A Strategic Book Launch Timeline From the Pros

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Have you ever released an indie book and thought, “I should have put some strategic effort into the launch,” or wished you could plan better for a strong opening sales rank? Click Read More to hear some thoughts from professionals that I wish I’d heeded with my last several books.

The experts over at Bookbub often publish a lot of great thoughts on being an indie-preneur. I’ve struggled time and again to get the perfect mix of reagents to brew a strong book launch. Ever since my very first book release party over a decade ago (which one person attended out of pity) to the book that hit the market two months ago, I feel like I’ve struck out with bases loaded.

It probably flies in the face of what most of us Indies do as we grasp at straws to carve out a foothold in our story’s niche market, but a marketing strategy has to include more than just about giving away free books, tweeting, making videos, or sending a press release. A book launch strategy is about getting the media’s attention and transforming yourself and your books into a brand to be followed.

Lead times for getting media coverage are getting longer and longer. PR firm Media Connect recommends starting to reach out to journalists 4-6 months before a book’s launch. Here was the timeline that they recommended for soliciting media coverage for a new book:

6 months prior to launch:

  • Create a website (or add a book page to your existing site)
  • Brainstorm ideas and craft a marketing plan

5 months prior to launch:

  • Develop a press kit/media pitches
  • Pull together your advanced review copy (ARC) media list
  • Start to solicit testimonials/blurbs

4 months prior to launch:

  • Compile a list of media connections you plan to approach
  • Send out your ARCs to long-lead media (those that need more advanced notice)
  • Select/schedule book signings and appearances

3 months prior to launch:

  • Follow up on ARC pitches to media
  • Continue to query bookstores and speaking opportunities

2 months prior to launch:

  • Contact non-book reviewer media (such as relevant talk shows or feature story reporters)
  • Approach online reviewers
  • Reach out to local media (or arrange a book tour)

1 month prior to launch:

  • Schedule radio and TV interviews
  • Finish ARC follow-up
  • Contact more online reviewers
  • Add on bloggers and websites for outreach
  • Hit daily newspapers, newswires, and weekly publications

In addition to promoting the fact that audiobook sales are on the rise (which I’ve written at length about,) the Bookbub crew cite a successful launch that started two years prior to the book’s launch date. Check out their marketing advice column here.

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