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Planning a short-term launch or a long-term book marketing campaign?

There’s definitely something to be said for celebrating the publication of your book – especially your FIRST book – with a big gala launch party to-do celebration. If … you have the time, budget, energy, skills, and/or team to put it together. And celebrate you should! A book is still a big deal. You took the time to write it, design it, create an attractive cover. You paid to have it edited, typeset, proofread, and perhaps printed. You want to share your success with your friends, family, clients, neighbors – pretty much everyone you know.

To do a launch up right takes an investment of time and, depending on your goals, probably some money. The amount can be large or small, depending on whether you charter a yacht, as one of my prospective clients was thinking about doing, or hold it at a local coffeehouse where the shop owner agrees to give everyone who buys a book a free cuppa joe, as another pair of clients did.

evergreen sapling and tree

The thing about putting an enormous amount of effort into planning a launch is that it’s usually short-term thinking. For a book with an evergreen subject matter or theme, a single launch event should be the first item on the list of a long-term marketing campaign. To be clear, your brand new book about the latest wedding fashion trends is not timeless – so this idea may not apply. A job search book you wrote 10 years ago needs updating to include LinkedIn and online apps to become relevant – and it likely will need updating again in the next couple years, so it’s not evergreen, either. A YA coming-of-age novel? More timeless, unless it’s weighted down by too many references to modern details like Snapchat and Dylan O’Brien.

The point is, if your book will remain relevant past its first six months in print (or you can routinely update it to keep it relevant), you want to plan a long-term marketing campaign that includes building a decent social media following; securing reviews; participating in local, regional, and national book events; blogging; writing news releases; and keeping in regular touch with your most loyal readers.

Remember, dear author, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing a book. It’s up to you to know who your reader is, where he/she spends time on and offline, and how you can begin to interact with him/her. Word of mouth is important, so who are the most influential of your ideal readers? Focus on them, engage them, and tempt them to get the buzz rolling. This is a delicate balance that first recognizes the social aspect of engagement; secondly acknowledges that this person is likely busy; and thirdly offers something of value (e.g., copies of your book, access to your mailing list, the possibility of partnership) in exchange for their assistance, as opposed to coming at them with your hand out.

Other ideas include creating an inner circle for superfans and building a membership site that offers more tools, grander insights, or deeper access to you and your creative well.

The most important aspect of a long-term campaign is the plan.

  • What are the tasks?
  • Who will perform them?
  • When will they perform them?
  • Who will manage quality control to be sure all the tasks are completed on time?
  • What is your plan for amending the plan when it’s not working for any reason?
  • Who will hold you accountable if you fall into analysis paralysis or procrastination?

GS - pencil ruler book

Clever launches occasionally catapult authors to bigger successes. More often, they’re just short-lived photo ops. Long-term plans with consistent application is where the true success thrives. Hold the launch. Celebrate your book’s first bloom. Then, nurture it and cultivate it so it can keep on growing and thriving.

Here’s to planning for the short AND long term!

Laura

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