Write a Pre-Launch Series, Part Two

by Trish

So we’ve already talked about the most important reason to write pre-launch content around (before and after) your book is published (see Part One of this series). Now we’ll tackle how to organize the content and how you’ll be dribbling it out.

Yes, I like the world dribble.

Say you have a book coming out in three months. When do you start talking specifically about your launch, and what are you going to say without becoming one of those slick used car sales people? (Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with a used car salesperson; some very honest and good people have sold me cars and I have nothing against them.) But we authors want to be dignified with our selling message. We don’t want to appear too spammy or overly promotional. We don’t want to be THAT person. (The used car analogy is easy to use.)

This is what I think: If authors do not learn basic salesmanship, we will always be “that person.” You cannot promote yourself without knowing at least something about how people tick and what makes them buy. When you refuse to learn, you will BE “that person.” The more you learn, the less you will be irritating, because you’ll know what your audience wants, what you want them to do, and you’ll make sure you’re providing content to get them from point A to point B.

This is basic salesmanship anyway, isn’t it? The customer wants to buy a car; you want to sell them a particular car. You use selling techniques to get them there. But we’re going to do this with content marketing, not Craigslist. Your ideal customer wants to buy a book that interests them (a book just like yours) and you want to sell them your book because it interests them. Point A to point B. Here’s how.

1. List quickly what you would tell someone if they were buying say, a car from you. Color, make, model, price, mileage, repairs, scratches, tire life, MPG, size of the trunk, etc. At any time, that buyer could drop off, because there is one element of your “car” that doesn’t interest them. Same thing with your book. That’s okay! This is good. This is filtering out the people that are NOT your audience. The best way to get a sale is not to tell everyone that is NOT interested in your book, but to tell people that ARE interested. So what about your book would interest some and not interest others? What is your angle? What is your passion? (Hint: It should be those topics present in the book that you are trying to sell.)

2. Pick your top five elements and write a blog post about each. If you’re writing a novel about Africa, you would write about the country your novel is set in, a story about someone you met or know from that country (find a story on the Internet newspapers if you don’t have one to share), and anything that pertains to the novel story. If readers are interested in this, they will be ready to read your book. If they are not interested, your novel is not for them. For novels specifically, it would be similar stories to yours or if you’re writing nonfiction, actually interviewing people that appear in your book without giving away your book. DON’T ever post published book content on your blog. It’s not yours to post.

Now, stop. The danger here is that many of you will be thinking “But I don’t want to scare away potential readers by being too specific!” That’s not true. You’re not scaring away potential readers by being too specific, you’re attracting your right readers (loyal, for-life readers) by being as specific as possible. There’s no way to sell your book to everyone in the world (unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer; even they have not sold to everyone in the world). You’re trying to find your core readership that will in turn spread your book to their friends and on and on and on. That’s how a writing career is born. This is how a thirteenth book can be bigger than your first twelve. This is how a midlist author can suddenly gain a lot of traction and be bigger than life online.

3. Don’t dump all your blog posts into a one-week span. In fact, don’t just make one blog post. If you can, make two or three blog posts about each element. In fact, better yet, write a blog post each week with one of these elements included. And do this for months before and after your book comes out. This is slow and steady platform building. This builds interest in your topic. People will be conditioned to want to know more. As your book continues to sell, more and more people will visit your blog. As your blog continues to be about your book, more and more people will want your book. It works together quite nicely.

So, anyone ready for a schedule? Your mileage may vary. Tweak it for your unique situation and don’t be afraid to break the rules! I’m not your mother.

Three months out: Sit down with your final, accepted book and sift out the top themes. Find your passion, find what you still think about, want to write more about, can’t stop reading and researching about. Cull the top five themes or elements. This is your working blog content.

Two months out: Begin to thinly slice these themes into as many blog posts as you can get! And I mean thin slices. No macro views here. Micro views. Nano views. Make the content work for you. Brainstorm blog titles and three main points (you may find this is a great way to thinly slice that content) and write a few that you most want to write. Post ’em. One or two a week. Condition your readers to read about what your book is about.

One month out: You’re in full pre-launch mode now. Blog content should be 80% working blog content and 20% promotional.

Launch: Hold that 80/20 ratio and keep at it, even when you’re so busy from promotional events and blog tours and think you’ll die from writing blog posts in your sleep.

One month later: Don’t stop! 80/20 works. Keep at it!

Two months later: You can begin to wind down if you want. I have seen authors prepare for pre-launch and get so excited about the response that they keep on with those core themes and elements for years afterward. Whatever works for you!

And that’s how it’s done.

Part Three covers time management with blogging and organizational tips on keeping it all straight during one of the most STRESSFUL times in a writer’s life.

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