The Ultimate Guide to Launching a Book for Indie Authors
In a recent blog (3 Keys to Author Success), I wrote about the people who helped me get my book into the world. A writing partner commented on how wonderful it was that so many people had stepped up to help. “Yes, you are right, and I’m very grateful, but it didn’t happen automatically,” I quickly responded. “I had to ask them to help me—and that wasn’t easy.” Now that I know the key to a successful book launch is asking for help, I’m sharing my guide to launching a book for indie authors.
I even had to ask people who knew about my book project and wanted to help me, because they did not know how they could help. And there were many others who had no idea what I was doing, and that I needed their assistance. I’m not talking about seeking paid help. Making those requests was pretty easy because I didn’t consider them “asks.” I simply hired someone to do something for me, such as hiring an editor.
I passionately believed people would benefit from my ministry newsletter subscription, but I still had to ask them. I hoped to build a community of pilgrims who wanted to journey together. I also recognized this community would be the foundation for a platform—a prerequisite for any author.
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Ways to Ask for Help Launching a Book
What follows is a list of the items I’ve asked friends, family, and acquaintances to do to help me bring Pilgrimage: A Doctor’s Healing Journey into the world (released June 29, 2021).
- Subscribe to my blog.
- Sign up for short-term in-person and online programs I’ve offered, such as Serenity and Health, Your Path, and Less Stress in Covid.
- Sign up for Caring for Body and Soul, an ongoing women’s group.
- Allow me to write a guest post on their blog.
- Allow me to interview them for my blog or program.
- Allow me to video them for my blog. I approached a friendly-looking lady at the gym for this purpose and the result was a blog called Dancing on a Treadmill.
- Be a guest in my Pop-up conversation series.
- Agree to be a beta reader of an early manuscript.
- Serve as my agent. I only asked one potential agent whom I met at a writers’ conference, but I think this still counts. I did not have an agent and self-published using a hybrid publishing company.
- Endorse my book after reading an advanced copy. I sent out at least twenty such requests.
- Lead my book launch team. I was blessed with four fabulous team leaders, all of whom I knew as friends. These women are smart, professional, and generous, and I am greatly indebted.
- Join my book launch team, including both the email program and the Facebook private group. There were sixty on the team and about 25 who were active.
- To take part in my book’s launch, I asked launch team members to reply to emails, share online, post in the Facebook group, read the book, find and share quotes online, to join the launch team events (Facebook group book club, Facebook interviews, Zoom Q and A), to review the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and tell their friends. I also asked all my team members to purchase the book, even though I already sent them a PDF of the book.
- Formally review my book.
- Consider my book for a book award (so far I’ve sent in two applications).
- Review the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble—I continue to ask friends and family repeatedly to do this. I asked another writer how she had gotten so many reviews. She said she “hounded” people!
- Help me host a book signing at church. I needed volunteers to help with announcements, signs, setup, food, flowers, selling books, prizes, introductions, and cleanup.
I’ve reflected on why it has been difficult for me to make all these requests? I often felt like I was putting people on the spot, annoying them, or making them feel obligated to say yes, even though they didn’t want to. Sometimes asking made me feel insecure about the worth of my project. I worried that those I’m asking will think my program/blog/book is not worth their time. Maybe I was more comfortable in my usual role of being independent and doing a job myself or hiring someone. Regardless of the explanation, asking for help was challenging for me.
But I asked and learned much in the process. This is good news because, as a new author trying to market her book, I need to continue making requests. Now I’m prepared to do so because I have a strategy. It’s already helping me and will also help you.
The key to asking for help is to determine the positive outcomes that come from asking and then keep these outcomes foremost in your mind. This makes it easier to ask for help with joy and confidence.
Three rewards we receive when we seek help from others as we try to reach our goals.
1. We gain peace of mind and satisfaction from knowing we are doing God’s will. I believe all of us who write are using our God-given gifts and talents to bring something positive into the world. The details are different—mine is a hopeful message about faith and health. For you, it will be something else. But God wants us to get our books out into the world.
2. We offer opportunities to volunteers to help spread our positive message and to learn, grow, meet new people, be generous, join a committed team, and have fun. When I thanked a team leader for all her hard work, she gushed at me she was the one who should thank me as it had been such an extraordinary experience for her. Another team member was immensely proud of herself because she stepped way out of her comfort zone to do a Facebook Live video. Early readers felt honored to hold a special place in the book’s history, which they do.
3. We experience the joy of networking. Finding agreeable partners with whom to network requires effort, but a creative plan with the right partner offers a win-win situation that makes the asking easy because the rewards are obvious. A shared guest blog post can lead to an interview, social media links, referrals, and endless connections—not to mention new friends.
To get a book out into the world, we need to ask for help. It’s not really that hard. Keeping the three rewards in mind will make the task much easier. Try it and you will see.
Which reminds me. I want to ask you something. Can you help me spread my message of hope and healing by buying my book and writing a review?
About the Author
Dr. Donna Chacko practiced radiation oncology and later family medicine. She and her first husband raised three daughters in Florida. After his death, she moved to Washington, DC, where she cared for the poor until 2013. Donna is now retired and lives in Maryland with her second husband and works in the ministry she founded, Serenity and Health. You can find Donna at https://www.serenityandhealth.com/pilgrimage and https://facebook.com/serenityandhealthdc. She would love to stay connected and invites you to subscribe to her blog at https://www.serenityandhealth.com/subscribe.