As most authors will tell you, writing your book is just a small part of becoming a successful author. Whether you choose a traditional publisher or self-publishing, there’s lots of work ahead for you. Editing, choosing cover art, more editing… it’s a long process regardless of what publishing options you choose. But even after all that work, a book launch can make or break your book’s success.
Authors (whether self-published or traditionally published) must try to make the biggest splash possible. Creating a buzz around your book is essential if you want to sell more than a handful to family and friends. If you were lucky enough to land a major publishing contract with a big publisher, you might have a marketing team behind your book. But, for the rest of us, we have to promote our books on our own.
After publishing two books (one with a small press and one self-published), I’ve learned a thing or two about launching a book. My first book was tricky to promote. Though we had a paperback-launch/book-signing, the Kindle version was not yet available, so it put a damper on promotion. In a way, I felt there were two mini-launches (one for paperback, and one for Kindle) instead of a big blast.
With The Fifth Circle, which I self-published… well, let’s just say I failed to make a splash. And, now I’m here to share my mistakes with you so you can learn from them without having to make your own.
Elements of a Successful Book Launch
- Author Platform–You should start building your Facebook page, website, and author network before you query or publish your book. Blog about interesting topics, share snippets of your writing on your Facebook page, and build friendships with other writers and bloggers.
- Buzz! You want to create a buzz around your book, soon enough to generate excitement, but not so early that people will tire of hearing about your novel. Ideally, you should have a book release date three months ahead of time. Share that date with the world!
- Cover reveal–About two months before the release date, try to organize a cover reveal. Your blogger/author friends will probably want to help you by sharing on their blogs. You can also share on your own blog and on your Facebook page.
- Reviews–If you’ve ever sought out reviewers, you know how difficult they are to find. Most reviewers get so many requests, they have to turn authors away. Send out review requests two or three months ahead of the book’s release. Get your book set up on Goodreads so reviewers have someplace to post their reviews once they’ve read your book.
- Events–If you’re setting up a book signing, you’ll want to this three months ahead of the book’s release. You don’t have to have a signing at a bookstore to be successful. Facebook events and Goodreads events are popular. You’ll want to set up your event about three weeks ahead of time so you can invite your virtual attendees. If you set up an event too early, people forget about it, or get tired of the constant event updates on their Facebook newsfeed.
- Giveaways–People love free stuff. You can set up a Goodreads giveaway or ask blogger friends to help you by hosting a giveaway on their blogs. Rafflecopter has a free giveaway app that I highly recommend. You can give away ebooks, print books, or bling. If you can join a giveaway event with a bunch of other authors, these tend to get more exposure for you and your book.
- Bling–bookmarks, magnets, keychains. People love bling. It’s essential for giveaways and book signings. It’s also a good idea to bring a few bookmarks with you wherever you go. You never know when you might have an occasion to plug your book. Make sure you use a high-resolution image of your book cover, and include a buying link or website link. People need to know where to find your book.
- Keep the momentum going–Once your book is released, your promotional efforts shouldn’t end. Keep sending your book to reviewers, seeking interviews on blogs, and maintaining your author platform.
- Don’t get discouraged–If your book doesn’t take off right away, don’t give up. Work on your next masterpiece while still promoting your first book. Your book might suddenly take off three months or even three years after that initial launch. Sometimes an author has to have a few books to their credit before they really start to sell. Don’t give up on your writing just because the first book didn’t become a New York Times Bestseller right away. Keep writing!
I’d love to hear any suggestions. What did I miss? Was your book launch a success or an epic fail?