As I mentioned earlier, the time to start marketing your book is BEFORE it’s published. Getting the marketing machine cranked up early helps build some excitement for the moment when the book is actually available for purchase, preferably introduced with a splashy book event. What will you do for your book launch?
In my younger days, my book launch dream was based on old Hollywood movies: My agent would take me to lunch someplace swanky, settle me behind a big table in a bookstore with a fountain pen and then usher in my adoring fans. The reality is that, no matter how adoring your fans, most book launches are planned and prepared by the authors themselves.
Some authors spend a good bit of money on their book launch and some don’t. How much money is actually spent doesn’t necessarily relate to either book sales or the author’s budget. I’ve seen authors pay launch-party bills that their book sales will never cover and I’ve seen authors with terrific sales who never even opened their wallet. With a little creativity and a good dose of audacity, you could have the book launch folks talk about all year.
The two secret ingredients to a memorable book launch are 1) Partners and 2) Marketing.
Partners help each other. What kind of help do you need? A venue for the launch party? Drinks and snacks? Photography, video, music? The creative part of this task is to identify who would make a good partner for you. You’ll need the audacity to approach these folks and pitch them on the partnership.
You’ll also need to come up with what YOU are bringing to the partnership to make it worth their while. Can you write marketing content for them? Guarantee a certain number of attendees who will buy a glass of wine? Give a class or presentation at a later date? Maybe your contribution doesn’t have to do with writing at all, but is bartered from your “day job” skill set.
Brainstorm really unusual launch party options. While holding your launch in a bookstore figures in the author dreams of many of us, if you think about it, that’s really a lousy place to try selling a book. Consider the competition!
The location of your book’s story might be a good choice of venue. Is there a coffee shop in your story? A gym? A campground? Or maybe you know someone with office space or a meeting room you could borrow. Weigh the pros and cons of public vs. private space. Your party may attract passers-by, but maybe you’d do better at an exclusive event. Whatever your venue, plan this like any other event and make sure there is easy access, ample parking and other amenities to make it easy for attendees.
Also consider partnering with a cause or charity, as appropriate. You could donate a portion of sale proceeds that day or let them set up an information table. It feels great to help others and it can put you in front of a whole new audience.
And speaking of audience, you’re going to need one or your book launch will fall with a thud instead of soaring proudly. This is where you want to use the second Secret Ingredient: Marketing.
Know that you’ll need to invite far more people than you think because people always cancel. Something came up, there’s too much rain, there’s too much sun, whatever. Of course your dearest friends and family will come – at least to the first book launch – but who else can you invite? Your workout group? Your church? Get contact info from your launch party partners for their guests. Brainstorm book clubs, school groups or others who might have an interest in your book and send them invites.
Talk about your upcoming event early and often, more often than you think is polite. You’re creative – you can think up a way to do that. Share the details on your website, on your social media platforms and on any community news or calendar websites. Write and send press releases to local libraries or chambers of commerce as well as newspapers and magazines. Maybe they won’t publish your release, but if it’s a slow news day, you might get premium coverage.
Your book only gets one launch. Plan ahead so it’s truly special and you’ll have a memory to treasure as well as terrific momentum for the marketing and sales ahead.