In “Book marketing requires patience,” I noted that many authors have unrealistically high expectations for their book launches.
When those expectations aren’t met, writers often feel like failures.
It’s not a good feeling. But it’s one that can be avoided.
Plan a soft book launch.
Soft book launch defined
In the marketing world, a soft launch happens when you release a new product to a limited audience before doing a full-blown introduction later.
Companies use this approach for a number of reasons, including gathering feedback they can use to improve the product or fine-tune their marketing language for the full launch.
For most products and services, it’s a great way to answer the question, “Have we got this right?”
3 reasons to plan a soft book launch
There are three primary reasons a soft launch is a smart strategy for authors and books, too.
1. Reader reviews
A soft book launch gives you time to secure those all-important reader reviews before introducing your book to the world.
Reader reviews tell book buyers that your book is reader-tested and approved. This is important “social proof” you’ll want in place before announcing your book outside your network.
People who don’t know you or your product quality need this reassurance.
These early reviews also give you fodder for marketing pieces that include quote graphics (quote cards).
2. Quality assurance
The people you trust to support you during your soft launch can identify any random typos, format glitches, or other issues that seem to inevitably creep into books.
You can also ask for feedback on your book description on the back cover (if you have one) and online sales pages. Is it accurate? Does it resonate with them?
3. Marketing language
Many times, you’ll spot patterns in your early reader feedback. Several on your soft book launch team might express the same thought – “I wasn’t expecting that twist at the end!” or “I will look at this issue differently now that I’ve read your book.”
When you identify these gems in their feedback, consider how you can use them to improve the book’s description and marketing materials.
Create a soft book launch team
Many authors use “street teams” for book launches. They’re people you recruit from your network to read and review pre-publication copies of your book and talk it up on social media during the launch period. (Be sure to read “How to create a street team for your book” by author and popular podcaster Meagan Francis.)
Use a similar approach for your soft launch, but leave out the social media component. With a soft launch, your focus is on securing feedback and honest reviews on Amazon, BN.com, Goodreads, and any other platform that’s important to your book.
You don’t want supporters promoting it yet.
Managing the launch
With your team recruited, take care to:
- Communicate precisely what you need team members to do and when.
- Give them enough time to read and review the free copy of your book that you provide.
- Ping them occasionally with reminders – we’re all busy and can lose track of time.
- Provide exact page links they can use to share their reviews.
- Make it easy for them to write a meaningful review in minutes by providing them with a copy of the Build Book Buzz Reader Book Review Form.
- Explain that reviews need to be honest and that reviewers must include a disclaimer saying they received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Presuming everything unfolds smoothly, you’ll be ready for that official launch to a far wider audience in just a few weeks. By taking this extra step, you’ll not only increase your confidence, you’ll improve your chances for success, too.