Monique D. Mensah
The Difference between Publishing and Launching a Book
Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Launching your self-published book just may be one of the scariest but most fulfilling experiences you’ll have in this lifetime. It’s an exciting time and could be the start to a lucrative career as a successful authorpreneur. You’ve poured your heart and soul into writing this book, and now it’s time for the world to see what you’re made of. You’re feeling a myriad of emotions, from angst, to giddiness, to downright horror, all leading up to the big day.
But despite all the electrifying buildup, unfortunately, a lot of self-published authors don’t get the type of results they’ve been anticipating when launching their book. And after seeing failed launch after launch (including my own), I’ve narrowed it down to just a few reasons.
There are three common strategies self-published authors use when launching their books:
The Publish & Pray Method: The author publishes the book, then uploads it to Amazon KDP (and maybe IngramSpark), then prays that people discover it and buy it.
The Lemonade Method: The author doesn’t tell anyone about the book until after it’s published. It’s a surprise release like Beyonce and the Lemonade album.
The “Buy My Book” Approach: The author has no brand or marketing strategy other than approaching random people online and asking them to buy the book.
Before you try any of these so-called strategies, let me tell you, you’re not likely to see good results. Maybe you’ve already tried some of them, so you know. Although there are many, many things wrong with these methods, one common thread between the three is that publishing the book is often confused with launching the book. So let’s break it down.
To publish your book means to take it from its raw manuscript form through a process to transform it into a physical or digital book. It refers only to the production of the book. Launching, on the other hand, is a strategized sequence of events the author executes to let the world know the book exists and is now ready for purchase. Many authors think that by simply publishing the book and posting it on Amazon or any other retail site (even their own ecommerce platform) they’ve also launched; however, without that strategized sequence of events, the book may be published, but no one will know it.
A proper book launch takes weeks, sometimes months of preparation, and a lot of timed, intentional actions other than just posting on Amazon. A successful launch primes a specific audience for the sale in advance and builds momentum through increased visibility and marketing tactics that fuel anticipation. While it takes only minutes to post a book on Amazon, I recommend a sixty-to-ninety-day timeframe for a successful book launch. This gives the author plenty of time to position their brand, build an audience of targeted readers, make valuable connections, and invite the audience on a journey through a pre-launch and launch sequence that will have them knocking down the door to get the book when it’s released. And that sounds much better than just asking people to buy the book.
Here’s four steps to get you started with your first or next book launch:
Start an email list and use a lead magnet to drive traffic to it.
Plan out your social media and email content to increase anticipation
Build a street team to help you spread the word during launch week
Get ARC (advanced review copy) reviewers to post early reviews
Do a cover reveal and run a pre-order campaign
Host a live launch event to celebrate and increase conversions
The most important thing to remember when both publishing and launching your book is to take your time, be strategic, and give it everything you’ve got.