How To Launch A Book Online Through Your Author Platform

In my last article, How To Turn Your Life Experience Into A Business, I looked at opportunities to create a business from life experience with Mark “Hammer” Dixon and his book, Bash for Cash, as the example.

Once you have a book, you need to have a successful launch to get the word out there. Creating an author platform provides those opportunities.

I thought I would share those of author Joanna Penn, who has recently launched online her first thriller, “Pentecost”, to an international audience.

Here is our interview:

Tell us about your first book launch and how it went.

I wrote my first book “How to Enjoy Your Job” in 2008 and made all the mistakes in the world! I had a book I believed in and had spent a year working on. It was available on but no one was buying it. It was humiliating and depressing; plus I had outlaid my own money for the self-publishing aspect and the book just wasn’t going anywhere.

So I decided I needed to learn about marketing. I started with the traditional angle, learning about press releases, radio and TV pitching. I made it onto TV with “A Current Affair”, national newspapers and radio, but despite all that I didn’t sell any more books.

I knew I needed to find another angle, I needed that global audience so I needed to go online.

In early 2008, I did Yaro’s Blog Mastermind course and after a couple of false starts on blogs that went nowhere, I settled into Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing.

I was determined to help other authors avoid the mistakes I made and save people time, money and heartache along the way. I also knew that I could build the blog into the basis of a platform for marketing myself and my books.

One of the most important things with blogging is to be persistent over time, and it helps if you are passionate about your topic. I never run out of things to say about my niche – it’s a new adventure every day with the changing world of publishing. As ebooks have taken off over the last two years, I have also found myself part of the cutting edge journey of authors using new technologies to write, publish and promote online. The tech world is finally catching up!

The effort has paid off as in December 2010, The Creative Penn was voted as one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers and is also in the Top 5 writers’ blogs in Australia.

The blog has enabled me to start a speaking career, both locally and internationally, and in October 2010, I led a writer’s retreat in Bali. It has opened up opportunities I could never have anticipated when I first started.

What is your latest book and how did it come about?

After writing a couple more non-fiction books, I decided to finally take the plunge and write a novel in late 2009. With my knowledge of publishing technologies I knew I would self-publish, but this time I was determined to make the book launch a success by combining everything I’ve learned along the way about marketing. I love fast-paced action movies and thriller novels, plus I have a Masters degree in Theology, so the book is a religious thriller – Dan Brown meets Lara Croft!

What would you suggest authors do to launch their book?

Here are the main aspects of the launch process:

  • A strong base of supporters – The core audience on built up over 2 years of blogging, and [the site now] includes 85+ free podcasts, videos, workbooks and other free resources for writers and authors. I also involved them [the audience] in the process blogging the journey as I learned.
    My audience voted on the book cover, had input into the back blurb and heard about Pentecost for the whole year before launch so they were ready to buy. I offered review copies to people if they liked the genre and asked for Amazon reviews which are critical for good sales.
  • Twitter – I love Twitter! It’s my primary social network (@thecreativepenn) and I tweet useful links about writing, publishing and book marketing. It’s taken two years of consistent tweeting to get a good audience and I used twitter before and during the launch to drive sales.
  • Facebook – I have a Creative Penn page which I used to interact with people during the novel writing process and then set up a Pentecost novel page.
  • Video – I did a book trailer which was embedded on a number of blogs, and I have a YouTube channel, which I built up for authors in the last year. I also do sporadic videos for the blog that are getting better reception as the non-tech market acclimatise to video.
  • Guest posting – I have built relationships for the last two years, especially through podcast interviews, which meant I could ask a lot of blogs for guest posts on launch day. I did video, audio and text interviews as well as useful posts on other blogs [all listed here]:

All the above costs time but not money. It was based on a consistent blogging and social networking approach for the last two years. Although it started out as a marketing exercise, I now define myself as a blogger. It is intrinsically rewarding and I love the blog network I am in.

In terms of budget, it was very small. I did run a competition for people to win prizes as well as one day of Facebook advertising on launch day. The book trailer did cost some money as I used high quality resources, and I also used Kindle Nation sponsorship, which was fantastic for driving Kindle users to the book.

So how did it go? Amazon change their rankings every hour and I did sleep during launch week, but Pentecost by Joanna Penn made the Amazon bestseller lists – these were the best rankings:

  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #370 Paid in Kindle Store
  • #4 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction
  • #5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Religious Fiction
  • #62 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
  • #1 in Movers and Shakers on February 12th
  • #93 in – Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Thrillers

This adds to around 600 books in the first week, which is a great start. I’m pretty happy with the result and most independent authors see book sales grow as they add more to their backlist. I am starting the sequel “Prophecy” in the next month. So this time, I am not sitting at home lamenting the lack of sales, I’m celebrating!

Interview by Kerry McDuling

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me โ€“ building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

Follow Yaro

View Yaro Starak's profile on LinkedIn
Follow us on Instagram


  • Love your story. I haven’t written a book, but i will like to someday. I love your section on “What would you suggest authors do to launch their book?” Can’t believe one can really launch a book with social media. At least your results says it all.

  • Interesting read Kerry. 600 sales on the first week is really NOT bad at all. Congratulations to Joanna! I guess blogging thus paid of. Thanks for the inspiration. I will now be heading off to The Ceative Penn, for the first time in my life. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Thanks and yes, Joanna really is a pioneer in the field of building an author platform. Glad you enjoyed it, Lisa, and am interested in what you think of Joanna’s blog if you decide to follow it!

  • ben

    I’m about to write an ebook, thanks for the post! Trying again and again is great persistence, trying with the right method is great skill.

  • Great work Jo, you are a shining example of persistence and determination.

  • thank you both, a wealth of information ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Hi Kerry thank you very much for your tips!! it’s awesome. From now I’ll follow your blog. thank you very much for your information

  • This is such a fantastic wealth of information and ready-to-use tips! Thank you and seriously? Congratulations!!

  • I love your story. Lots of Valuable Information. I am looking to write an e-book. This post inspires me.

  • Getting high-profile websites and publications to review your book (in positive light, preferably) can help build hype and enthusiasm for your book.

    • Is it really good to get review from high profile websites? I think it only builds search engines rankings.

      • Liberty Reserve (not sure what your name is lol)

        It’s GREAT to get a good review from high profile websites. Yes you’re right it sure could help you in the search engine rankings but it also helps you via word of mouth.

        Lets say you had a book and Jay Leno says “everyone make sure to check out this book that I’m reading, it’s really good!” and then on top of that it’s posted on his website. You would get some great help in the search engines, but more importantly you’d get that people to people recommendation.

        Any website that has credibility and is willing to recommend or share your book will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people if not millions. So good reviews from high profile sites is GREAT publicity!


        -Chris Alta

        • Thank Chris, for the response. I absolutely agree. There is nothing more valuable than recommendation from a high profile person or website.

        • Thanks Chris. My Name is Sam. I always look to build up good reputation from my clients from getting high profile reviews.

          That helps in traffic and publicity.

  • Great to see another post by you Kerry. This is some great information regarding launching a book for the first time. Thanks a lot.

    – Robert

  • Nice! Great story, love to hear about how you leveraged Twitter, Facebook, Video, and Guest posting for your launch! These are all a bunch of my favourite things. Very inspirational and shows us just how powerful social media is becoming these days. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Very interesting read, Kerry, thank. It’s great to see how all the different streams of social networking came together to help in Joanna’s journey to her goals.

  • A timely article, indeed. I will be traveling the same road in April, with a comic novel I wrote over the past two years. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Joanna.

  • […] e-publishing or writing, leave them in the comments. Until then, an except from her Q&A on Entrepreneurs Journey to whet your appetite:The book โ€ฆAfter writing a couple more non-fiction books, I decided to […]

  • This is a great interview and an amazing journey!

    I’ve never thought about writing a book but these are definitely some simple but time consuming strategies that work! It’s like a lot of people fail with their online businesses because they want a push button everyone come look at me strategy but it’s really not going to happen instantly. It takes time and Joanna definitely showed that she had patience and determination!

    Very inspiring stuff, I just started out on the blogosphere and it’s stories and journey’s like this one that keep me motivated, thanks again for the great interview Kerry! ๐Ÿ˜€


    -Chris Alta

    • Hi Chris – thanks for your contribution and, yes, Joanna has spent a lot of time building her author platform, which is the core of her business. She is a very determined person and I would suggest anyone interested in doing something similar contact her for advice. Start by following her blog or Twitter, her words are gold!
      Thanks again Chris for your contribution.

      • You know, I’m overhauling my entire internet marketing approach. Coppola said, be honest, be yourself. I’ve always been a closet marketer, hiding my persona. But I’m about to venture into a completely different marketing approach (along with marketing my own products).

        You suggest contacting Joanna for advice? She’s that open?

  • That’s a really great story. ๐Ÿ˜€ Most people would have given up half-way through, but just shows to go you can turn the tides by accumulating more of the right knowledge. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, I enjoy that blogging and writing not only gives you the opportunity to turn your life experience into a business, but it enables you to learn more stuff that you enjoy and get paid for doing it.


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Yaro: Email | RSS | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube