As a soon to be debut author there are many things running through my head. Besides the usual worries about edits, copy edits, ARCs, and first pass pages, there are concerns about cover reveals, reviews, and, of course, publicity and promotion.
Many of these items are out of my control, but the one thing I feel like I can try to corral is publicity and promotion. That may have to do with the fact that I spent ten years working in marketing, public relations, and advertising. And while I have experience, I’m also aware that the publishing world is a completely different animal than the general retail marketplace.
With that in mind, I decided to start this new blog series called, Dealing With A Debut. The plan is to share advice and tips from past debuts in hopes that future debuts can plan a clear path for the time leading up to their own release.
As I’m new to all of this, I reached out to previously published author friends who write Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade and asked if they would mind sharing their debut experiences, in particular how they approached publicity and promotion. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of help, and I must give a HUGE shout-out to all those writers who patiently read over my long questionnaire and provided more than brilliant answers!
I’m back today to talk about book launches. Our responses were all over the board, and what I’ve discovered is that a launch depends on how the author wants to first present their book to the world. Some want to do it quietly, while others want to be loud. No matter the approach, authors were presently surprised with the turnout and response from the audience.
Here are the questions I asked:
Did you have your launch at a library, bookstore, or other facility? What was the single most impactful thing you did? Reading? Raffle? Game? Signing?
Library or Bookstore?
The majority of respondents said they did their launch at a bookstore. Some selected indies, while others used their local Barnes and Noble. A few others mentioned working with a local librarian to do a launch at their hometown library.
In one instance with a digital release, a writer used her social network to do her launch via Facebook. In this case, she invited fellow authors in to help her promote the launch and gave away copies of the guests’ books as well as book-themed prizes.
Reading or Q&A?
Many respondents said they did a combination of a reading and a Q&A. The most common response here was that an author should pick an excerpt that is both short, but meaningful. A few people mentioned it was okay to add context if your reading was not from the first chapter.
Games or Raffle?
Another common response was playing a game with the audience. Some played “Two truths and a lie,” while others organized a quiz based on their book’s characters and/or themes. I was at a launch where the author played a version of “Kiss, Marry, Kill” with historical characters and the audience loved it!
Raffles were also very popular. Some put together gift baskets based on elements in the book, while others gave away books by local author friends who were in the audience. Those friends went on to autograph the books for the winners.
Food or Crafts?
Food was another common response. Some authors provided themed cookies or candy. Others offered a book-themed cake or cupcakes.
For younger attendees, a few writers mentioned having a simple craft station where kids could make something based on an element from the book.
After the launch
Sign in-store stock. One author mentioned that weeks after her launch she was still seeing sales based on the fact that she’d signed stock the day of her event. Another writer mentioned working with the local store to cross promote launch after the fact. She posted pictures on her personal social media pages and asked store if they would share as well.
Other unique and interesting things authors added to their launches:
- Passing around a copy of their book and asking everyone in audience to sign as a keepsake
- Asking attendees to sign a special “guestbook” that author now takes to every event.
- Inviting an established author to be part of launch so writer could draw off their following
What I learned from these responses is a launch is what you make it. It’s your decision as to whether you want it to be a giant affair or something low-key. No matter what you choose, some of the ideas shared above are useful and can be incorporated in any way an author sees fit!