Do you want to help a friend launch a book and reach a target audience? Or are you the author and you want to help your friends help you launch a book? My friend Sherri Fisher, author of The Effort Myth, suggested that we create a positive echo chamber for each other’s publications. She was playing off the idea of an echo chamber as a way that people reinforce each other’s opinions. I love the idea of reinforcing each other’s opinions of a book, but an echo chamber generally implies a closed situation in which people aren’t open to change. So, let’s call it a positive reverberation instead because we are inviting new people in.
Reverberation Action List
Collected here are 16 different ways that you could give a book a major push or a little nudge. Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the list. Maybe skim the list to find the 1, 2, or 3 that fit your style, strengths, and time availability and then read those in detail.
- Offer to Write an Endorsement
- Help Your Friend Write an Author Bio and Book Blurb
- Make Sure the Book has a Lead Magnet Page
- Help Make a List of Launch Partners
- Help Create the Email to Invite Launch Partners
- Help Create Launch Materials
- Help Launch Partners Keep Promises
- Help Throw a Launch Party
- Help the Author Produce a Launch Video
- Write an Early Amazon Review… or a Later One
- Share With Your Social Media Network on Launch Day… and Later
- Notify People Who Might be Interested
- Help Your Friend Create a Press Kit
- Help With Social Media
- Suggest Speaking Opportunities
- Give the Book as a Gift
Almost all of these are useful for both traditionally and self-published books. Both kinds need the author to take charge of marketing, which is where the reverberation helps.
Before the Book is Published
Some steps have to occur before the book goes to the printers because they affect book content. If you pick one of these ways to help, do it in time to be included in the publication.
1. Offer to Write an Endorsement
Before the book goes to the printers, the author can incorporate short endorsements from early readers about what they liked about the book. You’ve seen those statements on the backs of books. Some people have trouble asking. You could offer to write one, and then be cool if your endorsement is not needed.
If you know somebody who is a big shot in the field with lots of letters after their name, you could make an introduction and help your friend ask the big shot to write an endorsement. Authors are often shy about asking for the help they need.
2. Help Your Friend Write an Author Bio and Book Blurb
There is scarcely anything harder for most authors than writing their own bios and the blurbs to go on the book cover. I workshopped the description of my book three times. Every time a workshop group read it, they gave me the same advice, “Punch it up.” That was even after I tried to punch it up after the first two reviews.
What if you wrote a first draft of either the book blurb or the bio? If the author gave you a list of facts, could you write the first draft? Or could you punch up the author’s first draft?
In my book, Sit Write Share, Share Experiment 14 is about writing the author’s bio. The last action in that experiment may suggest a way you could help your friend get a bio written. It suggests to the author to get together with a friend who also needs a bio. Swap fact lists and write the first draft of each other’s bio. You might be able to give each other a head start this way.
3. Make Sure the Book has a Website and a Lead Magnet Page
Perhaps you’re good at web design. Your author friend may need help setting up a web page associated with the book that offers some additional materials in exchange for the reader’s email address. A link to that page needs to show up inside the book, preferably early enough that it shows up in the Amazon Look Inside. The resulting email list helps the author particularly with future publications.
With a little help from my friends, I created a valuable giveaway, The Navigation Guide to Sit Write Share, a booklet to help people take stock of their existing writing skills and select a next action. I created the signup form on this website dedicated to the book. But I failed to put the link and description of the giveaway inside the book. This was a mistake that you can help your friend not make.
The reason that this is important is that people curious about the book may well use the Amazon Look Inside feature to get a taste of the book. Book marketers have assured me that many people click through to the web site to check out the giveaway before making the purchase. The giveaway may increase their desire to own the book.
Leading Up to Book Launch
The official day that a book launches is a chance to generate energy and initial sales. There’s a general feeling that every copy sold on launch day has the higher-than-normal probability of generating more sales because it enhances the buzz around the book. Some people aim specifically for Amazon best seller status because of the cachet it brings.
Is your author friend feeling clueless about how to prepare? Perhaps my blog article Book Launch Reflections: Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends might help. I described in that article the steps I took to line up my friends to support my book launch. Several authors have asked me for this information, which is why I point to it here.
Here are some ways you could support the lead up to Launch Day.
4. Help Make a List of Launch Partners
The author needs to collect other launch partners besides you. A launch partner is someone willing to take steps, large or small, to get out the word about the launch and otherwise help with marketing. These are the voices that create a positive echo chamber around the book.
You might be able to make suggestions for people to go on the list: How about childhood friends? Family members? Class mates from high school, college, and graduate school? Former colleagues? Social groups? Faith communities? Yoga and Pilates classes? Using yourself as a model, explain why you’d be honored to be asked. Sometimes people have to get over a big hump to ask their people for help.
5. Help Create the Email to Invite Launch Partners
Offer to review the email to be sent out to people on the list. Does it include specific actions that people could take, such as those described in the sections below? Is it warm and personal enough that it doesn’t feel like a form letter? It’s possible using tools such as Yet-Another-Mail-Merge to tailor an email by including comments that are specific to individuals. Here’s an example: “Remember that you told me last year at the conference in Philadelphia that you’d be happy to help me spread the word when my book came out? Now is the time that you could be really helpful.”
6. Help Create Launch Materials
You could also help your author friend put together information for launch partners about how to about how to help. With help from my friends, I set up a Dropbox folder with sample social media posts and information about writing successful reviews. To help my friends, I also published a blog post on launch day called Getting and Giving Sit Write Share with links and answers to common questions, such as how to buy the book, write reviews, and give the book away. The Dropbox folder I shared with friends was full of sample social media posts and drafts of letters people could send to friends.
During the Book Launch
7. Help Launch Partners Keep Promises
Remind the author that people almost certainly will not remember what they volunteered to do. It’s very helpful to play their promises back to them as launch day approaches. It’s also an opportunity to provide them with links to supporting materials.
If you are good with Google forms and spreadsheets, you could help set up the response data collection, organizing the data in a way to enable the author to later send out tailored reminders. I could have used that help. I did a lot of hand tailoring of the data I collected. With a little forethought about the way forms store data in spreadsheets, I probably could have saved a lot of time.
8. Help Throw a Launch Party
When Louisa Jewell launched her book, Wire Your Brain for Confidence, she threw a big party with short speeches, a table of books for purchase, music, dancing, and refreshments. Several people traveled from out of town to be there. I had helped her with early writing coaching and editing, and I was proud to be invited. She had several close friends who helped her put on the party.
Throwing a party would be the last thing on my personal list of preferred activities, but I know people for whom it comes naturally. If that’s you, help contribute to launch day buzz.
9. Help the Author Produce a Launch Video
I don’t produce videos of myself with ease. Nancy Ancowitz reviewed the script. When we were ready to film on zoom, she critiqued my lighting and taught me how to use an online teleprompter app so that I looked right into the eyes of the viewer as I read my script. Patiently, she let me record it over and over again, and when I was done with performing, she picked the best clip and edited it for me to post on LinkedIn. Here was a case of someone lending her particular expertise to polish my presentation.
Getting the Word out on Book Launch Day and Beyond
10. Write an Early Amazon Review… or a Later One
People need social proof. Very few people want to be the first to try something. The book needs at least 2 or 3 favorable reviews already posted on launch day. Sometimes this means the author sends you a pdf of the book ahead of time so that you can prepare your review in time. Sometimes the author posts the book on Amazon a few days before launch so that you can buy it and review it.
The need for reviews continues. I haven’t been able to find any data for magical numbers for Amazon reviews. But the more reviews, the more likely a book will show up in searches and beside related books.
Reviews can be words, words with pictures, or even videos. The videos arguably get more attention. A word review can be just a few sentences.
There are rules that many of us have inferred from having reviews not go up. Here are my best guesses…
11. Share With Your Social Media Network on Launch Day… and Later
Let’s say your friend has a social media presence of a few thousand people, one of whom is you. Maybe you have a few hundred or thousand connections.
Mentally picture adding your cloud of connections to your friend’s, along with all the other people on your friend’s list who are willing to post on social media.
Perhaps your friend has provided a few sample posts, just to prime the pump for friends on the list willing to post. I advise taking the sample post as a jumping off point and tailoring it to fit your style. The reverberation needs to be augmented with your own particular thoughts about why the book is good.
12. Notify People Who Might be Interested
Chances are that there are people in your life who could benefit from your friend’s book. You could send them a personal email or even a snail mail about the book, including information about how to order it. The personal touch makes a difference.
13. Help Your Friend Create a Press Kit
A press kit is a collection of pictures, bios, potential interview questions, key points, and other materials that highlight the book. A press kit can be shared with media on launch day or on any day that is relevant, such as an anniversary or a temporary period when you put the book on sale for a lower price. I have used my press kit extensively with podcast interviewers to help them understand what to ask me.
People find it really difficult to write their own bios and find just the right picture. Could you take casual photographs to augment the studio photos the author is likely to have? Could you help write the first draft of a short bio?
For more information, check out my article, Putting Together a Press Kit for a Book.
14. Help With Social Media
Sherri Fisher helped me get started on a yearlong social media campaign. As part of this, she taught me how to post to Facebook and Instagram at the same time, as well as how to make the posts fit the requirements of each platform but still be informative and visually appealing. She helped me troubleshoot problems along the way. If you have expertise on TikTok, the author may really appreciate your help.
15. Suggest Speaking Opportunities
Several people have invited me to an interview on their podcasts or introduced me to podcasters in their networks. This is an excellent way to get out the word about a wonderful book.
You might suggest bookstore readings, radio interviews, conference presentations, and online offerings.
You might be just the person to give the author confidence to speak up and to help the author rehearse.
16. Give the Book as a Gift
I just received the following note from Lucy Hone, a friend in New Zealand who wrote Resilient Grieving. My book has been on the market since April 2022.
“First, I wanted you to know I’ve been re-reading your book AGAIN, and having found it so useful, I ordered four copies to give to friends and family (all writers in one way or the other) for Christmas this year. I ordered it from Amazon.au (Australia) on 12th Nov and it arrived on 22nd Nov. Pretty impressive!”
My point is that helping an author with a book doesn’t stop after the excitement of the launch. Afterwards, you can continue to recommend and give it away. It was a spirit booster to me to be reminded that she found my book useful.
Pick Your Own Way to Help
I’m sure there are other ways you could help your author friend, but you might be feeling somewhat overwhelmed. My suggestion is to pick a few ways that put your strengths and inclinations to work, but also try new ways because you might learn more about your strengths and inclinations.
As an author, let me tell you how much we appreciate the friends who create a positive reverberation around our books!