An Author’s Guide to Planning a Book Launch

As authors, finishing a book you’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into and getting it ready for publication is an exciting time. It’s tempting to want to take a break and relish the feeling of accomplishment. But if you really want your book to succeed, there’s one important factor that cannot be overlooked: your book launch!

Planning out your book marketing in advance and adequately preparing for your book’s release is crucial to a successful book launch and those precious new release sales.

Where to begin?

First, download my free book marketing planner if you haven’t already. It’s really a great way to stay organized.

With that in hand, take a look at the book launch cheat sheet I’ve outlined below. It details the steps you should take to start your book marketing up to six months before your release.

For those of you who are thinking you’ll hold off because your book is already out – don’t fall into that trap of delaying your authorship education!

Having this knowledge and keeping these details on your radar for your next book will be invaluable, so start preparing yourself for a successful book launch today, whether your next release is next month, or next year.

How to Market a Book 5-6 Months Out

  • What’s your launch plan? Don’t wait till the last minute to create a solid launch plan to work from.
  • Decide which magazines, media, bloggers or publications you’ll target and do that early! Get your list ready and begin your research.
  • Want endorsements? While they aren’t mandatory, if you’re interested in seeking blurbs from others in the industry, start on this early. Of all of the things I do when it comes to a campaign, this is often the trickiest because people get busy, or misplace the books I sent them. It’s a long process. Accept that, and you’ll be fine.
  • Interested in doing speaking? Pitch yourself as early as you can and mention you have a book coming out. It’s often more effective to pitch a speaker with a book because it’s an easy way to prove you have content people need.
  • Finish up your cover design. Ensure it aligns with what’s topping the charts for the genre(s) you want to compete in – if the look is way off (even if you love it) – I suggest working with a designer to come up with something commercially sound. Covers sell.
  • Don’t have any social media set up? Now is the time! And start peppering them with teasers, special announcements, and help them get to know you.

How to Market a Book 3-4 Months Out

  • Make sure your website is ready to go and you’re creating blog content in advance.
  • Pitching national magazines begins now, so do some smart research on which angles to use based on what’s happening in your industry or in our country as a whole. If you can align yourself with current events people care about, you’re more likely to get picked up.
  • Order your bookmarks, business cards, or any other collateral book marketing pieces you plan to use.
  • Now might be a good time to refresh any branding on your social media sites, including header graphics, pinned posts, your About section, etc.
  • If you want to do author events in bookstores, now would be a good time to start pitching them  If they’re local, walk in and introduce yourself. [NOTE: during the pandemic, many bookstores have been doing virtual events].
  • What about local groups and associations that tie into your topic or are popular with your reader market? Pitch them in this window as well.

How to Market a Book 2 Months Out

  • Your website is live and active!
  • National broadcast media is being pitched.
  • Newspapers around the country are being pitched.
  • Indie bookstores are being pitched.
  • Library pitching happens now too so walk in and introduce yourself and get involved in events. Spending time around people who work with books can be key. [NOTE: during the pandemic, many libraries have been doing virtual events].
  • Distribution should be confirmed by now or started ASAP.
  • If you have an email list, now is a good time to warm it up.
  • If you don’t have one, create a basic landing page with a great giveaway offer or freebie to start collecting emails. A sample of the first few chapters or a free worksheet is perfect!
  • Set up a giveaway on Goodreads for print copies.
  • Claim your Bookbub profile and start making recommendations.
  • If your book is up for pre-order on Amazon, make sure you fine-tune your Amazon Author Central options.

How to Market a Book 1 Month Out

  • Local media pitching begins.
  • Planning a contest or special giveaway? If you are, it’s good to get this out there early.
  • If you’re doing a cover reveal, this is a great time to share it with your networks.
  • Blogger pitching starts now.
  • How about that newsletter? Maybe it’s time for another update to check in with people who have signed up.
  • Consider scheduling a Facebook Live event on launch day.
  • Do your Amazon keyword and category research and get those included with your book.
  • Here are 13 solid pre-order strategies for selling more books.

How to Market a Book During Launch Week

  • Social, social, social! Focus on engagement, teasers, giveaways.
  • Try out a BOGO offer, and a few other ways to keep engagement up.
  • Post comments on any positive reviews that start coming in, let readers know you appreciate their feedback.
  • Consider signing up for verified Amazon Reader Reviews.
  • Get active in your Goodreads groups to gain some name recognition within your target markets.
  • Run some Bookbub ads that let you target popular authors in your genre.
  • Check in with any media or bloggers you sent books to, stay on their radar.
  • Schedule a discount eBook promotion to happen in a couple weeks to rev up hits to your Amazon.
  • Start filling out the next couple months of our free book marketing planner so you feel confident you’re not leaving any opportunities on the table!

While it may seem like a lot of work to plan your book marketing while you are still finishing your book, doing the work ahead of time not only makes for a successful book launch, it keeps you from having to play catch up once your book is completed. Plus, planning in advance ensures you’re taking advantage of all of the promotion opportunities available to you, leading to new fans and more book sales.

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Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.