PART SIX: Planning an Effective Pre-launch
I once met an author whose book was coming onto the market in three short weeks, and she’d been incorrectly told not to promote it until it was out and available.
Don’t mean to sound brazen or mean but … SHHIZBUTT*HOG*WASH*ARE*YOU*CRAZY*YOU*CAN*NOT*BE*FREAKING* SERIOUS!
Okay, now I feel better and so should you. You see, there’s a certain madness that overcomes authors when they get close to seeing their book in the flesh. It makes them forget all the good sense that got them to that point in the first place. I call it The Dreaded Almost Famous Syndrome. It causes all kinds of crazy things to mix and mash in your head until it’s a pulverized tomato soup, you know the kind I mean, right out of the can and tasting like nothing … not even tomatoes.
But never fear, there is a cure for The Dreaded Almost Famous Syndrome and it’s far simpler than you think.
Told ya it was simple. Common sense. See, as the circus rings tighten around you and everything in the big top is bright and shiny and distracting, there’s a very simple way to extract yourself from those terrible “squirrel” moments and stay on track. Just use your head. All the experts in the world and all your friends and all those strangers who come out of the woodwork to give you advice (some out of caring, most for money) are going to start sounding like an off-key brass band tuning up. If you use your head and categorize all the ideas that are being lobbed your way, you will see things clearly. You are smart. And you are definitely smart enough to instinctively know when a piece of advice seems wrong.
That author I mentioned in the beginning? Well after we chatted a bit, she said the words I knew were coming. “Oh my God, I thought that might be wrong! It didn’t seem to make sense, I just didn’t know what else to do but follow the plan and wait until after the book came out. Now what do I do?”
I told her not to panic, and I suggested that from that day forward to always remember: No matter the advice, if it doesn’t smell like apple pie and it doesn’t look like apple pie … it probably isn’t apple pie. In other words, she needed to trust her instincts and promote her book.
A successful pre-launch campaign for any book hinges tightly to your platform. Who are you talking to and where are you visible? How many audiences have you created? If it’s your mom and that nice kid at the Home Depot, you don’t have a platform. If you’ve built your platform carefully and developed a visibility, your audience – all those followers who never miss your blog, chime in on twitter, support you at the critique groups and asked to be on your mailing list – has been there through it all. They’ve watched your initial struggles with writing or rewriting or editing your book. They’ve stood and cheered when you got an agent or found a publisher perfect for your book. They’ve listened to you talk about the book cover and shouted rousing congratulations when you finally showed them how it looks. They pop in at your book website often to see what’s new and get the skinny on your progress. And if you’ve done this well, that group of followers has grown and grown.
T MINUS 90 DAYS
Now, time for the countdown. Three months before your book comes out (two weeks before if e-published) you begin your hype. Using every venue you’ve cultivated with your social and professional networking, you announce when the book will be available. You begin promoting pre-sales of the book. You send out your first of six well crafted press releases, making sure to target local papers and publications, radio and television stations. Go the distance by sending that same press release to your friends, family and associates. Arrange a book Launch Party with a local independent bookstore or library and begin compiling an invitation list. Be sure to include other authors, friends, family members, business associates and local media (newspaper, television and radio) on that list.
T MINUS 60 DAYS
Two months before the launch, you strike again, but make sure your message is bigger, denser and more powerful. Now you take any early copies of the book and seek reviews. You begin booking yourself to speak and have events at libraries, coffee shops, bookstores and book clubs. Another press release, this time attaching your photo, the book cover and announcing the venues where the book will be available and where it is already available for preorder.
T MINUS 30 DAYS
Books in hands from the publisher? Get them out and visible. Carry them to the local independent bookstores and libraries and show them off. Arrange for book events. Keep your ears perked for major book events you may want to participate in.
T MINUS 20 DAYS
Get your Launch Part invitations out. Send out another press release about the Launch Party. Respond immediately to RSVPs. Hopefully you’ve already begun speaking at groups and libraries and by this point, have most likely been interviewed for a few radio shows or online shows. You’ve been invited to guest blog and have hyped the coming launch on your book website, your own blog, twitter, facebook and every email groups you belong too.
T MINUS 10 DAYS
Now you can hear harmonizing circus music, but don’t let it distract you. You’re very close, be sure to keep the momentum up. Continue to contact and schedule speaking engagements, even if it’s at a local high school writing class. You need to be as visible as your book. Continue to let everyone know where they can preorder a “signed” copy of your book, and keep telling everyone the launch date.
Send a press release announcing everything important, that the book launches that day, where it can be purchased, where you have been interviewed and the great reviews you’ve gotten. Get over to your blog (there’s time before the party, honest) and give your followers your heartfelt thanks for taking the journey with you. Get to your book website and splash that banner that the book is now available! Keep your site media room up to date and loaded with activity so everyone knows where they can see you or hear you speak.
Now, go to your party, have a glass or three of champagne, enjoy the crowd and pat yourself on the back for making the day what it should be. Doing an effective pre-launch you’ve accomplished several things.
- You’ve pre-sold books
- You’ve become visible and created a demand for your book
- You’ve made yourself media available and created a buyer following
- You’ve eliminated the stress of worrying about failure because you’ve done your part to assure success.
Now, of course, every book and every pre-launch will be different. Some topics may easily lend themselves to exciting, highly visible exposure. Others may take a bit more push. The level of push is all on your shoulders though. It’s you’re choice. You’re the author and it’s your baby. Up to you.
(Want to know more about press campaigns? I’m considering a series on it, so let me know)
Lesson one, The Rhyme and Reason
Lesson two, Creating Your Book Business Plan
Lesson three, Developing Your Unique Hooks
Lesson four, Getting Attention
Lesson five, Knowing Your Market