Your book launch will take much more work than you think- and you are a marketer, not just a writer. Too many authors wait until it’s too late to start making a plan for their launch. This leaves them behind and completely stressed out. Worse, they think their publisher or Amazon will magically do the work of selling the book. As a writer, that’s on you. Do not count on your publisher to sell thousands of copies. You need a comprehensive marketing plan to make it happen!
As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Briggs.
Laura Briggs is a freelance writer, coach and teacher to thousands of freelancers, two-time TEDx speaker, and author of five books, including The Six Figure Freelancer. She hosts the Advanced Freelancing podcast.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about? Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
A friend of mine was a published young adult author and recommended that rather than spinning my wheels about writing a book, I commit to attending a writing conference and pitching a literary agent I book I hadn’t even written yet. It was a scary experience, but also my first serious step towards publishing a book. The agent hated the fiction YA book I proposed and I had a lightbulb moment at that time realizing that I should pursue nonfiction instead.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
My fourth and fifth books come out in spring 2022. The fourth one is a career guidebook called Remote Work for Military Spouses book with Elva Resa publishing and the fifth is called Content is King from Entrepreneur Press.
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
My most recent book is called Six Figure Freelancer. Given that independent contractor workers are growing in number, especially in light of the Great Resignation, there’s no real career guidebook that helps freelancers build their business their way. Many who fall into freelancing have little to no business training and need assistance scaling up their companies in a way that allows them to build a better life. Six Figure Freelancer covers the mindset, strategy, and daily practices of successful high earners in the creative and technical digital economy.
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Meeting a deadline is probably most of the most important! You can’t write a book if you don’t have experience meeting deadlines and breaking down bigger projects into smaller pieces so that you can stay on track. A book is a big project and it’s one where it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed. I have learned each time that I do a book that it might be a different process, too! For example, I wrote my Remote Work book in four weeks. It took me much longer to do my first book and my most recent book, Content is King. Always budget in extra time!
- Being willing to take feedback is crucial. Even if you’re self-publishing, hire an editor. Hire two. Get feedback from early readers. It can sting, but it will make your book better. Be open to the fact that no one wants to see your book go to press and get bad results. Instead, they want to see your book thrive. Find an editor who works for your style and take their feedback as it will improve your work. When I get my manuscripts back for copyediting, there are thousands of comments, suggestions, and changes to be made. I allow that to hurt for a day or so and then I dive in. Those edits always make the book better.
- Plan, plan, plan in advance. A book launch is an amount of work that can only be explained by living through it. Prepare for chaos. Prepare for a lot of work and a lot of moving pieces. Prepare to feel like you’re thinking about and talking about your book for months (because you are.) I plan all my book launches 4–6 months in advance because of the volume of work required to make it a success.
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?
Writing a book is a great way to lend credibility to your name. Most people have a dream of writing a book, but actually doing it shows tenacity and a quality in your thought leadership or your abilities to tell a story. Writing books has opened a lot of doors for me, from doing two TEDx talks to paid corporate speaking opportunities to more book deals to paid coaching clients to high-level journalists reaching out to me to quote me. The books are a big part of that, but I also see them as part of my overall brand. Together, the books along with my podcast, regular posting on LinkedIn, my community group for freelancers, and my email newsletter all help to position me as an expert. There’s so much free and affordable content that it gives followers a great sense of who I am and whether I’m the right fit to help them.
If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?
You need to have a good “why” to write a book. “Because I want to make lots of money” is not that why. A book is a part of your marketing plan, but most authors could not live off the earnings from their books. Instead, they use their books as ways to make sales in other methods. They might sell people into courses, coaching, special workshops, live events, or other books. Make sure that you think of your book as part of this bigger marketing funnel if you want to be successful!
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?
I wish I knew how much it would take out of me emotionally. I nearly burned out promoting my first book because I felt so much internal pressure to try everything. I didn’t need to do that, it turns out, and I was able to build a book launch system that worked for me better the second time around. Always plan in an extra 4–6 weeks for your book launch efforts so that you have time to implement everything. I don’t do book launches with any less than four months of planning anymore so that I have a nice long runway to launch!
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?
For big media features, consider a PR expert. For advertising on Amazon or Facebook, use an expert. Most things an author needs to do to promote their book can be done internally, but it’s the volume of that work or the stress level that means you should think carefully about putting that much pressure on yourself. Even hiring someone else to build your book launch plan and timeline before handing it over to you is one way to reduce your stress.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Your book launch will take much more work than you think- and you are a marketer, not just a writer. Too many authors wait until it’s too late to start making a plan for their launch. This leaves them behind and completely stressed out. Worse, they think their publisher or Amazon will magically do the work of selling the book. As a writer, that’s on you. Do not count on your publisher to sell thousands of copies. You need a comprehensive marketing plan to make it happen!
- Make a brain dump list of everything you want to do or could do for your book launch. No ideas are off the table. During this brain dump period, look for what you really feel excited about or feels authentic to you. You can always narrow down this list later.
- Go to where your audience spends time already. Someone else with some influence might already have your audience. Partnering with them can be a great way to introduce your name and book concept to their fans. Don’t do this in a spammy “Hey, want to sell my book for me?” way. Instead, focus on how you can bring value to their audience. This builds trust between the audience, the partner, and you. Offer a free giveaway, a special training session, or insights they haven’t heard before.
- No media wants to feature you just because you wrote a book. That is a harsh truth. Journalists and publications receive hundreds of pitches from someone who says “Hey, I wrote a book!” That on its own is not enough. You need a plan for what makes your story unique or how you writing a book has a big impact on a community or a person. For nonfiction authors, you must have a hook that gets a journalist’s attention to show them how featuring you will serve their audience.
- You will need to create a book launch budget. From ads to team members to PR and more, you need a clear plan for how you’ll accomplish all your book launch goals. Set a budget in advance and try to spread the spend out over time if you don’t have a big advance from your publisher.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Please check out www.betterbizacademy.com for more information about me!
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.