10 Tips for Launching a Debut Book
- First—and most important: Start preparing for your book’s release early. If you’re thinking four months is soon enough, you’re way off. Even six months is too late (though late is better than never). In those last few months before release unexpected publishing things will crash down on you, like copyedits or rewrite requests for other books. Family and life in general will happen too, and you will find yourself overwhelmed if you haven’t prepared. You’re best off to start physically working on your launch ten months ahead. At that point, you can create documents with answers to common interview questions, Pinterest boards, playlists, and blog posts about your novel. Be creative. Write nonfiction posts about topics connected to the novel. Then put everything you’ve written away. Do not use them. These will be your lifesavers in the two months preceding your launch.
- Don’t expect your publisher to do marketing—they will, but don’t plan on it. Think of it as a bonus. However, you are a professional now. Don’t silently fret or complain to family and friends that you don’t know what’s going on. If you have questions about marketing or your novel in general ask the professionals involved—your publicist, editor, agent . . . That brings me to my next tip.
- Join a smaller and private author group, preferably one composed of debut authors whose book are being release the same year as yours. If that isn’t possible, then join a closed group that is focused on a genre that most closely matches your novel’s. What you want is a nonpublic, online space where you can chat, scheme, and safely share frustrations with authors who are at a similar place in their careers as you are. Support and companionship—and it can also lead to some seriously effective group marketing as well. However, it’s not enough to join. You need to be an active part of the group to receive the full benefits.
- Blog Tours. There are a ton of great blog tour companies out there. They cost money, but they free up a lot of time for you and will get your novel in front of readers and reviewers outside your circle of friends (and that’s important). However, most of the better tour companies’ schedules fill up quickly. Four months before your novel’s release date is when you’ll want to contact them and book your tour. This is when those posts you created earlier in the year will come in handy. I did three weeks of tours around the time A HOLD ON ME released in February. The tours required me to write about twenty-five interviews/posts. It was nice to have a majority of them done ahead.
- Social media. Yes, you need to be active on social media. That is where your readers will find and connect with you. You should consistently use the name you write under, have a professional website that’s kept up to date and has links to where you are on social media and where your book can be pre-ordered. However, you don’t have to belong to every social media out there. Pick two or three that you like the best and be active. By active I mean interactive, support other people, chat and have fun. Don’t just push your own book.
- Reviews and Numbers. Blog tours and online groups are the best way to get pre-release reviews posted on places like Goodreads and raise your numbers of followers across the social media board. Numbers do matter. Your publisher does notice them. As soon as your book goes up for pre-order or appears on Goodreads start taking any opportunity you can to subtly get people to add your book to their to-be-read shelves.
- Reviews and general author panic and paranoia. They will happen. I suspect somewhere there is a list of symptoms and a study of when authors go through different stages—like the stages of grief. I thought I was cool and had everything under control. But somewhere around three months before release I lost it. The first reviews for A HOLD ON ME went public. They were great and should have made me dance for joy, but instead I panicked. With the help of my writer groups, I got myself together and my excitement soared. I freaked again just before my release event—and I’m normally a pretty emotionally level person. The most important lesson here is that all authors will experience highs and lows. Emotional swings are normal, even what one of my writing friends calls the after book release post partum blues.
- Swag: bookmarks, postcards, personalized chocolates, tattoos, stickers . . . and lipstick to match your cover. You don’t have to and probably shouldn’t buy a million different kinds of swag to promote your book. You will want a few quality items, like bookmarks and postcards (don’t forget to ask your publisher if they suggest you put any specific information on them). Decide on a budget before you start buying. Authors writing in some genres like romance tend to give away more and a wider variety of swag than others. Be creative, but don’t obsess over swag. One important type of swag people sometimes forget is bookplates. They are something that will come in handy for mailing signatures to readers and at signing events for people who attend but have left their book at home.
- Signing events. I used Picma micron pens in a color that matched A HOLD ON ME’s gothic cover. They are fine point, archival, and don’t smear. I also practiced my ‘author signature’ and memorized half a dozen different endorsements ahead of time. At my debut release event, I had a friend greet people who were waiting in line for signatures and ask what their names were and if they wanted anything special written in their copy of my book. My friend then wrote that information on a post-it and stuck it in each person’s book or books. Preparing ahead combined with the post-its allowed me to chat, personalize, and sign quickly—in other words, to look professional when I easily could have become overwhelmed.
- Enjoy yourself. On your release day, take a moment to relax and look back at all you’ve accomplished. You worked hard to get to this point. Bloody hell, you’ve had a novel published! Don’t forget or neglect to celebrate.
About A HOLD ON ME
She never wanted to return.
He wants nothing more than for her to leave.
But the fire between them is as strong as the past that haunts them.
Annie Freemont grew up on the road, immersed in the romance of rare things, cultivating an eye for artifacts and a spirit for bargaining. It’s a freewheeling life she loves and plans to continue—until her dad is diagnosed with dementia. His illness forces them to return to Moonhill, their ancestral home on the coast of Maine—and to the family they left behind fifteen years ago, after Annie’s mother died in a suspicious accident.
Once at Moonhill, Annie is shocked when her aunt separates her from her father. The next time Annie sees him, he’s a bizarre, violent shadow of his former self. Confused, she turns to an unlikely ally for support—Chase, the dangerously seductive young groundskeeper. With his dark good looks and powerful presence, Chase has an air of mystery that Annie is irresistibly drawn to. But she also senses that behind his penetrating eyes are secrets she can’t even begin to imagine. Secrets that hold the key to the past, to Annie’s own longings—and to all of their futures. Now, to unlock them, she’ll have to face her greatest fears and embrace her legacy…
PAT ESDEN is an antique-dealing florist by trade. She’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.
Her new adult paranormal novel, A HOLD ON ME (book #1 in the Dark Heart series) is available from Kensington Books and BEYOND YOUR TOUCH (book #2 Dark Heart series) will be released August 30th.