Book Launch 101 – Part One

Part 2
Part 3

Most of you know I’ve been managing a book launch at my day job. It’s for a healthcare business book—a sequel to the award-winning book we helped our client release a few years ago. The first book was published through an academic publisher, but we did this one on our own, so there was quite a bit more work involved. While the process isn’t apples-to-apples for fiction, I thought it’d be helpful to share some insights!*

Today, I want to share a snapshot of the overall timeline we worked with, so you can see the basic steps in the publishing process. Tomorrow, I’ll post some of my specific marketing tips.

There’s a lot of info to share, and I’m sure I’ll accidentally skip over some of it. If you guys have specific questions along the way, just shout ‘em out in the comments trail.

Basic Timeline
  • Copyediting: 4.5 months out
  • Cover art design: 4.5 months out
  • Review cover art design and overall book layout: 4 months out
  • Submit to high-profile review publications (NYT, Kirkus, etc.): Most of these won’t accept anything closer to the public release date. They each have their own set of application forms and rules on their websites. NYT, for example, won’t take anything that’s not on the shelves in big consumer bookstores.
  • Obtain ISBN and bar code: 4 months out
  • Develop marketing plan and team: 4 months out
  • Final copyedits and book design due: 1 month out
  • Final printing and e-conversion: Month prior to release

I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing early. Granted, we had a large approval team, whereas self-publishing authors usually only need approval from themselves and a handful of close friends or family. I’d still recommend getting organized several months ahead of time.

There’s also a ton of back-and-forth coordination during each step. I can definitely see why a) an agent might be helpful in handling these items so the author has time to write the next project and b) why it takes so freaking long to get things published.

Here’s a glimpse of what I did day-to-day:

9-10 a.m. – Conference call re: distribution channels, cover design edits (changing the color on one element of the image), and a list of people/legislators/reporters to receive advance copies of the book; printer timelines and galley options.

10:30 a.m. – Update latest production and marketing timeline.

11:45 a.m. – Emergency phone call re: how to fit our publishing logo on the book spine; select elements of the logo design that will work in a 1” width space.

1 p.m. – Finalize messaging, news release, cover letters for key audiences, and “Lessons Learned” excerpt.

2:30 p.m. – Call to review edits on the back cover blurbs

And this type of stuff was pretty consistent, every day for at least a month prior to the release. Keep in mind, this is just one book launch – I’m not an agent or editor, and this is in between work for our other "non-book-related" clients.

The process could definitely be streamlined through e-publishing, and I think more and more authors are realizing that. For this book, we’re doing both print and Kindle, but all our timelines are developed based on the printing schedule.

Also, don't forget to get your name in for the 100 Followers giveaway. The post is here.

*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 situation.


  1. Wow, that seems like a ton of work and important deadlines to meet.

    Thanks for sharing this info. I look forward to hearing the marketing info!

  2. Thanks for the info, Nicole! It is a ton of work, but it also sounds like fun. But maybe I'm just nuts... Good luck with the launch!

    1. It was a lot of fun. So far, we're looking good on Amazon and haven't even launched the Kindle yet.

  3. Wow, this is great stuff. I'm going to read the other posts now.