Follow our guest blogger and author M.K. Williams as she writes the Marketing Your Audiobooks Series of blog posts  

M.K. Williams is an author and independent publisher. She has written and published numerous books under her own name and helped several authors realize their dreams of publishing their books as well. After having learned the ins-and-outs of self-publishing and independent publishing she is now on a mission to help aspiring authors get the answers they need, avoid money-traps, and navigate the process of self-publishing their first book through her brand Author Your Ambition.

Alright, it is time to really start selling this audiobook. You’ve been teasing your audience for months about the release. You promoted your narrator and posted clips to the book. You built your email list and set the pricing just right. Now you need to launch this audiobook out to the world.

While you may be willing to stand on a street corner with a megaphone to let every passerby know about the audiobook, your promotions will actually be amplified by building a launch team. Many authors are familiar with the concept of offering ARCs (advance review copies or advance reader copies) of their book to loyal reviewers prior to launch. This helps to get more people talking about the book and can help ensure some reviews are posted on day 1. Let’s break down the steps to build this list:

  1. Create a Google Form for ARC Sign-Ups.
    While many services allow you to collect emails and send our ARCs in one system, I still prefer this method. One main reason is I don’t have to pay for Google Forms. Many of these ARC services charge a fee. Book marketing isn’t cheap, so I don’t mind doing some of the work on the front end to save some money every month. Also, Google Forms are incredibly easy to create as the author and easy for the reader to complete.

    In general, you want any type of form to be as easy to complete as possible. (Example of my latest ARC form: https://forms.gle/pD6Si2kjNfgmdnH6A) I would love to have extra data on how this reader found out about my books, where they are from, and how many books they read and review a year. But the more questions I ask, the less likely they are to complete. So I keep the form as short and sweet as I can make it.

    You’ll notice I’ve included Audiobooks as a preferred format. I want people to leave reviews for the audiobook as well as the eBook, so I have to offer audio ARCs as well. (Some people now call these ALCs - advance listener copies). I also set the expectation that I will follow up with them before hitting send on the ARC. I’ve seen it too many times when readers get busy or life just happens. I always verify. Which leads to step 2...
  2. Promote ARC sign-ups to your audience. Explain the importance and what it means to be on the “launch team.”

    Once I have my form, I send it out to my email newsletter first, usually the top content in my newsletter. (At this point, I’ve been teasing the book release long enough that it isn’t a surprise.) I include the link and explain the importance of early reviews and what it means to be on my “launch team.” Keep in mind that ARC is a very niche term that we authors use. To readers, inviting them to be on the launch team is something they can more easily understand.

    Here is what I’ll be using in my upcoming ARC sign up announcement to my fiction email list:

    “The Alpha-Nina is almost here. The book will go on pre-order soon. As a subscriber, I want you to get the first chance to sign-up for my launch team. Being on the launch team means you’ll read or listen to the book before it launches (you’ll get a FREE digital copy from me). When the book launches, you’ll leave an honest review (good, bad, great, horrible) for the book and help amplify the release by sharing my social posts. Writing and launching a book can be lonely sometimes; having a supportive launch team makes this more fun. Sign up for the launch team here: https://forms.gle/pD6Si2kjNfgmdnH6A

    The reason I invite those on my email list to join is because not everyone on my email list wants to be an ARC reader. Maybe they don’t have the time. Maybe they subscribed a while ago but haven’t been reading my newsletters. Never just hit “send” to your entire email list for your ARCs. It is better to have 12 dedicated ARC readers who will actually read and leave a review than 100 people getting a free copy and ghosting you.

    Once I send this to my newsletter list, I post this invitation to my social channels. I usually check the sign-ups once a day and send an email confirming they are on the list. I do this manually. Those who sign up for this are my superfans, my evangelists. They deserve a direct connection with me.
  3. When I am ready to send out the ARC files, I go back to those direct messages I sent to those who signed up with the format they requested. I’ve started to make use of StoryOrigin (their free plan) to be able to send a direct link to ARC readers to download their preferred eBook format. However, I can’t use that to send the Audiobook code, so it isn’t a perfect solution.

    In that email, I ask the person on the launch team to confirm they received the email. If something gets flagged as spam and they never get the email, I want to know. If I don’t get a response, I’ll follow up in a few days and check that they got their copy. I also include in this first email a reminder of the launch date and let them know that I will follow up with reminders.

    I set clear expectations, this helps.

    This email does not need to be a novel, by the way. Here is a simple, to the point, template you can use:

    Hi [READER NAME],
    Thank you so much for signing up for the [TITLE] launch team. I hope you enjoy the book and find it helpful.

    You can claim the [PREFERRED FORMAT] copy here:  <<LINK>>/ I’ve attached your [PREFERRED FORMAT] copy to this email.

    The book will be released on [DATE] so that's almost two months to read the book before posting a review. I'll send reminders as the launch date approaches.

    Thank you so much for your help!
  4. Then comes the hard part. You actually have to follow up and send reminders. For me, I always second guess myself here. I’m sure they don’t want to be bothered. I don’t want to be annoying.

    Nope, I tell myself. I said I would follow up. I send a nice note asking how the person is doing, I give them an update on anything that is happening with the preorder (maybe it is climbing a new release chart, maybe my author copies have arrived), and ask if they have had a chance to start reading the book yet. I send these reminders 1 month out and 1 week out. I find this is very helpful because most people don’t start reading the book right away.

    For those who have read the book I let them know they can leave a review now on Goodreads and on the retailers on launch day. They’ll still get their launch day follow-up with that reminder.

    Your book launch is a huge deal to you. But it is a small detail in your readers’ lives. Reminders always help.

In the second part of this post, we’ll go over the actual launch day and how to communicate with your ARC readers/listeners to make sure those reviews are posted. Before you read that one, go and create your sign-up form with Google Forms now. It should take you no more than 5 minutes. GO!