Self-Publishing Process: Launching
If you’ve been following along with my blogs this year, you know I wrapped up a series on how to self-publish last month. The series had seven posts, covering things like cover design, editing, proofreading, and more. The series focused on the technical aspects of the publishing process: what you need to do to get your book ready for the world. Today I want to take about launching: what you need to do to get the world ready for your book.
People often use the terms launching and publishing interchangeably and they go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. You can publish your book without launching, but you can’t have a launch if you’re not going to publish your book. Publishing is simply the act of making your book available for sale on various platforms, like Amazon or Ingram Spark. Launching is the act of marketing your book prior to its release so people will actually go out and buy it once it’s published. Make sense?
You can have the best cover in the world. Your book can be professionally edited and impeccably formatted, but none of that matters if no one knows it exists. You have to build awareness of your book through reader engagement and content marketing on social media. Many people build an email list to contact their readers directly, still others have private groups, and there’s always something to show for a good giveaway. There are many aspects and strategies you can use when it comes to launching, and I could honestly do another whole series on it, but to be quite transparent with you guys, I’m not as versed on the subject as I would like to be. So I’m going to stick to what I do know today and hopefully give you guys some ideas to work with.
The biggest thing when it comes to launches is giving yourself enough time to do it right. While you can launch a book in a month, I wouldn’t recommend it. One month really isn’t long enough to warm up your audience properly. I’m told that the lowest you should go is 3 and the longest around 9, but it really depends on your schedule and what you think is best for your book. For me, the launch of Summer’s Revenge is about 4 months, though I was marketing it here and there before the launch officially started in April.
Where should you start? I think the best place to start is talking about your book with your audience as you’re writing it, long before any publishing plans are really concrete. Talk about your process, talk about your characters and plot. Share your favourite quotes as your write them. Make aesthetics or reels showcasing characters and settings. Just share your art. Don’t hide it away from people until you’re ready to publish. I’ve made that mistake before and it really hurts sales. You want people to know about your novel so that they’re excited for it when you finally announce its publication.
When you do decide to publish your book, that’s when you use some secrecy. Don’t give your readers all the details at once. You want to use the mystery to build suspense and have them on the edge of your seat. So don’t reveal the release date, title, cover, and pre-orders on the same day. For one, you’ve played all your cards now (this is especially damaging if your release date is still months away) and second, you’ve given your audience information overload. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of surprise to process at once.
Here is my personal strategy. I’ll use my upcoming fantasy novel, Summer’s Revenge as an example. I announced that I would be publishing it this year at the end of January, but I didn’t give the full details, just said it would be this summer. Then in February I shared a few quotes and the release schedule. In late March, I revealed the official synopsis, followed by the release date. At the end of April, I did the cover reveal. This month, I will be announcing ARCs. Then June and July will have the pre-order and giveaway announcement, the first 2 chapters, and finally the release. Each month leading up to the release has at least one major event happening, which I have put in bold above. In between these I also share quotes, character aesthetics, setting collages, and more fun reveals. The idea is to have your reader at the edge of their seat so that they’re super ready to buy by the time the book is out. Remember though: use this as a guide, not a blueprint. Everyone’s launch looks different and what works for me might not necessarily work for you.
There’s also more to marketing than just posting about these events. You also need to engage with your audience in meaningful ways and connect with them on a personal level. I am still learning the ropes of engagement myself, so I’m not going to give you any tips here. I just want you to know that what I’ve outlined above isn’t the whole iceberg.
And so concludes my post about launching. I might do more posts like this in the future, as I learn more, but in the meantime, I have some recommendations for you.
Number one is the Marketing for Author series by Bethany Atazadeh and Mandi Lynn. I have the first 3 books, of a planned 6 I believe, and they’re a wealth of knowledge. I should reread them soon actually.
Number two is Pagan Malcom (@paganatpaperback on Insta). She has all kinds of courses, coaching sessions, and downloadable resources on how to have a successful launch and market your book properly.
Number three is Hannah (@actsocialhannah) who has a wealth of knowledge on social media engagement, specifically for authors.
So there you have it! I hope this post was insightful and if you have any questions, please reach out! I’d be happy to answer them : ) I’ll be back next week with another post on Summer’s Revenge, so stay tuned.