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DIY Book Launch for Scholars: Fast & Effective Strategies on a Budget

March 20, 2024

An empty bookstore with 2 comfortable bespoke chairs sit in the background.

Congratulations! You’ve just published a book – a culmination of years of research, writing, and passion are poured out onto the page. And maybe you’ve landed on this post because you’ve realized ‘oh sh!t, I am publishing a book and now I have to figure out how to get people to read it!’ Well, you’re in luck! We have a great DIY Book Launch for Scholars resource for you ahead, including a bonus FREE checklist for download 😀

As if you haven’t done enough already with writing a whole book, now comes the next challenge: getting your book in front of the right readers with a limited, if any, budget, and even less time. 

Book promotion is an incredibly important step in publishing a book, unless you’ve written a book for only your family and friends to read. Sharing your book with a wider audience is why we write books. And in order to share your book with a wider audience, you have to partake in book promotion. 

But fear not – even with a limited timeframe and budget, you can maximize your book’s impact and achieve a level of “book fame” within a few weeks of publishing! We know how tricky a book launch for scholars can be.

This post provides a targeted, no frills DIY Book Launch for Scholars guide who want to make a splash with their recently published book but who have very little time and even less resources. 

Before We Get Started

DIY Book Launch for Scholars Guide Goals

This DIY Book Launch for Scholars guide is written on the premise that your number one goal is to sell books. If you have other goals in mind, the information can still be relevant but you may want to adjust accordingly. 

Before you read on, do this.

1️⃣ The very first thing you need to do is create a dedicated website, landing page, or blog post on your website promoting your book. This is nonnegotiable. You must have a website. Unless you plan on peddling your book on the streets or selling your book individually, bookstore to bookstore.  Build a website. It does not need to be fancy.

The website should include high resolution photos of your book cover, language promoting (: selling) the book, excerpts from the book, positive reviews (if available), author bio and photo, contact information, and the purchasing link. 

2️⃣ Write short and long summaries of the book, and pull intriguing excerpts & quotes early on. Doing this, and having a repository to pull from when promoting your book will save you so much time. You will need to take a bit of time on this. The summaries need to sell the book on intrigue. It is not an abstract. 

Timing

Book launch date is the most opportune time to build and gain the most momentum for book promotion. So it is important to have a sense of book promotional opportunities *before* this date.

Ok. Let’s get to it. 

Identify Your Ideal Reader

Before you start shooting off random social media posts, take a moment to identify your ideal reader. This isn’t just about demographics – it’s about understanding who will resonate most with your book’s message and goals.

Think of it this way: who did you write this book for? Imagine a single person, perhaps a slightly different version of yourself (but not you, because you are one-of-a-kind badass who just wrote a book!), who would be deeply interested in the topic and benefit from your knowledge. The more specific you get (age, profession, hobbies, etc.), the better. A smaller, targeted audience allows you to tailor your marketing efforts for maximum impact.

Why is this so important? Because when you know exactly who you’re trying to reach, you can ensure your message resonates. Are you hoping your readers gain a new skill, gain a fresh perspective, or simply be entertained? Understanding their goals allows you to craft a compelling marketing message that speaks directly to their needs.

Finally, consider your ideal reader’s media habits. Where do they get their information? Are they reading blogs? Active on specific social media platforms? Knowing where they spend their time online is crucial for reaching them effectively with your limited time and budget.

Identifying your ideal reader is the foundation for a targeted, DIY Book Launch for Scholars strategy. Skipping this step means wasting precious time and resources on a scattershot approach. Invest the time upfront to understand your perfect reader, and your promotion efforts will be far more effective, even with limited resources.

Optimizing Your Online Presence

Even with limited resources, you can leverage your existing online presence to create a buzz around your book launch. Here’s how:

Website

Your website is the single most important thing outside your actual published book. It serves as your online hub, where potential readers can learn more about your work, connect with you, and find purchase links. You might consider having an Events area where you share your live book events.

Also, another thing to save you some time – consider including a press kit or media kit for members of the media interested in interviewing you. 

Author Platforms

Take advantage of free author platforms like Goodreads and Amazon Author Central. These platforms allow you to connect directly with readers, provide detailed information about your book, and potentially generate reader reviews.

Reach Out for Reviews

Seek out relevant reviewers and bloggers who might be interested in reviewing your book, offering them a free copy in exchange for an honest review. You might consider sending copies to influential academics in your field and ask for an honest review, unless they are curmudgeons. Consider connecting with other authors in your genre for potential book reviews or even joint promotional events. Reddit communities can be a goldmine for connecting with other authors for reviews.

Social Media

Without creating entirely new profiles, revamp your existing social media accounts to highlight your book launch. Update your bio, profile picture, and cover image to showcase your book.  

Share engaging content like short video summaries of key chapters, interview clips, or visually appealing graphics related to your book’s theme. Don’t be afraid to add a personal touch – share insights into your writing process, what inspired the book, or who you dedicated it to. Readers connect with authenticity, so share glimpses into your authorial journey.

Remember to strike a balance – avoid constant promotion that can lead to fatigue. Instead, share interesting and relevant content that piques reader interest and naturally leads them to want to learn more about your book. Diversify your posts with quotes, images, and excerpts that are intriguing. End your posts with a call to action, encouraging them to learn more about your book or visit your website for purchase options.

Leverage Your Network & Host Events

This wouldn’t be a DIY Book Launch for Scholars guide if we didn’t suggest leveraging your network. Your existing network holds lots of potential for promoting your book launch, even with limited time and budget. Here are some strategic ways to leverage your connections:

Spread the Word Within Your Circles

Announce your book launch within your academic department, university (including your alma mater), and relevant professional societies. See if your university could issue a press release on your behalf. Consider pitching an article idea to your alumni magazine – this is a great way to connect with a broader audience who might be interested in your work. 

Don’t underestimate the power of email lists! Take advantage of those listservs because God knows everyone else has. 

Reach out to your family and friends via email, sharing your accomplishments and ask for their support in this journey. This one may feel like a difficult task. But our friends and family want to know what we’re doing and they want to support us. They will find out sooner or later once you start sharing it on social media, so might as well give them the heads up😊. Again, as a DIY Book Launch for Scholars guide, it’s our job to suggest all the (uncomfortable) ways you can promote your book. 

Don’t forget to update your email footer/signature with your book information. 

Become a Resource and Spark Conversations

Offer to give talks or seminars to other academics in your field. Always carry copies of your book to give away at events – it’s a fantastic way to generate interest and conversation. You might consider creating teaching materials, workbooks, or companion materials related to your book, a valuable resource for fellow academics and educators who may be interested in using your book in their class, if applicable.

Embrace Virtual Events and Local Opportunities

Look for opportunities to give virtual or in-person presentations at conferences, book clubs, or relevant events. Even within your own institution, consider offering a book talk or presentation to generate interest.  

Host a live virtual book launch event. The beauty of virtual events lies in their accessibility – a Facebook Live session, Instagram Q&A (Ask Me Anything), or a webinar can be a powerful way to connect with a wider audience. Just make sure you include a call to action – sharing your website or book purchasing link.

Another great resource for book launch events is your local community. Reach out to your local library and bookstores to see if they’d be interested in hosting a book talk event. 


Download your free DIY Book Launch for Scholars Checklist


Media & Public Outreach

Securing media coverage can significantly amplify your book’s reach, but it requires a strategic approach, and patience. Here are some effective ways to navigate the world of publicity:

Crafting Your Pitch

First things first – understand the difference between a press release and a pitch. A press release is a newsworthy announcement you send out to media outlets, while a pitch is a personalized message convincing a specific journalist to write about you and/or your book.

You should have a press release to distribute for your book launch (a one time thing). You should write many individualized pitches to distribute to various media members that presents your book/message as something their audience would be interested in learning more about. 

Related post: Media Pitching for Academics (How to Become a Source)

Develop Your Press Kit

Before pitching, create a media kit that includes your bio, a compelling book summary, and a high-resolution book cover. Having this readily available saves time when responding to interview requests or fielding media inquiries.

Target the Right Audience

Remember your ideal reader? Identify relevant local, regional, national, or international media outlets that cater to your book’s genre. Think about your own news consumption habits – which outlets do you trust, and who are the journalists you follow? This offers valuable insight into where to target your pitches.

The Power of the Personalized Pitch

Research contact information for relevant journalists, podcasters, and bloggers who cover topics related to your book’s content. Develop personalized email pitches highlighting the newsworthiness of your book and offering them interviews or guest posts on their platforms. Focus on how your book’s content adds value to their audience – it’s about promoting valuable content, not just selling copies.

Consider pitching an op-ed on the subject of your book (not selling your book).


Related Post: An Academics Guide to Op-ed Pitches


Engage and Respond

Building connections with readers goes beyond traditional promotion. Respond to reviews on online retailers and relevant platforms. Participate in online discussions and forums related to your book’s subject matter. Reddit can be a fantastic platform for engaging with interested readers.

Beyond Free Promotion (Optional)

While this guide focuses on free strategies, if you have a small budget, explore book promotional sites.

Conclusion 

Whether your book is already published, or days or weeks from being published, elements from this DIY Book Launch for Scholars guide will always be relevant. Start with establishing your ideal reader, building your website, and creating Author Profiles. 

With a limited time frame, focus on the strategies that will provide the greatest impact. This is why it is also crucial to start with determining who your ideal client is and targeting outlets and opportunities that will reach them. 

Be sure to monitor your progress by tracking website traffic, social media engagement, and book sales. This can help you refine your promotional strategies for continued success.

By implementing these quick but impactful strategies, you can leverage your existing academic network, build a broader audience, and achieve a level of “book fame” with little to no budget. Remember, promoting your book is an ongoing endeavor, but this guide will give you a strong foundation for a successful launch. Now get out there and share your knowledge and passion with the world!


Download your free DIY Book Launch for Scholars Checklist


 

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Alicia Cintron, PhD

Research Public Communications Trainer & Coach + traveling Scholarpreneur

Welcome! Here you’ll find insight, musings, and thoughts about research, public engagement, communication, travel, and higher education. Have an idea for a topic for us to cover? Shoot us a note
 

Alicia Cintron, PhD

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