Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Launch Prep 101

Now that I’ve reached 55 days prior to the release launch of my debut YA sci-fi novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE, I’m a busy little chicken. If you haven’t already experienced this, here’s a checklist of Stuff You Can Do to help you prepare for launch day, compiled from various sources. These are roughly in order of 6-8 months out, to the actual book birthday.

Banner printed at Vistaprint for signings; image used for Twitter/FB headers

1.  Make an author website. This is a must. Readers, bookstores, etc. will want to check out your online presence. You don’t have to spend a lot; my site is simply Blogger, refashioned into a website. Cost: roughly $12/year for GoDaddy hosting. carolriggs.com
2. Get good-quality author photos taken. Also a must. Everyone wants to see your face to connect a real person to your name—NOT the cover of your book.
3. Write up a marketing plan. What will you do in what month? Sketch it out so you have an idea of your game plan ahead of time. Consider holiday tie-ins or work-arounds.
4. Join and participate in various social media sites. Check out Twitter or secure a Facebook author page. Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Pinterest are also ways to connect (hint: see followers as people to interact with, not potential buyers). Learning to navigate these sites is easier if you aren’t under a time crunch; join early and build friendships/followers.
5. Make crucial connections. Scope out: potential reviewers, published authors to request blurbs from, and blog tour sites. Get to know your local librarians, teachers, and bookstore personnel for potential speaking opportunities. 
6. Reveal the cover of your book. Your publisher may have a hand in this, or you may need to organize a reveal tour with your blogging and writer friends. 
7. Design promo materials, and research sites to purchase them from (moo.com, Vistaprint.com, overnightprints.com, gotprint.com, etc). This can include postcards, bookmarks, business cards, flyers, banners, personalized book bags and mugs, t-shirts, pins, and pens. Hire someone or ask a friend if you don’t feel qualified to design these. Include your book title, cover photo, ISBN, release date, website URL, and your name.
8. Plan your launch event. Where do you want it held? Do you want a full-blown party with catered food? More low-key with just drinks and cookies? Consider display, too—you might consider a stand to ensure at least one of your books is presented vertical, to catch people’s eyes. You may need a folding table and chair, a drape to cover the table, a bowl of candy, or a vase of real or silk flowers. Many bookstores work 4-5 months ahead, so book your event as soon as possible.
9. Consider creating a newsletter. Interested people can sign up on your website or other social media. This lets them know of upcoming sales, giveaways, promos, and events. You can also begin collecting people’s email addresses for a contact list—people who want updates, or friends who want to help promote.

Glossy 2x6 bookmarks from overnightprints.com
10. Draft Facebook updates, Tweets, and other shout-outs ahead of time. Include purchase or website links, catchy phrases, review snippets.
11. Compose guest and interview posts; record radio podcasts or videos. These don’t all have to occur on the actual day of your launch. Content ideas: character interviews, publishing journey info, fun facts, bonus scenes, related nonfiction ideas or book themes, etc.
12. Make a book trailer if you wish. Your publisher often does this (mine does). You can post this on youtube, your website, or share on Twitter/Facebook/other social media.
13. Organize a book launch tour, plan giveaways. Your publisher might help you with this (mine did). Goodreads offers giveaway opportunities, as do many review blog sites.
14. Send out ARCs, or Advanced Release Copies. Your publisher may do this for you. These are usually sent to high-profile book bloggers or reviewers, and trade reviewers like Kirkus. ARCs can also be used as giveaway and contest items.
15. Send out postcards to libraries, groups, and book stores. Introduce yourself with a hand-written note, inviting them to consider your book. If you wish, offer yourself as available for events or to sign their stock of books when you’re in the area.
16. Start inviting people to your events. This includes online Facebook “parties,” bookstore signings, book festivals, and library or book club appearances.
17. On your book’s birthday, send out those Tweets, Facebook updates, Tumblr photos, etc. Engage and have fun.
18. Continue the promo. Enjoy the launch parties, attend signings, make connections, offer giveaways, and keep your eyes open for further fun opportunities to showcase your book!

If you’ve already had a book published, can you add any helpful thing to this list?
Do you have a book coming out soon, and if so—how ready are you with prep/marketing?
If pre-published, what are some of the things you’ve already done to establish yourself as a writer, and get your online presence or platform in place?


  1. no wonder I don't sell more books...but that sounds like too much work ;)

  2. This post is so valuable, especially to me right now. It's so perfectly timed, too. I'm bookmarking it and will definitely use it as a reference as I prepare for my first release next year. Thanks so much for sharing, Carol! Thrilled for you!!! (And I'm here to help you promote or whatever.)

  3. Good post, Carol. I did a lot of that when I was preparing for my book launch. But I haven't visited libraries as much as I should. That's next for me. thanks for the reminder.

  4. Great advice, Carol... you're almost there! I looks like you are well on your way. I will definitely do this when it's my turn....

  5. I'm working on my social media etc, but other than the guest posts I'm writing etc, I'm not really all that hyped up on marketing. Doesn't seem to work all that well.

    I do enjoy hanging out with people on Twitter and the like, though.

  6. Wonderful tips. I do a lot of these and would like to try the ones I haven't done.

  7. This is a great list! So excited for your book to come out!

  8. Great list. You remind me (with some anxiety) that I need to hop back into all this stuff shortly. I don't mind waiting a little longer for my next book release... Wishing you cheese and sanity!

  9. Yep, that looks about right :) I've been neck deep in all of that stuff lately! It's super fun and exciting. Your big day is happening soon, too!

  10. Reading this Carol, I can see why authors say writing the book is the easy pare. Great to see you so organised! :-)


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