With my sixth traditionally published book releasing in September 2018, I thought it would be fun to track everything I did to get the book into the hands of people I know it can help. Follow along and, if you are an author, feel free to use any of the tools I use along the way.
Book: Christ in the Classroom: Lesson Planning for the Heart and Mind
Launch Month: September 2018
(Why not a “launch week” or “launch day”?)
Week of October 15, 2018
There are two kinds of book launches according to Tim Grahl: a list launch and an influencer launch. September was all about launching to my email list and October and November will be about reaching out to influencers.
Week of October 8, 2018
I finally finished shipping all the U.S. copies of the book to members of The Religion Teacher. With launch month behind me, I was able to look to new creative projects and start to create new things again. I’m excited about these new projects but realizing I need to come up with a better plan going forward for marketing the new book especially with influencers.
Week of October 1, 2018
I have LOTS of books to pack and ship out to new members of The Religion Teacher! I signed and packed them up at night and while I watch our young daughter play or during nap time for nearly nine hours. I spent almost seven hours getting caught up on emails and managing customer service for the new and current members. As I finish up this phase of the launch, I realize that I forgot what it was like to be able to think about new projects. I can actually get back to a few things I’ve been thinking about creating and doing for months.
Week of September 24, 2018
(Launch Week 4)
Good news! The book was sent in for a second printing!
The last week of the “launch” went well with many more people joining my membership website and a strong number of sales online. I spent most of my time this week preparing an all-day workshop in Grand Rapids, MI based on the new book. The workshop went well and I heard many people tell me they were completely changing the way they were going to teach this year. Success!
Week of September 17, 2018
(Launch Week 3)
This was a huge week. I re-launched The Religion Teacher membership website and welcomed many, many new members. That means many more books to ship! I spent every night this week signing and packing books to ship during lunch hours and mornings. I also did four radio interviews and was pleased by the number of emails I received from people who heard one of these interviews.
Week of September 10, 2018
(Launch Week 2)
I am combining my Fall membership site launch with the launch of the book and this week I sent a series of emails to show how the ideas in the book are useful. I also gave my first workshop about the book in Boise, ID. It was a very fun trip and the talk went very well.
Week of September 3, 2018
Unlike past book launches, I am thinking in terms of a month rather than a book launch week or day. That isn’t to say it wasn’t fun or busy during the week of the launch. The biggest thing I did was a launch email to my email list. Otherwise, I spent a lot of time working on emails and content that won’t be posted until the next few weeks.
Week of August 27, 2018
(1 week until launch)
I’m starting “launch month” a week early. For the next five weeks I will be publishing content that relates to each one of the five chapters of the book. This week is chapter 1 and I published two articles that are edited excerpts from the book. The Sunday email newsletter that featured the book bonus offer did very well.
Week of August 20, 2018
(2 weeks until launch)
I published two articles and wrote two more for launch month. I also updated all of the shopping cart pages and the process to join my membership site so that people know they will get a book if they join this month. Plus, I started working on a series of emails for late September to get the message of the book across to subscribers to my newsletter so they can have a great year in the classroom.
I got the chance to meet with the marketing team at Ave Maria Press this week. It was fun to meet with them as an author rather than a member of the marketing team. I’ve sat in on so many of those calls that it was easy to zip through the things that needed to be covered for the launch. I know a lot of authors complain about the lack of marketing support for their books. I’m so glad to be a part of the Ave marketing team. They do amazing work.
Week of August 13, 2018
(3 weeks until launch)
Our vacation was great, but it is time to work like crazy to get this book into the hands of as many religious educators as possible during the beginning of a new educational year! This week was all about content, content, content! I wrote some articles and got a few designs submitted to supplement the articles I’m writing. I also did a little experimenting with live video in preparation for the month of the launch.
Week of August 6, 2018
(4 weeks until launch)
There is so much to do for the launch of the book . . . but I was on vacation this week. I enjoyed some time off with my family and I will hit the ground running when we get back next week.
Week of July 30, 2018
(5 weeks until launch)
We left for vacation at the end of the week and I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to creating content for the book launch or for updating the lists for outreach. Rumor is that the book should arrive from the printer any day now.
Week of July 23, 2018
(6 weeks until launch)
I continued to work on my plan for the content I will create around the launch of the new book. I worked on a few pieces that I will as my publisher to design including a couple of infographics and an insert for the mailing to members of my website who will receive copies of the book.
Week of July 16, 2018
(7 weeks until launch)
I felt very accomplished by the end of this week. I added more automated emails that new email list subscribers to The Religion Teacher receive to include links to the new book. I also set aside some time to plan out the content to create for the launch of the book and I feel very good about the kinds of things I will be writing. I broke down the launch month week-by-week with themes inspired by each of the five main chapters of the book. That will help me narrow my focus during those weeks with the kinds of content I will share. The more I plan this out, the more I’m leaning towards what Tim Grahl would call a “list launch” rather than an “influencer launch.” My hope is that my audience will be the advocates that gets the book to spread as quickly as possible in the fall so I can reach my 2018 goal of 5,000 copies sold. Between the preorders and the premium members of my website that have updated their mailing address to get a copy of the book, I’m probably about 10% of the way towards that goal.
Week of July 9, 2018
(8 weeks until launch)
I did a lot of little things this week. I updated the sidebar and author bio to my blogs. I also released an updated version of a free eBook I give away to subscribers of my email list that aligns and highlights the new book. The readers of the eBook should become interested in the new book as they start to apply what they read. I also am in the process of updating the email autoresponders that people receive after they sign up for the email list to give them a better idea of what my website has to offer and to introduce them to the philosophy of lesson planning that is described in the book.
Week of July 2, 2018
(9 weeks until launch)
I love vacations, but I don’t love falling behind on plans. I was able to work on a new email autoresponder sequence that introduces all people who sign up to my email list to the ideas within the new book, but that’s about it. I still have a long way to go to get ready for the launch of this book.
Week of June 25, 2018
(10 weeks until launch)
It is amazing what one Facebook post can do. I created a quick post about the book going to the printer and I couldn’t believe how many people said something to me about it. Launching a book is really an event and I forget how impressed people can get. I was also reminded of the power of social media sharing and the conversations that started about buying the book even in the comments of the post. It was reassuring and fun, but there are a lot of behind the scenes work left to do!
Week of June 18, 2018
(11 weeks until launch)
There are so many things that I want to do for the launch of this book, but it is incredibly hard to keep it all organized. I fell back on a useful approach that I’ve come back to time and time again when planning launches for books. I created a table with two columns: “Week of” and “Launch Plans.” With this simple calendar in mind I have a much better idea of what I needed t work on now to prepare for the launch. I also created a page to take (free) preorders for anyone who is already a paying member of The Religion Teacher.
Week of June 11, 2018
(12 weeks until launch)
We are officially inside the three-month launch window. There is a lot to do and I wanted to start creating content in advance. Other projects took precedence again and I didn’t get anything created this week.
Week of June 4, 2018
(13 weeks until launch)
I worked on the edits to an old email list lead magnet about lesson planning to align with the new book. Having this resource updated and consistent with the new book was really important to me so I updated and revised it and hired a copyeditor to read through it. I will be releasing this updated version of the eBook as a part of the launch of the new book in just a few weeks.
Week of May 28, 2018
(14 weeks until launch)
To make up for lost time last week, I needed to map out a content plan for the launch. I started working on my book launch plan and I ended up spending more time on my list launch than the influencer launch. I realized that outreach is so specific that each pitch needs to be customized for the specific individual. I am feeling much better about the details for how I am going to get the books into the hands of members of my website.
Week of May 21, 2018
(15 weeks until launch)
My goals for this week were:
- Create a list of article ideas and interview opportunities/publicity pitches for the book
- Create a list of sharable content ideas for launch month
- Work on a book launch template for myself and others
. . . but I didn’t accomplish any of this. My wife did a lot of traveling for medical visits and speaking, while I watched the kids. Plus, I launched an online course that took a lot more time than I expected. I did experience a very important reminder: never launch on a long weekend! My book will come out right around Labor Day in the U.S., which means I need to push back the launch until after the long weekend no matter how tempting it is to get started early.
Week of May 14, 2018
(16 weeks until launch)
I finally reached 100 people in my Dream 100 Launch List spreadsheet! I will start to reach out to the influencers on this list in June and July recognizing the fact that people will be hard to reach during the summer.
I also added the new book to my Amazon Author page. I made a little video about how to do this a few years ago:
Week of May 7, 2018
(17 weeks until launch)
I watched Tim Grahl’s “Book Launch Timelines” webinar and got really pumped up about my plans. In the webinar I found it to be reassuring that I don’t have to squeeze everything I do into one “launch week” since I’m not trying to hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Also, I really liked the timeline he offered during the webinar and made some tweaks to the Book Launch Timeline I am using for this book. If I hadn’t been working in book marketing for the last eight years, I would definitely sign up for his course.
Week of April 30, 2018
(18 weeks until launch)
I turned in only a few corrections to the first proof of the book. It is fun to see the words finally get designed into a format that looks like a book and not a college term paper. We made a few changes to the chapter titles for consistency and I asked for some changes in the chapter heading designs. Other than a few minor changes, I was very happy with the book.
I spent about an hour this week working on my Dream 100 Launch List. I’m up to 95 “influencers,” so only five more names to go to hit my goal of 100 potential people to reach out to about sharing the book.