Book Launch Basics: Part 1

Welcome to the first part of a new (8-part) series on book launch basics where I’ll demystify the process of proficiently releasing a new book into the world with flair. The information I’m providing is focused on those who will independently publish their book, but many of these components/strategies are equally usable for those publishing traditionally. (If you’re lucky to go that route, you may even have a publisher doing some of these things for you—but it is still important to understand the elements that go into successfully launching a new title.)

Let’s begin at the very beginning . . . You might think that starts with manuscript readiness, and indeed it does; however, even while you’re finishing final edits and the beta reading process there are things you ought to be doing to aid your launch effort. (Although, we will cover manuscript readiness in part 2.)

TIMING

How long before your launch should you start getting ready? Six months at a minimum if you’re indie publishing—longer is better—twelve months in advance is optimal. (If you’re thinking – gulp – but my launch is three months away! Don’t despair. You can still launch successfully. You’ll just be putting these tasks on a faster track.)

ESTABLISHED YOUR PLATFORM / YOUR ONLINE AUTHOR IMAGE

 

Platform is a word thrown around a lot in the publishing industry – it often refers to the authority you have to write/speak on a particular issue, which is important for nonfiction authors. However, I’m using this word to refer to whatever presence you have in the author /reading world already. This will most take place online.

Do you have a website? If not, you’ll need one – even a simple one that gives info about you as a writer along with a place to showcase your book and other information.

Build an email list of subscribers. On that website, do you have a way to capture the emails of people who would like to subscribe to a newsletter? It’s important to start building your email list as soon as possible if you haven’t already. Many people give away a gift to entice people to sign up for the newsletter—this is called a reader magnet. It’s often a short story or other bonus content related to book(s).

But once I have a list of subscribers, what do I send them? You’ll need a newsletter system—a way to email content to those subscribers. There are many choices here. Some are built into your website platform, some are separate—like MailChimp, Mailer Lite, Constant Contact and more… Perhaps you’ll use Substack.

Do you have social media accounts? And are you on the right ones for the type of books you write. Ask yourself, where do my readers hang out online? That’s where you’ll want to be. You can easily find age and demographic information online about who is using which social media platforms.  NOTE: If you plan to do any Facebook advertising, you’ll need to have a professional/business page on that platform – not just your personal profile.

You’ll need to engage on those platforms in a meaningful way in the months leading up to your launch. But what does that mean? You’ll need to post content regular on the platform that’s most important to your publishing journey. What that schedule looks like for you is highly personal in terms of the time you have. You’ll want to post engaging content that shares items about your writing and will eventually morph into building excitement for your book. Engaging with others is vital: follow other people (those whose content you like and those who you might share an audience with) and like/share/comment on their posts.

BRANDING

As you go about setting up your website, figuring out your newsletter content, and establishing your social media accounts, you’ll want to think through your ‘brand.’ This may feel like an odd concept for an author – you may be thinking, but I’m not a brand.

My answer: yes, you are.

Your brand is You (as a person) + Your Work (the types of books you write) + Presentation (how you present those to the public)

As you develop a sense of your brand—think about the type of author you are—the subjects you write about and your target audience. Can you develop a tag line for your writing?

Here are a few from authors I know:

·      Cozy mysteries for readers who want to laugh and escape.

·      Romantic suspense featuring fearless women.

·      Stories inspired by travel and insatiable curiosity.

·      Stories about kick-butt ladies solving thrilling mysteries.

·      Mysteries starring fudge, fowl, and other fun!

·       Behind every crime is a family. (Clearly, a crime fiction writer.)

·      I write slow burn romance. My stories are about people from hard places. People who have faced the darkness and made their way into the light.

Visual elements are also part of your brand:

Graphic elements, types of images you use (including your own author photo), fonts, colors, and layouts all contribute to the overall feel – and these choices become part of your branding.

Consistency is important and contributes to cohesive branding. You’ll want to use the same color scheme/font/tagline across all platforms, so that your ‘brand’ can become recognizable.

Your biography is also part of this branding. Will you present yourself in a very straightforward manner. Or will you take some liberties with your biography and have some fun with it. Neither way is wrong, but again consistency is important. This also depends on the type of writing you do. If you write for the children’s audience, you might include more whimsical elements as compared to authors of mysteries or thrillers.  

MEMBERSHIP ORGANIZATIONS

In addition to your online image on platforms you control – like your own website and social media accounts, you may have the opportunity to include a biography and a headshot on the websites of organizations of which you are a member. Don’t miss those (free) opportunities for others to find your work there as well.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments!

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