Book Launch From Scratch: How to Release a Debut Novel and Not Suck at It


“If you were a brand new author with a budget of $500 what would you prioritize?”

The person asking this question said they had their book edited and had a pro cover design. He also had a 10,000 word reader magnet. A reader magnet is a book you write specifically to give away. You use it to entice readers to join your newsletter and to buy your books. Usually it’s around the 10k mark, and is often a mini-sequel, prequel, or retold event from the book from another character’s POV.

It got me thinking on a few things. I’ve already got a platform and a newsletter list plus a decent backlist. However, if I was to relaunch from scratch knowing what I know now, how would I do it? If I had $500 for a budget, this is what I would do

Assuming the cover and edits are stellar for both the book and the magnet I would enact a multi-phase plan for initial launch which focuses on building an audience. Make sure the covers for both the book and the magnet are branded VERY similar so there is no mistaking that one is related to the other. Also make sure that the magnet can stand alone as a story. Something that is a continuation, doesn’t introduce your characters, is a cliffhanger, or can’t be understood apart from the main book could result in bad reviews and then discourage people from signing up.


  1. Purchase and read Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque (also write content for your first 12 newsletters. Keep them short, entertaining, topically interesting to your book’s readers, AND DO NOT TRY TO SELL THEM your books. You are only building social currency at this stage… and yes, send the newsletter even if you only have 20 subscribers. (A low subscriber count is expected at the beginning.)


  1. Reader magnet should be set for wide distribution (not exclusive to KDP and available on as many platforms as possible). Set its price to free (try to get amazon to match pricing) and prominently feature your Call To Action (a link to newsletter signup).


  1. Set main book up in KDP (plan to go wide and release at .99) and have it set for preorder and to launch in about 3-4 months (you should hopefully have around 1,000 subscribers by release time).


  1. Setup in Bookfunnel or Storyorigin and join promo/newsletter swaps. Do this every week to get onto as many promotions as you can be in (this is an ongoing task—weekly until book launch. Bi weekly until book is free in KU select [a later step] and then monthly, at least.)


  1. Have your email list set up and automated to deliver with an onboarding sequence. Subtly mention that the price is reduced for presale/prerelease during your onboarding sequence. For most people this will be done via Mailchimp since they are free up to 2,000 subscribers. Use Newsletter Ninja or other online guides to guide your onboarding sequence messages.


  1. Run targeted Facebook ads to generate newsletter signups. You will need a FB account that is linked to your service (mailchimp and others easily do this). Plan to spend about $150 and research ads before publishing them. They have to be good in order to get a manageable CPC. Set the ad to stop spending once it reaches its lifetime budget.


NOTE: steps 1-5 should all go live/publish in one sitting. Save drafts until everything is ready and then launch FB Ads, preorders, magnet, and newsletter list all at the same time (you don’t want signups to go to dead links or new readers left off of the onboarding sequence or fail to receive the reader magnet!)


  1. Find and utilize a book launch timeline checklist. Do as much as you are capable of from this list. I have a generic one on my blog and the one I personally use is included in a nice workbook format in the Indie Author’s Bible Workbook (along with other helpful tools.)


  1. About a week before launch, remove the info about prerelease from your onboarding sequence to eliminate later confusion. (By now, you are relying on your social media and NL swaps/inter-author promos to continue growing your email list… something in the neighborhood of 50-150 signups per week could be expected.)


  1. Launch your book wide (make sure it has a solid CTA in the book’s front and back directing to newsletter) and use $200 worth of paid adverts that are stacked over three days to garner the most visibility for launch. This is also the time to send a newsletter to your list that announces the release of the book and asks for readers to purchase it.


  1. As you release your next newsletter (should be about 2-4 weeks later,) write it as normal but ask for two additional things: 1. a review if they have purchased or 2. a purchase now (let them know that in 1 week the price will increase)… 1 week later change price to 2.99 and enroll it in KDP select, taking it out of wide dist. for the next 3 months.


  1. Once you feel like action has cooled off on your book’s interest, run a Free promo (this is at the end of months 1 or 2,) in KU and run a few paid promotions. Utilize promo stacks and shoot for about 4-5 paid adverts for $150 plus apply for about 20-30 Free listings (I use a service on Fiverr who does all of these for me for a total of $7… it saves me tons of time.)


I might very well run this exact setup for my 15-year-old daughter and her debut novel once she finishes edits.

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