Start Where You Are! How to Set the Groundwork for a Successful Non-Fiction Book Launch

Oh my God, you did it! In your so-called “spare time,” you wrote a non-fiction book (or book series)!

All I can say is:

Congratulations! Let’s please take a nice big breath and recognize all your incredible work, and appreciate how far you’ve come!

Seriously.

And, not only did you write a book, but you honoured yourself and took your efforts seriously by hiring a book editor and book designer!

Bird in Flight , by Willem Witsen  (Rijksmuseum Studio)

Bird in Flight, by Willem Witsen (Rijksmuseum Studio)

Now that you’re poking around online to get a grip on the (many, many) options for getting your book out into the world, you are probably hearing some version of this advice:

Ideally, you want to start planning your book launch and building your audience “platform” 17 years before you even start writing your book – (said no one… just joking! )

You start to feel “behind” . . . you start to feel bad and slightly guilty . . .

Big breath.

First of all, I’m a big believer in acknowledging these feelings: “I feel behind, and I’m bad at computers and….”

Get all those fears out in the open.

And then, Let’s Start From Where You Are!

Obviously, now you know that for your next book you’ll have a bigger audience, right?!

Let’s actually take a minute to imagine that future scenario: you’ve learned all kinds of lessons from this–your first book–and now you are a seasoned book author with an email list or a lively facebook group and a popular blog and/or a “real life” group of actual humans (e.g., coaching clients) who know you, trust you and like you a lot – who will happily read/review, and buy all your stuff because you’ve added so much value to their lives.

Some Cold Hard Facts about Launching a Book

But for now, here are some cold hard basic facts I will tell you from my own experience of writing and self-publishing my own non-fiction book.

I’m not going to lie to you.

No matter what publishing path you choose now, it will always really and truly be up to you to leverage the resources at your disposal in order to share your work with the people who will enjoy/benefit/learn from your book.

But that’s fine, since you’ve already proven yourself to be extremely resourceful!

You know your book is great (it’s at least close to the best it can be!), and that the book cover is amazing.

You even managed to get some endorsements or blurbs (I hope) for the cover – yay!

Let’s start laying the groundwork to launch it, step by step.

Recognizing that:

  • Everything you learn now will help you later

  • You won’t get it perfect the first time

  • It’s not “pass/fail” – it’s all learning and growing!

Laying the Groundwork for Self Publishing Your Book!

You could do 1 of these a day so you don’t get overwhelmed. Some of these may even take longer than 1 day. Be patient with yourself!

Pick a “launch date” that is at least 2 months in the future – it’s worth it to launch your book strongly – and then start taking the steps to make it a success, however that looks to you!

This list is not inclusive – just some basic activities that will start building confidence and knowledge as you work towards the launch date! For example I don’t mention “build a website” here, but if you have one that’s great – you would definitely want to start blogging, building anticipation for your book – and sharing some of your book content regularly as you get closer to your date.

  1. Make sure all your passwords are organized and secure (not in a Word document on your hard drive). I use a free password protection software called Dashlane. For security reasons, don’t ever email your passwords to anyone.

  2. Sign up for your KDP account and start getting familiar with it.

    Ideally, watch some tutorial videos about selling your book through KDP. Even if your book designer or VA is going to upload your book files, you should still have an idea of what is happening in here so you feel empowered over your own Amazon book listing and can make changes if you need to.

    For example, this is where your Amazon book sales royalties come through! There’s a “Reports” link at the top, when you’re logged in where you can see your sales. You may not get rich overnight – but it also doesn’t hurt to think about how that income may affect your taxes next year.

  3. Sign up for Amazon’s Author Central – yes, this is separate from the KDP account. Start getting familiar with it. This is a great, free and often overlooked way to attract search engine traffic for you and your book! Fill it out fully – including a good headshot, your website links and social media links.

  4. Spend some time DAYDREAMING: What is my vision? What are my career goals? How does this book fit in with those? This is fundamental stuff but could be important to how you proceed!

  5. Figure out the WHO? If you haven’t already, you must absolutely, positively get clear about who can potentially benefit/enjoy/learn from your book. It must be specific, or no one will listen. You can have more than one group. But you must have some groups of people in mind. If you are struggling with this, dedicate a week to figuring it out. Ask yourself, who will will this book absolutely NOT help – and that question may get your juices flowing.

  6. GET SOCIAL! GET OUT THERE!

    Join facebook groups that include the people who can benefit from your book (from above) – notice I didn’t say other authors– and dedicate 20 minutes (or more) a day helping and interacting with people in those groups (not promoting your book).

    Make sure the INTRODUCTION on your own personal facebook page is filled out fully, so that when you do help and interact with people in the facebook groups they can see what you’re up to.

    What are the social media accounts you most use and enjoy? You’re going to need to leverage those. Don’t try to use ALL the platforms, just pick a few that you actually use!

    Highly recommended for facebook users: Start your own facebook group, specifically to help the people you’ve identified. Invite readers of your book to join the group.

  7. LAUNCH TEAM: Brainstorm who you want to invite onto your “Launch Team” – these are the loyal individuals in your life – family and friends – who will help you spread the word and request reviews during the actual book launch. My feeling is that people love to help and support others, and now is a great time to ask for help from those people who love you!

  8. REAL LIFE LAUNCH PARTY: Major bonus points if you can pull this off! This idea is intended to be a little seed planted in your brain…

    Imagine how fun it could be! Can you have it at a local coffee shop? Or in your backyard?

    This may require more than 2 months of planning because you’d want to build into the schedule time for ordering Author Copies (from Amazon) of your book to sell at the party!

  9. Prioritize & Strategize How to Get Book Reviews on Amazon. This is extremely important for the ongoing sales success of your book. The reason is, people often require “social proof” before they’ll buy a book from someone they don't know. Your launch team will help you with this by amplifying your request for reviews.

    Please note: Amazon will penalize you if they believe your family is reviewing your book, so (counter-intuitively), please ask your family members NOT to review your book on Amazon when it launches.

  10. EMAIL: Set your email Vacation notification to some version of “I am writing a book! It’s called… I would love for you to be part of my Launch Team on x Date! Are you open to that?”

  11. Get some graphics - Use this handy dandy site to get yourself a 3d mockup of your book! For free, you can use and learn Canva to make some graphics of quotes from your book to share.

  12. EMAIL MARKETING: Because of the personal nature, having an email list is considered a very high standard for communicating with potential customers / clients! This doesn't happen without some real planning and care, but you need to start somewhere, right!? Look into starting an email list for free in Mailchimp.


Even if you do hope/plan to invest in online paid advertising at some point, you’ll likely still want to do all the free stuff you can.

You’re off to a good start!

You can do this!

Also, I am a book designer and writer who has experience launching books, and I can help you (with at least some of this stuff)!

Just ask! : )