Thursday, December 17, 2015

Anatomy of a Book Launch

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
So, my new novel launched this week.  ("Yay, hooray, boo, hiss, who said that?")  That's right, for the first time ever you can actually own a copy of EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED.
Go ahead and click on the cover.  You know you want to...

I was just going to leave it at that and just make this a book release announcement post.  But you know what?  That's boring.  And it's not helping you gain any knowledge.  (Except about the existence of my book, which...did you buy it yet?)  But I digress. 

Let's talk about what to do when you have a book launch.  Now, I don't have all the answers, so this is going to be a bit more of an interactive post than usual.  Let me know in the comments what best practices you've found that work for you.

So here are some of the things you can do to give your new book a happy birthday:

1.)  Book Release Party - If you have a large publisher, they may be throwing this for you.  I attended the book launch for John Dixon's PHOENIX ISLAND and there were hundreds of people there.  There were drinks and hors d'oeuvres and they sold out of copies of the hardback and had to start selling IOUs.  (Don't worry, I got my autographed copy in the mail a few weeks later from John.  Not like that dirty bastard Bill Braddock.  Still waiting to hear back from him.)

And that's great work if you can get it.  My own launch party for BRAINEATER JONES was considerable more modest.  Maybe two dozen of my good friends and some chili.  Still, everybody there wanted to buy an autographed book, so I did get some paper in mitts that way.  And then either way when you post photos of your party on Facebook it's not marketing, it's just sharing your life, right?  :)

2.)  Spam Your Mailing List - You do have a mailing list, right?  As much as I despise mailing lists and ignore newsletters myself, all the experts agree that there is no replacement for a traditional, old fashioned mailing list.  Although I can (and have) written whole blogposts on the subject, what it boils down to is this: social media comes and goes but e-mail addresses almost never change.  Think about what value having a million fans on MySpace is doing you now.  On the other hand, I have the same e-mail address I've had since middle school.

Mailchimp and Campayn are two free services that can help you build your e-mail list and there are plenty of paid services that'll help you get started.  Remember to build your list in your off time.  Share it and offer incentives for joining.  I've heard the statistic that all you need is ten thousand people willing to buy your every release for you to make a living as an author.  Imagine if every time you had a release you could e-mail ten thousand people about it directly.  Or a hundred thousand.  Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  Well, you'd better get started now then.

3.)  Hit Up Social Media - Sometimes I stagger this.  Maybe I'll tweet one day, post to my FB author page the next, then share from my author page to my personal page the next.  And don't forget if you are a member of any Facebook groups you can share your good news there (if it's appropriate - don't spam your dachshund lover group with your erotic robot novel.)  What about you?  Do you shotgun blast all your social media outlets at once?  Or stagger it?

4.)  Thunderclap - I've seen a lot of people recently using Thunderclap lately to garner a little interest for their releases.  Basically Thunderclap lets your friends sign up to all share a tweet and/or FB post on your behalf.  It's usually canned, but, of course, your friends have the option to modify it.  If you want to get a hashtag trending and you're not Ashton Kutcher or Taylor Swift this is probably your best bet.

5.)  Goodreads Events - Goodreads won't let you suggest your own books to your friends.  Kind of lame, right?  Well, it is a rule that saves you from endless, endless promotional spam, so I don't object to it too strongly.  Besides, there's an easy way around it.  Assuming you don't abuse this privilege (although I guess people will find ways to abuse anything) you can invite all of your Goodreads friends to an "event" - that is, your virtual book release.  When folks say "yes" they're attending it shows up on their feeds, which gets you more exposure, but even if they just ignore the notification at a minimum you got your release in front of eyes.

6.)  Virtual Launch Party - Shana Festa wrote a pamphlet about this which I suggest you check out for best practices.  Even if you don't, though, you've probably been invited to, if not participated in enough of these on Facebook to at least have an inkling of what they are.  For a few hours on FB there are games, prizes, caption contests, memes, all that kind of stuff.  (Whenever I'm giving away gifts for someone else's virtual launch party I always make sure that signing up for my mailing list is a prerequisite.  :) )  These take quite a bit of effort to put together, but if you're an author with any kind of a foot in the community you should be able to get plenty of participants to offer their books as prizes.

7.)  Gladhanding - When all else the flesh.  Tell your co-workers.  (Are you "out" as an author at work?  I could write another blogpost about that and probably should.)  Did you tell your family?  Call Grandma?  "Conveniently" PM or text a friend you haven't in a while?

"Whtz up w/ u?"
"NM.  New book out.  U?"

And so forth.

8.)  Post About it on Your Group Blog - Tee hee.

So how about it?  What are your methods for a successful book launch?


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

My FB event worked real well for my debut launch. I found after the second book, people were less excited. "Oh, you wrote another book? That's nice." But I do find them valuable. I second emailing your mailing list. People sign up for the list for a reason -- they want to know when your next book is coming out. That is key. Some authors book promo spots for their new releases and that's smart too.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Yeah, that's definitely true. Your first book is exciting for people but then future books are just books.

Brenda St John Brown said...

Ok...let's get this out of the way first. You had an email address in middle school??? I definitely didn't have email until college. And not as a freshman either. Sigh. That aside...I've found that Facebook ads have been working for me. The whole "you've got to spend money to make money" adage is uncomfortable for me b/c I'm not actually making much, but it's gained me sales, likes to my page and additional newsletter subscribers, so it feels like an investment vs an expense.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

We shall let the school/college discussion lie like a sleeping dog so that we and our readers do no have to discuss the o-word.

Facebook ads are tricky but I've definitely heard of them working. It's a shame that FB feels the need to make us pay to get our posts seen by our followers - but I guess they do give us a lot of free services so I can't fault them that much. You'll have to let me know some of the secrets to a successful FB campaign - maybe in your next post?

Carrie Beckort said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was shocked by him having an email address in middle school!!

Carrie Beckort said...

Great suggestions! LinkedIn is a great way to tell coworkers. When my first novel published, I sent a message to all of my contacts in LinkedIn. I know it helped because several later told me that they read the book. For my second and third, I just put the information in a status update rather than messaging all contacts.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Very cool! I've never gotten involved with LinkedIn. Apparently it's a really powerful tool and HR people really do use it to hire people.

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