How to plan your book launch (part one)
The questions I get most often from authors centre around launching their book, exactly what marketing should happen, where they should spend their money, where they don’t need to, what the essential elements are and when things should happen.
I thought it might be useful to give you a detailed timeline of all of the tactics you can apply to your launch plan. Many of these activities can be done for free or on small budgets, however this does involve your time, so start early and put yourself in as strong a position as possible to launch your book(s) successfully.
Book Launch Timeline
6+ months before publication
This is the time to get your house in order, get all of the basics working so you are in the best possible position for launch.
There is plenty to do to set yourself up, namely:-
1. Your website
This doesn’t need to be incredibly sophisticated, but it needs to be a professional online presence for you – it must represent you as a professional writer.
Essentials for your website in time for launch:
- a data capture mechanism for your newsletter
- extract of your book with a pre-order link
Tools: Most authors build their own websites with either Wordpress or Squarespace.
What Should I Put on My Author Website?- John Burke for Ingram Spark
How to build your author platform - Lounge Marketing
Book marketing - where to begin - Lounge Marketing
Blog post ideas for author websites - Lounge Marketing
How to Build Your Author Platform in a Digital World- Are.io blog
Recommendations: Bookswarm is an agency that builds websites exclusively for authors and publishers and is very cost effective.
2. Your newsletter
When you are creating your website, include a newsletter sign up. Building a list of readers and prospective readers is incredibly valuable. As well as a way to engage with readers, you can use this email list in a number of ways – build a team to support your launch, get reviews and to buy your books! Consider this a core activity that will provide more and more value as you write and publish more books.
Lots of authors do find this process difficult, but it does get easier and set realistic expectations. You do not need 10s of thousands on your list for it to have value. Aim to get 100 people on there as a starting point. Plan your newsletters and send them every fortnight before launch – tease information, reveal your book cover, your writing news, pre-order date etc.
Stacey Halls newsletter (pre-launch)
Tools: Email management tools like Mailchimp and MailerLite.
Check out other alternatives to Mailchimp here on Jane Friedman’s website
Building your author newsletter - Lounge Marketing
3. Your social media presence
Social media is a brilliant way to build and engage with an audience, not just readers but also publishers, booksellers, other authors, journalists and all kinds of interesting and valuable people. I recommend you concentrate efforts on 1 or 2 social media platforms and in simple term if you prefer Facebook then concentrate effort there, ditto Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest. This can be a huge time suck, so spend your time on one platform effectively and then consider expanding your efforts.
Also, definitely create author profiles on Goodreads and Bookbub – both of these platforms are exclusively for voracious readers, so very valuable.
Twitter for authors - Lounge Marketing
How authors join Goodreads - Goodreads
5 Simple Ways to Crush Your Networking on Goodreads - A Marketing Expert
How to Set Up a Facebook Page for Authors - BookWorks
How to Use Instagram As An Author Plus 10 Ways to Grow Your Account Organically - The Creative Penn
24 Instagram accounts for book-lovers - Lounge Books
Instagram Hacks - Hootsuite blog
Facebook profiles posts, Pain points, and slow but steady writing. - Sell More Books Show podcast
20 Top BookBub Ad Designs Readers Want to Click- BookBub blog
6 Months before publication
1. Your cover design/ book blurb/Amazon presence
a. Identify your readers
Before you embark on this section, do prep work for your book, so you understand what competitor authors are doing. Learn from authors in the same space as you - have a good look at their marketing, category choices, pricing, creative, covers.
Why (and How!) to Reach the Right Readers - Diana Urban for BookBub
b. Cover Design
If you are self-publishing, then you will need to make sure your book cover is well-designed, looks professional and reflects the quality of your book. (My personal view is you should use an experienced cover designer to do this).
Ask for feedback on your cover design, get your followers involved in the process. And make a social media event of your cover reveal.
Useful links on cover design:
How to create a compelling book cover- The Creative Penn
Why authors should never design their own covers (without help) - Lounge Marketing
c. Writing your book blurb
Potential readers need to be grabbed so your book blurb must work hard. Spend a lot of time writing your blurb, editing it and testing it on readers.
Writing effective blurbs by author, Kerry Wilkinson - Lounge Marketing
4 Simple Steps to Write Better Back Cover Copy - Rob Eager
Book sales description - Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn
How to Create a Book Hook - Rob Eager
d. Amazon presence
Most of your sales will happen on Amazon, so making sure you optimise everything is essential.
Choose The Right Categories And Keywords for Your Book - The Creative Penn
How to Write a Killer Author Bio - Reedsy
2. Plan your publicity
Research a list of 10 – 20 journalists you think would potentially be interested in you. Do not underestimate the value of local papers, radio and other opportunities. Think about hooks that might give you ins with journalists – either based on a topical issue (working class writer, parenting challenges, local interest etc). Plan from now until launch who you will contact and when and book in and prepare for any opportunities.
A Step-By-Step Indie Authors Guide for Attracting Media Attention - Book Marketing Tools
3. Ongoing social media activity
- Follow and engage with influencers, readers
Now that you have your social media set up, use this time to connect with folks across the book industry, start building relationships.
- Drive folks to your newsletter sign up
Links: see links on social media above
3/4 months before pub date
1. Plan you blog tour
Aim to run your book blog tour for the 10 to 14 days that lead up to publication day. DO NOT leave this until the last minute, bloggers need a decent amount of lead time, don’t ruin your chances by approaching them last minute. Think wider than just reviews, lots of bloggers run features like ‘A Night in With’ or ‘6 books that defined you’, ‘your publishing journey’ – familiarise yourself with book blogs and if you see features like this, then pitch yourself.
You can coordinate your own blog tour, I would advise you do this ONLY if you have very established relationships with a lot of bloggers, otherwise I recommend you pay for a blog tour organiser. This costs in the region of £100 so is extremely cost-effctive.
Find bloggers to work with on the Lounge Marketing blogger list - Lounge Marketing
How to Set Up Your Own Online Book Tour - Book Marketing Tools
Online Book Tours and Why You Should Do Them - Book Marketing Tools
Online PR - How to Locate and Pitch Bloggers - Stephanie Chandler, Non-Fiction Author Association
Two organisers I personally recommend:
Anne Cater, Random Things Through My Letterbox Tour Services
Rachel Gilbey, Rachel’s Random Resources