “customers who purchased this item also purchased” feature.
This is what happens if you can leverage the following of powerful influencers in your niche. Amazon will make sure your book lands in front of people whose browsing history and interests align with your book.
You don't want your book next to books that are not relevant. That can reduce your sales, and the book will not “fly.”
I will also add two things:
- I am not the Queen of Launches. My strong point is longevity (however, the launch is crucial for everything else, yeah okay, if you call me the Queen of Launches my ego will accept it).
- I have had success launching books with very few reviews (it's possible if you have a good launch and your book is designed in a way that makes people want to share it and leave reviews).
Success Factors For A Strong Book Launch
- Your book must be something that people want. Make sure you do your research. If you publish a book that nobody wants, then even though you may have a fantastic launch, it will not fly very long. I suggest you take John's course related to Amazon keyword research. Make sure you use profitable keywords for your book. Do your research before you even start writing with a keyword tool like Publisher Rocket.
- You must know your reader avatar and their problems, and your books must be quality. You must be proud of them and see it as your obligation to put it in front of your ideal readers.
- Great cover, title, and description. I think this goes without saying. What I like to do is to spend hours researching cover ideas. I browse through the Amazon store by typing in relevant keywords. I look at my competitors' books and ask myself, “How can I stand out?” Your book's cover must be irresistible!
After you gather all the data, communicate what you want to your designer.
For my new books, I am using Jyotsna Ramachandran's Happy Self-Publishing. For my new books, I will use the same design as a template to create a consistent branding via my book covers.
Disclaimer: When I first got started with self publishing, I had to make my covers or hire people on Fiverr, that's how broke I was.
I am making this statement because I don't want to intimidate you.
If you are on a low budget, then look for stock images on DepositPhotos.com, and edit with Instasize, and go through the same process so that you mindfully create covers that stand out from your competitors.
When people see books in a given keywords they search for; they will want to click on yours.
The Value of Networking and Building Up Business Connections
Here's what you need to start doing right now:
- Connect with people in your niche who are on a much higher level. Most of them will be too busy to talk to you, and that's fine. But follow them and like their content. Don't be a leech. You need to be a grateful follower, and they need to know that you find their content valuable, share it, etc. Also, by following someone successful, you will be able to connect with their followers, too. In other words- follow all the hero's that your readers must follow.
- Connect with your peers and colleagues. I'm referring to people who are more or less on your level, and you are growing together. You both want to create more success, so help each other.
- Connect with people who follow you. Be grateful for them and create content that they find helpful. Be their role model and a friendly do-ro. After all, they will be your book ambassadors and will share your content and possibly leave you a review.
Where Can You Connect With People?
My favorite social media platform is Instagram. My main account is @lifestyledesignsuccess if you want to follow me.
Through that account, I connect with people whose interests are relevant to my niche, which is lifestyle design and online business, like I said.
Big players, my peers, and people who follow me and learn from me. I respect all three groups equally.
Whenever connecting with someone, first I ask if there is anything I can do to help them.
This is how I met a powerful social media influencer, Sania Khilje, and we became friends.
I think we met via my old account, which was about health and wellness. She has promoted my other books in the past.
She's a professional Instagram influencer and also runs multiple successful businesses both on and offline. But social media is her strong point. We had a Skype call, and I explained to her everything I know about self-publishing.
First, I wanted to add value to her. She's very grateful and keeps helping me with my book promos. Her following are entrepreneurs and people interested in self-help for entrepreneurs.
In fact, tomorrow, we are doing a live interview on one of her motivational pages of 1,00,000 followers. Am I nervous? You bet! But I am doing whatever it takes to promote my baby.
My Main Instagram Strategy
Before the book launch, I messaged some of my IG friends and asked them if they wanted a free copy of my upcoming book. Most of them said yes. I sent out their free copies.
And guess what, most of them gave me free shout-outs to their massive audiences without even me asking for it.
With some IG buddies, I had to ask them, and in most cases, they gave me a shoutout on their profile or via their IG story which is more effective.
Some influencers I contacted were busy, so they are going through the book now and sharing it as they go.
My secret is that weeks before my launch, I was giving out shout-outs to many people as well. I showed that I cared about their business and goals. It was their natural reaction to help me out as well.
I did not spend hundreds or thousands of bucks on marketing; it was all free. The hustle was worth it. I am confident that you can do it, too!
As long as you are in the niche you love, it will works like a charm. And networking is fun!
On my IG account, I also have a few friends who do Amazon FBA or Amazon Merch biz. They were the first ones to help me out since they understand how Amazon works.
Your Other Options to Connect With People
Instagram is my favorite social media, but for you, it may be something different. You could also join Facebook groups related to your niche. If you write books about dating, then join dating communities.
Again, remember about equally connecting with the three groups: major players in your niche, your peers, and beginners.
Note: Do not join author and Kindle publisher groups where everyone is trying to promote their books. It's like selling ice to Eskimos. Join niche groups, not Kindle publishing groups.
Although, active and legit Kindle groups can be great if you are looking for people with an established email list who could help you with your launch.
Extra note: If you can get yourself into a small mastermind where people have success and are actively publishing and help one another with their email lists and following, then your life will get easier.
Of course, you need to make sure that you work with people you trust. Usually, the most effective masterminds are not free, and you need a proven track record of success (books and revenue).
But if you keep looking, you may find one. It just takes focus and work. Everyone has to get started somewhere.
While connecting with people, keep saying that you are working on a killer book that will help them solve their problems. They must perceive you as someone knowledgeable who has something that they want to learn.
At the same time, don't act like a proud author who knows everything about everything and is above everyone. Be their friend.
If possible, ask questions and add that you are writing a book and you want to make sure that it's helpful content relevant to them,
How to Structure Your Book to Get Other People Promote It
Add expert interviews to your book. Yes! This is what I did; it's a win-win.
For my book, I interviewed seven successful entrepreneurs and added those interviews to my book.
Each interview is summarized so that readers get extra value and free resources where they can learn more about freedom business models discussed in my book.
Then there is a link to an opt-in page where they can claim their audio.
It's over six hours of epic audio content.
Many readers wrote to me how much they loved that idea and how it helped them.
Create your book in such a way that readers stay excited. Over-deliver. It will make people share your book.
Back to expert interviews with other entrepreneurs. Because they were featured inside, they felt like helping me with the launch. John is also featured in my book!
He gave me a plug to his email list (thanks, man!).
There is also:
- Chris Jones (Zon Life Success)
- Dave Chesson (Kindlepreneur)
- Russ Raj (Ambitious Types)
- Jyotsna Ramachandran (Happy Self Publishing)
- Trevor James (E-Commerce Paradise)
- Cyrus Kirkpatrick (The Art of Location Independent Lifestyle)
- Sandra Leon (Sandra The Mom Boss)
All of the people mentioned above contributed to my launch in one way or another. Some still didn't have the time to read the book, but that's still cool. I have planted a seed.
If you use a pen name, then you can add some valuable resources from niche influencers and bloggers and then let them know about it and ask them if they can share your book during the launch.
Most people are happy to be mentioned in books! If you are putting yourself out there as an author, then my methods will be more effective.
That was my primary secret weapon. It was lots of work, but I also enjoyed the interviews!
Also, another author offered to send out my book to their email list related to alternative lifestyle and self-help.
They did it for me for free because two years ago I taught them how to self-publish, and I also promoted their books to my old email lists. They wanted to help me, and of course, I said yes.
The lesson here is that sometimes you get “lucky” because you worked hard for it. Your net worth is your network.
How I Get Legit Reviews If My Email List Is Small? Or If I Don't Have An Email List Yet?
As you get ready to launch your book, you need to start building your Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) team.
In my case, I was making some noise through my book cover creation. Because of that, many people contacted me and asked me if I was offering ARC editions.
That was pretty cool. It's a great feeling to know that your hard work is paying off.
Pro tip: Start sharing your book cover, ask for feedback, etc. Again, if you use a pen name, you can still join relevant niche Facebook groups and go all-in.
As you are working on your book, make sure you are looking for legit Amazon reviewers.
I suggest you watch this video by Kindlepreneur:
How To Get A Little Boost On A Launch Date
You can use a service called Buck Books. They will promote your book to their email list. It's very inexpensive and will help you rank better.
They will accept your book even with just 4-5 reviews (it's easy to get them from your ARC team, the process is explained in the above video).
What About Facebook Ads?
No, I don't use them. I think ROI. Paid traffic makes sense to me for more expensive products, not just one book. But again, it may work for some people.
I prefer networking; it's fun. And knowing that your first book in the series gets seen, you want to create more and more. Your following grows!
What I Did Wrong (Lessons Learned)
I made three mistakes:
1) I should have sent out more ARC to readers and more in advance. Still, even with a limited number of reviews and in a very competitive niche, my book did well (because it had a great targeted launch).
2) My book is pretty long. It's 50,000 words, so naturally, it takes some time to read and digest, and people are busy. I was too perfect when it came to editing.
I should have sent out the not-so-perfect copy and let them know that my editor was still polishing the book up. They would have gotten more value faster. So in this case, my perfection was not a good thing.
Also, my goal for this year is to write and publish eight to ten books under my new brand. It makes sense to go big, go all-in, and think in terms of book series.
I am creating a system for this process. I think that after receiving the final edit from my editor, I will focus on recording the audio (yes, for my new books I have to record them myself, the drawback of creating a personal brand), which is a process that can be combined with editing as well.
It will allow me to send out audio ARC's as well, which seems to be easier for readers in this particular niche (a mix of self-help and entrepreneurship).
3) Some people who promised a shout-out got too busy with their own stuff. But there's nothing to worry about, some of them promised that they would send out my book to their lists as soon as they find some free time to read it.
It can take two to three months, but it's good to have it planned because it will give me a boost. Networking with influencers based in the UK as well is important. The UK store is also very important!
After The Launch
I am contacting bloggers in my niche to review my books on their blogs. You can apply this strategy to books written in pen names. You can also reach out to YouTubers who review similar books on their channel.
Offer a free copy of your book and add that you will share their review and relevant content with your readers as a reliable source of info.
As I said, I am also creating a whole series of books. I'm not planning to stop. Now my email list is growing, so every launch will be easier.
I am also helping other colleagues in my niche, which makes them want to help me.
Short-term: Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to give my book a boost. While I don't want my business to depend on Amazon ads, it's a fantastic tool to use if you are still developing your author brand.
Long-term: A strategically-designed blog that is SEO optimized. I am working with a pro, and it's a lot of work, but again, this is what all bestselling authors do.
We are talking strategically-designed content marketing that ensures the longevity of your books. People end up on your blog and want to buy your books. Amazon loves it, so they will keep promoting your books.
Long and short-term: Book funnels. As mentioned, people subscribe to me and are on my reader's email list. I follow up with them by sending relevant information and creating an audience for my new books.
I also have different email lists from different opt-ins. Someone who subscribes from my blog might go through a different sequence.
Do You Need Zillions Of Reviews to Become a Bestseller?
Reviews are crucial, that's for sure, and especially in competitive niches like mine. But from my experience, you can get on Amazon bestsellers lists with only five or six reviews.
As long as your book sells, keeps flying, works in alignment with Amazon's algorithm, is good quality, has a sexy cover, and engaging content, then you will be getting legitimate and organic reviews.
It's critical to make sure you have a cool lead magnet in your book, and you can even have a few of them. Then, you can follow up with your readers and ask for reviews.
I also add my social media contact details. People write me there and thank me for my book, and I say, “Would it be cool if you could post a review and share your honest opinion with other readers?”
I also add, “Of course, there is no obligation.”
You Can Create a Real Business Around Your Books
Your books represent your brand and can help you grow your overall business. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
As I said, English is not even my first language, but I have always had the mindset to do whatever I could to be successful.
I hope that this post will give you the motivation and strategy to help you launch a book and make it a bestseller for years to come. Do not let any limiting beliefs or BS stop you. You can do it!
If you want to put your name and face out there, you can create a personal brand through your books. And you can market your books yourself (via podcasts, interviews, etc.).
I am already getting many enquiries related to consulting, and I am fully booked! It will work in any niche if you follow what I shared in this post. You can become a bestselling author!
The Exact Recipe for Success:
Whatever strategy you use, make sure you have a team who will support you. It's easier to be successful in a team. Be a person of integrity, and other people will want to do business with you.
Mindset: Don't Be a Leech, But Don't Be Afraid to Ask.
If you don't ask, the answer is always no. I was very nervous before I asked some major players for a book interview, but in the end, they were very helpful. It felt great to leave my comfort zone.
Again, in our industry, I am well known for my hustle and work ethic. I guess they know I will be growing and recommending their business to my increasing tribe of followers, too.
People must see you as a person of value and integrity so that it makes it worth their time and effort to do business with you.
What Not to Do:
Someone inexperienced told me that they got a book by a successful author and reviewed it.
Then, they emailed them and said, “Hey I just reviewed your book, can you now do this for me and help me with this and that?”
And they could not understand why the author got pissed off. Can you guess why?
Don't spend six months writing and launching a book.
While the first book in the series represents you and your brand and quality is critical, you need to set up goals and stick to them.
You will grow your readership by consistently publishing books in a given niche or under a certain author name! Launch strategy and marketing during the launch phase is as crucial as the creation process.
You can also promote your book as you write it (create a VIP waiting list opt-in, that is what I did!).
Also, you don't need to be on every social media platform. Choose one and be consistent. I am still getting a lot of shout-outs on IG, and it works great because they are aimed at targeted audiences. Besides, it's fun!
Another strategy that I am planning to try it to create a local meet-up event and introduce people to my book. I've never tried it, so we will see how it goes!
I know many authors set up book events, so why not try it? The offline world is also cool!
I hope you found at least one handy tip that you can apply right away. I would be curious to know what that is!