Book Launch 101 – Part Three

Part 1
Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the specific marketing tactics my agency used to launch our client’s book. But that was non-fiction and had a very targeted readership…so how can we, as writers, apply those lessons to our own book marketing?
Here are some of my tips*:

Keep an ongoing list of folks who might be interested in learning about your book – everyone from friends and family, to writing mentors, fellow bloggers, etc. This becomes your first “I published a book!!” contact list. You can let them know through email, Facebook, however you usually communicate with each of them…the idea is that this is your core group of ambassadors. They will help you spread word of mouth.

Be cool. Don’t go overboard with this. You need a legitimate existing connection with these people for them to feel excited for you and want to share the news.

Investigate opportunities to present at local bookstores, libraries and TV/radio. Public radio is often thrilled to talk with local authors. 

Develop a handful of key messages you want people to remember about your book. Keep the phrases short and snappy. You’ll use these in your other promotional language and in interviews. The idea is to leave readers with a clear, consistent image of what makes your book great and why they should read it.

Post a chapter excerpt and offer advance order opportunities at a discounted price.

Consider a book trailer and/or short video interviews with you – could be about your characters, your favorite scenes, your inspiration, etc.

Create a list of media you want to target. I cheat. At work, we have access to a database for all reporters in the U.S. and some in Canada. Another hint – your college alumni magazine would probably love to do an article about your success!

Draft and distribute a news release. It’s pretty simple to write. The facts about your book, what it’s about and why readers should be interested, and where they can find it. Send it out via email about a week prior to launch.

Follow up with bloggers, reviewers and reporters who featured your previous pieces or with whom you have ties. (FYI – keep this local…the NYT, for example, likely won’t even bat an eye at stuff like this.) If you’re comfortable, reach out to pod-casters as well.

Make ARCs/Galleys available to key reviewers (For e-books, offer copies to book bloggers).

Create an Amazon Author Page and make sure it’s linked to your blog, website, etc. (FYI – you can access Amazon’s Author Central once you have a book available through them.)

Take some time to develop your jacket copy (The copy and layout that’ll be on your front and back covers).

Include teasers for your other work or forthcoming pieces at the end of the book you’re currently releasing. This helps pull readers from book to book in your collection.

Invest in a little swag. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A simple flyer or bookmark with your cover art can make a great addition to your presentations, conferences or as a leave-behind in community shops. NYT bestselling author Lesley Kagen is from my area, and she uses this technique very well! She had bookmarks for her latest book in the diner at my work building.

Utilize social media: Blogs, forums, Twitter and Facebook are relatively easy and free! If you haven’t already read David Gaughran’s blog, check it out. It’s got some fantastic suggestions for how to leverage social media during a book launch.

Make sure you’ve considered all distribution channels.
  • Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Indie e-book sites like Smashwords
  • Independent book sellers – you can find a list of indies, by state, pretty easily, and then you can follow up
  • Libraries or academic institutions (This is harder to get into without a publisher/agent, especially on the fiction side. A good first step is talking with your local library or school libraries.)

Whew, that’s a lot to consider. Let’s all take a deep breath. You don’t need to do it all or do it all at once, but it’s wise give each of these steps careful thought before launching a self-pubbed book.

I hope this helped clarify a few things. Good luck guys!

*Same disclaimer: This is just one particular example of a book launch. I’m not an agent or a publicist, and all my advice is based only on my personal experience. I’m sure there are many, many different ways to go about this – these ideas are simply what worked in this particular situation.


  1. That's a whole lotta work! Thanks for this series. It's provided an interesting perspective.

  2. Awesome! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Hey,

    SUPER thanks for all this... I am *soooooo* bookmarking this for the future:)

  4. This is great stuff! Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Glad you guys find it helpful!

  6. Really great info here, thank you so much!


  7. That's a great list for me to look into further and checkoff one at a time. There's some much to do when you don't have a publisher backing you up. Thanks Nicole!

  8. It is daunting to think of all the promotional stuff you have to do - and they keep saying its expected of traditional and self publishing. But I look at it this way: I love my characters, I'd do it for them! (grin) Great list - will keep it for reference.