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? 

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