Friday, January 3, 2014

Countdown to a Book 16: Ten Book Launch Considerations

Promotion is a black hole. It has no boundaries, no end in sight. The dark is so complete you can lose your aim within it, shooting expensive ammunition at imagined targets. This black hole may or may not lead to a universe of measurable results—and if it does, the sale of books may not be the best indicator of those results.

Marketing, likewise, only the stakes are higher, because that black hole will be sucking money from your hand.

Yet this we must do, because if no one knows of our books, they can’t purchase them. So when deciding on events and products for my launch later this month, I found it best to ask:
  • Does this promotion fit within my budget of time and money?
  • What do I hope to gain?

1. Launch party.
  • Budget: Many will say a launch party is never worth the money (you’d have to sell one book for each dollar spent). But for me investing in such milestone celebrations makes life sweeter, and with donations and discounts, I believe we’ll have a night to remember. 
  • Gain: The party will give focus to the excitement surrounding my launch and encourage people to come out and buy the book—then recommend it to their friends and book clubs. Even if they don’t buy it I will have introduced it to my community, and I’ll still benefit by looking into the faces of the people who have stuck by me on this long crazy ride, who are thrilled for me, and who gain their own hope from my attainment of this long-desired dream. The wall-to-wall book love should generate enough good will to condensate in the wintry air and flurry down upon us. 
2. Virtual book launch.
  • Budget: Free. 
  • Gain: By hosting a day-long Facebook event that features other up-and-coming women’s fiction authors, we will all gain cross-exposure to a well-targeted group of readers and followers. I will build new relationships with my fellow authors. We’ll prime the readership pump by giving away books. Interested readers will be able to ask questions, and I will be able to mark January 28 as special—otherwise, it would be an invisible and all-too-quiet demarcation between my unpublished and published status.
3. In-person signing events.
  • Budget: Even publishers no longer believe tours are cost effective. But by choosing communities to which I’m connected, and where I’d be able to have a free place to stay the night, my publicist was able to cobble together short affordable tours in PA, NY, MD, MA, and OH. 
  • Gain: I get to hang out with family and friends that can’t make my launch, and extend my book’s exposure in those critical early months.
4. Blog tour.
  • Budget: Free, although costly time-wise. 
  • Gain: To appeal in the most direct way—through your writing, to those reading, throughout the blogiverse. Over the course of three months, I will guest post, be interviewed, or get reviewed on some 40 blogs. That’s great exposure.
5. Swag.
  • Budget: I decided against postcards due to cost, but am getting bookmarks (for general use) and bookplates (that I can personalize, sign, and send ahead to book clubs reading the book). I shopped around for competitive prices and hired a book-loving graphic designer willing to discount her services. 
  • Gain: Readers will remember an interpersonal connection that may go a long way toward a continued relationship.
6. Conferences.
  • Budget: In the plus column! 
  • Gain: New readers, extended awareness of my books, income, networking, new writing tips—but most importantly to me, because I’m a teaching writer/editor, I’ll have the opportunity to pass along the craft to newer writers. This adds meaning to my career.
7. Book clubs.
  • Budget: Again, free, although costly time-wise. 
  • Gain: Incredible good will among avid readers who rarely get to speak with the authors who write their books, and who will give me the chance to invest in the discussion of my book’s body image premise. For me, this is what it’s all about. Bonus: book clubs share titles.
8. Writing.
  • Budget: Time invested, but when time is precious. 
  • Gain: It is often said that the best promotion is to write another book. To do so well, you must invest the time. Writing is the reason for all of this; it will keep you tethered so you don’t float away from excitement. 
9. Reconnect. 
  • Budget: For the cost of a stamp and time on Google and, I have used this milestone as an opportunity to reconnect with people I never should have lost touch with, and whom I still recall with love. 
  • Gain: The rekindling of relationships increases awareness of my book among people who enrich my life. 
10. Earning a living, keeping your family.
  • Budget: Time, the building block of both love and income. 
  • Gain: In all of the hoopla, don’t forget you’ll need a cheerleader, should you do well; a shoulder, should you do poorly; a paycheck, to remind you of your worth, and someone who will love you beneath the roof that will still be over your head, no matter what.
Next: Countdown to a Book 17: Blast Off!

Read the previous Countdown to a Book posts 
    What kind of book promotion connects with you, and why?

    Click here for the evolving list of my launch events. You can request a signed, personalized copy from any of the bookstores on my tour. Books ordered from the Doylestown Bookshop will ship right after my early launch event there on January 18!

    Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Her women's fiction and memoir are represented by Katie Shea at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Her monthly series, "Countdown to a Book," details the traditional publication of her debut novel, The Art of Falling, by Sourcebooks in January 2014. Connect with Kathryn at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.


    1. Replies
      1. Thanks Larry! It's been so long coming I can imagine readers thinking, "What? Wasn't that published already?" Lol.

    2. Promotion and marketing — these are the millstones around the necks of so many writers as they plunge into the dark sea of book distribution. Sales, sales, sales…that's what it's all about; yet, generating those sales can be the lifeboat that's just out of reach as they flounder in the storm-driven waves that threaten to drown them in the ocean of books that already overwhelms readers looking for that special catch to feed their literary appetites.

      Today's careful consideration of time, money, and gain throw a life preserver to those who are swimming against the current, helping them to stay afloat as they travel the choppy waters in search of a berth in the bay of book sales. This series of articles that takes us with you on your wonderful adventure through often uncharted waters to berth your book has been an invaluable gift, whether a writer is traditionally or self-published. The treasure of information and details you've shared that may shorten others' journeys and keep them off the hidden rocks in shallow channels and deceptive ports cannot be overestimated. Thank you, Kathryn.

      I'm recommending today's article and others in this information-filled series to the writers I know and to those who come to me for editing services.

      1. Why thank you, Linda. If you have written a book from your heart there must be something you are willing to do to ease its way into the world, right? Whether self or traditionally published, no one will love your book more than you do, and love is a powerful motivator.

    3. All I know about promotion is what Ray Kroc (of McDonald's fame) taught me: Early to bed, early to rise, advertise, advertise, advertise.

      1. Didn't he climb to the top on location, location, location as well? Reminds me: if you see a friend's book at a store, turn it face out!

    4. Well, since I've taught authors how to plan blog book tours for six years, that certainly resonates with me. Any method that conserves carbon energy, for that matter. I've always thought it odd that staunch environmentalists go on book signings around the world. I think "face time" is a great way to connect with readers, but regional signings probably make the most sense. Book-pooling might be a good idea too. Authors planning trips and signings together, especially over greater distances.

    5. Love the book-pooling idea! Atria has a program in which they do a gang bus tour for select authors. I think that sounds fun!

    6. Great suggestions, especially for newbies who are lost in the shuffle, trying to figure out what to do next! Also for oldies like me, who've forgotten half of what to do!

      Morgan Mandel

    7. Morgan your last comment reminds me of a mother I know whose second child came along ten years later. Safety features on baby equipment had changed, advice about sleeping on front or back—she said she had to read up to learn how to be a good mom again!

    8. Always nice to see what works and what doesn't. And sometimes I get so caught up in the marketing/promo aspect I don't make time to work on that next book.

      1. Thanks for stopping in, Kathy. I'm mont sure anyone really knows what works—everyone takes a scattershot approach and hopes that something sticks. I was just trying to find a way to identify, with my limited time and resources, what I could justify doing—and let the rest go.

    9. Since I moved so much deeper into indie publishing and e-books, finding that 'discoverability' can be daunting. For my last few books, I've cut way back on promotion and found that it's getting something else to sell out there that drives sales across the spectrum. Right now, it's audio books, and finding that market to tap has been elusive.

      I'm still going to conferences, and prefer the sort where I can give craft workshops. My income comes from e-books, and I have print books out there more as a courtesy to those few people (among my readers) who want print. Of course, had I been with a publisher with a more aggressive marketing platform and better distribution, this might all be different.

      1. Interesting perspective, Terry. The bloating of the typical social media channels—and even blog tours—is making it harder on everyone. I was just talking with Author Buzz founder M.J. Rose, who said that the old standard in marketing that you needed to see a product three times for it to register is now defunct. Thanks to social media, the average American now sees such an onslaught of images each day that the number of suggested exposures is up to...20! Most authors can't afford that, time-wise or money-wise.

    10. Thank you for a thoughtful, information-packed column. I’ll tuck it away for the future.

      1. I look forward to the day when you'll need it, Dianna!


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