A lot of support services have grown up around the indie-publishing industry over the past few years. While some of them are less than stellar, some I can't live without. Around 2015, I came to know of a service called Booklaunch.io that has since become, for me, a must-have. 2015 was the time I was trying to set up my web presence, and with a demanding full-time job and a super-active toddler on my hands, I was looking for something fast and easy that would make my book pages look clean and professional. Booklaunch was offering gorgeous landing pages for books at a very enticing price–FREE.
Let me explain the landing page before I get further ahead–it is a webpage that is your book's home online. It usually has a blurb, maybe a detailed behind-the-scenes look, purchase links, reviews, endorsements, author bio, sharing options, email/newsletter signup options etc. A landing page is very important, not just because it shows off a portfolio in a measured and glamorized way but also because it is an unifying portalfor things like purchase links across multiple retail sites.
Before Booklaunch, I used to have landing pages for each of my books on the website. Setting those up was not too difficult, not even getting the purchase links together, but they were not great looking pages at all. Even before I heard about Booklaunch, I had been looking for a solution that was affordable and easy to maintain.
The greatest thing about Booklaunch is the minimum programming skills required on the author's part to set up these pages. Although, I have a decent knowledge of HTML, creating book pages as gorgeous as the ones on Booklaunch would need a lot of work. Each time I wanted a change in the layout, I would have to invest time. Or hire a designer. Thinking through, it seemed like trying out Booklaunch was a sensible idea.
So I signed up.
Setting up my book pages was the easiest thing to do. You can start building your pages by entering ASIN/ISBN or building manually and typing it in one section at a time.
The dashboard is where you can see all your books listed and you can access each one from there.
On the individual pages, you have the ability to edit each section, change the colors, sort the sections, add or delete them.
For a PRO account ($10/month if billed annually, $12/month if billed month-to-month), there is a great email-signup feature (AWeber or Mailchimp) as well as a lot of other plugins that you can set up on your book pages. The integrations are extremely easy and it took less than 5 mins for my first Mailchimp integration and less than a min for the rest of the pages.
There is an analytics page available to PRO accounts also. It is a great snapshot of what is working and what is not, and can be detailed down to individual books.
You might ask, why PRO? Thought it was free.
Booklaunch went to a paying model about 3 months after my signup. That made me switch to the PRO account which supports unlimited number of pages. Currently, there is still a free option, but it only supports 1 book page. The PLUS account ($5/month if billed annually) gets you 3 book pages. The biggest benefit of the PRO account ($10/month if billed annually) is the unlimited pages and the ability to capture email signups from the book page.
Back from the sidebar, it is easy to link to the Booklaunch pages from your website. I have a wordpress.com account which does not allow plugins, the solution is to make links via the menu options that redirect to the Booklaunch page. The Booklaunch pages can also be assigned custom addresses so they are easy to remember. For example, my book The Eternity Prophecy has an address like this –http://book1.empire.sgbasu.com/. You could have it set up anyway you want.
If you choose to buy custom domains for the books, those can be included in Booklaunch also. Cool, right?
A very important note–these pages are all hosted by Booklaunch, so you don't have to worry about servers and hosts.
However, along with all the upsides, there are a few downsides. It is important to remember that Booklaunch is a startup. The site has some features that do not work perfectly and some features that are necessary but not yet there.
A feature that I want really badly is the ability to copy/clone a book page. There are things I want replicated on each page, the author section for example. Unfortunately, there is no way to copy the whole template. I've heard they are working on it, but until then it's a grind.
Booklaunch offers custom sections also, which is great. This is in addition to the premade sections. All you have to do it format it using the built-in editor and launch it. However, image insertion sometimes does not work here and that is a pain.
One erratically working feature is the sequence of the books on the dashboard. For a long time, the books got added in sequence. One fine day, they started jumping up and down the list. I finally figured they were getting sorted based on the "last update" timestamp and not the "time created" timestamp. Now it has reverted back to the original setting but not before getting my list entirely out of whack.
Another unfortunate thing with Booklaunch.io has been emailing/contacting the support team. In my experience, every time I send an email, it takes a couple of days for the Booklaunch team to get back to me.
I understand fully well that the team might be small and getting back within a few minutes is too much to ask. But I hope that as Booklaunch picks up more subscribers, they improve on this aspect.
So, to anyone who might be considering using Booklaunch, it is easy and quite affordable ($10/month for the PRO account with unlimited pages being the most expensive option) and in my opinion, worth every penny. But make sure while you're excited about seeing your books dazzle in their glamorous pages, you're also prepared to handle the less than perfect customer support.