It might not seem an important part of the publishing process to launch your book. If you haven’t thought about doing it please make sure that you add it to your promotional calendar. Not only should you do it to celebrate the book being published but it’s also an opportunity to start the selling and promotion of it after all the ‘talk’ about it in the lead up to its release.
Many years ago I was working with a client to publish her collection of short stories. She worked hard to prepare her writing for layout and drew images to go with the stories. Her dedication to making the product as good as she could was inspiring and I could see the excitement build as we got closer to the publication date and she set a day to launch.
A couple of weeks prior to the launch date, she called me to tell me that she was thinking of not having a launch. I was confused because I knew how excited she was about it and asked her why.
‘The ladies in my writing group think it’s vain,’ she said.
I was astounded. This was coming from other writers who should’ve been excited for her. I wondered if it was jealousy.
‘How about you call it afternoon tea?’ I suggested. I was sad that she would not go through with celebrating her hard work and a bit annoyed that her ‘friends’ were not supporting and encouraging her.
The launch did end up going ahead on a wintery Saturday afternoon in a library. There were about eighty friends and family gathered together to drink wine, nibble on biscuits and cheese and to buy a copy of ‘the book’. The highlight for me was to see the author sitting at the signing table behind a large stack of books writing messages to her book buyers on the title page of each book. Her smile was large and infectious. Lots of books were sold and she was happy that she decided to launch it.
Writing and publishing a book is a lot of work. Completing it should be celebrated and the joy should be shared with friends. And people want to support you in this (maybe even the jealous ones).
The launch is also a chance to sell some books to replenish the coffers after investing in the publishing. Even if you only sell 20 books, that’ll make you feel like you’ve started the process. If you’ve managed to get good numbers to your launch, it’s not uncommon to sell 50–60 books.
The launch itself is a great platform to promote the book. In the lead up to it, your promotion can talk about the launch when pitching to media outlets. In your book marketing plan, it’s a good idea to go hard on pitching to media at two to three weeks prior to the launch and a week or so afterwards. The aim is to try to get media to attend the launch but this is pretty hard to do unless you have a fabulous pitch or you have celebrity status. If you know someone with celebrity status who can attend the launch, that might help.
Not having media at the launch isn’t a fail though. You may get your story picked up by the local paper or radio and that’s a start. Any media is good. It also helps you to refine the pitch, which is the number one promotion tool.
You can contact media yourself but if you feel that all this launch/media stuff is beyond you, there are great book publicists (who have the right contacts) who can do the work for you. I’d only suggest this if you have big plans for your book and you’re willing to invest the money.
Regardless of how far reaching you want your book to be, launching should be on the agenda. It doesn’t have to be a huge swanky affair. It can simply be afternoon tea at the library. Celebrate your achievement.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about how to launch your book. In the meantime, if you need help with writing, publishing or promoting your book, check out our events at Busybird Publishing.