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So what? How to market a book launch

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on how to market a book launch. We walk through the basics of a book launch and how to measure the success of your book launch. Catch the replay here:

So what? How to market a book launch


In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • the basics of a book launch
  • what should be on your book launch checklist
  • how to measure the success of your book launch

Upcoming Episodes:

  • Understanding leading economic indicators (8/18)

Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Christopher Penn 0:26

Happy Thursday, folks is the marketing analytics insights show.

So So what from Trust Insights? John and I are holding down the fort this week as Katie is, I think being chased through the woods, by what mythical creature do we want to go after this week?

John Wall 0:43

Oh, unicorns are always a favorite so they can.


Unicorns are good.

Christopher Penn 0:47

So this week on the show, we’re going to talk about book launch stuff.

So if John and I have both published multiple books, we have a long list of errors that we’ve made.

In book launches, but John, you want to start off by sort of what your philosophy around book launches are?

John Wall 1:05

Yeah, well, and of course, a disclaimer, too, is that neither of us are the coveted New York Times best selling authors.

So yeah, it is funny, this is more like, you know, you’re setting off on a Raiders of the Lost Ark kind of thing.

And we’re at the bar telling you all the places you’re probably going to die.

And so you’re going to be way better off because you don’t have to make the mistakes that we’ve made.

And the good news is we have, you know, I’ve talked with David Meerman, Scott a bunch of times about getting his books out, and he is on the eighth edition of his book.

So we do know how to get where we want to go with this.

But yeah, it’s a ton of work.

And I think the big one to start with to is really, you know, why are you writing the book, like, what do you want to accomplish? And so I think that would be one place to start.

I mean, when you’ve sat down to write like, where did you ultimately want to go? Because not everybody? You know, not everybody knows that they’re not going to sell 20 million copies and retire as JK Rowling.

Like, there’s other reasons to do this.

Christopher Penn 2:01



So I assume table stakes are that you’ve written a book and or you’re in the process of writing book, and it doesn’t suck.

One of the things that I take from my friend Jay Baer is his method of developing a book, which is, you build a talk of some kind, and you deliver that talk for about a year.

And you see if it lands with audiences, right, you you tune it up, you get a ton of q&a, you get a ton of feedback.

And then at the end of that year, if you know, people just aren’t reacting to the talk there is there isn’t a there there, you’re like, you know, it’s probably good.

I didn’t waste six months of my life writing a book about this, because nobody cares.

On the other hand, if you like mobbed at the end of every talk with people is got questions like, Oh, do you do this sort of thing, then you know, you’re on the right track for a book.

The only challenge you would have with that is if you’re on a topic that just doesn’t exist yet.

Right? So people wouldn’t, might not necessarily have as much to ask you about, for example, like if it’s say was 2005.

And you’re Dharma Shah talking about Inbound Marketing and people like, what’s that?

John Wall 3:11

Yeah, especially if you’re going to be a trailblazer.

If you’re doing something totally brand new and unique and different, then that gives you an easy platform.


So good.

No, no, go ahead.

Christopher Penn 3:23

So So let’s, let’s start off with some of the the nuts and bolts, the architectural stuff that you would need for a book launch, because there’s a whole bunch of things that you should have in place prior to launch.

And some of these things are super basic.

And then some of this is a little more advanced, but they’re all important, I think, are somewhat necessary.

First and foremost, you as an author probably should have a website, right, ideally.

And John, what’s your take on this? But ideally, the launch of your book begins several years before the book exists, right, in terms of building an audience building a brand, etc.

John Wall 4:00

Yeah, absolutely.

And you’re kind of nailing like a critical point with this.

So many people get so wrapped up in writing the book and finishing the book.

And it was Gabriel Weinberg, who wrote traction that gave me this great quote, he said, The problem with writing a book is when you think you’re 90% done that last 10% That’s actually 90% of the work.

You know, it’s getting the book written is one thing.

And David Meerman Scott echoed the same thing.

He said, the biggest thing to getting in selling a book is making the launch date and event like you have to have everything going on all fronts and all your promotions kind of all magically synchronized to drop on when that book hits.

And so yeah, like you said years in advance because and we’ve seen this over and over and over again, is that usually if you’re not already established, the number one marketing activity you can do is just emailing your house list.

So yeah, we’ve been you know, working on lists for over a decade.

And and sure enough, that is still our best performing.

One is we dropped so yeah.

website mailing list, you know having that architecture.

Yeah, even long before you pick the topic.

Christopher Penn 5:05


So on the website things, you have to have some way of doing redirects.

This is important, because ideally, you’re doing outreach to, you know, dozens of different outlets later on.

And you want some way of tracking all that.

So you could have, for example,, AI, slash marketing over coffee, AI, slash, Social Pros, podcast, et cetera.

And having that capability on your own website will save you a huge amount of time and reduce your headaches, your website should probably have some sort of template that allows for what are called shortcodes, particularly if you’re running on WordPress, this allows you to change out the calls to action across your site, with just a few clicks is a super important thing to do.

And relatively easy to do, if you’ve got the right architecture so that when it’s time to get things ready for the book, you’re able to swap out promotions as needed, you definitely want a website that has the ability to put up one or more landing pages.

And then of course, have thank you pages on it and stuff.

So I mean, there are some platforms that are a little less flexible this way.

So make sure that using a platform that’s good for publishing, there’s a we can get into the whole debate about self publish, or go with a publisher.

But either way, you’re probably going to want to have an Amazon account of some kind, ideally, an Amazon Associates account account so that you can earn some revenue from referring people to your own book.

And then if you’re going to self publish, you probably should put something up on on Amazon Kindle Direct the Kindle Direct program, create spaces there program for printed books, the margins on those are not great.

But there are some people who would prefer to have the paper book and you want them to have it as as much as possible.

For tracking external redirects.

Obviously, use your on site, a bitly account is helpful.

And then if you’re going to sort of do it yourself, self publish, and you want to earn and your focus is money and not publicity, you’ll want to have an account with a service like Gumroad or something because that the Commission’s for that are much cheaper for Amazon, the if you’re in the KDP, KDP, select who you Amazon gets a 30% commission, if you’re in the regular program, you get like a 30, Amazon gets like a 65% commission.

So they take a good chunk of the money.

If you’re on Gumroad.

It’s a 5% commission.

So again, if your focus is money and not fame, that is where to go.

And I think that’s actually an interesting point.

You do want to have some idea of what outcome you want, like, are you publishing the book, as a launch platform to become more well known is it’s going to be as David Meerman.

Scott says the world’s largest, least portable, least convenient, most effective business card, then your you want the fame and not necessarily money, other people, they just want to make the money on the books, you gotta be clear about that.

John Wall 8:00

Yeah, you know, one thing with that, too, with Amazon Associates, especially the affiliate account, that’s one trick, because in the affiliate tracking, you don’t get a lot of metrics.

So you can set up multiple accounts so that you can use different links in different places to get a better feel for what’s looking.

And yeah, yeah, they take a massive cut.

Yeah, I don’t know, I’ve always viewed it too, as there’s kind of there’s three tiers, right, you just kind of go the self publish route, where you, you know, you can still go on CreateSpace, and you put it out on Gumroad, or similar thing.

There’s the top tier of YouTubers, you go with a publisher, and now they’re going to do a ride along and you get maybe even get an advance and there’s going to be a whole marketing campaign built around that.

But then there’s also this weird middle tier, there’s some publishers where they kind of like if you show up with 10 or 15, grand, they will publish it for you.

And you get some of the advantages of that.

But you can also completely crash and burn on that side.

And any other thoughts about like, which one of those three are right for what kinds of situations?

Christopher Penn 8:58

It depends.

So if you’ve all book publishing, it relies on you, the author doing your own marketing, right? Even the big houses, put minimal effort behind anything unless you’re already well established as one of their their proven sellers, right, like Stephen King doesn’t have to work particularly hard to get attention on one of his books.

You know, Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t have to work particularly hard, although there, the publishing houses will will throw some weight around that.

But for the most part, most authors, and especially newer ones, yeah, you got to market a lot of stuff yourself and get essentially no help from the publisher.

Publishers are not in the marketing business anymore.

They are in the selling dead trees.

So I would say if, if you’ve got the backing of a really good organization, then yeah, you could go the publishing route or if you think you absolutely need the logo because there are some publishers who do you know, airport book placements and stuff and and buys like that.

But I would say for most people, especially for if you’re doing like your first couple of books, I would say self publish is the way to go.

That way you get a feel for the process, you know what’s involved, you can see the results pretty easily, you can track your own data and get a sense of it, because you’re promoting it yourself anyway, you can see what really does and does not work well.

And then later on, once you’ve got an established audience, and you’ve got a good track record, then you can approach a publisher and possibly get better terms on your contract from them to say, like, yeah, I bringing this list of, you know, 20,000 people on my mailing list and my social media following I got all this stuff that I can do to move the book.

And there, you’re likely to get a better contract that way.

Sounds good.

So that’s the basic architecture, in terms of foundational services, there’s a bunch of services they recommend you have in place, obviously, Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics for your website, you want to know, you won’t be able to track stuff going, it’ll track what’s going on, if people are buying your book off of your site, or a service like Amazon, or even as a Gumroad.

Yeah, you want to be able to track clicks out and just get a sense of like, are people interested? Right? Do you get people to your books landing page, and then they leave and they don’t even click the go to Amazon button, you know, there’s something that’s gone wrong that you want Google Search Console set in place and turned on again, you know, if people are searching for B2B marketing confessions, and they and they’re finding John site, you want to know that, that you’re showing up.

You want a system like Google optimized to do some A B testing again, this is actually really useful.

If you want to see different prospective book covers work for people you can when you’re in your promotional images on your site, you can run different tests to see what’s going on, you should have some sort of social posting mechanism.

I’m a fan of Agora Pulse.

They’re a partner of ours, used to have some kind of social media monitoring system to listen for you your name, your book, name, etc.

We’re partial to our friends over Talkwalker and our friends at brand 24.

Both of those are good systems, you should have a calendaring system.

Like you were saying, John, that that all important launch schedule, you want to make sure that there’s there’s a system in place for that.

And you want to have ideally some way of tracking all of the activity that you’re going to be doing pitching your book.

And the free tier of Hubspot sales CRM is actually really well designed for that you could put in you basically you treat things like podcasts or interviews or whatever, as you know, sales opportunities, and you track your your sale to them saying like data, get myself as a guest on the marketing over coffee podcast.

John Wall 12:45

Yeah, that’s great to manage that because not only do you have records, but you can also set up your calendar to actually ping you with tasks, so you never miss anything, which is critical.

Christopher Penn 12:53


And the meeting links, you know, setting up meeting links and stuff so that people can book time with you.

Because as as an author, you know, working the circuit, you’re gonna be juggling a lot.

Hopefully, you’re gonna be juggling a lot of interviews, a lot of press opportunities.

John Wall 13:09

Yeah, and it’s something with, I don’t know, if you’ve seen the same thing, but with live events have just been brutal.

I’ve talked to many authors that have just said, Yeah, you don’t want to launch a book during a pandemic, it’s just a bad idea, because so many books depend on, you know, all the normal trade events to get in front of the crowd and to generate buzz, and it just makes it a brutal task.

Christopher Penn 13:31


So speaking of that, let’s take a look at some of the different channels that we might want to be thinking about.

email, of course, number one is on the list.

By far, if you have your own email list is going to it hands down, be the best way to promote your book.

If you have the opportunity to do promos or swaps with other authors who are non competitive, that is a smart thing to do, right.

So if you’ve if you’ve got a list of say, 10,000 people and you know, another author in a, in a similar space, has a list of about the same size, do a promo swap say, hey, I want to do a direct send to your list, you do a direct send to my list.

Let’s see if we can get some heat going for both of our books, your your newsletter, you should absolutely have some sort of newsletter.

Even if you want to do as a platform like sub stackers or something free.

Again, these are essentials to have that list in place.

And it’s one of the things you got to be building that, you know, months if not years in advance.

So email number one, top source.

Second referrals.

So this is what we would normally consider like public relations.

This is pitching your book.

So pitching it interviews with you on podcast, pitching yourself to other YouTube channels if you if you do the whole YouTube thing.

Getting referrals from your network, who can I talk to that would be interested in hearing about my book, looking at niche Oops, caught like you were saying, John conferences, events and trade shows, and of course, traditional media, even stuff like, you know, the whole thing.

And I think Gabriel Weinberg mentioned this as well, with attraction to the whole thing is creating the appearance for a relatively short period of time that you are everywhere, right?

John Wall 15:18

Yeah, that was it, they clearly said that there was a big deal of, you know, landing a bunch of interviews in all their social feeds on all channels.

And then the other one too had to jump back a step is you don’t overlook galleys, like you should be doing galleys, these cut versions of the book that are not the final print, but you actually do a run of a couple 100 copies, or however many you can afford to do, that you send out to influencers and to interview people, so that you can have articles and interviews in the can for actually on dropped date.

You know, so having early copies.

And then another time for that is having blurbs to you know, having folks give you a quote about your book, if you can, maybe you don’t give them the whole book, you give them just a chapter to give you some feedback on and then get a quote from them.

I mean, the days of that, selling a copy of the airport, the odds of that applying to you are pretty slim.

But the reality is, if somebody’s got their quote, In your book, when the book drops, they aren’t going to give you a hand and promote it to their their crowd and say, hey, look, I’m in this book, and I approve this.

And that’ll give you some more momentum.

Christopher Penn 16:23

If a political John Wall and I approve this message, but yeah, so those two channels are the channels that are, I would say, I would classify them as the hardest work, but probably the lowest cost in terms of being able to get in front of a lot of people.

Again, it’s just a ton of outreach, and a ton of outreach that requires human touch.

Because we both get an absurd number of pitches every single day for marketing over coffee for In-Ear Insights for the different newsletters.

And some of these pitches are just wildly wildly off topic.

John Wall 17:06

Yeah, I’m trying to remember what the worst one I got.

I got one just yesterday on like a trucking company or something.

It was something about how these trucks have GPS on them.

I’m like, this has nothing to do with anything that we cover whatsoever.

But yeah, that’s just the nature of the beast.

This stuff just pours it.

Christopher Penn 17:25

I got one from an interview request for someone whose book is coming out, as she is apparently a cleaning products kingpin of some kind.

She manufactures all sorts of cleaning products, and she wants to get in front of my high net worth female audience.

I’m like, I don’t know who’s doing a PR, but you need to sharpen the solid.

John Wall 17:45

Yeah, right.


And get a better better select, please.

Christopher Penn 17:49


All right.

So moving down into our good friend social media.

So there’s two classes of social media.

And within that, of course, there’s you know, there’s there’s multiple subdivisions, there’s public and semi public social media, public social media, channels, everybody knows and doesn’t love.

So Instagram, LinkedIn, Tiktok, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on and so forth.

One that I think people do overlook, or don’t look at enough is Product Hunt.

I think there’s there’s

John Wall 18:18

some hugely successful Yes, I’ve talked to a number of people that have had tremendous results.

Like, if they had to choose one on that list, it would just be product time.

Christopher Penn 18:28

And again, that’s one where you need to be there a couple of years in advance.

I’ve been on product constants, like 2018, that just slowly go growing a following and stuff I think about like 7000 followers there now, you know, participate in discussions and things like that just follow people who are relevant, because the next time something comes around, I want that network in place to say like, Hey, my new book is out.

Please, please vote it up.

John Wall 18:53

Yeah, and I think that’s one where it just even if you don’t have the network, it’s worth pointing out the cash for, you know, just pay to get on the front page and go

Christopher Penn 19:02


For all these things.

You want to have both where it’s applicable, like a business account or business profile and a personal profile as well.

So LinkedIn, your Instagram, Facebook, etc.

You want to have all these accounts, you will have advertising turned on and enabled on these accounts.

You want access to the advertiser tools on LinkedIn on your personal account, you want to turn on in creator mode, make sure that you’ve got all that set up.

You ideally have a newsletter already that you if you’re doing an email, regular email newsletter, you’re cross posting it using LinkedIn newsletters.

That is a hugely successful underrated, overlooked feature that drives a lot of performance.

And you want to have the ability to create content.

We’ll talk about creative and in a bit but you want to have access to all these different channels and be ready to go.

Is there any social channels here that we’re missing that are public

John Wall 20:01

Well, you know, fully public No, I was gonna say discord.

But I imagine you’ve got that and Twitch on the semi public ones.

Pinterest would be the only one if you’re doing like a home improvement, you know, book or while you’re reminding

Christopher Penn 20:13

me another one twitch.

Again, especially if you’ve got video influencers, gaming influencers, definitely have that in there.


And then suddenly public gating of discord slack and Reddit.

So discord and slack self explanatory you again should be joining servers, or instances or communities where it will be relevant.

So for example, if I’m going to be launching a book that’s about content marketing, I should be joining the Content Marketing Institute slack, I should be joining the marketing AI Institute’s slack, I should be joining the content strategy collective, and so on, so on and so forth.

If I’m doing data, I should be in the Trust Insights, analytics for marketers the measure, Slack, etc.

All these things? Steve, just commented that is there gonna be Republic? And the answer is yes.

If you go to trust, you will see this show in its entirety when I was on the to find those instances, a lot of time it’s word of mouth.

For slack, there really isn’t a great slack directory for discord.

There’s a site as a service called Disk board, which is a silly name.

But it is a Public Index of people where they if you run a public Discord server, you can submit your server to it.

And stuff.

Which reminds me and I think I think I will put this under I think I’m going to add this in under foundational services.

I think it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t have your own community of some kind.

And reality is today, when you look at feature by feature.

It’s got to be discord.

Discord is such a powerful community management tool that it’s silly not to have one.

John Wall 21:59

Yeah, no, I agree.

And it’s it just seems to be really picking up speed, it’s become a form of choice.

Christopher Penn 22:05


So those will be the social channels that again, you want to have billing turned on, you want to have everything set up so that you could run advertising, display advertising, you want to have access to some display ad systems.

For example, StackAdapt, our friends over at StackAdapt, being able to do set up tracking pixels to retarget.

People who go to your website and go to your book page, and maybe don’t buy a book, don’t don’t click on anything, levels of campaigns.

And then of course, they’ve got some really good segments to target and StackAdapt, especially if you’re going to be doing stuff like OTT or connected TV.

Again, easy promotional stuff.

One service that for books specifically that a lot of people overlook is called BookBub.

They are a promotional service, you pay a chunk of money to have a book promoted on there, and it goes out to a couple 100,000 people.

Typically what people have said is to be successful with it.

You want to give away a promotional piece that’s gated, so that you acquire a list, you build your list very quickly from it.

So you get like 10,000 new signups on your mailing list, and then you can email those people in perpetuity.

John Wall 23:20

Yeah, that’s a great game.

That’s a nice easy pickup.

Christopher Penn 23:23


And then the last one I would say on here and for display native ads is an internal ads system.

If you’ve got friends, or you’ve got a network of websites that you can work with.

You can run your own advertising system, certainly on your own website as well so that you have house inventory, banner ads and things.

And that way, when it comes time to publish your book, you swap all the ads out for whatever other things, you’re marketing, and you switch entirely to your book.

So that will be display ads.

And of course, the giant on the playground is Google ads, making sure you have a Google Ads account set up that is configured.

And that you have all the different campaign options set up the three that I recommend is RLSA, which is retargeting lists for search ads.

This for both regular search and for YouTube is incredibly powerful.

Again, if somebody is Googling your name, or your books name, you want ads showing up for that, and following them around the web wherever they go.

If somebody goes to the book landing page, you want ads showing up.

And then the newest form of advertising is Google’s performance max.

So you load up all your assets.

You provide your headlines, your links to your books, landing page, whatever.

And then it looks across the entire spectrum of Google fight YouTube searched Gmail, whatever it says, I’ve got to put ads wherever I think it’s gonna go work best.

And then it makes all the decisions and optimizes to wherever people are buying your book.

John Wall 25:01

Yeah, everything I’ve seen is that kind of stuff just completely beats the pants off of trying to manually do that on multiple channels with multiple creative like you just it’s come to the point now where that automated pretty much beats everything else out there.

Christopher Penn 25:15


So to leverage these networks, you do need to have creative and this is where you’re probably going to want to.

Again, if you know you’ve got a book coming out, do not wait till you know a month before launch before starting in on your creative you should be ideally building content and creative banking stuff.

As much as possible.

I forgot to put here audio interviews that so let’s put that in for both audio and video.

But this is the kind of stuff you want to have banked you want to have your ad copy pre written for your book, blog, post blog content, newsletter, issues, direct email sales pitches, you want to have sample chapters ready to go.

And John, this is where you’re saying we need to put galleys, right?

John Wall 26:03


And then I don’t know, do you want to put for audio to audiobook version,

Christopher Penn 26:07

I got audiobook version.

Which by the way, as long as you’re writing your book in a format that is a fairly open, like, you know, HTML or text or even a Microsoft Word, you can convert it, and then send it to a service like Google text to speech and get a reasonable audio book.

I just did this with our friend Brooke sells his book.

Because I was about to drive to Cleveland, I had 10 hours in the car.

So I took the EPUB version of her book and fed it to Google text to speech.

And it was it was listenable as it was it was interpretable.

So it’s a good thing to have, you know that audiobook does make a difference?

John Wall 26:51

Yeah, no, because there’s just there’s a market of people that they’re just not going to buy paper or Kindle if if they’re going to get into it, it’s going to be via audio.

Christopher Penn 26:59


And that’s where having, for example, like a service, a Gumroad really does come in handy because when I sell on on Gumroad, I include a Kindle formatted file and ePub format, a file for Apple books, a PDF version, and then the audiobook version.

So when you get one download, it’s it’s with all four different formats.

And so whatever format works best for you, which is much harder to do with like Amazon.

So there’s a lot to be said, for those independent providers, you will probably want to have spent some time learning Canva, right, so that you can create your 16 by nine, your nine by 16 story format, your four by threes, animated GIFs, and short animations, anything you can do that will create content that you put out for social media, video, you know, tons and tons of video.

So you’ll probably want to do you know, if you have a chance to do interviews in advance, that is a terrific way to to then be able to slice them up and create a little, you know, shorts and reels and stuff.

YouTube shorts are outperforming other forms of video right now.

They because they are they’re close enough in format to be function like Tiktok.

But the one thing that YouTube has that Tiktok and Instagram do not is that YouTube is a fully functional search engine backed by Google.

So properly formatted shorts will let you take advantage of that as well.

Very cool.

So those are all the types of creative that you’d want to have in advance.

So all of this stuff together are sort of the pieces the toolkit for launching a book.

The one thing that isn’t documented in here really is sort of that process or timeline.

And the timeline is you know, several years out, build a personal brand, build your newsletter list, build your audience, build a social following, but try to get them onto a newsletter.

Because as everyone knows, social media algorithms can change overnight.

Write your book, obviously.

But as you’re writing the book be thinking about promotional stuff, even if you were to go chapter by chapter like if you if I pull up one of mine here, I’ve got in a lot of the different chapters, there’s individual graphics and stuff like that.

So do you thinking about blurbs that you can kind of pull right from your book, different diagrams, quotes, stories, if you do interviews, like if you’re writing a book and you’re interviewing people at remember to ask permission, but record the interviews, all that B roll footage is going to be instrumental for being able to roll that out and you know, that’s something you probably do in the writing process.

And then you can go back to those people ideally once promotion time saying hey, remember the interview did for my book? My books coming out, would you would you please share it?

John Wall 29:55

Yeah, that sounds good.

I think that’s just a quick urban legend.

about, you know, copies and getting things out, I think over and over I’ve heard with business books is you have to get over the hurdle of the first 1000 copies out, like it’s, it won’t take off until you get 1000 copies in hands.

And then I’ve also heard that if you actually get to a point where you get to 10,000, and it hasn’t taken off, you pretty much have to accept that it’s not going to fly on its own.

But so I’ve seen many authors make a real hard push to get that first 1000 out the door, you know, if you can in the first week, or even preorder, because that kind of can make or break how it goes in the future.

Christopher Penn 30:34


So that’s your timeline, you know, the six months before, after you finish the book, depending on whether you’re self publishing, or whether you work at the publishing house, you know, the editing cycle can be weeks months.

But while editing is going on, that is the time to be looking at generating all that creative, all those assets and stuff because EA you know what you’re going to say be you can be sending out, you know, uncorrected galleys, you know, pre edited and stuff, as long as you know, as long as it’s not like your face rolling on the keyboard, your second or third draft should be readable.

And that’s when you can start doing the galleys and start doing the interviews.

John Wall 31:21

Yeah, absolutely.

Because just think about the runtime, you know, for more popular podcast, you’re gonna have to get booked six months out, because they’re gonna say, okay, yeah, we can record two months from now.

And then it’ll sit in there been for another two months before it hits before it goes live.

And so yeah, really do all you can to get stuff to drop on launch date.

And unfortunately, that takes a ton of pre planning Exactly.

Christopher Penn 31:45

About a depending on how much money you have to spend, you may need to get ads running one to two weeks ahead of time, because particularly for systems like Google ads, because they need time to train the algorithms powering the meantime to to tune in and train.

So ideally, you know, one to two weeks out, you launched maybe like a pre launch campaign, for your book, give the software a time to, to dial into your audience and optimize, you don’t want to be launching an ad campaign on launch day.

Because at that point, there will not be enough of a trained audience for the ad system to reliably show your ads.

I might say if it’s your first time out, maybe even go a month, like and if you don’t have like a ton of money to to to hit up fast.

Maybe you do like a $500.

Spend a month just to get dialed in on your ad on your ambulances,

John Wall 32:40

ya know, the last thing you’d want to do is, you know, pull the trigger on lunch day, and then have your account get tonight on day two, and you’ll be stuck for a week and a half trying to figure out how to get turned back on.

Christopher Penn 32:51


And then four.

How do you handle it with a podcast? Right? Because like you said, there’s a lot of books, there’s a lot of lead time on those.

So there’s a lot of lead time on any any major publication.

John Wall 33:05

Yeah, it’s you really, you just can’t start too early.

I mean, that’s it.

You talk about creative stuff.

I mean, you should have a sample chapter or some kind of PDF of a page and a page of book, you know, and especially for podcasts, it should go as far as saying, Okay, this author has the book out, he is more than willing to come out and talk about and even have the questions and the answers right there.

Because unfortunately, I mean, we’ve both been through this where you get on a podcast, and they have maybe read the cover and the back, the back cover, like they don’t know anything about the book, really.

And so having those questions like, Okay, here’s the five you asked, and you’re gonna get a great answer on these.

That’ll get you in the, in the works.

But yeah, you just you can’t start too early on it.

Christopher Penn 33:49


One thing that has been so depends on the genre of the book that’s been selectively successful seeing authors doing collaborations of some kind, not just interviews, but like CO created content, there may be opportunities, particularly with YouTube influencers, to do stuff like that.

You see it more with musicians and things, but you there definitely are co created co collaborative pieces of content.

Gary Vaynerchuk does a ton of that stuff.

And it does very, very well for him, you know, just he’s actually interviewing other people to build shows around their audiences.

And then when it’s time for his next thing to launch, of course, he’s got a, you know, an audience of 10 million people that he’s managed to create over time.

It’s a terrific strategy.

John Wall 34:36

Yeah, and you totally see this in business books, too.

There’s this kind of whole business mafia of you know, Tom Peters, the Stephen Covey people and you know, allerease and all these folks that just, you know, they’re blurring each other’s books and even go as far as you notice that, you know, they’re not dropping at the same time they go out of their way to make sure that their schedules are, are lined up so that the folks doing the business stuff have a steady stream of books.

So endorsed by everybody else,

Christopher Penn 35:03


One thing you may want to look into, is do some competitive intelligence on authors that are in your space and see who’s following them.

One thing that I, I like enjoy doing a lot is taking like Twitter accounts or Instagram accounts, if you can get the data of a cohort like, you know, people who follow Seth Godin Godin and David Meerman, Scott and Tim Ferriss and gay vanish, I can see who’s in common across those accounts, right, you know, who keeps showing up in that? Those are people who I’d almost say is like, looking at them as potential secondary influencers, because if they’re sort of in that tribe, but they’re not the main personality, they may be someone that the main personality looks to as a source of of paying attention to what’s new.

So again, that’s research you can do well in advance.

Brian had a question here, how do you recommend protein books during presentations at conferences before the book comes out?

John Wall 36:00

Oh, that’s a good, good, well, you know, the preorder trying to get pre orders and still giving away free chapter, you should have a polished chapter that you can drop, those are great ways to do it.

And then for early buyers, usually, a lot of folks do all kinds of free for all.

It’s funny, too, I don’t see as many of those as I used to, there used to be these deals where, you know, you pay 100 bucks and get 10 different books from 10 Different authors, you know, they would take these as pre orders and all go and bank.

But yeah, you can definitely do.

And this is one of the benefits.

If you own all the assets, you can say, hey, preorder the book, I’ll send you the audiobook for free right now.

Or you get the audiobook for free when it comes out.

And yeah, you pretty much can’t, can’t fail by throwing more stuff on the pile for folks that order early.

Christopher Penn 36:48


One thing that we’ve seen a lot of people do is send out influencer kits.

So it’s a kit kind of like this some kind of buck.

This is actually for the agency summit, but it’s all the stuff that you normally expect.

You get a copy of the book, you get some kind of swag, you know, pens, coffee, mugs, things like that.

People have done all sorts of crazy stuff.

Mark Schaefer wants sent me a pack of bacon, which was was very meaty.

But those those kinds of things do work.

Conferences are a great place to do that.

Because if you’ve know you’ve got a bunch of influences all in the same place, you don’t have to spend a gazillion dollars on FedEx to get to them.

So if there’s a big event like Dreamforce, or inbound or whatever, having like an influencer dinner, if you’ve got the budget for particularly if your book is sponsored by a company, having an influencer dinner, just get everybody in the same room having something like that short presentation, all those things would be things that that you could leverage the power of a conference in order to capture all the people at once.


John Wall 37:53

I mean, even at Sales Machine a few years back, Gary Vaynerchuk actually did that.

And they were just giving away his latest hardcover at the door.

I mean, they must have shelled out 1000s of copies just that day.

And that’s the kind of thing that will go towards the book numbers, you know, when they’re talking about how well the book does.

Christopher Penn 38:09

Exactly, I mean, back in the day, I if I recall correctly, the Church of Scientology would literally just buy out shelves of of their, their own books and pop them but you know, it counted for the sales numbers, that that was how they hit the New York Times bestseller list.

John Wall 38:26

Yeah, right, you get on a big list, and then that can can jump ahead.

Yeah, I don’t know.

You know, it’s funny that I’ve seen a lot of authors say that, you know, making that list did not change anything for them, you know, the book did fine on its own, and they were getting the speaking gigs and all that, but the actual list didn’t change it.

And then I see similar stuff with Amazon lists, you know, people making, you know, trying to drop a certain day so that they make all these different lists on Amazon.

And I’ve seen mixed results on that some people say it makes a difference.

And other people say no, it doesn’t actually affect the sales at all.

Christopher Penn 38:54

Yeah, for the few Amazon lists I’ve made, I did not see, you know, any, any impact on that most of the impact comes, at least from my books, the impact comes from email on the mailing list.

That’s by far like if I had to get rid of every tactic extent of enzyme one, it would be email and nothing else.

John Wall 39:16

Yeah, no, you’re much better just going to your fans.

That’s the way it works, unfortunately.

Christopher Penn 39:22


So that is, in essence, sort of the framework and the launch toolkit for for getting a book out the door.

And one of the things that I will point out is, this is not stuff to, again, this is not something you want to wait for launch day.

You want all these pieces in place long beforehand, so that they’re running that you know how to use them, especially if you’re flying solo, right.

If you don’t have a team.

You don’t have a VA you don’t have any of that stuff.

You want to get these pieces up and running today.

Even if your book is five years away.

Just so that you know, how they all work.

And some of them, you’ll have to cross off based on what resources you have, like, if you don’t have ad budget, you don’t have ad budget.

And so you’re going to focus on the things that don’t cost money.

John Wall 40:13

Yeah, unfortunately, we’re, you know, the bears have horrible news.

It’s, you know, writing a book is just this unbelievable Herculean task that’s going to eat your whole life.

And if you want to do it, well, you should probably jump on this pile of Herculean tasks that will eat the rest of your life.

Christopher Penn 40:27

But exactly.

If you would like a copy of that flowchart, we’re going to put it in the analytics for marketers slack group.

So it will be available as just a straight PDF.

And once you’re in the slack group, you don’t need to do anything else.

We’ll just posted the main channel.

But any, any final parting thoughts, John, on how we can all be more successful marketing looks

John Wall 40:53

to get feedback early.

And often.

That’s one mistake I see people doing is just going in a corner and writing 60 100 pages, do not do that, you know, road, test some of your stuff and get some early feedback.

And like you said, even if you can run it as bug blog posts, or speaking engagements or whatever, put stuff out there to get feedback quick.

Because, yeah, there’s nothing worse than trying to edit a, you know, 200 page book and or having to like, cut it into chunks and re scramble it to get it to work.

That’s not a place you want to be.

Christopher Penn 41:22

That’s a really good point, even if you just have something like a customer advisory board, right? And it was it get five friends who know your space who work in the industry, don’t have to do like drinking buddies or anything, but so like, hey, I want to run some stuff from my book by you guys.

Can I buy us all dinner or something and then just go go over and tell those poke holes in it.

I recently read a friend’s book and I was like, Okay, this didn’t work.

This didn’t work.

This didn’t work as long as Now unfortunately, their book is already in markets.

Not much you can do.

But had they been getting feedback sooner they might have been able to patch some of those holes.

John Wall 42:01

Yes, yes.

Lessons learned that our theme for today.

Christopher Penn 42:05

Exactly lessons learned.

The road to success is paved with your previous books.

All right.

Well, we will catch you all next week.

So thanks for tuning in and stay safe.

Thanks for watching today.

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