Wednesday, 4 October 2017

20 Ways to Launch a Book


Authors often contact me to say their novel is being released soon (usually a debut, but not always), and they don't know how to go about promoting it on social media. After I've researched their online presence and book(s), we speak via phone/Skype and I write a social media plan tailored to the author and their book(s). 

My social media plan isn’t just about social media though: as an author needs to have the foundations in place before they can use social media with success. Some publishers do more than others in relation to the below so not all authors will need to get so involved; and of course self-published authors need to do everything themselves.

Here follows a checklist of 20 things I think an author needs to do (if they can) before launching a book, under headings: The Foundations, Guest Posts and Reviews, Print and Talks, Social Media Accounts, Find Your Network.

The Foundations:

1.Website and blog set up in your author name, if you don’t have them already. Domain names can be bought from companies such as Godaddy, and there are some great website designers out there.

2.Amazon Author Central Author Page-this needs to be completed separately for each Amazon website, but usually for a UK author, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com are the most important. See Author Central for more info. 


4.Marketing materials such as bookmarks, postcards and business cards need to be produced to hand out at talks, signings and a book launch etc. Don’t forget to include your social media links on these and where possible details of how to sign up to your newsletter. I asked for advice on Facebook, and thanks to some lovely authors, here are examples of where to get these done: Vistaprint for postcards and business cards (I use for flyers); Moo for business cards (I use) and postcards; GotPrint, printed.com, Fanfare, solopress, eHHelloPrint.

5.Set up a newsletter, linked to your website (usually through the Contact page), so you can build your list of loyal readers, and keep them updated with new releases, cover reveals, giveaways, talks, signings etc. If you have loads to do before the launch, this can be done afterwards, but it’s really important. Mailchimp is quite popular, but there are lots of alternatives. There's more info on author newsletters via Liz Fielding’s guest post on this blog from 2016. 


Guest Posts and Reviews:

6.Blog tour to coincide with when the book is launched-usually for a week after launch date, sometimes before and after the launch too (they can run for a month). This blog tour would include guest posts and reviews on book blogs; plus perhaps guest posts with authors in your genre and websites/blogs which would be followed by your potential readers.

Your publisher may organise this for you, but if you need to organise your own UK blog tour and reviews, you can email book bloggers, or ask if anyone in the fantastic Book Connectors Facebook group would be interested in hosting you, or reviewing an ARC (see no.7). Book bloggers need lots of notice for reviews (ideally three months or more); less notice for a guest post. Do your research re which genre a book blogger reads etc, and carefully check their blog before approaching directly to ask anything.

There is a spreadsheet of UK book bloggers, and a list of blog tour organisers under files in the Book Connectors Facebook group. Find out more re Book Connectors in Anne Cater’s guest post on this blog. Re: US book bloggers, there are lots to be found on Twitter.

Don't forget that book bloggers are unpaid, and very generous with their time spent reading so they can write reviews, and setting up guest posts.

Be ready with lots of content for your own blog, and for the tour-make a list of subjects and themes from your book and note ideas for interesting posts you can write; plus be ready with answers to interview questions.

Guest posts will need to be promoted on social media, and if your publisher isn't already designing a blog tour banner to be used online, you can ask a graphic designer, or do it yourself on a website like Canva (see no.14 for more on graphics).

An important point about being hosted on a blog/website is that backlinks (links to your website/blog from another website/blog) and mentions online can move you up the old Google ranking.

See my posts:19 Tips on How to be the Ideal Blog Guest and 9 Ways to Engage a Blog Audience for more info. 

7. Sending Out ARCs (Advance Reader Copies). Your publisher would usually do this a few months before the book is released, and often your book will be added to NetGalley. If this hasn't been done and there are copies available, you could ask your publisher to send paperbacks or a mobi file to book bloggers who have agreed to review your book. Some book bloggers only read paperbacks, and some only read ebooks; lots of book bloggers only read certain genres and some don’t read self-published books. Do your research before approaching book bloggers by checking the review policy on their blogs. Quite a few book bloggers add their reviews to Amazon and Goodreads too. Reviews on Amazon are really important as with more reviews, Amazon is more likely to recommend your book.


Print and Talks:

8.Articles in print. Some publishers use PR agencies to organise these for you, but if this isn’t the case: you can send press releases to local newspapers and you can pitch articles about you and your brand to local magazines; writing magazines and to other magazines which may be interested.

9.Talks and readings. Your publisher may organise these for you, but otherwise you can approach bookshops and libraries etc yourself. Promote these on social media as you would for no 20. Physical Launch.


Social Media Accounts:

10.Set up a Twitter account under your author name, if you don’t have one already. Otherwise, check that the header photo, profile photo and bio are the best they can be. See my Beginner’s Guide to Twitter for Writers for more detailed info. If you already have an account, you can amend the name and @username, without having to create a new account (as long as you no longer need the other name). Learn about hashtags in my blog post, What are Hashtags, Why Use Them, and How? 

11.Set up a Facebook personal profile, if you don’t have one already. A personal profile should be in your author name, so you can like, react and comment on Facebook under that name. This account is mainly for building relationships. The occasional post can be about your book(s), but be careful: Facebook can ban you if you promote using your Facebook personal account all of the time. Most promo should be on your Facebook Page (and in some Facebook groups, depending on the rules of the group).

12.Set up a Facebook Page under your author name, if you don’t have one already. This is a good way for readers to follow your news without you having to accept them as a friend on your personal profile, and you can boost posts or set up Facebook ads (this is the only way to get significant attention on a page, but it can be effective). 

13.Join Facebook groups relevant to you and your brand: writing, reading, and groups about the subjects and themes from your book(s). Check the rules carefully-these are usually specified in a pinned post (at the top of the page when you go into the group). Interacting in groups is a fantastic way to build relationships and they can be a source of valuable information.

14.Get the graphics for your Twitter header, Facebook header and Twitter shareables from your publisher; or get them made by a graphic designer, or design them yourself on eg. Canva (not too difficult to use). Get a professional author photo done (also to be used for your website etc), or find a good one to use (ideally one that looks like you so you're recognised at events).

15.Set up an Instagram account. Instagram is growing, and lots of book bloggers and readers hang out there. See my other posts re Instagram, and find me on Instagram here.

16.Set up a Google+ account, and +1 content relevant to your brand (plus your own blog posts). Using Google+ in the right way can move you up the old Google rankings. 

Committee packing the goody bags at last UK HNS conf, Oxford 2016
Extras (can be done later):

17.Set up a LinkedIn account and ‘connect’ with other authors and those in the book world.

18.Set up a Pinterest account and build a board for each of your books. Secret Boards can be used for books which aren't published yet. Plus set up a board for your blog posts and add them as you go. Find me on Pinterest here.

19.Find Your Network:

Depending on the genre of your book(s), join organisations where you can make friends with and learn from other authors. Here are a few examples of organisations for authors, and there are many more (feel free to mention in the comments):

The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA)-I’m an Associate Member and can’t praise this organisation enough-it's very friendly and there are many opportunities to meet members at events.
The Historical Novel Society (HNS)-I’m a member, used to be Social Media Manager and was Publicity Officer for 2016 UK conf in Oxford. There is a fantastic Facebook group too, and you don’t have to be a member-do check the rules first though (or my pal, Alison Morton will tell you off).

Interact with authors in your genre (and other genres) online as well as authors who have the same agent (if applicable), and publisher.

Events:

There are a great number of conferences, festivals and events for writers to attend all over the UK; too many to list here but here are a few examples: RNA conference (annual), HNS UK conference (every two years), Harrogate History Festival, Crime Writing Festival, Festival of Writing in York, The London Book Fair, First Monday Crime, History by the RiverGoldsboro Books organises events such as Crime in the Court, Romance in the Court, History in the Court. Book Bloggers sometimes arrange meet-ups (often organised by the Book Connectors Facebook group); and there are many more events to attend (feel free to mention in the comments).

RNA Conference July 2017
20. Physical Launch 
You don't need to have a physical launch, but if you do have one: make the most of it! Take lots of photos and post them on Twitter and Instagram before (share to Facebook from Instagram, or post directly to Facebook if time), during and after the event, using a hashtag for your book. If you're speaking/reading, you could ask a friend to video you, and post on social media. Afterwards, post properly edited photos on Facebook, and perhaps write a blog post about your launch.


This is just the beginning:

You can do quite a lot of the above before you get a book deal, then you’ll have a head start when you are published.

It takes a while to build a social media presence online (6-12 months), and starting a couple of weeks before your debut is released is leaving it a bit late. Although better late than never, and if that’s the case, just start with the above and move forwards so you’re in a better position when book 2 is released.

And if your book has already been released but you haven't done much to promote it, you can still organise a blog tour, reviews or guest posts after the release date; and build your online presence before your next release.

This checklist should put you in a good position to find your readers, (and help them to find you)...wishing you the best of luck!

Related posts:
Go the RNA! (my write-up of RNA Conf 2017)


I run Social Media Courses for Writers in London and York, and also work 1-2-1 with authors. Find out more via my website. Follow me on Twitter @neetsmarketing.

16 comments:

  1. So many things that I'm not doing...

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    1. Ha, Jan! But there is so much to do...:) x

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    2. If I didn't have to earn a living elsewhere, I'd spend more time on it! x

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  2. Just about coming up to my 23rd book and I still don't feel I'm on top of it! Discovered I actually had a Goodreads profile - obviously the publisher set it up - so I've enhanced it a little, although I doubt if I'll ever use it! And a little caveat here - a few days ago I received a longish email via my website from a US blogger offering to review my book. I had a look at her site and emailed back that as I had two blog tours planned already, perhaps we could schedule it for a little later. This morning I received a four page email telling what and who she was, what she intended to do for me and practically how to save the world. Oh - and she was terribly sorry, she'd forgotten to say she changed $75 per review. I declined.

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    1. I can't believe she's still trying that! Lots of us had the same experience a few months back. She was Aimee something, I think.

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    2. Wow, 23 books, Lesley! Thanks for the info-yes, have heard about that on Facebook...:-(

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    3. Yes, Jan, Aimee Ann. After I'd told her no, I received another email offering me a cut price deal at $35! She's got a nerve.

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  3. A great list, Anita!!

    I'm using it to fine-tune my own preperations for my forthcoming launch.

    Top notch stuff, as usual - and Thanks!

    John

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    1. Thanks very much, John! Wishing you the best of luck with your upcoming launch :)

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  4. Oh dear. I'm an author with a chronic illness. On good days I want to write. I just don't have enough energy to do all that's required to self promote. If I had to choose, say, one or two items from your list what would you suggest? I have my own website www.celiamicklefield.com
    I have a FB author page. I'm on Twitter and Linkedin but not very often and I've recently joined relevant FB groups.I've never taken part in a blog tour and I know I don't really push myself forward enough.
    Ah, well. Maybe one day.

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    1. So sorry to hear that, Cecilia. I think just do what you can. This checklist is more of a list of everything you can do, but of course not everyone has time to do it. Perhaps if you have time write the occasional blog post or guest blog post? Facebook groups are great, and you're on Twitter and Facebook already, so that's good too. LinkedIn isn't used as much by authors, and if you have the profile that should be enough for now.

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  5. Great list of checks, Anita - I'm sure I don't do all of them all of the time but at least I've had most of the social media platforms set up for ages!

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    1. Thanks very much, Rosemary! Yes-have known you since I joined in 2011 and you'd been doing it all long before that too x

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