Thursday, April 5, 2018

Launch Your Book Like Baseball’s Opening Day

It was Opening Day for Major League Baseball last week.  What a beautiful sight – the sounds of the greatest American sport and the oldest professional league on display for tens of millions of fans to embrace.  My Mets started the year off properly, with a 9-5 victory, providing inspiration for boastful banter and optimistic predictions for the season. It felt like the launch day for a new book, where hope and promise often outpace reality.  What can we learn from how baseball launches a season and apply it to how publishers and authors can launch a book successfully?

The publication date for a book used to mean more than it does today.  The fact that one can secure pre-orders many months in advance of the book’s actual on-sale date changes the entire marketing approach.

Baseball, too, has pre-orders.  In fact, teams work really hard to sell tickets in advance, before the team’s on-field misfortunes turn fans off.  To lure ticket buyers in they offer a number of things, including:

·         Bulk order discounts.
·         Multi-game discounts.
·         Give-away of sponsored products.
·         Special tie-ins, like Fireworks Night.
·         Opportunity for fan engagement, such as a chance to run the bases after a home game.
·         The ability to gain first dibs on playoff tix (should your team get that far.)

Authors can certainly offer similar deals:

·         Discounts on the sale of a book.
·         Bulk-sale super discounts.
·         Give-aways of something perceived to be of value.
·         Fan engagement (meet the author in person).
·         Special tie-ins (access to author webinar).
·         The ability to get preview access to your next book (after the upcoming one).

Opening Day for baseball begins almost as soon as the past season ends.  Fans are eager to reset the calendar for a fresh start and to wipe the slate clean.  They book forward and ahead to next year.  Teams know this so they email fans to advertise way in advance of Opening Day, seeking to trade the promise of a good season into a purchase of tickets.  Can authors sell such anticipated optimism to others as well?

Baseball has a let-down after Opening day.  Game 2 at home often features far smaller crowds.  Most of April, with chilled weather, features teams struggling to fill the house.  Authors, too, feel lost after making a launch date surge, having gone all out to get things going but providing no plan for what happens in the subsequent days, weeks, and months.

Authors must build up a fan base, whereas sports teams have to spend more time maintaining their followers and less on developing new ones.  To build a fan base, authors must launch a concerted effort to establish and grow their platform way before the book comes out.  It can take months and years to build.

Like baseball, the season to promote and market your book lasts a long time.  Launch date is just one day.  So is Opening Day.  You have a season to play and sell (tickets or books).  Not every day will lead to a win and you’re bound to hit a losing streak.  No worries.  Stay the course and remember, in order to win at this game you need to start fresh and play hard every day.

“The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness.”
--Christopher Morley, Inward Ho! (1923)

“Writers can treat their mental illnesses every day.”
--Kurt Vonnegut Jr., in Playboy (1973)

“A book is never a masterpiece; it becomes one.”
--Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Journal (1851-96)

“Be sure you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find yours.”
--John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies (1865)

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.”

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