Book Marketing 101: Five Things to Do Before Your Book is Released

This post is the first in an ongoing series we’ll run answering questions about book marketing and publicity.

So, here you are: you’ve gone through the long, grueling process of writing draft after draft of your book. You’ve gotten an agent, who then sold it to an editor. You’ve revised and revised, until finally it’s ready to go to print. And now…you wait.

Authors often ask me: What can I do while I’m waiting for my book to come out? Here are five of my top suggestions:

1. Develop your list of contacts.
It may seem obvious,  but one of the most important things you can do while waiting for your book to be released is to simply put together a list of all your professional and personal contacts who you think should know about your book. This includes family,book marketing 101friends, coworkers, professional contacts, fellow writers, and contacts from any communities you’re personally connected to: religious communities, volunteer organizations, even neighborhood restaurants where you’re a regular. Don’t be shy! All of these people will be excited to find out that you’ve published a book, and many of them will want to support you by buying a copy. Create a clean list of email addresses so that when the book is released, you can easily send out an email to everyone to let them know (even if you are connected to many of these people on Facebook, studies show that they will be more likely to make a purchase from a direct email). After that, don’t forget to add new contacts to your list as you meet new people at conferences or events.

2. Reach out to your local bookstore about hosting a launch party.
As soon as you have a release date for your book, get in touch with your local bookstore to see if they would be willing to host a launch party for you. Many bookstores are happy to do this, especially for local authors. Launch parties at bookstores are a win/win: you get a space for hosting and don’t have to worry about handling book sales yourself, and bookstores get an influx of people who are excited to purchase books. Coordinate with your publisher to make sure you pick a launch date when books will definitely be available.

3. Refine your online presence.
Now is the time to make sure that your online presence is everything you want it to be and contains all the most updated information about you. This means, first and foremost, having a clean and updated website. Put a book cover, release information, and any reviews you’ve received on your website as soon as possible. You may feel like only your mom visits your website now, but once your book comes out, traffic will increase, and your website should be in top shape before then. You should also use this time to decide which, if any, social media platforms you want to use. Delete accounts you don’t use instead of letting them languor un-updated for years (or, at the very least, add links that redirect people to your website) and start getting in the habit of updating content regularly on any platforms you want to use.

Photo from the launch party of Juna's Jar
Photo from the launch party of Juna’s Jar

4. Come up with a list of topics related to your book.
Book releases today are almost always accompanied by blog tours or some other type of blog coverage. You can do your part to get ready for this by putting together a list of topics related to your book on which you would be willing to write guest posts or answer questions. These could include anything from the research you did for the book to your playlist of songs you listened to while revising. Be creative! Share this list with your publishers so they can use it when shaping their pitches for bloggers. They may also work with you to shape some of these topics into longer pieces to pitch to online or print publications.

5. Get to know local opportunities.
Spend some time looking into any local or state book awards for which you might be eligible, and pass them on to your publisher to make sure they are submitting your book. Are there any book fairs or book festivals in your area? The deadlines for getting on panels at these events are often many months before the event happens, so the earlier you find out about them, the better the chances that you’ll be able to participate. Don’t assume your publisher already knows about everything; while publishers have extensive lists of awards and book festivals, no one knows your area better than you, and you may find something they’ve missed.

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to bother your publisher! Even if they’re busy, they’ll appreciate the work that you are doing to prepare for your book release and be happy to work with you.

What am I missing? Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.

In the next installment of this series, I’ll answer the question: What do I need to include on my author website? (use the links in the top left sidebar to subscribe so you won’t miss it.)

Further reading:
How to plan a successful book launch

 

9 thoughts on “Book Marketing 101: Five Things to Do Before Your Book is Released”

  1. Hi!

    These are excellent suggestions.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to get a bookstore to do a launch, especially if you live far out in the country or if your book is published by a small press. I’d suggest being creative. When ShadowPlay Press published SEAN’S WAR by L. Anderson, middle-grade historical fiction, the book launch was held in a tiny, log cabin at the reconstructed Apple River Fort that is featured in the book. The sequel was launched at a coffee shop. One of my novels was published by a small press, namelos, and the public library was happy to host its launch.

    I’d also suggest a special mailing to teachers near your home. If it’s your first book, you’ll want to offer some free school visits to learn the ropes, and starting locally saves time and gas money.

    Thanks for this informative blog!
    Sheila Welch

  2. Very helpful article thanks. We’re launching a Kickstarter campaign in a few weeks so and these tips will really help with our marketing plans in that area too.

    Jamie

  3. I have a hard time finding a literary agent! I write Children’s non-fiction! They are books about my deceased dog, Bart, and how he loved wearing costumes that I made for him!

  4. Dear Hannah Ehrlich,

    This is a very helpful essay. I agree with Christine Tripp that many publishers could do more marketing and publicity for authors’ books. My middle-grade chapter book, The Passover Surprise, is coming out soon from Fictive Press.

    Best wishes!

    Janet Ruth Heller
    Author of the poetry books Exodus (WordTech Editions, 2014), Folk Concert: Changing Times (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012) and Traffic Stop (Finishing Line Press, 2011), the scholarly book Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, and the Reader of Drama (University of Missouri Press, 1990), and the award-winning book for kids about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006). Forthcoming middle-grade book for kids: The Passover Surprise (Fictive Press, 2015).
    My websites are http://www.janetruthheller.com/ and http://wattpad.com/JanetRuthHeller

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