Life After College Book Launch: Post-Game Analysis (What Worked, What Didn't)

Now that the initial book launch frenzy has subsided, it's time to do some Monday-morning quarterbacking on what I think went well and what I would do differently. Hopefully this is helpful to aspiring authors out there, and at the very least interesting to the rest of you!

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." --Richard Bach

Launch Stats:

  • #11 -- The book's peak ranking in Career Guides on Amazon. It also ranked at #30 in Personal Development. The overall ranking peak was #747. Not a bestseller, but out of 8 million books I'm pretty happy with it :)
  • #53 -- Current ranking in Career Guides...not bad! #9,576 overall.
  • 0 (GOOSE EGG) - Number of times I made the NYT Bestseller list. Oh well! A girl can dream. And once The Today Show finds my phone number I'm sure the book will skyrocket up to instant bestseller status.
  • 52 -- The current number of 5-star (!!) Amazon reviews. I am blown away by the quality and thoughtfulness of all the reviews. Thank you all so much!
  • 130 -- @replies I received with people tweeting about the book on launch lunch time! I lost count after that...the response was incredible.
  • 38 -- Number of book reviews, interviews and article mentions (that I know of) during the launch week. Huge thanks to all the bloggers that took the time (and valuable online real estate) to help me promote the book!
  • 2,330 -- Visits to my site on launch day -- almost five times higher than my normal traffic days (though lately the number has stayed consistently over 500/day).
  • 236 -- Number of new Twitter followers since launch day on March 29
  • 8 -- Number of speeches, webinars and workshops I delivered during the two-week launch window
  • 4 -- Book signings. Those were the crazy-awesome moments that really made me feel like an author. I still can't believe people want me to sign anything other than a receipt!
  • Unquantifiable -- number of cupcakes I've eaten at said signings and events since starting sabbatical, number of people I annoyed on March 29 by taking over the Internet, number of times I've checked my Amazon stats (slowly weaning myself off), and the immense out-of-this-world gratitude I feel for everyone who has supported me throughout this launch.

Book Launch -- 5 Things that Worked:

  1. Blogger outreach -- Thank GOODNESS I did not rely on traditional media to carry this book launch (not that it was ever the plan). The lion's share of the momentum came from my friends online -- some I've known forever, some I'd only just met. How I did it: I had the publisher send 200 advance copies out in early March. I asked for 200 expecting them to negotiate me down to 100. Surprisingly, they said yes! Which gave me an impetus to reach out to a lot of people I've never met. I wrote a personal letter for the publisher to include in the press kit that listed ways people could help. Not everyone who received a book promoted it, but that is perfectly fine with me. You never know when they might recommend it to a friend!
  2. Starting my Inside Scoop Book Newsletter a year ago -- my inside scoop readers have been with me behind the scenes at every turn, providing support, encouragement and ideas. I felt so comforted knowing that I had a group of passionate readers and friends who were cheering me on from the moment I wrote the proposal to the moment the book hit stores.
  3. Creating a book website -- this has come in handy countless times. Things like the downloadable media kit, blogger kit, Around the Web page, and book tour schedule have allowed me to clearly communicate what's going on with the book without losing people in the many pages of my blog.
  4. Attending conferences -- I am meeting so many amazing people through conferences like SXSW, TEDxCMU and pretty soon the World Domination Summit. The people I've met have given me countless great ideas and are inspiring me to really take my business to the next level. They have been incredibly generous with their time, and proactively reach out to ask how they can help -- an amazing quality.
  5. Creating a template email for friends, family and inside scoop subscribers to forward -- some people wrote back and said they were single-handedly responsible for selling 10-15 copies among their friends and family! Amazing. Word of mouth is so powerful -- and it felt great to spread the word among the part of my network that isn't immersed in the Internet.
  6. Bonus: taking leave from Google so I could focus 150% of my time/energy on the launch. I love Google -- don't get me wrong -- but trying to do all of this WITH a full-time job would have sent me to an insane asylum. I have been working around the clock since the day I left -- having fun for sure, but still wishing I had more hours in the day! (What happened to those visions of sipping a margarita on a beach in Mexico during my sabbatical?!) I'm so thankful that Google is giving me the time off; hands down the BEST thing I did for this book and my sanity was asking for it in the first place.

Book Launch -- 5 Things that Didn't Work:

  1. Traditional Media -- I've had two radio interviews, and not a single TV, magazine or newspaper mention that I know of. I don't know what I could have done differently, but I do know that there was a huge missed opportunity here in reaching parents and people looking for graduation gifts. It's not too late, but I still have no idea how to break into the big players in these markets. The publicist at Running Press sent out hundreds of galleys to magazines and newspapers, but not many have bitten...yet.
  2. Guest Posts on HUGE blogs -- I just didn't have it in me to do any more writing amidst trying to balance my speaking events, finishing up at Google, writing launch communications, keeping up with the blog, and sending inside scoop newsletters. I had every intention of submitting a guest post to Copyblogger (even got an introduction) or the Huffington Post...but I didn't. Guest posting and adding value for big time bloggers seems to be a strategy that has worked very well for other authors, so this was probably a big missed opportunity for me to generate additional buzz during launch week.
  3. Not following up individually with people who received advance copies -- There are many people I could have directly emailed to ask for support or Amazon reviews (after my initial group reminder email). I know now is not the time to be shy or tentative -- but I just didn't want to force it. I wanted people who genuinely wanted to help -- but it's also possible that many of those people were just super busy and needed (or wanted) a nudge from me.
  4. Not having freebies (or paid products) to capture interest from launch week buzz (beyond the book) -- I would have loved to have a book club kit (still in progress!), a free guide and even some additional paid products that could continue to capture people's interest and provide value even beyond the book. These are all things I'm working on, but I wish I had something ready for the launch week. As the saying goes, "The best time to start is yesterday. Barring that, start today."
  5. Purchase incentive structure -- I had every intention of creating a tiered incentive structure post for launch day (as many authors do -- led by example from Ramit and Tim Ferris). Buy one book, get a signed bookplate. Buy three books, get access to a Q&A call. Buy 10+ books, get something awesome. Buy 50+ and I'll do a custom webinar for your group for free. I thought about this often for weeks (if not months) leading up to the launch, but nothing was clicking and I was already overwhelmed. I finally scrapped the idea at 11:30 p.m. the night before the launch (after semi-frantically calling Sean Ogle for 11th hour advice). It was just too much to think about, and I didn't want to do it if I couldn't do it well.

Given that we're still only two weeks out from all the launch madness, I'm sure I'll think of more for both categories -- but these are the broad strokes! The really interesting thing will be trying to keep the book sales alive over the long-term (post-honeymoon). That will require a whole new strategy -- I feel like I'm starting over as a beginner again, but that's what keeps this whole process exciting!

Next stops for the book tour: I'm in San Diego this week filming videos with/for iGrad (awesome crew) and hanging out with my grandparents, then a bachelorette party in Lake Tahoe over the weekend, then headed to NYC for a month on Tuesday! I'll be taking the first two weeks OFF - as vacation (what a concept, I know) - I'm not planning any meetings unless they are mission-critical, and will probably be slow to respond to email.

If you're on the East Coast, save the date -- my NYC book launch party is on May 12 at WIX Lounge! It is being organized by NYC Creative Interns (angels!) and sponsored by the most amazing life coach I've ever worked with, Ruth Ann Harnisch on behalf of {Click here to register to attend!}

"Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer." --André A. Jackson