Kathi Lipp chats with her guest Anna LeBaron, author of The Polygamist’s Daughter, about best practices for your book launch. Anna shares the secrets she learned working with authors like Jen Hatmaker, Rachel Hollis and Bob Goff. Anna gives us a behind the scenes peek at how she became a professional book launcher. Her story will delight and inspire you.
In today’s episode, you will know:
- Three steps to a successful book launch.
- The secret to getting your launch team started.
- How to take advantage of the presale.
Take this topic to the next level:
If you want to learn everything you need to know before your book launch, join us at Writing at the Red House with today’s guest, Anna LeBaron. Click here to claim your spot!
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Transcript of this Episode
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Communicator Academy Podcast #181
Preparing for Launch
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God has created them to be. We are podcasting from The Red House right now. I know! Yay! I love it so much. So, if you hear a bell ringing, that means that one of our people hit their 500 words. That means that everybody here at The House has to scream for them. I think that most people have hit their 500 words today, so I think we’re good. We are in the midst of doing a retreat that I know we’re going to be doing for years to come. I am here with my very special guest, Anna LeBaron. You may know her from her amazing book, which I just finished a couple of weeks ago. By the way, I don’t stop talking about it. The Polygamist’s Daughter. One of those books that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Today, we want to talk about book launches. If you’re an author, I know you’ve heard her name. She has launched the books. I don’t even know the titles to all of them, but let’s talk about For the Love, Jen Hatmaker. Girl, Wash Your Face. Tell me the name of that author. I know I should know it.
Anna – Rachel Hollis.
Kathi – Rachel Hollis. You know, I know she’s right up there with Oprah for a lot of people, but for some reason, I haven’t read her book yet. That’s not on you, that’s on me. Bob Goff, and I’m very excited to say that my name will be added to that list. I’m very excited that I get to work with you, (thank you, Harvest House), for Clutter Free Home. I think it’s interesting. I was talking with somebody today about book launches, and basically, they think that if they hire Anna LeBaron, they’re going to get Rachel Hollis results. You’re going to get Rachel Hollis effort.
Anna – Yes. I give all of my effort to every single one.
Kathi – But there’s a big difference between the results. Jen Hatmaker didn’t even get Rachel Hollis results.
Anna – She hit the New York Times, which is a big deal.
Kathi- That’s pretty darn amazing.
Anna – A big, big deal, and I’m super proud of that. She was my first, Jen Hatmaker was my first New York Times.
Kathi – ‘Cause you went rogue!
Anna – I know! That’s where it all started.
Kathi – Tell our listeners that story. Here’s what I love. Tell the story, and I’ll tell you what I love about it.
Anna – Okay, so I was agented for my book and my agent told me that authors have to sell their own books. Whether you’re self-published, or traditionally published, it’s on the author to sell the books. So she said, “You need to learn how to market books.” Well, I had a 17 year career in sales and marketing, so I was, like, “Well, I can learn how to sell books, because I can pretty much sell anything.” So, I started studying who the people were; who the experts were, and I was reading books like Platform, by Michael Hyatt and other titles that were being released about how to move books on the market. Then I heard this term called Book Launching from my very BFF of 30 some odd years, who was on a book launch team. She was bossing me around. She was in the group, and I wasn’t in this exclusive group with the author, bossing me. I was just doing what I was told, because she was my BFF.
Kathi – ‘Cause that’s what you do for your friends.
Anna – Says ‘jump’, you ask ‘how high?” So that’s what I did. I preordered the book. When it came in the mail, I took a picture of myself and posted it. It was my first posed book selfie. It was in front of a bookcase. It looked beautiful. My makeup was on point. I mean, I did it up.
Kathi – You did it right.
Anna – I did it right. I started posting my favorite quotes, as I was reading the book. So, I knew three things about book launching, based on my BFF’s bossing. Well, when I saw that Jen Hatmaker had a book launch team coming up, for For the Love, I applied to be on the launch team, only because I wanted to learn what happened on a launch team from the inside. So, I did not even know that Jen Hatmaker was previously published at the time. I just knew that I would read her blogs and they were hilarious. So, I was like, “Okay, this is going to be fun.” Three days later, I received an email from the publisher, saying that there were five thousand people that applied for 500 spots, and I was the 4500 people that got a rejection email saying, “Sorry. Here’s four chapters you can read.” It was our consolation prize. So, I read the four chapters; devoured them, really. Then tweeted Jen, basically to thank her. I said, “Jen, I’m one of #the4500…” (And I put in parentheses “We’re a people group with our own hashtag!”)…that got a tasty morsel of #forthelove to devour in advance.” That was it. She replied to my tweet, used the 4500 hashtag and then that hashtag went viral on her Twitter feed.
Kathi – Oh my goodness.
Anna – All these women saying “Me too!” A different #metoo.
Kathi – A very different #metoo.
Anna – So, someone created a Facebook group called #the4500. I joined the Facebook group, thinking, “That’s my hashtag.”
Kathi – That’s me.
Anna – Then I eventually became the co-admin of the group. Jen Hatmaker joins the group and I’m thinking I’m in trouble, because I’m telling these women, “Jen’s not the boss of us. We can launch this book if we want to.” ‘Cause I knew three things about launching books. So, I was just leading. Eventually, 1300 women joined the group.
Kathi – You went rogue.
Anna – I totally went rogue.
Kathi – Let’s be super clear, you went totally rogue.
Anna – And, because on my Strengths Finder, I’m an Includer, I went nuts on social media. I went down and found every single person on her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook that said “Me too!”
Kathi – That’s so funny.
Anna – Sent them a link and said, “Come and join us.” Not knowing, not even thinking I was going to do anything.
Kathi – You wanted people who felt left out.
Anna – To find their little place.
Kathi – To find their people.
Anna – We were the rejects. The bench warmers. Oh my, gosh. We had so much fun.
Kathi – This makes me feel really guilty that I got a beautiful package from Jen Hatmaker in the mail with two books and jewelry and there were, out there, people eating sand, just wanting to promote her.
Anna – Yes! So, eventually when Jen joined the group, and here I am, the rogue launch team leader, I thought I was in trouble, and it was just fun. Then they put two marketing people in the group, and I thought, “Now I’m really in trouble.” So, I private messaged them both and said, “Should I be doing anything different? What else?” ‘Cause I don’t know how to launch a book. I’ve never done this before. The response they gave me was, “You just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Kathi – Amazing.
Anna – Because, I said to #the4500, “We can find the 500, because they have the whole book to read from and quote from, and they’re going to hashtag everything #forthelove, so we can find all of them, and share all their content, and share every post, and just go nuts.” And we went nuts from March until August, which is a really long time to have a launch.
Kathi – That’s a long time for a book.
Anna – We went nuts and the book came out number two on the New York Times best seller list, right behind Go Set a Watchman, which, we’re fine being number two to that book.
Kathi – That’s okay. That’s okay. We’ll allow it this one time. I mean, to make the New York Times best seller list, and a lot of it was due to #the4500. Which, by the way, sounds like a cult. It really does.
Anna – Yes. And that’s kind of a funny thing because of my family of origin.
Kathi – You write about cults.
Anna – Jen acknowledged #the4500 in her acknowledgements in the book.
Kathi – Oh, that’s amazing.
Anna – It was such an amazing experience.
Kathi – Please tell me they sent you a copy of the book.
Anna – Well, the 500 got the copies, then the other co-leader, co-admin and I both got the advanced reader copies, but while the launch was going on, I didn’t tell the other members of the group, because I just didn’t want that.
Kathi – Right. I understand. They were all dying for it.
Anna – Yes.
Kathi – Isn’t it amazing that, I know it’s Jen Hatmaker. Okay, so we get that. But people were dying to get their hands on it. Part of it was because they heard of other people who were dying to get their hands on it. So, that’s what was created in #the4500. The reason I love this, is because you were not waiting around for permission to launch that book.
Anna – No. I didn’t even know that’s what I was doing. We were having fun. That was the key. We were having fun.
Kathi – But, that launched your career. That book launch, launched your career as a book launcher, so you’ve done it for all these crazy famous people. You’re doing for uncrazy famous people. I mean, crazy unfamous people. The people here at The Red House are totally getting the inside scoop. They’re getting the checklists and all the things about how to launch a book. I want people to hear your story, but I want you to give them a little something today about when it’s time to launch your book. What do you find is the most important thing for an author to be doing; whether they’re traditionally published, self-published. What is it? I think it’s counter-intuitive for some of us. So, I would love for you to give us three things that we should be doing as an author when it comes time to launch our book.
Anna – One, you should be talking about your book on your social media. Talk about your book, and while you’re talking about your book, and people comment and say, “I can’t wait to read your book!” create a list of those people’s names and how you found them, whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, wherever; whether they sent you an email. However you got the word out about your book and they replied, “I can’t wait to read your book.” These are the people you need on your launch team; that you want on your launch team.
Kathi – The one you don’t have to convince to be on your launch team. They’re pre-convinced.
Anna – Correct. When the day comes that you post and say, “I’m starting my launch team.” Not everyone is going to see that post, so you want a way to go back to the people who said, “I can’t wait to read your book.” and send them a link to join the Facebook group and say, “It’s time, and here’s how you get it, and here’s the requirements.” if there’s requirements. You explain what a book launch team does and you invite them to be a part of that. So, grow your social media, talk about your book, and keep your list of the potential readers, the potential people that you want on your launch team.
Kathi – That is a multifaceted step one. I love it.
Anna – Let’s just put it all out there, then we can dive deep into which ever one you like.
Kathi – Okay, great. So, when you’re posting about it… I think it’s so funny. I think authors are shy about posting. Some of them post way too much.
Anna – I don’t think there’s such a thing.
Kathi – Well, okay, I think they post wrong about their book.
Anna – Correct. There’s a way to do it that feels icky. “Buy my book! Buy my book!”
Kathi – Yes!
Anna – When it feels like that, it is too much and it’s icky, but when you’re consistently bringing your readers along on a journey to publication, they are excited for you. That’s what it should feel like.
Kathi – When you’re sharing in advance.
Anna – Like, “I just signed my contract! I’m writing the manuscript! I turned it in! I’m working on the edits.” All of those things.
Kathi – “Here’s the cover!”
Anna – The cover reveal. I’m getting chills just thinking about it. It’s so exciting. All those things bring your reader along on a journey to publication.
Kathi – Yes. Okay.
Anna – ‘Cause then, they’re going to be cheering you across the finish line. They’re the ones that are going to be the ones that are buying that book; preordering it, because when you talk about the preorder sales and stuff. They’re going to want to cheer you on. It’s like you’re running a marathon, and these people are standing on the sidelines, and they watched you cross the mile mark, and then they run ahead to the 5 miles mark, and they’re going to cheer you on again. Then they run ahead. They’re cheering you on, and that’s what you want: to bring people along on the journey.
Kathi – So, what you’re saying is, you want to be consistently posting and keeping track of people who say, “I can’t wait.”
Anna – “I can’t wait to read your book.”
Kathi – So, Excel spreadsheet, whatever it takes.
Anna – Whatever works for you, even if it’s a notebook and a pencil; whatever method of keeping track.
Kathi – So you can hunt those people down and say, “Now it’s time. It’s time to do this.” Okay, so that’s step number one. Step number two?
Anna – Step number two is Talk about Your Book, which we just discussed. A lot.
Kathi – Okay. I just want to make sure I’m getting all the steps. So, you’re going to share about it. You’re going to keep track. You’re going to keep talking about your book. So, now I want to talk about growing social media, because, boy. It sounds like, “That’s just a thing on my to-do list.” but, holy cow. I mean, we’re all looking for the secret sauce to grow our social media, but we want to do it in a way that serves the people who are following it.
Anna – Yes. Absolutely.
Kathi – I know that that’s what your heart is all about.
Anna – Yes. Serve. Serve. Serve. Serve. Sell. That’s the key. I’ve heard that.
Kathi – Okay, four serves. One sell. Love it.
Anna – If you’re serving your people with the content that you’re creating, and posting about, and helping them, and making their lives better, when it’s time for you to say, “Okay, my book is out there, and it’s available for preorder.” One thing I tell people is, “Start talking about your book when it’s available for preorder and the book cover is on Amazon.” You can post about it and say, “This is my journey.” but really start pushing the preorder sales as soon as it’s available on Amazon. It’s never too early to start accumulating preorder sales. It’s just never too early.
Kathi – Because I didn’t really understand how preorder sales work. Can you give us a little slice? I know, we’re giving all the trade secrets away, but I think this is so important. Let me see. I’ve published a ton of books, but I didn’t really understand that those preorder sales, kind of, bank. Can you explain a little bit about that?
Anna – So, it used to be, when books were launched, publishers and authors would wait until about two weeks prior to really get out there and spread the word. Now, the whole thing has changed, and I’m the one banging the drum about this, because every single preorder sale counts the week the book is published.
Kathi – I did not know that.
Anna – Because most of the book sellers won’t even charge your credit card until they ship the book, which they ship around the time of the release.
Kathi – Okay, so this. Okay, so, I’ll tell you why I was confused about this. I think a lot of authors are. We would bang the drum for presales, then they would ship the books a month in advance, and you were like, “Holy cow!” but I was so impressed with Amazon with the whole re-release of my Christmas book, because they shipped those on the release date.
Anna – It doesn’t always happen that way. Books like the newest Harry Potter, will have a strict sell-on date, which they are under contract not to ship or release before that day. So, that’s why there’s all this hype. Most books are released without that strict sell date, so the book sellers, as soon as those books hit the warehouse, they can and they do, ship them early. When that happens to authors and the books ship early, sometimes they go, “Oh no! It’s coming out before! Oh, the momentum!” and I’m saying, “No. Turn that lemon into lemonade.” You go on your socials and you talk about how exciting it is that people are getting to read the book, and their lives are being changed earlier than the release day. You ask those people who are the lucky recipients of these early released copies to post on their social media about the book. Social media sells book. Period. It’s word of mouth advertising. So, if people are posting their photo of the book…
Kathi – You’ve got a whole new sales team!
Anna – Yes! They’re part of the marketing team now. You’ve just incorporated them as part of your marketing team, because when people see the book title and the book cover, and when the title and subtitle are well done, people identify, immediately, “This is the book for me.” and then they go buy it. So you can turn one book sale, that got released early into somebody’s hands, into one or more book sales.
Kathi – And don’t you think that is where, ‘cause we can’t control the whole book process.
Anna – No. Nothing. There’s very few things you have control over, but what you do have control over is how you do social media with your book.
Kathi – How you respond. When something happens early, instead of saying, “Well, Amazon screwed up!”
Anna – “There goes all my efforts.” No.
Kathi – No! People are getting released from their addiction to ‘blank’, or whatever it is, earlier. If we are people of faith, we need to be grateful for the impact that that has had at the time it has.
Anna – And, if you do it right, this just turns into more book sales. All preorder sales, plus the first week after the release day, count towards making any kind of list.
Kathi – That’s amazing.
Anna – So, take lemons and turn it into lemonade. Make those people part of your marketing team.
Kathi – Now, some of the people who are listening, they’re not looking to make a list, they’re just looking to make a strong showing. They want to sell enough books that they get asked to write a book again.
Anna – Yes! Absolutely.
Kathi – So, while there are some people who should be looking at lists, most of us just need to be faithful with the sales that we’ve been given. So, I want to come back next week and talk about that. How do we keep going? Okay, the book is here and we want to keep the sales going. I’m convinced that you should not write a book that you don’t want to talk about for the rest of your life.
Anna – Yes! If you’ve written a book that you don’t want to talk about, you’ve written the wrong book.
Kathi – And, by the way, I have done that, but not in the past five years.
Anna – Thank you!
Kathi – So, yeah. I have done that. But I want to come back and talk about, “Okay, now we’re here at launch and we want to keep moving forward.” We want to have those consistent sales, so that it’s not a one-off. We get the privilege and the honor of writing a book again and again. So, how do we keep those sales going? I’m going to have you come back next week. Actually, let’s be honest, ‘cause we’re in a podcast studio. We’re at The Red House. We’re just going to keep talking, and we’re going to publish it next week, but I know you guys are going to want to listen to this. Guys, you’ve just got a small taste of what’s been happening here at The Red House all week. We say something, and these things drip from her lips, and it’s like, “Oh my goodness.” And it isn’t even what she was planning on teaching about. So, the teaching has been excellent, but the lingering conversation over salad and tri-tip has been even better. By the way, the food is great. So, if this is something that you’re interested in, we have an upcoming Writing at The Red House – Creating your Book Launch Game Plan with Anna LeBaron. It’s going to be July 12th through 17th. The link is in the show notes, so you can go and find out about that. I know that these spots are going to sell out. We sold out of this one quickly, and we had a waiting list, so I know that’s going to happen next time. We can only bring Anna back so many times. She’s got a real life, but we would love to see you here. Thanks for listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned item
Enter transcript here
Meet The Guest
Author, Book Launch Expert, Social Media Strategist
Anna LeBaron is an author, book launch expert, and social media strategist who is blazing new trails for the publishing industry.
With the help of #the4500, a national network of readers and bloggers, Anna rogue-launched Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love in 2015. Since For the Love, she has employed her enthusiastic and intuitive approach to social media to successfully launch more than 60 other titles from a long list of publishers, as well as her own memoir, The Polygamist’s Daughter (Tyndale, 2017).
Meet Your Hosts
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Author, Speaker, Mastermind Coach