You’ve written a book! That’s fantastic. And now you’re at the point where it’s all polished and shiny and ready to be out in the world.
Which means you’re facing one of two scenarios: you’ve signed a contract with a publisher who will be releasing your book, or you’re getting ready to self-publish your book baby. Either way, you’ve got a Launch Season ahead of you, and that’s both exciting and scary!
So, what do you need to have a successful launch? Aside from an awesome story (which we know you have since you’re at this point), you need a plan. But don’t worry—it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds!
Three things you need when planning your awesome book launch:
1. A Timeline
If you’re not much of a planner naturally, this doesn’t *have* to be super rigid, but the more organized you can be in your book launch season, the better. This will save you from a ton of stress and headaches if you know where you’re supposed to be and what you need to be doing, even if it’s only on a weekly basis.
Creating your timeline will vary depending on your publishing path. If you have a publisher, they will be setting out most of these dates for you, from your cover reveal to your pre-order window to your release date, so work with them (and your agent if you have one) to fill in your calendar, and find out what their plan is and what they’re expecting from you in terms of marketing efforts.
If you’re self-publishing, this timeline is entirely up to you! Once you’ve chosen your release date, you can work backwards and decide when to do your cover reveal, when to open up pre-orders (this date is often determined by rules on Amazon, if you’re publishing through them, and is directly tied to your release date, so be sure to check on this), when you want to do social media features, and how you want to celebrate your launch (Release Day only, the week of, the month surrounding it, etc.).
Again, this doesn’t have to be a down-to-the-minute timeline (unless you’re into that sort of thing—and if you are, go for it!), but having a solid outline on your calendar is essential for your launch. You wouldn’t want to forget your own Book Birthday because it wasn’t on your schedule, right?
2. To put your best foot forward
Having your bookish ducks in a row will lead you straight into the second thing you need: to put your best foot forward during launch season. It may seem like a no-brainer, but professionalism is so important in the book world. You can absolutely still be yourself and have fun, but you also want your hard work to be taken seriously. This is why it’s important to make sure the whole package of your launch isn’t just thrown together. If you’re self-publishing, invest in a high quality cover and editing. See if your publisher is willing to create or offer pre-order bonuses (or do this yourself if it’s an option). Treat this like the very precious thing it is—something worth celebrating!
3. To do the things that light you up (and delegate or throw out the rest!)
And with celebration on our minds, I’ll end with this one: do the things that bring you joy in the launch process. It can be an exhausting season, especially if you’re trying to do ALL THE THINGS. I’ve had author friends and clients who have been in the midst of launching one book while on deadline for the next book in the series—sometimes with that deadline on the very same day as their launch!—and it can be brutal if you’re not careful.
This is why community and support are essential to a good launch (that’s a fourth thing you need as a freebie!). The people who are invested in you and your writing are going to be excited to share about your release, so be sure to tell them about it and ask them if they’d like to be involved.
Then, pick out the things you want to focus on for your launch. Do you love creating fancy social media images of your books? Great. Make a bunch and share them. Does brainstorming and creating bookish swag make you feel calm and happy? Please, make and/or order all the bookmarks and stickers and mugs (that you can afford)! Do you like to bake things to go along with your story? Awesome—bake away! (And maybe send us a box? *wink*)
If something drains you or you aren’t comfortable in your skills for something in the marketing sphere, examine it carefully before diving in. Is it something you can learn how to do without too much time investment or pain? Try it out. If it’s not, ask: is this essential for my launch? If it’s not essential, you can toss it. Just because you saw another author (or twenty) do a particular thing for their launch doesn’t mean you have to.
If it is essential and not something you can do, try to find help. Talk to fellow authors and ask them what worked for them. If you have space in your budget, consider a specialty service. Mary Weber at Cherry Pie Author Services has a great package for helping authors plan out their launches, and she’s a dream to work with (and a multi-published author herself). My little company, Book Launch BFF, has offerings to help with the space surrounding your launch—think of me as a (virtual) party planner for your book.
Whatever you end up doing for your book launch, this is an exciting time and deserves celebration! We all hope to see your book babies out in the world so we can throw confetti around with you!
Dana, signing off to go bake a book birthday cake!