12-Month Book Launch Strategy
Writing, publishing, and promoting are the three key components of the 12-Month Book Launch Planning Strategy. Writing is the first step in any book launch strategy. The writing begins before the other two elements become relevant. Once the draft is completed you can consider critical elements such traditional versus self-publishing and what communication vehicles you will develop to share your work with readers. Your decisions will guide your book launch planning agenda. Whether you are a seat of your pants, author creating as you write, or a detailed outliner author, creating characters, plot, and scenes before writing, you must complete the book before you can launch and attract avid fans of your work.
Write and keep writing until the book is finished is the golden rule of the writing process. Procrastination is the evil stepsister who will forestall the exciting birthday celebration of your finished book. While you are creatively writing, write! Defer editing until the complete story is written. Editing can complicate, lengthen, and stall the writing process. Make notes in the margin or use track changes as you re-read to prepare for moving the story forward. All the time in this phase stay focused on the writing. Word-smithing is part of the next phase, publishing.
Select one format style and stick to that such as use of the Chicago Manual of Style. To ensure consistency throughout the manuscript, particularly if writing with a partner, create a list of decisions you make. How will you spell the names of each character? Will you refer to the father of a child by name (e.g. Jim) or title (Donny’s father)?
Inconsistencies can diminish the credibility of your work with your readers. The list created can save valuable time as you write and aid in
reducing editing time. Now that the manuscript draft is complete, begin a series of review, edit, review, edit sequence until satisfied that you have a final version ready for interior design.
Publishing Support Team
Begin exploring the infrastructure needed to publish the work and determine whether you will pursue a traditional publishing or self-publishing process. Traditional meaning seeking an agent who may assist with finding an editor and publisher. Self-publishing means defining the elements that you will do yourself (DIY) or whether to hire external support team members such as an editor, a graphic designer for the cover art work, an interior layout designer, and a printer unless you will offer your book only in electronic formats.
Whether you are self-publishing or publishing traditionally, the manuscript will need to be edited after the initial draft is completed and you have conducted your own review, edit, review, edit sequence. Successful authors highly recommend hiring a professional editor. There are different types of editing and pricing is commensurate with the editing type chosen. A full manuscript critique will address consistency, thematic issues, point of view, character development, and plot development. The editor will generally provide a separate document from the manuscript with explanations and recommendations. Editing prices and turn-around time can vary, so seek recommendations from others that have used the services of those you wish to employ.
A comprehensive edit is another approach and generally includes an editorial memo, comments, and line-by-line edit of the manuscript. This type of edit should address your “narrative, plot and pacing, voice and tone at a micro-level.”1 The third type of editing, copy-editing, is done on the final version of the manuscript. Copy-editing addresses grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, consistency of nomenclature, terms used, semantics, numbers, capitalization, font style, and spelling. It may also include concepts of continuity of character traits, setting, plot, depending upon the editing service you hire.
An author who self-publishes must obtain copyright and ISBN numbers for the work, or outsource these tasks to external team members. We found that obtaining the copyright and ISBN numbers was not a challenging process and elected to do that ourselves. Authors make their decisions based on three key factors: skills, time, and funds. Does the author have the skills required to publish the book, the time to do what is needed or to learn what has to be done, and the funds to out-source what they cannot or will not do?
Promoting the book is the final phase in the book launch process. It begins when the draft is completed and sent to selected individuals or beta readers for review. Images from the cover design may be useful for promotional material. Initial efforts involve creating a website, deciding if a blog or newsletter is to be part of your strategy, establishing a presence in social media, and deciding which social media will best meet your need to connect with readers. Concentrate on building your author website and social media to attract a network of readers. Build one social media platform at a time, particularly if you are learning new skills. Then add more as your command of the systems improves. Determine the return on investment of time for monitoring and costs if paying fees for promotion. Be realistic with monitoring social media while protecting the time you need to revise your manuscript based on input from beta readers. You may choose to hire an external team member to manage your website and social media platforms.
A blog is another vehicle to drive potential readers to your website and future sales. Select the blog topics and determine the amount of time you can spend on blogging without sacrificing valuable writing time. Blogs can attract readers to your website, engage them, and encourage them to return to the site. Tagging and categorizing the blogs helps readers to find those in which they are especially interested.
Promote your book on your website. Publish quotes and blurbs about your book from beta readers and obtain editorial reviews. These can become part of the book front or back covers or used inside the front matter of the book.
Approximately two months after the launch date of the book, decide if
you are going to create an audio version of your book. Will you be the voice for the book, or will you hire the services of a voice actor?
Do you want to create a trailer for the book to use as a promotional tool both for the print and the audio forms of the book? Again, base your decisions on the anticipated return on investment of your time and money.
Use the 12-Month Book Launch Planning Tool to assist you in creating your own time sequence for planning your next book launch.