How to Plan for a Successful Book Launch

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Every time I have a new book about to hit shelves, invariably I seem to write a blog post about ways to prepare for a book launch. I think subconsciously, the post is my to-do list. At the very least it helps me organize my thoughts and hopefully sparks some ideas for YOU.

Yes, my book Captured by Love is releasing July 1. But I haven't just now started thinking and planning for the release. I've actually been working on marketing plans for a number of weeks.

Here's a breakdown of how I usually do my release planning:

1. Brainstorm a personal marketing plan. 

Several months before the release date, I brainstorm a list of all the things I could possibly do to market my book. I include every idea. Nothing is too wild or crazy! I unleash my creativity. I take note of what others are doing, what seems to be working and what isn't.

Finally once I have a long list of ideas, I start narrowing down what I hope to do, including what I actually have the time and resources for. My list usually ends up about a half a page to page long.

2. Plan how to handle reviewer/influencer books. 

At least two months before release, I start to figure out how I'm going to handle giving away books. Every author whether traditionally published or self has to consider how to give away books for either reviewers or influencers. In my case, my publisher provides books for both (read this post to understand the difference between the two).

I take charge of compiling a list of influencers that I send in to my publisher. Usually I try to give priority to readers who've done a helpful job influencing for me in the past. Then I also try to think of some specific things those influencers can do to help with the promotion of the book.

3. Plan a special launch day celebration.

At least two to three weeks before the release, I start to plan a launch day celebration. I've varied what I've done with each book. But the point is, we can't gloss over the actual release day itself. After all, it IS a special day for us and the life of our book. Some writers even call it a "book birthday."

Birthdays always need some hoopla, don't they?

4. Plan events that happen during the release month.

While I'm planning the launch day celebration, I decide what I'll do during launch month. The average midlist book usually has about a month on the "special" shelf before other new books arrive and take over the showcase. Writers have to maximize that month of spotlight. There are numerous things we can do to promote all month long (but hopefully without being obnoxious):

• Have a Goodreads giveaway

• Have a targeted blog tour (for example, my blog tour for Captured by Love takes readers on a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the book)

• Do guest posts or interviews

• Plan a local bookstore event in conjunction with a signing

• Create a Pinterest novel board

• Contact local libraries about carrying the book

• Update Facebook Page banner to reflect the new book

• Update website (include early reviews, discussion questions, excerpt, etc.)

• Have a social media sharing contest 

• Send bookmarks to influencers to pass out in their circles

• Have a Facebook Party

5. Write an author newsletter.

I'm not a huge newsletter fan. I don't want to bother my readers every few months with things that don't really matter. In fact, I think if we bombard readers too often with newsletters, then when we have something important to share, our readers will be in the habit of glossing over our emails (or deleting them without ever opening them).

So, my philosophy is to only email my readers when I have something important happening, like the release of a book. I write a fairly short letter, include pictures, links, and something special for them. I usually put the letter together and send it out close to the release date after I have all of my launch planning information in place so that I can make my readers aware of all the events.

Those are some of the things that I do during launch time. The possibilities are endless!

What else have you seen done for a book launch that you thought was particularly helpful or unique?

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