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How to Prepare For a Book Launch

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I always believed once I had couple books "out there" and as my readership increased, I'd gradually have to do less promoting at the release of a new book.

But as with most things about the writing life, I was mistaken. The modern writer really has no choice but to continue promoting his or her books, whether the first book or the fifteenth.

Laura Dawson with Bowker says this about the number of books being published: "It’s not a question of whether or not publication rates worldwide have experienced exponential growth; it’s merely a question of by what factor. We could be looking at nearly a billion books."

Wow. A billion books on the market. That's a staggering number.

With nearly a billion books competing for readers' attention, authors can't afford to sit back and wait to get discovered. As much as we'd like for success to happen naturally, I've learned that we have to do our part.

And while I've recently come to the conclusion that I don't think social media can lead to significant boost in sales, I do think it can help start book buzz, get people talking, and gradually increase our circles of influence.

Whether online blog tours or real-life book signings/events, writers are wise to do the best they can to participate in the promotion process.

My theory is that every little bit has the potential to help. We just have to learn where to focus our limited time and energy, because we obviously can't do it all.

Before each launch of a new book, I take some time to evaluate what I've done in the past, what seemed to generate interest and what didn't. Then I brainstorm a list of all the things I could possibly do for the new book. I include everything I can be responsible for as well as things I want to run by my publisher's marketing department.

Finally, I narrow down my list. I pick the ideas that are the most original as well as the most do-able for both myself and my Influencers.

I'm currently counting down the launch for Unending Devotion, which officially releases September 1 (on Saturday!). Here are just a few of the plans we have (or have already done):

1. An early Goodreads giveaway. In order to generate early interest in the book, my publisher posted a 15-book giveaway that ran from July 1 - August 1. Over 1400 readers signed up for the giveaway and the book saw a tremendous spike in people adding it to their to-be-read shelves.

2. "Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund" mini-blog tour. I opted not to do the usual Q & A blog tour this year since I think most fans who've been following me for a while already know most of the typical stuff about me. This time, I asked for volunteers to host me for a guest post in which I share a "secret" or little known facts about myself. The tour starts next Monday (Sept. 3) and runs throughout the month of September. Each blog tour stop will also feature a signed book giveaway. To follow along, see my Events Page.

3. Creative Photo Contest on Pinterest. Since I've had a love-affair with Pinterest this year, I thought a photo contest would be a fun way to generate book buzz. Readers can pin a creative photo of the book (i.e. with a pet, of them reading it someplace interesting, etc.). Several staff at my publishing house will pick the three top creative photos as winners from the Contest Board. For details, see my Contest Page.

4. Litfuse blog tour, giveaway, and Facebook Party. Litfuse is a publicity group that serves writers needs in a variety of ways. My publisher approached me about using Litfuse for a bigger blog tour and social media campaign which will hopefully broaden the scope of my online reach to new bloggers and readers. Litfuse has also planned a big Nikon Photography Giveaway to go along with the theme of my book as well as a Facebook Party with additional giveaways. For more information and to enter see either my Contest Page or the Litfuse Page.

5. Author event at my local bookstore. While I don't think book signings typically generate a lot of interest, I am joining with two other authors, Beverly Lewis and Sharlene Maclaren, September 17 for a big author event. Since Beverly Lewis is a New York Times Best Seller, she'll draw attention to the signing, and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to join in. The hosting bookstore is going to enormous efforts to promote the event.

6. Book trailer. My publisher is in the process of creating a book trailer for Unending Devotion. They'll use the trailer in their promotional efforts, and I'll also utilize it in as many places as I can.

There you have it! Those are just a few of the top marketing efforts for Unending Devotion. I'm fortunate that my publisher's marketing department still takes an active role in promotion. They do a number of things that I have no control over, like getting the book out to key reviewers. In fact, I was thrilled that Publisher's Weekly gave it a glowing review (you can read it here).

What kinds of efforts do you think help the most during a book launch? What do YOU like the most? Or do an author's marketing efforts really make no difference to you? 

27 comments:

  1. Lots of helpful stuff in this post, Jody. I have a question. Do you do organize and run your own blog tours or does someone else do that for you? I read recently that there are bloggers out there who will organize your entire blog tour for you.

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    1. Heather,

      I'm organizing my small "Fun Secrets" blog tour. But then Litfuse is organizing another much bigger one which will hopefully reach outside my circle of bloggers. I think it's okay for writers to do their own, but it mostly hits within our small circle of influence and eventually we tap out that resource. So it's good to be able to expand eventually with a publicity company that can help broaden your reach.

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  2. I pinned this page for future reference...such good ideas and presented in a doable, no-this-isn't-crazy-difficult kind of way!

    I do think author efforts create buzz. Getting to know the author (the "secrets" theme is great!) only adds to the appeal, in my opinion. Best wishes on the launch!

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    1. Thank you!! I'm looking forward to all that I have planned. And enjoying what we do is important too! :-)

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  3. For me, a blog tour would be a blast, ONLY if I can go to each blogger's home town and sit at their computer.

    KIDDING! That borders on creepy, let's ditch that plan...

    Word of mouth over the internet is HUGE. Goodreads, Facebook and Pinterest would do more for marketing than my Mom shilling the book backl home. Although, I dare anyone to out do her once she gets going!

    If I could, I would go back to my book's location and shoot a travel vlog, which I'd show on my Youtube channel. (I do have one, it's great for the grandparents.) If there was a chance to shoot the book trailer there, I'd push for it!
    Having a chance to meet an author at a book signing is important to me. Hopefully I wouldn't go teenage girl and squeal like I could communicate to dolphins.

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    1. Jennifer,

      Can I tempt you to come to my book signing and squeal for me? ;-) Maybe then I'd get a few readers to come over to my table, because I have the feeling that most of them will be coming to see Beverly Lewis and I'll mostly be directly customers to the bathroom or getting fresh pens for Bev when hers run out! ;-)

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  4. Great PW review, Jody! That's awesome. And I'm excited about your Goodreads giveaway and the Litfuse Project. At the RWA conference, I learned about those Goodreads giveaways, and they sounds like a great investment. I'm hoping to add that one to my marketing plan for my next book. Keep us informed on how these things work. Marketing is such a mystery, and it is incredibly helpful when authors share what they are learning.

    As always, thanks for a fabulous post and great insight.

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    1. Thanks, Karen!

      Yes, I specifically asked marketing if we could try an early Goodreads giveaway this time and I was amazed by the early interest it generated in my book. I had a LOT of people who added my book to their "to-be-read" bookshelves. Now whether they actually will read the book is still to be seen! But it did give the book some great exposure.

      And I agree. Marketing is a mystery. It's really difficult to single out what works well (as in generating sales) and what doesn't.

      Thanks for stopping by! Hope you're enjoying the last of your summer!

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  5. Thanks for your thoughts here, Jody. I'm definitely going to be using this post if and when I'm ever published. :)

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    1. Hi Lindsay,

      The link Melissa provided below is really helpful too. I just bookmarked it for future reference.

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  6. I liked this post by Jeff Gerke http://tinapinson.blogspot.com/2012/08/marketing-101-jeff-gerke.html

    The 30:1 rule, doing one marketing thing, even if tiny, every day idea.

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    1. What a great article, Melissa! I hadn't seen it, but Jeff makes a lot of sense in his philosophy! Thank for sharing it with me!

      And thanks again for your ADORABLE pinterest contest picture! VERY creative!!! :-)

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  7. I love your Pinterest idea, Jody! Which reminds me, I still need to get my picture taken and posted... :)

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    1. Yes! Would love a picture, Sarah! I just got a super cute one from Melissa Jagears! Her children are draped in dirty socks! Is so cute! :-)

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    1. You're so welcome! Thanks for stopping by! :-)

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  9. JODY!!!
    Well, well , well. I am glad I stopped by today. Excellent information. Especially the part about giveaway, I always am looking foward to them especially if they include a favorite author! (Hint?).

    Gonna go check out that calendar. This will be fun.

    I hope to see you soon!

    Ganise

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  10. All of this is very heavy on my mind at the moment. I'm just over 2 months from my debut release and trying to look at as many options as possible; author blurbs, setting up my Goodreads and Amazon author pages, organising a blog tour, looking at competitions to enter, a book trailer, and of course the big book launch party.

    It's kind of daunting to think of the different things I could try. At the moment I'm focusing on the launch party and a virtual book launch that weekend as my primary tools. I think I also have enough hosts to have about a week-long blog tour so far, though I'm always looking for more.

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  11. These are some AWESOME tips! Thank you!

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  12. Great suggestions. Thanks for the ideas on what we can do with our "limited time." Very helpful!

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  13. Thanks for sharing these excellent tips. I'll use them as I can. I don't have a publisher, but I can still use some of them.

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  14. Hi Jody,

    I found you via your guest post at Rachelle Gardner's blog. I look forward to reading your books, and I can tell your blog is full of great info for both readers and writers. I know I'll enjoy visiting here often!

    BTW, these are great ideas, suggestions, and tips. Excellent post here...and there at Rachelle's blog! I know I need to be way more consistent with my blogging, so thanks for the reminder!

    Blessings,
    Amy O'Quinn

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    1. I don't know why the computer sometimes does strange things with that apostrophe between the O and Q in my last name. Oh well! :)

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    2. Hi Amy,

      Yeah, Blogger can be a bit of a stinker sometimes when it comes to those kinds of things! Thanks for stopping by from Rachelle's blog! Glad you found some helpful info. here!

      Jody

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  15. You post certainly gives some excellent food for thought, both this one and the one you linked to about whether social media helps. And I love your creative ideas for marketing. Thank so much for sharing!

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  16. I truly appreciate this post about Promotional Staffing.Promotional campaigns allow customers to interact with a product, increase sales and provide invaluable feedback to companies

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