What It Takes to Pull Off a Great Launch

October 13, 2011

I’ve been a mad woman this week. My new guide, How to Take a Career Break to Travel, launches Monday, and there are what seems like a million moving parts that need attention.

You’d think writing the guide would be the majority of the work, but I’d say it’s only about half. The other half includes promotion, logistics and a ton of other details you have to tend to as an entrepreneur.

Luckily, I love this stuff. Next time I’d give myself an extra month or two to accomplish such a big task, but I do love the work.

To give you a sense of what I mean by “a million moving parts,” here’s a list of what’s involved in creating and selling an ebook. Even if you’re looking to publish traditionally, you’ll probably find a few lessons here because even big publishers will expect you to promote your book.

Book creation

Write the guide: I began this project about a year ago, but I’d only worked on it sporadically until landing at a writer’s colony (VCCA) for two weeks last month. That’s where I finished both reporting and writing.

Edit the guide: I hired an editor for this project, and lucky for me, she was willing to turn it around quickly.

Cover design: I bartered for a beautiful cover! In return, I helped the designer reach out to the media for her book.

Formatting: You can pay a professional to do this for you, but I chose to keep it basic and do it myself. It’s tedious work, figuring out what fonts to use, size of headings, adding page breaks in appropriate places and crafting a table of contents to match. I can’t wait until I make good money off these launches so I can pay someone else to do this part for me.


Set up an e-junkie sales system: This e-commerce system is easy to use, but you still have to set up the product and write copy for receipt emails and a thank-you page.

Write sales-page copy: That’s the page that’s on my site, which will hopefully entice readers to buy.

Organize an affiliate program: It’s easy through e-junkie to let others sign up to sell my products and earn commission. I also set up an affiliate page on my website that offers blurbs, an image of the cover and whatever else affiliates might need to sell the guide.

Create discount codes: Now that I know how to do this in e-junkie, it will be easy next time. But figuring out how to create discount codes and let buyers use them was a mini time-suck.

Determine the price: I’ll go into this in more detail in another post, but I put a lot of thought into how much to charge for this product and what discounts I would offer to my email list, during launch week and to other special groups.


Ask for reviews, Q&As and guest posts: I carefully crafted an informal pitch to ask blogger to consider telling their readers about the guide, then tailored that pitch to each person I sent it to. I kept track of all this in a Google spreadsheet.

Write guest posts and Q&As: It’s awesome when a blogger agrees to a guest post or Q&A, but then you have to create that content! This is a project in itself.

Arrange promotions: I wanted to give my buyers some sort of bonus, so I approached the author of Negotiating Your Sabbatical about offering a discount on her ebook to anyone who purchases the guide. Once she agreed (because it helps her sell copies, too), we figured out what promotion would work (50%) and how to integrate that into my sales page.

Send review package to bloggers: Once the guide was ready, I packaged a review copy with a JPEG of the cover, plus my headshot and links to the sales page, affiliate page and more. I sent that with a personal message to each blogger who agreed to review the guide, run a Q&A or host a guest post.

Create email newsletters: I sent two emails to my newsletter list about the guide, one to give a heads up that the discount would be arriving soon in their inboxes (because they’d have a limited time to use it) and another to provide the buy link and discount code.

And guess what? There’s still so much more I could do.

That’s the thing about launching a digital product or promoting a book — You could always do more. There’s always one more thing you could do to take your success to the next level. The key is figuring out what will give you the most bang for your buck, and then moving onto the next project.

I still have a lot to learn about creating products and sending them out into the world, but this is a blast so far. A pulling-my-hair-out-got-so-much-to-do kind of blast, but a blast nonetheless.

Photo credit: Flickr’s brianna.lehman

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    8 Replies to “What It Takes to Pull Off a Great Launch”

    • Jennifer says:

      Do you read Poets and Writers magazine? A few issues back an author wrote a very detailed story about all the steps that went into creating her on-line book launch (for her novel). Lots of details and advice – just found it, it was in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue and is by Cathie Beck.

    • Kim Palmer says:

      Sounds like you are doing awesome! I hope you have time to enjoy the launch, too! 🙂

    • You are a machine! Best of luck this weekend. We’re all excited for you!

    • Jade Craven says:

      I was sent a copy to review and I really liked how all the materials were packaged in the .zip file. Not many people do this and it means I don’t have to go back through emails to find relevant stuff.

      When it comes to reaching out, the easier you make it for the other person, the more likely it is that they’ll cover it.

      I’ve been really enjoying watching this launch (I’ve been helping) because Alexis is doing stuff a lot of people don’t do, and this is just her second launch. This experience will really help when it comes to launching her memoir which I really want to read. 🙂 I want to read about Africa despite discovering her via the social media guide.

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Thanks, Jade! I’m figuring out lots of little tips as I go, like the zip file 🙂 Much of it thanks to YOUR help! I can’t wait to do a Q&A with you here so readers can learn about how you can help them, too.

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