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Book Launch Success Stories – Using Existing Audiences to Launch Big

How one author used LinkedIn to hit #1 in 9 countries with her first book

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Book Launch Success Stories – How to Use Existing Audiences to Launch Big

I’m always on the lookout for interesting stories about authors who have run a successful book launch using unusual strategies.

And today, I’ve got a great example from Gabriela Casineanu

Like many authors, Gabriela didn’t have much of a budget with her first book. But she understood how powerful it is to have an audience ready and waiting for your book to hit the shelves.

But without any budget for advertising, how could she build a large enough audience ahead of her first book launch to make a real impact?

In this post, Gabriela will show you how she used existing audiences on social media site LinkedIn to build buzz and excitement ahead of her launch. And how this helped her hit the #1 spot in her categories in 9 countries.

And these strategies can be adapted to use with any social media platform you like – just take the principles and apply them in your own business (eg, if you write fiction, you can use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or other sites equally well).

Enjoy!

How LinkedIn helped my 1st book become an Amazon bestseller in 9 countries

by Gabriela Casineanu

“What would I do with rest of my life if I can’t speak anymore?” I asked myself on a scorching summer’s day in 2016. I was going through a burnout that left me without a voice for almost four months.

“Write an introverts’ guide for job search!” the little voice in my head answered back.

Where did this come from? I had never thought of writing anything like that! Yet, it made sense. By that time I had accumulated over ten years experience in coaching and employment counseling (which actually was what got me into the burnout in the first place).

Suddenly, I felt free.

What has this to do with LinkedIn and my author journey?

Well, I did write that book—which started my writing career. This first book (Introverts: Leverage Your Strengths for an Effective Job Search) made me an International bestselling author in 9 countries: Canada, US, UK, France, Italy, Spain, India, Australia, and Mexico.

I enjoyed watching it climb the Amazon ranks, getting the bestseller orange banner, and being listed above bestselling books for introverts and job search (like Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and What Colour Is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles). It’s a self-published book that reached #96 in all Free Kindle Store during the book launch, with 2740 downloads in 36 hours!

I got hooked! Four more books followed in the next 5.5 months, three of them also reached the #1 on Amazon. It was quite a journey.

 

 

“Ok, great, but when will you start talking about LinkedIn?”

LinkedIn was instrumental in making my first book an international bestseller. Over the years I built my LinkedIn network up to 2800+ connections. So I used it to leverage the book promotion without hiring a PR or marketing specialist, nor paying big bucks to promote the book. At that time I had an email list of fewer than 100 people (not even targeted to the book’s audience), and I spent only $110 during the book launch on websites for book promotions which — I found out after — were mainly for erotica books.

Imagine how attractive my non-fiction was to these readers…

Now let me share the strategies I used with Linkedin before, during and after the launch of Introverts: Leverage Your Strengths for an Effective Job Search which hit #1 in its categories on Amazon (and got the coveted bestseller orange banner) in 9 countries.

With no experience in self-publishing, not even in writing books, I decided to approach this book as a product. This way I could at least leverage my expertise in electronics engineering, business, and social media for business growth. No need to throw out my background when I embarked on a new journey, right?

Here’s how I promoted my first book using LinkedIn.

 

 

BEFORE LAUNCH

Research

To be honest, I wanted to attract a traditional publisher, but it didn’t work out. But the experience of writing the book proposal (with all the research involved) was beneficial. It helped me to clarify my book idea and identify the target audience, define how to position the book against competition, and what promotional strategies I could use for this book.

LinkedIn came out top of my list as a marketing tool. My idea: leverage all the first-degree connections I already had on Linkedin and their networks. And use the Linkedin groups’ potential to spread the word about my upcoming book by engaging their members and gaining their trust.

Product Design

In my case, this was about the book content, title, and cover.

Content

While I had two beta-testers who received the book chapter by chapter while I was still writing it, LinkedIn was helpful in finding other beta-testers too. I received excellent comments and feedback from them.

Title

I came up with a draft title and created four more titles using http://www.adazing.com/book-title-generator. Then I posted a poll in the LinkedIn group Social Media Marketing. I received over 1000 responses within a month (first 100+ in 48 hours), which gave me more options and perspectives to consider. I made a list of those who answered, and were interested in reading my book (as beta-testers or directly from Amazon).

I also captured the names of the influencers who were willing to share it, including the president of a women’s network in Australia, and an experienced therapist who wanted to share the book with her clients and network.

Although I loved the title suggested by a PR specialist from the UK, I chose not to use it this time. But I might approach her later; she has excellent ideas. The responses also helped validate some of my assumptions and revealed new niches for my book (for example: parents of students who will soon enter the job market, and recruiters).

Book Cover

I used LinkedIn for the book cover as well. I posted four draft mockups in a status update, and people voted and commented. Along with the votes received from my Facebook profile, I had a better idea of others’ preferences. Many of them were not my ideal clients or knowledgeable about what makes a good Amazon book cover, so I double checked with my intuition (my inner guidance) before finalizing my cover draft. Their feedback was useful though; it broadened my perspective – similar to the “validation” process I used for the title as well.

 

 

Create buzz to spark curiosity and build momentum

Besides the outcomes shared above, I also posted status updates on LinkedIn about my writing process (not the book content) to build momentum and gather email addresses. I added a link to a landing page, for a free download of two chapters. These were also helpful in getting my connections used to the idea of publishing a book. They didn’t know me as a writer, but they were curious about the outcomes, and started to follow my new author journey.

While I have a blog for my business, it doesn’t have many followers. But I posted updates and articles there as well, mainly to share the links to blog posts in the monthly newsletter and my LinkedIn updates. Since I’m a professional coach, I wanted to keep sharing my experiences from a coaching perspective, although I was focused full-time on writing the book and researching information on self-publishing.

Gather feedback from different “stakeholders” to improve the product

Being my first book, I was curious to see how my writing style and book content were perceived. The input received from the beta-testers (some found on LinkedIn) boosted my confidence.

Some of them fitted the definition of my ideal reader, while others (career coaches, recruiters) were experts in related fields. Introverts’ opinions was precious, and many others contributed with great ideas.

 

 

Rely on early feedback to build credibility (even before the product launch)

With the positive feedback received from the beta-testers, I created visual quotes (image+text) and posted them as status updates on LinkedIn from time to time, to build credibility and trust while I was still writing it.

I also posted these updates on Instagram and Facebook (which go automatically on Twitter) but I didn’t get much traction on these platforms. As a visual person, posting on Instagram and Linkedin during the writing breaks was quite relaxing. It took me ten months to finish this book (writing 7-8 hours a day), so these pauses were helpful.

Gather a group of supporters to help your product launch

As an introvert, I realized earlier in the process that I didn’t build enough momentum to build a list of engaged fans who could boost my book launch. While I understood the power of being part of a “tribe” or creating your own, I was too busy focusing on my writing. So I chose to go with another option: I joined an existing tribe of people going in the same direction – a group of authors.

I learned a lot from them about the self-publishing process, but I also helped them (even authors can benefit from coaching and my expertise in other fields).

I found out only later that LinkedIn has also groups for authors and book marketing — I’ve added that to my already long “To do” list.

 

 

DURING THE LAUNCH

Do not rely only on traditional methods, think outside the box

In my case, I wanted to use “out of the box” strategies for my book promotion, since writing full-time for ten months (without any income) didn’t give me much choice. So I came up with promotional strategies specific to my book content. After all, LinkedIn is a networking platform for professionals, and many of them are my target readers for this book.

Have a good strategy to increase the product visibility

I chose LinkedIn as my main promotional strategy during the book launch, to leverage the power of the connections I already had and other LinkedIn features (search, articles, private messaging, groups, etc.). Here’s how it breaks down:

Reach out to influencers

I considered Linkedin “influencers” those with at least 500 connections. I started with the influencers who already knew me more than a simple LinkedIn connection, like the Manager of an Employment Centre I’ve met several times in person throughout the years.

The book title was clear enough to understand what the book is about, so he quickly recognized it would be a great fit for their introverted clients (and others). The extroverts can also benefit from 90% of this book’s content.

Be flexible

Soon after the book was published and had a few reviews, I start sending direct messages to my 1st degree LinkedIn connections who corresponded to my definition of “influencer”. I enjoyed watching the book climbing higher and higher on both Amazon Canada and the US, until it reached #96 in the free charts on the Kindle store.

After switching to paid, the book got the bestselling orange banner in Canada two days afterwards – on Canada Day! At that point I changed my approach, reaching out to my direct connections from the US (influencers or not). Sending direct messages took a lot of time, but it was worth it. Two days later, the book received the bestseller orange banner in the US as well. It reached #1 in job hunting categories in seven other countries too.

Build credibility with newer information

I took screenshots very often and shared them as status updates on LinkedIn and through direct messages to my 1st degree LinkedIn connections — to show how the rank went up, when it reached #1, the bestseller status, in which countries was #1, and how many times it was downloaded each day.

To build more credibility, I also added screenshots when the book ranked higher or #1 above popular bestsellers (Quiet and What Colour Is Your Parachute were my benchmarks). I also reached out to the connections who commented on my title poll on Linkedin, adding Amazon screenshots with my book as a bestseller and ranking higher than other well-known bestsellers.

 

 

One of the influencers I approached, a US recruiter, was not only willing to share my book with her 10.000 email list but also offered to narrate the audiobook based on the book content (for 50/50 royalties via ACX). I didn’t consider putting together an audiobook so fast, but I didn’t want to pass that opportunity either.

Since I’m in Canada, I found it quite beneficial to have someone else promoting the audiobook in the US, especially with her large following in my target audience. I accepted. So LinkedIn also opens up new opportunities!

Have a Win-Win attitude

I wanted my strategy to be part of a long journey, not to be just a hit and run. So I worked on creating a pleasant experience that made people willing to help (without being pushy). I approached them with a WIIFM attitude (What’s In It For Me, meaning Them). Instead of requesting to promote the book of a first-time author, I asked if they’d be willing to spread the word about this book … so together we can help more job seekers find meaningful employment. In other words: Let’s partner for a great cause!

This approach helps them project a better image because they align themselves with a useful purpose. Adding the screenshots with #1 on Amazon, the bestseller banner and ranking above well known bestsellers built trust – and encouraged them to promote something valuable. As you can notice from the results, it worked!

 

 

Rely on human behavior

People love to associate themselves with other successful people and businesses. That was another the reason why I shared so many screenshots. People began to see me as someone successful (even if it was my first book), and they started commenting and sharing my posts. It was quite funny noticing acquaintances I hadn’t spoken with in a long time were sharing my posts saying “Check out this bestseller of my friend Gabriela.” I’ll take it!

Develop profitable collaborations

You probably know that placing a book in proper Amazon categories helps to get more downloads, affecting the Amazon rank positively and leading to more exposure. That’s another of my (not so) secret ingredient for this book’s launch, besides my promotional efforts via LinkedIn. Sheri (categoryhunter@outlook.com) found useful categories, which ensured both short and long-term visibility for this book.

Priceless for an already busy first-time author who didn’t have time to learn how to find the right book categories. I used Sheri’s services for my next books as well, with great success.

 

 

AFTER LAUNCH

Product promotion is a marathon, not a sprint. So the book promotion shouldn’t end after the book launch either.

Linkedin Profile Updates

Through this feature, Linkedin notifies your connections every time you update your profile banner or a section (it you have this feature ON).

After the successful book launch, I changed my LinkedIn profile banner with one reflecting my new book, the bestseller status, and the 5-stars reviews average.

I also added a new position to my profile as “International Bestselling Author,” adding in the description the Amazon link and the book trailer. As expected, LinkedIn notified my connections about my profile changes. Many sent me private messages of congratulation for the new job. 🙂 I replied to each of them mentioning that’s not a new job, I just wanted to highlight that I’m now an international bestselling author.

I also asked if they would be willing to share this book with their networks (and shared some screenshots). Each time I published a new book, I updated the description for the “International Bestselling Author.” LinkedIn let my connections know about my new book(s), bringing more eyes to my previous books as well.

 

 

Linkedin Articles

When I get questions directly from readers via email, I also write a Linkedin article with my answer to their question. If you didn’t know, the LinkedIn articles accept hashtags and can show up in Internet searches outside LinkedIn. Plus, they are part of a separate section of your LinkedIn profile, so they are easily accessible when someone visits your profile (unlike the status updates).

Status updates

While the LinkedIn status updates increase your visibility as an author, I wanted to highlight them separately because they also help in building credibility and trust.

I’m promoting my book(s) both online and offline (through workshops and presentations on topics related to my books). I found that posting status updates on LinkedIn — highlighting what’s happening offline as well — helped in time to build more credibility and trust, in addition to making more followers like and comment on my posts. This was my first book signing at Indigo, the main book chain in Canada.

People enjoy following how an author’s journey unfolds, so any updates revealing what’s going on behind the scenes are appreciated (leading to more sales and followers). Wouldn’t you consider following the journey of someone who is busy, in a good way? Or buying this author’s book if you’re interested in its content?

Just make sure that not all your posts promote your books or yourself. Giving them a fun twist helps, while increasing awareness about the books indirectly! 🙂

LinkedIn groups

I also talked about my book in LinkedIn groups and reached out to their members when I had something new to share (like a temporary book promotion). One thing I plan to do more is sharing my Linkedin articles and blog posts in groups, with links to my blog, website or Amazon links.

There are all kind of groups on LinkedIn, why not leverage what already exists?

 

 

Resources

Did this blog post make you more curious about how to tap into LinkedIn’s potential, no matter your books’ genre?

Free video: Linkedin for Authors

Watch me navigate the newer LinkedIn website, showing you how to use the LinkedIn features and strategies you’ve learned from here, and much more.

This platform can be a useful tool for authors and book promotion, to build trust, increase visibility, make new connections, and get useful information to help you achieve your goals.

Whether you like it or not, you are an entrepreneur! Your books are your products. Readers won’t buy them if they don’t even know they exist or they’re not credible enough.

 

Gabriela Casineanu is a four times Amazon bestselling author, Thoughts Designer and Professional Coach. She’s looking forward to build a better world by tapping into introvert’s power. Gabriela also enjoys helping upcoming authors to overcome inner blockages, and design out of the box marketing strategies specific to their book content.

You can learn more about her work at GabrielaCasineanu.com.

 

Share in the comments below: Which of these tips are you going to use? If you’re a fiction author, how will you take these ideas and apply them to other platforms? Leave a comment!

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