Ciao, amici! If you’re like most writers, the actual writing process is fun(ish) for you. The launch, on the other hand, is probably a soul-sucking, frenetic nightmare. There’s nothing worse than feeling like the people in the graphic, standing on your soapbox announcing to everyone in earshot that you have a new book for sale.
Yeah, that’s a horrible feeling, especially when no one cares.
I’ve been releasing a lot of titles lately, one under the Staci Troilo brand and a few as Keira Beck. So when I tell you I’ve been in launch-mode for months, that’s no lie. While it’s foremost on my mind, I figured I’d share my checklist for before, during, and after the nerve-wracking publication process. Much of what I’m going to share won’t cost you anything but time. But remember, time and money (when you’re talking promo) tend to have an inverse relationship. The more you spend, the less work you probably have to do. And the less you spend? That generally means more elbow grease. You can:
- hire an assistant to do all this for you (paying the most and doing the least)
- do it all yourself (paying the least and doing the most)
- or you can pick and choose from the options below (some of which, like ads or blog tours, can be both time consuming and costly)
While Your Book is in the Editing Stage
- Write a blog post about the book. The goal here is to begin enticing the readers with your enthusiasm.
- Do a cover reveal. Contact members of your author network whose readers might be interested in the genre of your story. Ask if they’d be part of your blitz. On the day you choose to release the cover (including blurb and preorder information), you’ll make a big splash. This should garner some comments at the individual sites as well as a lot of social media sharing.
- Create five or six graphic teasers. These can be as simple as a colorful background with plain text or much more elaborate. While you’re making these teasers, pull out longer excerpts that include those quotes and save them for later.
- Email your newsletter. Share a teaser or two, giving them an exclusive peek at your new story. Ask them if any would like to read a copy for free because you’d like to have reviews ready to go at launch. (If you have a large email list, you’ll want to limit the number.)
While Your Book is in Pre-Production
- Send out ARCs to your street team. (You might also want to try services like BookFunnel, NetGalley, Instafreebie, etc. These services have a range of options for delivery and have different payment plans, so do yorur research and choose carefully.)
- Talk to your network again. Ask for blog hosts during your launch. Try to schedule only one or two posts a day, over the course of two to four weeks. (You can also hire a blog tour service, but I find these are mostly noise and can cost a lot of money.)
- Write the posts. This part is where the time commitment can really ramp up. Yes, you can write only one or two posts and give the same content to all your hosts, but eventually readers will tire of seeing the same post over and over. Instead, I recommend you give every host a custom post. Make sure you tailor them for your hosts’ particular audiences. If you write romantic suspense, you wouldn’t give a crime author a love scene; you’d offer something more mysterious. If your book is a LitRPG, you wouldn’t give a fantasy author an excerpt with the computer screen readouts; you’d choose to focus on the epic quest theme.
There are several types of posts to choose from. Here’s just a sample.
- Cover and blurb. (A standard, but the least interesting. Best for a general audience.)
- Teaser and excerpt. (You should have five or six of these. And now you know why I told you to set those passages aside when you designed your teasers. This will save you from hunting them down now.)
- Character interview.
- Author interview.
- Inspiration behind the work.
- Research that went into the work.
- A song list.
- A recipe from the story.
- Pictures of who you’d cast if the story became a movie. (Be sure to only use actor photos whose owners grant the rights to share. Getty Images has an embedding feature for non-commercial use.)
- A short story prequel to your release.
- Deleted scenes.
- Distribute the posts. Sending preformatted HTML posts is nice, but some bloggers like to design their own post, so sending a text file and the necessary graphics is also considerate. Don’t forget your book cover, blurb, purchase links, headshot, bio, and social media links.
- If you’re so inclined, design and create ads. (Popular choices are Facebook and Amazon. This can get pricy. Use caution.)
- Request listings on book promotion sites. (Everyone covets a space on BookBub, but those are hard to come by. Look at other places, too, especially if you’re running a special [free or discounted].) Here are just a few to consider:
- See if you can schedule any in-person talks at libraries, book clubs, perhaps a media interview. (Preparing for these things is a whole other post.)
- Update your website. At the very least, create a page with the book cover, blurb, and purchase links. You can also include a scrolling gallery of your teasers, some of your research… anything that will spark interest in your story.
- Remind your street team the book will be live soon and to have their reviews ready.
When Your Book Goes Live
- Follow up with your street team to remind them to post their reviews.
- Announce it to your newsletter and on social media.
- Visit your blog hosts, share their posts on social media, and reply to every comment.
- Post their links on your site, or reblog.
- Update your website. Include Amazon’s preview feature and perhaps a review or two (or excerpts from reviews).
- Be sure to add your book to Goodreads and BookBub.
- Oh, and I forgot to mention… through all this, you should be writing your next work.
So, that’s my general before, during, and after publishing checklist. (I may have forgotten a few things; I’m writing this from memory because I never actually wrote out my checklist before.) I’m sure you guys have suggestions that I neglected to list or maybe don’t even know about. Why not share with the rest of us? I’m looking forward to hearing what you do.