Self-Publishing FAQ: How to Nail the Pre-Launch

Master your book’s pre-launch with our Self-Publishing FAQ! Get essential tips to ensure a successful debut and maximize sales

Self-Publishing FAQ: How to Nail the Pre-Launch
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Got the pre-launch jitters? 

Our AIA student community on Facebook (40k members strong and counting) is all about supporting each other through every twist and turn of the publishing journey.

Recently, one of our brilliant students posed some questions that every author and publisher should know.

Emery, one of our publishing community moderators, swooped in with all the answers, and we’re passing those gems on to you!

Remember: DIY publishing doesn’t have to mean doing it all alone.

Let’s break it down answer by answer: 

Handling Reviews from Family and Friends

So, you've poured your heart and soul into your book, and now it's time to share it with the world. Naturally, your biggest fans–your friends and family–will want to support you on your publishing journey, but that can come with some serious risks. 

Here’s what we mean…

Why Family and Friends Shouldn't Leave Reviews

Friends and family shouldn’t leave reviews for your books for two main reasons. 

First, Amazon has a strict “no bias” policy. 

That means if your mom, your best friend, or your second cousin twice removed leaves a glowing review, Amazon's algorithm might raise a suspicious eyebrow and flag it as potentially biased. 

This is especially true if you’ve ever shared an address with this person or ever sent them a package through Amazon to their address. 

In the worst-case scenario, you can even get your account permanently suspended.

Secondly, and maybe more importantly, the Amazon algorithm is made to pair the right book with the right customer, like a matchmaker. 

If a family member who only owns cats ends up purchasing your book about how to raise German Shepherd dogs, the algorithm gets confused. It will think that your aunt is the perfect demographic and start pushing your book toward other cat owners. 

The problem? These readers aren’t going to have any use for your book, and that’s going to spell disaster for your book sales and ads as more and more of the wrong audience gets served ads for something they’ll never purchase. 

At the end of the day, you might get away with one or two family reviews, but is it even worth it knowing what you know now? 

What If They Leave Reviews Anyway?

If family members or friends leave reviews despite your warning, it’s worth asking them to kindly remove them from Amazon.

Explain that you love and appreciate their enthusiasm, but the best way they can support you is by spreading the word to their networks and encouraging others who aren’t directly connected to you to leave honest reviews instead. 

Pro Tip: Make it easy for them to spread the word by asking ChatGPT to help you draft templates for emails and social media posts for your launch. 

Other Places to Get Book Reviews 

There are plenty of other ways to get legitimate Amazon book reviews, too, like: 

  • Signing up for Pubby and helping other authors/publishers in exchange for more Amazon-compliant reviews 
  • Joining Facebook Groups relevant to your genre (self-help is a huge one!) 

Distributing Pre-Launch Copies

Sending readers a copy of your book before it’s officially published is a pretty standard practice in the publishing world, but as a newbie, you might not be totally familiar with it. 

Here’s how it works and why it’s part of any good Amazon book launch plan

Why Distribute Pre-Launch Copies?

Getting your book into the hands of potential reviewers before it’s published can generate early buzz and line up solid reviews that can be posted once your book goes live.

As humans, we all love “social proof,” and we’re all more likely to buy things that others have already tested themselves with their hard-earned money because we see it as less of a risk. 

The more reviews you can set up in the early days of your book, the more it’s likely going to take off on Amazon’s bestseller list. 

How to Distribute Pre-Launch Copies

  1. Formats to Use: Send digital copies through Facebook DM, email, SMS, or WhatsApp. Choose a format that’s most convenient for your reviewers, such as PDF or ePub.
  2. Keeping Track: Keep a spreadsheet of everyone you’ve sent a copy to, and follow up with them once the book is released! (Sometimes, you might need to follow up two or three times.) 

How Reviewers Can Leave Reviews

Amazon makes it easy for your readers to leave reviews. 

Here's how it works:

  • Automated Prompts: After purchasing an official copy of your book, Amazon will automatically prompt readers to share their honest thoughts. This is a great way to gather organic reviews without having to nudge readers yourself.
  • Encouraging Reviews: While Amazon sends out these prompts, you can also remind your readers in a friendly way. Include a note at the end of your book thanking them for their support and encouraging them to leave a review.
  • Follow-Up Emails: If you have an email list, send a follow-up message after your book's launch, thanking readers for their purchase and asking them to leave a review if they enjoyed the book. Personal touches can make a big difference!

Don’t Panic If You Get a 3-star Review! 

As disappointing as they can be, low ratings are part of the journey and add authenticity to your ratings. 

Look up your favorite book (or any book on the bestseller list), and we can guarantee someone has had something negative to say about it. 

If a review isn’t constructive, it’s not going to move your publishing business forward and probably isn’t worth thinking about anyway. 

Verified vs. Unverified Reviews

When your reviewers snag your book through an authenticated Amazon purchase, their reviews get the shiny "verified" badge, which adds a layer of credibility to you as a publisher. 

But don’t sweat it if some reviews are unverified—having a mix is totally normal and still super valuable. 

Focus on getting your book into as many hands as possible and let the reviews come naturally.

Protecting Your Work During Pre-Launch

Keeping intellectual property safe is another concern you might have. 

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty: 

Concerns About Plagiarism

It’s natural to worry about your hard work being stolen, but it’s probably less common than you’d think. We’re not saying it never happens, but it is pretty unlikely that someone would go to the lengths needed to publish your work successfully.

In many countries, publishers and authors have copyright protection by default as soon as a work enters creation mode. You can also file for an official copyright and put a copyright notice inside the front matter of the book if you’d feel more comfortable. 

Other ways to protect yourself legally include having the original files, timestamps, and proof of sending your book to reviewers. 

As our group moderator already mentioned, another life hack is to send out your pre-launch copies with a watermark on the file.

We’ve attached an example below if you’re not familiar with the term!

Adding a Watermark to Your Pre-Launch Book

Here’s how to add a watermark to the pre-launch copies you send out, depending on the platform you choose to format it with: 

  1. Using Microsoft Word:
    • Open your document in Word.
    • Go to the "Design" tab.
    • Click on "Watermark" in the toolbar.
    • You can choose a preset watermark, such as “Do Not Copy,” or click "Custom Watermark" to create your own. 
  2. Using Adobe Acrobat:
    • Open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat.
    • Go to "Tools" –> "Edit PDF."
    • Click on "Watermark" –> "Add."
    • Enter your custom text and adjust the settings to your preference.
  3. Using Online Tools:
    • Websites like Watermarkly let you upload your document and add a watermark with just a few clicks. 

Amazon Free Promo Basics 

We’ve already talked a little bit about running a free book promo. 

Here’s what that means: 

How the Free Promo Works

The free promo feature is pretty simple. After your book goes live on Amazon, Kindle users can download it for free for a limited time. And the best part? 

More downloads mean more eyes on your book and, hopefully, more reviews rolling in. 

Cost Implications

The free promo applies only to eBooks, which means there are no pesky shipping costs to worry about. Your wallet stays happy while your book continues reaching a broader audience. 

You get to watch your book climb the charts without spending a dime on postage, and your readers get instant access to your content. It’s a win-win!

From Zero Publishing Experience to Bestselling Dad 

Think you have to be the best writer in the world or have tons of publishing experience to make this work for you? Think again. 

Fred is a proud dad who never imagined what just one book could do for his family. 

Shortly after joining AIA as a student and trying to learn the publishing ropes for the first time, Fred was making almost $10k in a single month from a single book!

Better yet, the royalty checks kept coming in even when he wasn’t actively working on his publishing business, letting him save up money in a nest egg for his three daughters. 

Listen to Fred’s story here!

The bottom line? 

Launching a book is a big milestone, and it’s normal to have questions and concerns. 

Got something on your mind? Drop a comment on our Facebook page

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