You’ve been writing your book for months, maybe years, and are deep into the publishing process. With your book launch date approaching, you are doing everything you can to market it—you’ve ensured the quality of your book, set up your website, are on social media, and are building your email list. Now, it’s time to mobilize your followers and design your book launch email strategy.

If you’re at the beginning of the book marketing journey with no email list yet or a small one, never fear. Start from where you are.

[Grab your free Book Marketing Checklist here to point you in the right direction.]

Email Marketing Basics

Building your list

Because building your email list can take time, it’s important to start your email strategy early. Once you discover who your ideal reader is, you’ll explore where they hang out (like on social media) and what they value. For many fiction readers, that’s a new thing to read. For nonfiction readers, it might be a checklist, template, or list of valuable tips.

Once you know where to connect with your readers, you’ll create social media posts, and you might pay for ads to drive traffic to a landing page so that readers will sign up for your email list in exchange for your freebie.

Sending emails

When creating an email strategy, in general, it’s important to understand the basics first. Your goal is to email your subscribers consistently and with intention.

Consistency ensures that you stay at the top of your readers’ minds and allows you to build a relationship with them. Once you build a relationship with valuable content, they are more likely to open and engage with your emails.

Sending your emails with intention ensures every email you send will do one or more of these things: inform/educate your subscribers so they find value in reading it, entertain your subscribers, build community or your relationship with them, sell them something, or bring them closer to saying yes to buying your book or the next book in the series.

Learn more about email marketing here.

Create the pre-launch emails

Now that you’ve got your email set up, it’s time to mobilize. In the weeks leading up to your book launch, your email strategy is to build excitement for your book and talk about your progress with your growing list of email subscribers. In addition to other email banter, here are some ideas you might consider sharing:

  • If you’ve sent it off to an editor, received the draft manuscript design, or have a cover to reveal,  email progress reports generate interest and excitement.
  • If you’ve already written other books in the series, encourage them to start reading by offering book one for free.
  • If you didn’t give away your first three chapters for free to get readers on your list, offer it to them now. In the long term, it’s easiest to set up a landing page for this purpose, but you can simply ask who wants the freebie and manually send a PDF to each person.
  • If you’ve written fiction, interview your main character or describe the setting.
  • If you’ve written nonfiction, ask your readers questions to find out what they are experiencing and how your book might help.
  • Share how you came to write the book.
  • Share a pre-publication review.
  • If publication is imminent, share your excitement and get your readers on the edge of their seats with anticipation also.

By starting your email strategy early, you sell anticipation. You sell excitement. Selling your book is easier once readers have already convinced themselves they want it.

To fuel that desire, hold a contest for a free signed copy of your paperback. By entering the contest pre-launch, readers signify to their brains that they want what you’re offering. Announce the winner just before your book’s release date so those who didn’t win will be compelled to buy. Post your contest on social media and nurture readers via email.

Launch week emails

Once you’ve primed the pump, so to speak, bring it home with your book launch week email series. Although you may have been sending weekly or monthly emails prior to your launch, focus on sending emails every day or every other day during launch week. Not all of your subscribers will open or react to them every day.

With all that’s going on, it’s helpful to write the email series in advance. Once written, you can fill in the blanks as you go without having to create the email from scratch each day. You can also schedule the emails to be delivered on a certain day and at a certain time, so you can set it and forget it!

What to say

Launch Day:

  • Share your excitement about the book release.
  • Share your goals, like being number one in your category. Ask for their help in getting there. Approach it with gratitude.
  • Give them links to buy your book.
  • Share one review.
  • Include the book cover and a description.

Day 2:

  • Share the whirlwind of a day. Show gratitude for the show of support.
  • Share any notable progress in the Amazon charts.
  • Note any upcoming podcast interviews and share the link.
  • Share a picture of yourself with the book showing excitement or exhaustion.

Day 3:

  • Share a review
  • Provide a link to encourage readers to post an Amazon and/or Goodreads review.
  • Share a goal with the number of reviews you hope to get by the end of the launch week, like 25 or 50, and encourage readers to help.

Day 4:

  • Encourage readers to post a picture of themselves with your book and provide a hashtag, like #[your book title].
  • You can run another contest to win a signed copy of your book or something else, entering all who participate.

Day 5:

  • Share stats on how and where people are purchasing the book. See your KDP and IngramSpark dashboards if that is accessible to you.
  • Share your preferences for reading (paperback, ebook, audiobook) and purchasing (local, Amazon, Bookshop.org) and why.
  • Ask readers if they prefer ebooks or paperbacks or about their go-to place to buy books.

Day 6:

  • If you are doing a live reading or virtual book launch on social media, share the link.
  • Also, you can record yourself reading an excerpt and include it in the email.
  • Encourage readers to share the email with their friends to help spread the word.

Day 7:

  • Thank readers for an amazing week.
  • Show gratitude to your launch team, readers, and reviewers.
  • Let subscribers know that it’s not too late to purchase a book or leave a review.
  • Tell them what you are working on next.
  • Share how to stay in touch with you, like social media platforms.
  • Let them know what to expect from your emails going forward.

Depending on your book, here are some additional things to sprinkle into your launch week emails.

If fiction:

  • Provide a map of a fantasy world.
  • Give some background on the setting, like childhood adventures on Cape Cod, or background information about characters, like flaws or situations they experience.
  • Discuss any research you did to write the book, like riding along with a police officer or traveling to a remote location.
  • Encourage fan fiction or fan art. Fan fiction is when readers write books based on your characters or world.

If functional nonfiction:

  • Highlight pain points plaguing your readers.
  • Share aspirational solutions for the reader.
  • Share your struggle or experience that compelled you to write the book.
  • Create a top 3, 5, or 7 list of the takeaways from the book.

If memoir or biography:

  • Share information about the time period or location.
  • Share the relevant political or social climate of the time.
  • Include a photo of yourself or the subject of the biography.
  • Include a photo or video of the setting during that time period.

Most of all, your email strategy should include sharing a piece of yourself. Regardless of your genre or topic, bring your humanity to the launch. Readers have the choice to buy a lot of different books. You’ll have the edge if your tone resonates with them as well.

What to Expect

Of course, we know not everyone on your list will buy your book. The reasons are many:

  • They already have a book they are reading.
  • The book isn’t what they want to read.
  • They don’t want to spend the money (for every reason people don’t).
  • They only “read” audiobooks.
  • They are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber and only choose books listed.
  • They don’t like the cover.
  • They aren’t sure why/how they got on your email list.
  • They don’t open your emails, or they go to their spam folder.
  • Among other reasons . . .

When you look at the list, you understand that there are some things you can control and some things you can’t. You can control the cover, but you can’t control them opening your emails.

For other reasons, like they already have a book, it may be “not now” and not “no.” For that reason, one email won’t do. We know readers finish one book and pick up another. Your job is to be there when that need arises.

Of course, it’s a delicate balance between spamming email subscribers and offering your book. That’s why it’s important to offer helpful, entertaining, or inspiring messages in advance of turning on the launch week sales faucet. Start your email strategy early to build a relationship with your readers so they keep opening and reading your emails over and over.

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