Hey Guys! Nicole Gabriel here! I’m the host of the Let’s Get Your Book Published podcast. I’m also the author multiple books, a Book Designer, and a Publishing Coach as well as an intuitive Business Coach.
I’ve been in the book business for awhile now and I’ve helped many clients get their book published over the years. On this podcast I share personal stories, client stories, and the truths about the publishing industry….
Today’s Topic: Planning the Launch of Your Book
I’m going to hit on many topics in the episode so the title of this podcast is broad. I’m not really giving you the specific details on the launch, but more some of the obstacles and thoughts around the launch… you’ll see as we get into it today.
When a new author thinks about writing a book they don’t often think about all the details it entails… mostly just because they really don’t know. On the surface, it would seem like a pretty straight-forward task to write and print, but there are many steps in between and many hurdles and obstacles that can come up and this is why having people on your book launch team that know what they are doing is critical!
I have to tell you, I’ve been in the book business for awhile and in these strange times I’ve had to leap through some pretty big obstacles to get books printed. There are all kinds of hurdles with censorship and supply chains that I’ve never seen before. And, now all social media platforms are changing, how to launch has changed, and even how to speak without division or insult has changed. Heck, even how authors work (or don’t work) with publishing houses has changed.
I’m watching people that have been in this industry leave and sell their businesses or diversify their portfolio by not putting all their attention in one place. Perhaps it’s the volatile environment that leaves them uneasy? Perhaps they are tired or bored with the industry. I’m not sure. Whatever is going on in the industry, I still love it! I love what I do, but boy do I hate watching authors struggle with the necessary steps and meaningful processes to properly launch a book!
Generally an author feels compelled to write and builds out a manuscript. On the surface this seems pretty straight-forward—write, print, sell! But, in the undercurrent, there is far more going on here than meets the eye. The only way you’re going to know this is once you have gone through the entire process once. There are going to be a ton of things you are going to overlook unless you have guidance from someone that has a thorough understanding of the entire process. And, I will tell you that if that person guiding you has never written a book, they really don’t understand all the stages of the book’s lifecycle. Lots of challenges can be mitigated in the end if the beginning is properly thought through. The most common response I get from someone ready to launch their manuscript with a poor coaching system is “I wish I would have known that in the beginning!”
I always hope to catch a new author prior to the completion of their manuscript so that I can guide them on defining and aligning content and how to leverage it properly for later positioning it with aligned marketing for a successful launch. There are some very critical elements to put in place to successfully launch a book but until an author is actually launching it they don’t even know where they’ve missed the boat.
Not every new author sees what’s truly in front of them until they are well down the path. It all begins with having something to say and a passion to endure the writing of the manuscript amongst life’s endless obstacles. It would seem straight-forward to sit down and write…right?
But, timing is everything with a book. Let’s just be real here. You’ve gone this long without a book and getting the timing of the launch just right is a pretty critical step once it has completed production. In other words, don’t hurry! At the same time, when it comes to launch, have you thought about your support system for the launch as you wrote the book’s content? You know, I can tell you that every single time I have someone come to me to produce a book I say to myself…”So…this is the subject they seek mastery in!” I recently guided a client through the launch of her networking book. She loves people and she produced a wonderful book, but her greatest mistake was timing. She began to figure this out only at the launch. She did a wonderful job pulling all the pieces together and wrote a very solid book. And, since she’s into networking, she had many great testimonials and community support for her book. But, she was so eager to do her first event with her book that she planned her event prior to even having books in hand. And, in all things covid, we ran into significant issues with printing.
The first printer we went to is a company I have worked with for some ten years. As she went off to print we found out the company had been cyber hacked and every single printing press was offline for an indefinite period of time. She had already scheduled her event. We didn’t have any time for this to happen and still get her books for the event. So, she had to reschedule her event and we had to go on a hunt for another printer. I had a list of printers and had worked with a few in the past, but when we tried to call these printers they were out of business or no longer printing books. I did a podcast a few episodes back on the Gutenberg Press and the issues around this and censorship. It raised some red flags for me. Who bought these printers out and why are they no longer printing books. No answer would be ideal for me. Either things were going digital and subject to censorship or perhaps what I had heard was true… that many Chinese companies were buying them out and taking away their ability to print. This is truly frightening if you understand what is going on here!
Nonetheless, we found a new printer, one I had worked with in the past, but long ago. We went through the interview process, we learned they had far more options than my original printer and I also learned that the process to get books to print was a bit different and I had to learn how to output files in the right format for their production team. My regular printer wasn’t as particular but I knew that we’d get a far better output if we could jump through all the loopholes. So, I did my best not to worry my client about the process as I knew I would figure it out and the printer would guide me. We didn’t just get a proof book like the original printer. We got access to a pre-flight server and literally had to approve ever single item to be printed or deny the entire job. Pages were flagged with issues and many times new sample prints, end sheet colors, and files had to be re-worked and mailed out before we finally got it the way the client wanted it. But, after all this time - nearly a month - she got a call from the printer apologizing for the mistake they made on the print job. Apparently the printer didn’t calibrate colors properly and every single book came out with a yellow hue!
The printer apologized for the mistake and offered to re-print everything at no cost but the books would not make her re-scheduled event. So, she decided that she would take the wrong books to have for her event and got a discount on the printing for her next run. But, in order to make the next date she committed to, they couldn’t re-calibrate the color and still get them to her in time. So, now here she was having to send out 200 books with the yellow hue because she had committed to her dates prior to having books in hand! Lesson #1 I give my coaching clients (she was not one of them) is to never commit to a date unless you have books in hand!
Now, she was in a pickle because she needed to send books to the distributor and all she had were yellow-hued books. So off goes 100 books to the distributor! She wanted to be able to get in the distribution networks and get on Amazon immediately for other events she wanted to do and because she wanted to hit the ground running well before she had books in hand now she had more commitments than books. She’s a networker, right… she was so excited to network she didn’t take the time to get things properly in place. It’s truly ok to be excited but you just can’t do all this work and go all this way and pay all this money out and blow it at this point. She knew this and she was stressed and not sleeping because of it. She had over-committed and was not properly prepared.
Now, the next dilemma was that she had a professional networking group wanting to promote her and her new book. They have a support system to help members that write books by buying the ebook into best-seller status. Of course, I sent her the ebook files but with all the chaos of the printing dilemmas she didn’t get it uploaded. She was telling everyone about the book and ready to go right now but didn’t have anything in place.
OK, but here’s the real bummer about jumping the gun with creating awareness before you’re fully ready. You don’t get another shot to create awareness! There is no do-over! And, for someone with a huge network, she’s got so much opportunity to hit it big here.
So, here’s what I suggested she do and what I tell all my clients to do. Under no circumstance do you ever make people aware of the book you are writing until you have everything complete. I have to beg clients to hold onto their books for awhile but they are usually so ready to go and so excited to launch it that they aren’t thinking. They let emotions get in the way.
When a professional author writes a book they generally don’t do pre-sales these days. So, don’t do pre-sales! In fact, pre-sales are one of the worst things you can do as an author… in my opinion. The awareness factor creates a need for immediate fulfillment. With books in hand, you tell people it’s go time and now is the time to get your hard cover book, your eBook… and even your soft cover and your audio book if you can pull it off. You want to be set up with professional global distribution. You want to have a website and the ability to buy books on it. You want to get yourself set up with a way to take sales offline, like get set up with Square or something other than PayPal. Get yourself a little device for swiping cards wherever you are. Then, you want to think about packaging the book and shipping costs. You want to set up the backend business of your ebook and how deposits are made into your bank account. All this stuff is just for the handling of the book, but this is not your real business!!! That’s the biggest and greatest problem here. You have to do all of this to set up the business of your book but this is not why you wrote the book! I mean, I really hope that you didn’t write the book to run just the business of selling a book!
Let’s say you are in some $2,500 for design, $2,000 for editing, and $2,500 for a basic coaching system… this is $7,000 just to get the book ready for printing! But, to print about 100 hard cover books you need to come up with another $3,000. If you are in $10,000, you are going to have to sell 400 books at $24.95 to break even. And… did you catch that this cost is for only printing 100 books? So, it’s not until we start talking costs to produce a high-quality book that I start getting an authors attention. Have I now gotten yours?
I also work with authors in other countries for printing and right now there is a 4-5 month delay on getting materials in Canada. Printers are only holding quotes for 30 days right now because the cost of supplies is continuously going up.
So, now I’m asking you to commit to a $10,000 minimum budget and you may have to sit for several weeks into months on this investment before you begin to get a return. Wow, right? So, what’s the cure? Where do we go from here?
Let's start with the initial comment I made. You’ve gone this long without a book, so let’s not hurry! In fact, now we can’t. We are forced to wait. So, in all reality this is optimal! I encourage all my clients to build out the platform and infrastructure prior to committing to anything anyhow. Now, you have to move on to something else if you are stuck waiting on printing. Now, I have you just where I want you! So, now I want you to really think about how this book positions you into something new. I want you to think about the way you introduce it to your ecosystem. In fact, I want you to first build the ecosystem if you haven’t. And before you even write the book you have to integrate content into the book to enhance or support that ecosystem.
Here’s what’s interesting about the book process. It makes you really think about appearance and it challenges ego. It makes you honest. It asks you to define your audience and clarify your why. And, people put all kinds of things in a book to fluff themselves up and talk about all the fab that they are, but now I’m asking you to really consider walking the walk. If you claim that you are a speaker or a coach in your book, do you have the speech or the tools in place to run with what you claim? If a reader inquired with you about your coaching program, do you really have something prepared to offer them?
You know, I have been doing my business for more than a decade now and I’ve written a book to coach the publishing process and I created an online book publishing training program and I have written about a thousand pages that support all these efforts. I have pages in my books, videos, creative, podcasts, downloads, and email lists and once in awhile I actually do an email campaign. (Yeah, I’m really bad about that!) But, every time I have a new client contact me I question myself, my ability to turn on my inner sales guy, and produce a client. I don’t care how long I do this business, I will probably always worry that I’m not able to truly showcase what I can offer. I always wonder what it is a potential new client or author wants to hear and if I tell them the right thing. I never have one doubt about whether or not I’m capable. I know my business! I’m good at what I do! But, that whole sales piece has just never been my bag. I’m a creator and a producer and I love my business, but sales guy I’m not!
Have you realized you have to step up and advocate for yourself now as an author? Have you realized that you have to get a bit bold with your book and your content and you have to sell yourself? Most authors don’t know this. We often think our words and pretty book cover will sell themselves. But, there really has to be a need defined and you provide a solution for the need. It’s just like anything else. So, how to you showcase yourself as a valuable solution? Well, that’s the trick, right? You have to find your own magic. However, there is no doubt that the book opens the door to do this.
So, now let’s look again at that $10,000 initial investment and start thinking a bit differently. Now imagine that you are selling a $1,000 solution and a book is the magic tool to get you noticed as a center of expertise in that subject. Now you only need to sell 10 solutions. Ah, now we are getting somewhere, right?
When it comes to preparing to launch your book and the timing for it…now you’re beginning to understand that launch never means selling a book. It means selling a higher ticket item. And the book lays out everything you are going to offer without actually offering it. When you write your book right you are building in the content to support that higher ticket solution, right?
So, now you can think in terms of the solution you are providing as you lay out the content of your book. Perhaps now you approach the order of your content a bit different. You might begin with the first stages of a coaching program. Everything in the first third of your book is for coaching session or class number one. The second half and third half are the next stages or classes of the program. This will better assist you in organizing purposeful content.
The fact is that you can’t afford to miss the opportunity the book is giving you to upsell, upgrade, enhance, or otherwise improve the thing you do… or showcase the skills you have. If you haven’t build out the business behind the book and you’re launching it then the fact is that you are always only selling books. I really want to see you bring people to a book launch and sell them on the fact that they need you to enhance their business or life. I’d love to see you turn a $24.95 book sale into a higher dollar (and more long-term) client.
Have you built out the program, product, or service before you launch the book? How about the website or workbook? Do you have a defined coaching model? Before you launch the book I want to get you really thinking about what you are using the book to create awareness of and I want you to be ready to upsell. And, understand, this works for an author writing a novel too. If you are writing a novel then you are likely selling books and creating awareness at that time for the next book. All I’m trying to do here is make sure that you’ve considered the return on investment because it isn’t until you’re actually selling books where you will realize there isn’t much profit in book sales alone. In fact, it’s rare to have a profit.
So, to wrap things back around to the topic of timing for your book…
There are a lot of things that go into properly timing a book launch, but most authors tend to hurry through the process of writing, editing, design, layout, and printing because they are producing a book for sale.
This entire process can happen pretty quick. Of course, writing and editing take as long as it takes to get you a manuscript you can be happy with. Design and layout is usually done within just a few weeks. Printing used to take a few weeks, but now it’s taking up to a few months in some cases. But, timing matters mostly when you are focused solely on producing a book for sale and want to be quick to the market to sell it.
If you’re planning this out right you will build out a project plan with all the inner workings and their touch points defined. You will build in content that touches local members of the community you launch your book in and other wider-range co-workers, distributors, partners, and the like when you are laying out the foundation for a long-term solution. There is a big difference between a book that’s quick to the market and one planned for longevity and reach.
Alright guys, I’ve tried to give you a few other thoughts on the timing of the production of your book. I do my best to keep you focused on the build out of the platform behind your book. It may not make a lot of sense until you’re right there selling it, as for some reason, this seems to be the only point in the process authors truly get it. I do my best to get you thinking before you’re sitting there with a book in hand wondering what went wrong. This is a one-time shot to time things perfectly. The point of sale is the culmination of many events. How successful it goes is based on the forward-thinking and planning that went into everything before this point. Got it?
You know, totally off-topic, but I mentioned my hydroponic gardening before, and I’m still in the learning curb. I was told you can grow strawberries this way but my first batch didn’t go so well, so I’m trying again. I’ll let you know how that goes, but I do have some baby parsley and sage coming in nicely. In these times you can never be too forward thinking about how to be more self-reliant. If nothing else, I have beans…lots of canned beans! I’m still learning how green my thumb is, but my kale and lettuce was wonderful on the last harvest. I’m getting the hang of it. So, I’m off to garden…
I hope you are well in these unique times.
That’s all for today. As always, wishing you peace, love, and light.
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