Clara’s Book Launch Checklist
When I published my first book, Gratification, I was the epitome of a newbie. It was September of 2013, and my biggest concerns centered on my product. Would anyone read it? Would they like it? Had any typos gotten by me? Was I a fraud? One thing that didn’t occur to me was whether I’d properly prepared sell my novel.
Whether traditionally or self-published, there is a lot a writer can do on their own to achieve commercial success. In fact, unless you’re already Nora Roberts or James Patterson, there is a lot you should do to sell your book. The most surprising thing I learned after publishing 3 books was just how early that work should begin.
From the time I published Gratification, I was playing catch-up. Suddenly, I needed a website, and a Facebook page, and a Twitter profile. Not to mention an e-mail address, a page at Amazon Author Central, another at Goodreads and a Google+ profile. There were ads to place, and a blog to write for. And it all had to happen at once. I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t prepared at all to actually sell my book. Naively, I thought, you mean there’s something to do beyond the endless hours of drafting, re-writing, copy editing, proofreading, creating a cover and writing a marketing blurb or two?
Oh yes, dear writer, there is.
While I would never call myself a marketing expert, I would say I’ve moved well beyond the newbie stage. And if that’s where you currently find yourself, I’m happy to help you move past that stage as well.
To keep things organized, I’ve divided book release prep into 2 sections: Early and Imminent. The beauty of the Early Book Release prep is that you have the luxury of time. And like so many things in life, the more you can get done early on, the easier things will go later.
Early Book Release Prep
Even as you work on the first draft of your latest masterpiece, I would recommend doing the following: (Note: some of this will not apply to traditionally published authors, but if you think there’s any chance you’ll go the self-published route, these things are worth doing).
- Come up with a great title. It should be something a reader can say and remember easily, and preferably have some resemblance to the content inside. This is also a good time to think about your brand. Titles can have an important role to play in this area. And good branding is an important part of marketing.
- If you haven’t already worked on your brand, there’s no better time to start. Your brand should include such things as: consistent use of colors and fonts, a logo, a tagline, and an overall look and feel for your work that will be communicated on your cover.
- And speaking of covers, hire a professional and get to work. For my covers, I already had a concept for them, so I hired a professional photographer and model. For my upcoming Sex & Secrets series, I used Edward John Photography. Samples of his work can be viewed on his website. If you don’t know what to do here, there are a number of professional book cover designers you can hire. And because I believe it’s just good business practice, I would recommend obtaining a minimum of 3 quotes, and ask to see samples of their work. And definitely make sure you agree to a reasonable deadline.
- Work on your website. If you don’t already have one, get one. A website is a great platform for communicating with your readers and selling your books.
- Begin looking for an editor, get quotes, samples of their work, and decide ahead of time just what type of editing you want done. I’m fortunately enough to have a great editor named Maya Rock. You can check her out here: maya-rock.com/book-editing-services. You can also e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Have your pub date already in mine, and give yourself 1-3 months prior to that date to have your book completely polished and ready to go. The more time you have between book completion and pub date, the more pre-publicity you’ll be able to accomplish. Now, I find this is the place where I need to stop and throw in one important caveat: NEVER rush through your work just to meet the pub date you’ve decided on. It is better to push back your pub date than to publish something you haven’t done everything in your power to make your best possible work; or to not give yourself sufficient time to publicize your upcoming release.
- Write a synopsis. You probably won’t like this. I don’t know a single writer who does. Write one anyway…it’s the first step to crafting some good marketing blurbs for your book.
- Research key words for your genre.
- Research press releases. And while you’re at it, start writing one.
- Set a marketing budget.
- Decide how to price your book.
- Research places where you can advertise your book and make a list.
Imminent Book Release Prep
Once you’ve completed your novel, and left yourself 1-3 months of pre-publicity time, the real fun begins. This is your book release plan on steroids, and it goes something like this:
- Apply for a copyright. This can be done online at eco.copyright.gov and should be applied for as soon as you’re certain you have a polished product.
- Pull out excerpts and quotes from your book to use in ads and promo pieces
- Write a press release, (if you haven’t already), and send it to any papers/publications that might be interested in the release of your book. There are also services you can hire to send the press release out for you, but again, do your due diligence and make sure you know what you are getting for the money paid.
- Prepare ads/promo pieces to use on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. If you don’t have Photoshop or some other equivalent software, you may want to invest in some, or find some nice friend/family member who has such a program and is willing to help you out.
- Set up your book for pre-order. If you’re publishing on Amazon, they make this easy, just click on the button that says to set for pre-order.
- Format your book for publication on CreateSpace, or other print on demand service.
- Write back of book matter, such as: About the Author, Other Works by this Author, Excerpt from upcoming novel, Where readers can find you on social media, and/or a Letter from the Author.
- Write back cover matter for your book. This will be a 1-2 paragraph blurb about your book, and unlike a synopsis, should not spell out how the book ends, but leave the reader/potential buyer wanting to find out.
- Contact authors/reviewers and ask for pre-pub reviews for your book. Add quotes from these to your back cover.
- Prepare cover for print edition, upload, and order a proof copy. This will be your final review of your book.
- Write some promo pieces for your blog, (like this one).
- Order ads from the marketing services on your list.
- Begin scheduling promos to post on social media.
- Do a cover reveal.
- Send an e-blast to your e-mail subscribers announcing your pub date. Consider giving them a bonus for pre-ordering your book.
- Submit your book to NetGalley and other review services.
- Announce your pub date on all of your social media sites. Be sure to include a pre-order link to your book.
- Set up a contest to celebrate the release of your book.
- If you have other books for sale, set up 99 cents or Free book promos for them to coincide with your release date.
- Recommend your book to your Goodreads friends.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it should be enough to get you started. If you’re an author/publicist/marketing person, I’d love to hear your ideas!
Best Wishes, and Happy Reading!