Preparing for a Book Launch
A Humorous Glimpse Behind-the-Scenes
It’s the event book writers work towards, prepare for and await with queasy anticipation. This is the time when our creation is sent out into the world to be enjoyed, despised or ignored. It is the Book Launch.
I have a new children’s book series launching this week. These are my second and third books for children, with the first being a graphic novel. The first time around, I had no email list, no fan base, and my friends and family barely knew what a graphic novel was. I gave away a fair number of books, had some Instagram influencers promote my book, did a podcast and some book reviewers featured my book on their blogs. Still, sales have been painfully slow.
This time, I have a small email list, a slightly larger following, and books appropriate for both Kindle and print. This means I can make the first book available for $0.99 and run limited-time KDP free promotions.
So, what have the past couple of weeks prior to my launch looked like? They have looked a lot like life, which can be a messy thing.
Here’s the highlight reel:
- Create and set up emails to my Advance Copy Readers to let them know when and how to post their reviews on Amazon.
- Proofread both books one last time. Decide one of them is terrible and makes no sense. Wonder what I’m thinking — sending it out into the world! Decide it could be my own anxiety since nothing else I try to read at that time makes any sense either. Take some deep breaths and remember that only the week prior the book seemed good, ready, and early readers confirmed this.
- Create various images for social media regarding pre-order availability and dates for free promotion. (The books technically went live on Amazon about a week prior to their official launch date. That gave reviewers a chance to post reviews, plus allowed time for things to happen like my books appearing on my author page, the paperback and Kindle versions to be linked up, and the “look inside” feature to kick-in.)
- Sign up for various book promotion services, like The Fussy Librarian and Book Goodies Kids, that will publish info about my book during the days it will be free. These are the official launch days.
- Repeatedly email someone with a question regarding a service I’d paid for through Fiverr. Have him ignore me.
- Agonize over the fact that I was called in for jury duty the week prior to launch. Report for jury duty. Get selected to serve on the jury for an assault and robbery case.
- Realize this is the same week my son has scheduled his driving test so he can get his license. The date can’t be changed because he desperately wants to drive himself to the Homecoming Dance. Get our schedule from the judge and find out I will definitely not be available to take my son to his driving test.
- Check Uber and Lyft to see if I can schedule a driver to pick him up and take him to the testing location. Realize the schedule feature is not activated for our somewhat rural area. Hope my wife might be able to take him, but find out she has important work meetings that cannot be missed, nor can his other mother take him because of work conflicts. In the end, he is able to arrange a ride from a friend. (He passed and drove to his senior year Homecoming!)
- The jury case was fascinating, disturbing and very emotionally draining. I go home both days exhausted, but feeling good that I had done my civic duty.
- Come home one day to find out the dog has scratched her nose. No big deal. I clean it and put some antibiotic cream on it. It looks worse the next day. Will I need to take her to the vet? Should I put the cone of shame on her? I gather the necessary supplies, just in case.
- Check email and social media accounts obsessively. Manage questions from Advance Copy Readers about posting reviews, including someone who has never received her electronic books to be able to review. Email her several times before resolving the issue.
- Be moments away from falling into bed, exhausted, when my nose tells me our long-haired cat has poop stuck somewhere on him. Wonder if he has tried to clean himself on the downstairs carpet. (It’s happened before.) Take the time and energy required to clean the squirmy and not-at-all-happy-about-this cat. Leave the question of the carpet for tomorrow.
- Put finishing touches on the book trailer I have been working on. I love it! No, it’s stupid. No, it’s fun!
- Note that the first review has been posted to Amazon! Do a happy dance!
- Note that the second review has been posted to Amazon. Do a happier dance!
- During all of this, my wife is going through a lot of stressful events involving work and family. Be as supportive as possible. Occasionally fail when the stress of my week gets to me. Apologize and acknowledge how much stress we are both under. Go out for margaritas, chips, and salsa.
- Note the weather service has issued an alert for unusually cold temperatures arriving. Make time to turn off the sprinkler system, put away the dog’s wading pool, and put the hoses and patio décor into the shed.
- Decide to try putting my book trailer on Facebook as an ad despite reading that book ads rarely work on Facebook for children’s books. For the price of a margarita, I can do a test. What the heck!
- Have a reviewer who is both an elementary school teacher and librarian email me a positively glowing review of one of my books, and then explain that she cannot post it on Amazon or her blog because the kids in the story have two moms and she doesn’t agree with that lifestyle. She informs me she is in no way judging me. Right.
- My righteous indignation sparked, I immediately share the body of her email with every LGBTQ-friendly Facebook group I can find. This sets off a whirlwind of supportive replies from people so outraged by her discrimination and selfishness (kids deserve to see families like their own in books regardless of her opinions) that they immediately purchase the book for themselves and others. I haven’t even officially launched and have already sold more books than my previous book has sold. Cue happy dance.
So, those are the highlights. My pre-launch has been successful thanks to a homophobic reviewer with great taste in books. Over the next few days, we’ll find out if the book promotions, both paid and free, successfully result in downloads. I feel like I’m in Vegas about to place a huge bet and pleading for a big win.
In reality, this is only the beginning of a long journey. As author and book marketing expert Tim Grahl says, book marketing is a long game and authors need to plan on promoting each book for at least a year.
Let the games begin!
(If you are interested, my children’s book series is the Liz & Toby Adventures. These are slightly spooky chapter books for ages 7–12. The first book is My Dog Sees Ghosts and the second is My Cat Hears Vampires. My Dog Sees Ghosts will be free on Kindle October 1–3, 2019.)