Participants: Gerald Hornsby, Maria Johnson, Elizabeth Holland, Kathleen Marple Kalb, Rik Lonsdale, Sandy Stuckless, Anita Belli, Deborah Klée
My name’s Gerald, and I’m from Birmingham, UK, and now in North Essex, via East London. Yes, but I don’t do a big launch. I mean, I make a thing out of the day, telling people about the day it’s published and so on. I have a countdown, I do cover reveals, all that.
I’m Maria, based in NW England. For my first two historical fiction novels I had private launch parties for family and close friends. For my 2nd novel I had only just gone public with my pen name. For my 3rd novel, my fantasy #lottieslocket, I had a FB live party.
I’m Elizabeth from Kent, England. I’m a little late as lost track of time reading I’m about to launch my 4th book and still not quite sure what I’m doing!
Kathleen Marple Kalb. Trad pub lockdown debut (4/28/20). Honestly — glad anyone even noticed!
Deborah: Interesting as lockdown has made traditional and indie dependent on social media
Sandy: I’m Sandy from Toronto, Canada. I do not have experience launching books yet. The anthologies I appear in were launched by the publisher.
Deborah: Host of this tweet-chat. I have self-published two novels. The second was this week.
Rik and Anita caught up with us a little later so missed introductions.
How far ahead do you start the marketing process for a book launch? What would your launch plan include? Would you have one?
Deborah: I plan for a 12 week lead up. It leaves me exhausted but hopefully it will get easier as I learn what I am doing
Elizabeth: I usually give myself a month which is when my book is on pre-order. Right now I’m creating videos, images, etc. to promote my book. I’ll be sending out ARCs over the weekend and approaching book reviewers.
Deborah: Have you experienced a good take upon when you approach #bookbloggers? I used a blog tour for both books and found it invaluable.
Elizabeth: I’ve approached some in the past and they’ve been brilliant, however I find them quite difficult to come across! I think they’re all so inundated with books
Deborah: That’s why a blog tour organiser is really helpful as they have contacts and many book bloggers prefer to work with a blog tour operator or Net Galley
Kathleen: Another place to meet bloggers is in genre interest groups. I’m an admin in one on FB, but there are plenty of others. Many of my best publicity leads — not to mention plenty of emotional support — come from that group.
Maria: Deborah, would you mind defining what exactly a blog tour is? I’ve heard the term. Is it having the same guest blog on different people’s blogs, or do you host blogs and then link to your stuff? Or both? Thanks.
Deborah: A blog tour involves typically 22- 32 book bloggers who promote your book on given days. Over a week in my case. Some will write reviews others Q&A some an excerpt. You can specify the mix when planning the blog tour.
Gerald: For me, the marketing starts as soon as I have a first draft, and I know the book is viable. I mention it, I Tweet about it. I want to raise awareness of it’s arrival. So that’s probably 2-3 months or so.
Maria: I did a cover reveal around the time of releasing the publication date, a few weeks before it was released. I struggle to get ARC readers as there isn’t much time between it being finished and it releasing and I’m not SP so I don’t have as much access to advance copies.
Sorry for launch plan I thought you meant a plan for the party itself in terms of preparatiuon I also made a mini book trailer. I’d recommend checking the tech early as we didn’t realise you had to wait a certain time if you wanted to stream on FB live and YouTube.
Deborah: Did you make the trailer?
Maria: Yes, I made the book trailer with copyright free images and videos. My publishers did release an animated cover around the time of publication and they designed the actual cover as well
Elizabeth: How did you find making the video? I want to give it a go but feel a little out of my depth!
Maria: I take my blurb (might tweak it a bit) and use that as the basis of my text, then look on websites like Pixabay and Pexels for images and videos that complement the text. So below is the mini trailer I made for Lottie’s Locket – not that I’m an expert or anything.
I have some trailers for my historical fiction novels too but these are bigger and on YouTube. At some point I’d like to make mini versions of them to share on social media itself.
Kathleen: Last time? Pretty much just followed publisher and agent’s advice until we ran into the wall of the lockdown. This time? planning ahead, working my contacts, the whole deal. At least in the initial lockdown period, EVERYONE was suddenly an indie. Even now, trad writers are much more responsible for their own destiny than they would have been before. (I think!)
Sandy: From what I’ve seen others do, it’s a balance between book content and ‘get to know the author’ stuff. I’d probably start at least a month out from release. Does that sound right to everybody? the other thing I’ve seen is contests. If you have a catalog, giving away free copies of your other work is a good way to drive engagement.
Deborah: I would give it a longer lead in if you can. I start 3 months before. The book is ready to publish 1 month before for ARC readers
What have you found to be most effective in launching a book and why?
Elizabeth: Genuine engagement on all platforms. There are so many books out there that as indie authors we really need to stand out. Creating a genuine brand and pushing that can really help with launching a new book.
Deborah: It is something that you do well Elizabeth but it takes a lot of work.
Elizabeth: It really does take up most of my time but coming from a blogging background I learned early on that having a genuine following is key. That’s my main platform to then build my other marketing blocks on
Kathleen: Totally agree with Elizabeth on the engagement and Deborah on the WORK. It’s a great way to find YOUR reader…but it’s not easy!
Sandy: I’m speculating a little bit (and maybe going off a bit of what I like), but I think you have to make it more about the author than the book. If a reader sees nothing but book promo and doesn’t get to interact with the author, it’s a bit fatiguing.
Maria: sharing it on social media especially doing the cover reveal and book trailer. I also was a guest on my husband’s podcast talking about my Christian faith and writing. Mainly talking about my historical fiction novels which have some faith themes but I also got to plug the launch.
Anita: I LOVE a good book launch but I have never done one online. In fact the only one I have ever attended was @DeborahKlee last night! To me it is always a party! But I agree that it is much more than that!
What else have you tried in launching a book and what would you like to try but have not had time, money, or knowledge/skills to attempt?
Deborah: I have not tried a launch using Book Bub. Limited use of Goodreads book launch. Not tried a trailer.
Elizabeth: I’d love to try a little more in terms of locally promoting my book launch, however I’m lacking the confidence at the moment! I know people who have used local news pages, radio stations, etc… and had amazing results from it.
Deborah: It is impossible to master and try everything at once but maybe with each launch we can try adding in something extra
Anita: I love a good party best of all. It is a celebration at the end of a great achievement. I will try a blog tour, cover reveal and giveaway next time. And meanwhile, will try harder to get a bigger following on here and on my blog!
Maria: I have tried local media and bookshops, library etc but I never heard anything back so that kinda sucked. I did talk about my books a bit at a book-swapping event at my church not long after the launch of my 2nd novel/going public with my pen name which went really well.
Anita: Also, reduce the price of the first in the series to 99p
Maria: Great point Anita! This can really work. When my 2nd historical fiction novel was launched, my publishers made my 1st novel free on kindle for 2 weeks and also offered a discount if the paperbacks of both books were bought together.
Deborah: I made my debut free for a month before publishing novel 2 This pushed it up the Kindle free charts to #4 and hopefully boosted sales of Just Bea. The other thing I did was to republish my debut with the review comments from my blog tour in the front and the book awards and the 1st 3 chapters of next book in the back with a link. That went out as free just before the 2nd book.
Elizabeth: I’m going to attempt to make a book trailer next week! I may also pre-record something for launch as I really enjoyed your launch party last night
Kathleen: I actually had a pub day bookstore visit scheduled before Covid. (which NEVER happens for a debut author, but they had a spot to fill!) Someday, I would like to sign a book for someone who’s not family and hand it to them.
Deborah: Happy to assist with info on blog tour and a Facebook and YouTube launch party premiere
Anita: Blog Tour: Cover Reveal; Blog posts and a PARTY! (we should be out of lockdown by then!)
Gerald: I feel like a bit of an imposter here. My book marketing strategy involves marketing multiple titles in a series/ multiple series. So, I tend to not concentrate on each individual title.
Maria: I think I would try a blog tour and now I know more about ARC readers, discuss getting copies out with my publishers. I will be moving in a few months so hoping might have more local interest in the new area.
Kathleen: I’m hoping to manage something for the second book…pandemic willing! Definitely an in-person talk at my local library…and I’m not sure what else right now.
Rik: Well, let me clear some head space and have a think! No idea! Looking forward to the notes from today though.
Elizabeth: Releasing book content on your blog or in your newsletter can be good. I’m planning a deleted chapter in my newsletter and the first chapter will go live on my blog next week.
Maria: Yes great point Liz! I include a free preview for Lottie’s Locket as part of signing up for the newsletter and a had a bit of early interest through that
Deborah: I was interested in joining 1 or 2 other authors writing in a similar genre to cross promote with a giveaway but it is tricky to work out how to do this.
Sandy: Brandon Sanderson, who used to be heavy into book touring has been doing signing sessions live-streamed on YouTube. It’s a great way to promote and not have to leave the house!
Kathleen: Good point about the virtual events — libraries, bookstores, clubs and more are doing them. I’ve done several through my publisher or local library.
Deborah: I have offered to talk to book clubs on Zoom but no take up yet.
Kathleen: I’ve had zero luck with book clubs too! Local libraries or bookstores are a great place to start…and if you can be on the bill with a couple of other authors, even better.