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Book Launch Marketing – What Works and What Doesn’t


Readers, today we have installment number eleven of Jason Henry Evans’ series on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction.  Today he shares book launch marketing, what works and what doesn’t.

OK today we talk about the digital book launch and the things you have to do to make your book financially successful. Now I am going to say some controversial things to say about common ideas about book launch marketing and it might upset you. So this is your trigger warning. 

Things that don’t work

Kirkus Reviews. Among the professional writer community, receiving an excellent Kirkus review is a mark of status. It means you have literary chops. It means you have arrived among your peers as a well thought of writer. 

However . . . 

The vast majority of book readers don’t even know what Kirkus is. They go to Amazon, they look at the section called “Customers who bought this Item also bought . . .”  and the peruse titles like the titles they’ve already bought. 

Look, if you really want a Kirkus review, go get one! But please do not think this is going to help book sales. 

Spamming Private author FB sites or any other sites. Dude. You’re just going to piss people off with this. Stop it. If you’ve been invited into a private fb author group, please know that blasting the same old add about your book is only going to upset people. Besides, why are you trying to sell to other authors? Sell to readers, not authors. 

Book launch parties. Unless your Diana Galbadon or JK Rawlings, planning a book launch party should be a fun event to celebrate you. I have gone to these things to be supportive of other authors. Some will buy $400 in hor d’ourves. I went to one where we got free, premium beer! These parties are great and you should have one. But if you spend $600 bucks on a book launch party, how many books will you have to sell to break even? 

These activities are about you, the writer, celebrating your hard work. You should do them, if you want to. But disabuse yourself of the idea that these things will help you sell books. 

What does work? 

Getting reviews. Many authors use a lovely little tome called The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages by Christine Pinheiro. This book is updated every year. (Currently on edition 8) What I love about this book is it has an extensive list of websites that actually give reviews on new books. If you get twenty to thirty of these websites to read and review your book a couple of wonderful things happen. 

First, your book is now in front of their audience. These are readers from all over the world who now know about your book. They trust these websites and will probably go buy based off of their recommendations. You now have an audience. 

Second, the vast majority of website reviewers will also write a review on Amazon. This is HUGE. Everything I’ve heard from authors is that fifty reviews on Amazon seems to be the magic number. If you can get those from these book review websites, that makes selling your book a lot easier. 

Send out a press release to the sixty or seventy sites you want to review your book about 2-3 months before you launch. Actually read the details in The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages of each website so you know when and how to submit your book copy. (Most take digital copies, a small few only take physical books. Do your research.)

Sign up for Instafreebie. This site is for whale readers. (Readers who will read your entire back catalogue.) If you put up a novella, a long short story, or a chapter or two of your novel on this site, readers will download it and read it. Are you getting sales? No. But you are getting publicity. You can even ask that readers surrender their email address before downloading your piece of historical fiction. This helps with your mailing list, which helps with your sales. 

Write your next book. I was recently at the RMFW conference and I met author independent  David Gaughran. He said something author Susan Spann and others have said before. The biggest marketing tool you have is your next book. Constantly write. Constantly publish. The world is changing and there are readers out there who won’t even consider your book unless you have two sequels out. They want to get to know characters over the long haul. 

Writing multiple books, regardless of the genre, will capture your reader and get them to buy more!  


Jason Henry Evans:  Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.

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