Monday, August 20, 2012

Prepping for a Book Launch: What to Do

With Shift releasing this Friday, I have succumbed to "book launch brain." Every other moment, my regular activities are peppered with sudden thoughts of, "Did I remember to respond to that blogger?" or "What should I offer in the launch tour giveaway?" or "When was the last time I saw the cat?"

I decided that I might as well put this maelstrom of madness into my post today. Who knows? Maybe one of you is in the planning stages for your book's release and can get something helpful out of my crazed state.

When I published my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy last July, I did it with no promotion at all. I created a Twitter account, joined Facebook and offered up a prayer to the universe. Then I published the books and hoped for the best.

I do not recommend this plan.

Sure, I've gotten a respectable amount of sales in the past year, but those didn't come without a lot of time, effort and trial and error. There are many things I could have done differently. I've since changed my strategy with the release of the Firstborn trilogy, which meant my book, Defy, was much better received when it launched in April. I'm encouraged enough by the results of my efforts that I'm confident in sharing them with you.

These tips assume you're self-publishing. I'll go with a timeline approach to help you know what to do at what time. There are certainly things that other authors do that I didn't include on this list. Similarly, other authors may time things a bit differently than I do, but this will give you a general idea. Here we go!
  • Now/Immediately:
    • Join Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads if you haven't already. Add Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+ and any other social media sites that interest you if you have the time. The sooner into the writing process that you do this, the better!
    • If you haven't started a blog and/or created a website to promote yourself, do it now.
    • Get a professional head shot of yourself to use for promotional reasons. Use it as your avatar on all social media sites until you have a book cover to use.
  • Four months before publication:
    • Hire an editor.
    • If your writing is free of mechanical errors, begin working with beta readers. You'll be amazed what other people catch that you won't!
    • Draft a blurb for the back of the book (and the description on book retail sites) and get feedback on it from beta readers and fellow authors.
  • Three months before publication:
    • Hire a book cover designer or, if you're talented in this area, create one yourself. Make sure it's awesome!
    • Add your book to Goodreads, but don't post a cover if you have one. Include only the blurb.
  • Two months before publication:
    • Set the book's launch date. Announce it on your blog, change your bios on social media sites to include it, send out a newsletter or press release, and anything else you have time to do.
    • Reach out to bloggers about a cover reveal. Create all of the content, including an enticing blurb and possibly an excerpt.
    • Research and book a blog tour organizer to help with the promotion, especially if you don't yet have many relationships with book bloggers. Be sure that the tour organizer requests that bloggers read and review your book, and that if the bloggers don't feel your book is to their taste that they'll instead post a promotional piece. The point of launch tours is to promote the positive feedback about it. I recommend doing a tour of one to two weeks.
    • If you intend to have one, work on a book trailer. You can do one yourself or work with a company such as Flatline Films, who produced my trailers for Defy and Shift.

  • One month before publication:
    • Host a cover reveal blog tour. Include as many bloggers (readers and authors alike) as you can. Often if you've signed on with a blog tour organizer, the bloggers participating in the launch tour will also participate in the cover reveal.
    • Include your trailer on the cover reveal posts to create even more interest. Some authors generate countdown widgets, which you can send to participating bloggers, too.
    • Change your avatar on your Twitter and Facebook accounts to your stunning cover. This creates buzz and leads to "passive marketing" when you answer questions about it.
    • Add the cover and book trailer to Goodreads.
    • Consider hosting a giveaway on Goodreads. You can run it for the month leading up to publication day. This is only possible if you plan to offer paperback copies.
    • Ensure your book is properly formatted for all of the places you intend to publish it.
    • Decide on a giveaway to accompany the book's launch. Your blog tour should advertise this with each post. Use Rafflecopter for the giveaway and have those who enter the giveaway follow you on Twitter, Facebook, your blog or anywhere you want.
  • Two weeks before publication:
    • Confirm that you have all of the promotional posts in the hands of your blog tour organizer. Sometimes last-minute requests come in, so you'll want to make sure you have your plate clear to tackle these items as they come up.
    • Reach out to any bloggers you've recruited on your own to ensure they have everything they need for their posts. Confirm their post dates.
  • One week before publication:
    • Draft your launch day post for your blog. You'll be very busy in the days leading up to launch day, so reserve this time for you. Be sure each participating blog gets a mention in your post!
    • Do one more confirmation with your tour organizer and any other bloggers working with you.
    • Make sure your book's formatting is all done and everything is ready to be uploaded to all publication sites.
  • Publication day:
    • Breathe.
    • Check each blog scheduled to post this day and leave a comment to thank them.
    • Tweet, Facebook, and otherwise engage with your fans until your fingers fall off.
    • Celebrate!
Again, there are surely things that you can do that I didn't mention. Paid advertising, for example, is an option for those who can afford it. These are merely suggestions, and far more than I did for the launch of my first books. I hope they help you!

For now, I've got to go and find my cat...

What tips do you have for launch day?


  1. Great tips! One thing I do is order postcards from Vistaprint - on the side for addressing the card I have "To This Fabulous Fan" and I send a note saying when my new book is coming out. I mail it to family and friends that may not keep up with me on FB. I also mail it to other authors, neighbors, and any place that has allowed me to do a book signing. Another thing I do, which is going on right now, is hosting giveaways. I'm giving away little things, posters, hand made crystal book thongs, whatever swag I have. It stirs up excitement and keeps my name out there. I look forward to hearing what other authors do.

    1. I love these ideas, Devyn! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. :)

  2. This is crazy-useful!!! THANK YOU!!!!

    1. I'm so glad that they've proved useful, Cecily! Thanks for letting me know.

  3. good advice, and the music in your bk trailer is pretty cool!

    Keep rockin.

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