There are at least 1,670 new Kindle ebooks published on Amazon every day. That’s more than one book every minute!
Needless to say, that’s a lot of competition. If you want your book to stand out, you need to do more than just publish your book. You need to get the word out.
The most critical moment to do that is around the time your book launches.
Preparing for your book launch isn’t as simple as many Authors think. It can take months of preparation to do it right. But if you want to reach a critical mass within your target audience and spread the word about your book, that preparation is well worth your time.
We recently launched a full Scribe Book School course on how to launch a book. This free course will teach you the ins and outs of identifying your target audience, assembling a book launch team, getting reviews, generating media coverage, and running successful paid promotions.
But one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your book launch is to create a book launch content calendar that will help you stay on track to maximize your marketing efforts.
This post will explain what goes into a book launch content calendar, how to create one, what to consider, and what type of content your calendar should contain.
What Is a Book Launch Content Calendar?
A book launch content calendar is a calendar of the content you intend to send or post to your audience.
If you’re like most Authors, your first thought might be, “I’m not Kim Kardashian. I don’t have an audience.” But that’s not true at all.
Your audience includes anyone you can reach out to directly to let them know about your book. That can include:
- Your friends and family
- Your email list
- Your LinkedIn connections
- Your followers on other social media
These people will fall into 3 tiers. Tier 1 contains your closest connections, Tier 2 are your acquaintances or occasional followers, and Tier 3 are your most tenuous connections.
Your book launch content calendar defines what you’re going to do (and when) to reach out to each of these tiers. It should start 2 months before your launch and continue for another 2-3 months afterward.
Create Your Book Launch Calendar in 6 Easy Steps
1. Define the 3 Tiers of Your Audience
Your audience is anyone that you have the ability to tell directly about your book.
As I mentioned, the 3 tiers of your audience relate to how connected you are to these individuals. Your proximity will determine how often you want to reach out to these different groups of people.
The 3rd tier is made up of the people you want to communicate with the least. Maybe you don’t have permission to reach out to them consistently or you don’t talk to them that often.
For example, these might be people that you crossed paths with at a conference but haven’t been in much contact with lately. Or, if you only post on Facebook once every 3 months, most of your Facebook friends are probably Tier 3 connections.
Tier 2 is made up of people that you want to engage further. These are people that you’re a little bit closer to and that you have permission to reach out to. Maybe they opted into your newsletter at one point. But you’re not super close, and they don’t expect a lot of content from you.
For example, if you have 1,500 followers on Twitter, and you post once a week, these people are used to seeing your name in their feed. But you aren’t close enough to email them or connect with them all personally.
Tier 1 is made up of the people you’re closest to. In addition to close friends and family, these might be social media connections on a platform you post on frequently or people who have signed up for a list you email all the time.
For each tier, decide what the best place is to reach them. For people that you know well (Tier 1), email is usually the best method. For people that you don’t know that well, a social media post might be the most effective way to reach them.
Your delivery method should always match the closeness of your relationship. Think about it. Would you respond with enthusiasm to a series of overly personal emails from someone you met at an event 3 years ago?
If you really hit it off with this person, maybe. But chances are, that kind of communication would come across as aggressive or overly familiar.
When it comes to convincing people to buy your book, don’t forget that the medium you use to communicate can be just as important as the message.
2. Set Your Launch Week Dates for Tier 3
Don’t worry about pushing your Tier 3 audience to pre-order the book. Since you don’t know these people that well, you don’t want to flood them with information.
It’s better to be focused with your communication. You only want to reach out to Tier 3 twice.
Reach out to them on launch day to let them know your book is available for sale and what it’s about. Book launches traditionally happen on a Tuesday.
The second time you want to reach out is on the Friday of launch week (i.e., a few days later). You can thank them for their support, recap some of the successes from the week, and remind them to buy the book.
Notice, I said, “remind.” This is a gentle nudge, not a pushy sales pitch. Your job with these 2 communications is to make them aware that your book exists and to get them excited. If they want to learn more, build a closer relationship with you, or reach out, they will.
3. Set your Pre-Launch and Launch Week Dates for Tier 2
For Tier 2, you’re going to reach out on those same 2 days as you did with Tier 3: launch day and the Friday of your launch week.
But you’re also going to add 2 more touchpoints. First, you’ll reach out 2 months before your launch to let your Tier 2 connections know that your book is coming and when the launch date is. You may also want to share the cover and some basic information about the contents.
Then, you’ll also reach out the week before your launch to build anticipation and get them excited. With this email, you may want to share some testimonials or a chapter from the book.
4. Set Your Pre-Launch and Launch Week Dates for Tier 1
The 1st tier contains your closest contacts. These people expect a lot of communication from you.
For Tier 1 connections, you’ll hit those same 4 touchpoints that you hit with Tier 2.
Then, you’ll also add 2 more:
- About a month before your launch, contact them to continue to build their excitement. You may want to include some sample content.
- The day before your launch, reach out and really emphasize your excitement that the book is coming the next day. Share whatever resources you can to help build their anticipation.
For your innermost circle of people, consider sending an email with a free copy of the book 1 month before your launch. In that message, let them know you’re going to follow up and ask them for an Amazon review and encourage them to read the book. Then, reach out again on the day of the launch and make the ask.
5. Set Your Pre-Launch and Launch Week Content by Date
I recommend putting these dates on an actual calendar. Set reminders for:
- The 6 touchpoints for your Tier 1 audience
- The 4 touchpoints for your Tier 2 audience
- The 2 touchpoints for your Tier 3 audience
That way, you’ll remember exactly who you should be reaching out to, when, and on what platforms.
You also need to decide which content will accompany these different touchpoints. If you plan to post on social media, consider creating a pre-launch graphic to tease the book’s launch date. Or, post a teaser image with the cover of your book.
You don’t want to bore your audience with the same content every time, so tailoring each touchpoint will help you keep your audience’s attention.
If your pre-launch goal is to build your newsletter following, you can also consider posting a special offer. For example, people can click through to your website for a sneak peek of the content. Or, if they sign up for your newsletter, you can offer them some other kind of free asset, like a worksheet, a webinar, or other materials related to your book.
On launch day itself, plan to post on every channel available to you. Have different content ready for your different social media platforms, email list, and other means of communication.
6. Set Your Post-Launch Content and Dates
So far, all the communication we’ve discussed takes place pre-launch and during launch week. But you’ll also want to communicate to this audience after your book comes out.
There’s a crucial difference between your pre-launch and post-launch marketing. After your book comes out, people will get really tired of you saying, “Buy my book! My book is out now! Find my book on Amazon! Check out my book!”
To keep your audience engaged, you’ll need to shift your focus. Stop talking about the book, and start focusing on how you can consistently provide value around the ideas related to the book.
This can come in a variety of forms. It might be a series of informative emails. A video series focusing on the problem you’re solving in the book. A weekly podcast. Instagram posts with quotations pulled directly from your book.
Choose a form of ongoing marketing that appeals to you and your audience. But whatever you choose, make sure that your primary focus is helping your audience.
With all that laid out, you’ll now have a complete plan for successful pre- and post-launch marketing, starting 2 months before your book’s publication date.
8 Tips for Creating Your Post-Launch Content and Dates
1. Don’t Go Overboard
Even though these communications will all add value, don’t overdo it. Send your newsletter and post social media at your regular cadence.
Consistency is the best rule of thumb when it comes to communicating with your audience. A sudden flurry of communication won’t be as effective as a steady, ongoing relationship.
If you don’t have a regular communication cadence established, consider 2 times per week as a baseline.
If you want to use hashtags in your posts, don’t use more than 5. Too many hashtags can become distracting for your audience, and it can also dilute your message by making your content seem too obviously promotional.
2. Continue to Treat your Tiers Differently
Post-launch, you can continue to engage your closest audience more often.
But be prepared to treat people who don’t know you as well differently. Don’t bombard them with content. If they want to hear more from you, they’ll opt into your newsletter or follow you on other platforms.
Also, pay attention to the platform you’re posting on. Posting on Twitter or Facebook several times a day with fun, engaging content might be great, but on LinkedIn, posting a couple of times a week is plenty.
Your newsletter should appear even less frequently. Its regularity will depend on how much valuable content you can realistically provide.
3. Plan 2-3 Months of Content
Post-launch, make a plan for 2-3 months of consistent contact with your readers.
Place each of these touchpoints on a calendar, the same way you did with your pre-launch promotions. This will ensure regularity.
Having a long-term ongoing content plan will also relieve you of the pressure to come up with new ideas each week. Planning ahead is the best way to keep your promotions as stress-free as possible.
4. Change Things Up
Ideally, your content calendar should contain a variety of media. People get bored when they experience the same kinds of content over and over, so change it up.
Consider creating articles, blog posts, quote graphics, videos, images, quizzes, and audio. There’s a whole range of ways you can keep your content fresh for your target audience.
For Authors that sign up for our Scribe Author Impact service, we provide 15 articles that are spread out over the course of 2.5 months. We alternate those articles with images featuring quotations from the book, reviews, or other interesting content. Different people are engaged by different kinds of media, so variety is your best friend when it comes to catching people’s attention.
But remember, don’t post more than 2 times per week on most platforms. You don’t want to flood your audience and annoy them.
5. Make Sure It All Works Together
While variety is great for keeping people’s attention, you still want to present a unified, cohesive Author brand.
Changing between videos, images, and articles can be effective, but make sure you’re not changing your ideas too much.
If your book is about retirement finance, don’t post one week about starting a 401k and the second week about how you lost 20 pounds in a week. Keep your messaging and ideas consistent.
Most Authors want to become the go-to person in their field. But in order to be the go-to, first you have to make sure people know what you’re all about.
Keep your branding and tone consistent. Don’t switch back and forth between a humorous tone and an overly academic one. Give your audience a sense of what they can reliably expect when they reach out to you.
Be very intentional about how you want to present your ideas and make your post-launch content work together.
For example, if you wrote an article called “5 Steps for Organizing Your Finances,” you could create a series of social media posts that promote that article. Break your posts into 2-3 different posts for each step. That way, you’re offering different content in each post, but it’s still unified.
Or, here’s another good example. Use a LinkedIn post to tell a story that leads into your content. The story doesn’t have to be in your book. It could just be related to an idea in your book. Then, when people connect with this story, it will incentivize them to find your book and learn more.
6. Pay Attention to Special Dates
When you put your content dates on a calendar, be sure to pay attention to what else is on the calendar. Is there a major holiday coming up? If so, is there a way that you can tie your ideas into the holiday theme?
Also, consider not posting at certain times. If you post on LinkedIn on Thanksgiving Day, the odds are good that people won’t see your post. Part of having a successful content calendar is knowing when people’s attention will be present and when it won’t.
As a general rule of thumb, Monday and Friday aren’t great days to post. People have too much going on or have other things on their minds. Tuesday through Thursday is better.
But every platform differs, so if you have a good idea of where your users hang out most, you may want to do a bit of research about the best timing for that specific channel.
7. Don’t Post the Same Content Everywhere
It may be easy to create one post and think, “I’ll put it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and my email list!” But that’s not the best idea.
Each media channel has its own audience. Consider putting together a specific post for each channel.
For example, if you want to link to an article you wrote for Forbes, the post you write on LinkedIn should have different content (and probably a different tone) than the one you create for Twitter.
8. Use Content Planning Tools—but Use Them Wisely
If you’re not a pro with Photoshop or other premium image software, you can still easily build graphics to promote your book.
Canva is a great tool for easily building content. But don’t just pick a template willy-nilly. Make sure it’s consistent with the overall tone of your book and that the graphics will resonate with your audience.
To give an obvious example, you probably wouldn’t pick graphics with a swirly, curlicue font if your book is about bulking up at the gym. Think past your personal visual preferences and consider what works best for your specific audience and their preferred platform.
There are also content planning tools that can help you plan your content calendar in advance. 2 reliable examples are HootSuite and Later.
These tools also allow you to automate your posts so they go out to your audience at a specific time. But be careful about using this feature too much. Using 3rd party tools for posting may affect your social media algorithms, especially if you use the tool to push to every platform at the same time.
Taking the time to post your own content is well worth the effort if it means the difference between having your content seen or having it buried by a social media algorithm that thinks it’s spam.