Bookstores are closed. Amazon is running slow. Publishers and printers are juggling release dates given staffing issues slowing the finished product. Airport bookstores are on lockdown. Americans are reading more than ever - but with distraction. Business and self-help authors releasing a book in the next 3-12 months are wondering if they should be revising their unpublished manuscripts to include the historic #Covid19 situation. And yet, weekly I take several calls from authors asking for advice on how to hit #bestseller status believing it will help stimulate their audience engagement.
Here are 3 things you need to know about launching a book -anytime- and especially in 2020.
1. The Timing of Your Book Release Matters.
If your book is printed and scheduled to launch in the next 6 months, you probably have the opportunity to push up or push back the release date. I've spoken with #authors who want to release the book early as it covers issues surrounding #coronavirus. For others, pushing the release back 3-5 months makes better sense. Some authors who have yet to print the final manuscript should determine if adding commentary around this particular time period creates a stronger message. TAKE AWAY: Every book launch needs to be reevaluated in 2020 based on publisher, pre-sales, and overall book goals.
2. The Title and Cover of Your Book Matters.
The world is heavily distracted with more and more things optioning for their time. World events have made readers - and non-readers - information seekers with above-average screentime of 36-48% daily. Authors must consider both the look of the book and if the title does enough heavy lifting. Think about it, the majority of searching is happening on a smartphone so thumbnails are how books are served up. Does your book cover lose the 'WOW factor' when shrunken down? What about Audible (or other audiobooks), which can account for up to 50% of your book sales? Audiobook cover art is square and "high gloss" and does not always look good when converted from a standard 6x9 vertical matte cover. Is your title attention-worthy or is it too clever; to niche, bland, or shocking but not connected to any specific problem or passion? TAKE AWAY: Don't ask your friends and colleagues to give their opinion on the cover/title, they're not book marketing experts and you run a big risk of being lost in the sea of thumbnails. Book covers are science and dramatically affect the success of your book on-shelf and online.
Below is a partial preview of books currently scheduled for release in September 2020. Can you see the difference in how they stack up against each other?
3. To Hit The Bestseller List Your Sales Plan Matters.
For most authors, hitting a premium bestseller list like New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, or Publisher's Weekly is far more difficult than people think - and often not worth the #bookmarketing budget it requires. However, given the current environment hitting these bigger lists may actually be easier than ever for the right authors. There are mechanics behind marketing a bestselling book: POD versus warehouse, multiple distribution channels versus just #Amazonbooks, concentrated sales of hardcover and eBook, the right pricing, media exposure as well as social sharing, and more. You have to have a well-planned book launch strategy that goes beyond what any publisher will offer you. Authors that get the mechanics correct have far better odds of hitting one of these lists than authors with better publishers, book covers and launch months. TAKE AWAY: Authors are responsible for preselling enough books the right way - not publishers - in order to enjoy bestseller and retail success.
If you're launching a book in 2020 don't get caught up in the publishing deadlines you think are set in stone - it's brave new world folks - as you will leave loads on money on the table. Should you include the global pandemic in your manuscript? Only if it makes a valuable point or sets the context for your case studies. Don't think that your book will fix audience engagement as soon as it is published. You can engage your audience in other mediums right now and publish your book when it is the right time.
Don't forget to download the bestseller launch strategy above!