One challenge of being an entrepreneur is getting your name in front of the right people.  Publishing a book can be a great way for entrepreneurs to share the depth and uniqueness of their expertise with prospects and drive more qualified leads to their businesses.

To build a successful book launch, it's important to lay a strong foundation. Follow these nine steps to boost sales and ensure that your book has the greatest possible impact for your business.

1. Know your readers

Identify  target personas to understand your readers and pinpoint the communities that will benefit most from your book. Create a few personas of your ideal readers including their demographics, behavior patterns, goals, and challenges.

Use these personas to identify where your readers are most active online. For example, if your ideal readers are top CEOs, you'll find plenty on Twitter where many business leaders share insights.

2. Create an elevator pitch

A compelling elevator pitch is crucial to drawing the interest of new readers. The pitch should include an overview of the problem you are solving, your credentials, the elements that differentiate your book, and when appropriate, an idea for how you would like to receive support once they've read it. You might suggest an  honest review on Amazon, a bulk order for your contact's office, or a mention on their blog or social media channel of choice.

3. Know your buyer's journey

To reach as many buyers as possible, first understand the principles of creating content that targets each stage of the buyer's journey:

Awareness - when a person is searching for general help.

Consideration - when a person has named their problem and is searching for specific help.

Decision - when a person knows the solution to their problem and is comparing details like price.

4. Build a content reservoir

Once you understand the buyer's journey, improve your visibility and conversions online by building a collection of content to reach buyers at every stage. It would be wise to have a content strategist's help in this area.

In the awareness phase, you can offer whitepapers, blog posts, and ebooks that touch on common concerns that people are searching for (i.e., "How to Find a Career You Love"). Sometimes this material can be repurposed out of the book itself.

In the consideration phase, your content might include podcasts or videos on a specific theme (i.e., "How to Change Careers Midlife").

The final decision phase might include case studies or reading lists that are more self-promotional and emphasize why your book is the answer your followers have been looking for (i.e., "Here Are the Top Five Books on Career Advice").

5. Update your website

Your website is typically the first impression people have of you and your book. It is essential to have at least a  simple website that features your author bio, a brief description of the book, and how people can contact you. An easy-to-find tab for the book on your current website will also do the trick - you can redirect a memorable, book-specific URL to this page.

6. Build and engage your email list

Once you have your website, deepen your engagement with visitors by offering a regular newsletter or exclusive content (i.e. a free chapter of your book, digital workbooks, or a quiz).

Ask your audience to opt-in to your email list and provide special incentives for your subscribers such as a free download, tool, or bonus content when they order your book. 

7. Choose the right social media channels

There are dozens of  social media channels, but focus on those channels that will appeal to your readers and help you sell more books. Twitter and LinkedIn are great for connecting with readers of business books, while Facebook and Pinterest appeal more to an audience interested in fiction or lifestyle books.

8. Keep your online profiles consistent

It is important to keep your photos, logos, and taglines consistent across your social media profiles and website so that your audience knows they've found the right person. Your audience will receive a cohesive message that is strengthened every time they interact with you online.

9. Hire a book publicist

With over 3,800 books published in the U.S. every day, you need someone to ensure that yours gets the attention it deserves. Publicists focus on getting you and your book placements in publications through interviews, by-lined articles, and other media opportunities.

A successful book launch requires strategy and preparation, but if done right, will help you to maximize sales and create a powerful fan base to build on.

Published on: May 31, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.