Before I was published in early 2014, I wished someone had told me all the little things that a book author must do between the time the manuscript undergoes editing and the finished book is released to the public.
Right now I have two books of my series about to release at once, and I’m acquainted with what to expect in the final weeks beforehand. But in the middle of it all, I thought—duh!—new authors out there might want to know, too.
Not everyone’s experience will be the same as mine, and I’m not taking into consideration either self-publishing or publishing by a big house, but here’s what I’ve learned the average author contracted by a small to mid-sized publisher should do.
- Approximately six weeks or more before release: Make a list of trusted individuals who might read your book in advance and give an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads, and possibly elsewhere. Contact them as soon as possible and let them know when you expect an ARC (advanced reader/review copy) to be available in e-book or print, as the case may be. Then if they agree to read and review, don’t forget to send the book! (Your publisher may arrange advanced reading and reviews for your book, and you can scratch this one off your list.)
- Approximately five weeks or more before release: Plan a launch party—actual, virtual, or both—and solicit help from family or friends to be with you for the duration of the party. Who do you wish to invite as guests? (Not every one of your 500 Facebook friends, because that doesn’t work.) Will you give away door prizes at an actual party and equally desirable and interesting giveaways at your virtual Facebook party? Start some lists of guests and giveaways for both types of parties. If you can schedule your Facebook party for the day of release, great. An actual party can come later.
- Approximately four-and-a-half weeks before release: Purchase, gather, ask for donations of giveaways and/or door prizes for your parties. As much as possible, choose items related to your book or story. If you write YA, ask friends who are authors of YA if they’d like to donate their books to be part of your celebration.
- Approximately four weeks before release: Give your final approval to the cover. I’m skipping the part beforehand when you and the publisher or designer discuss options back and forth for the design.
- Approximately three-and-a-half weeks before release: Update your website, blog, Facebook author page, Twitter profile, LindedIn profile–and any other sites you use to promote yourself–with your final book cover image and a blurb about the book. This is when you might do a cover “reveal” on your personal Facebook page and Pinterest, too. Where applicable, include a link to your publisher’s site.
- Approximately three weeks before release: Proof the galleys and make notes on a document in the manner requested by your editor or publisher, citing the number assigned to each line of the galleys that requires a correction or other change. The galleys were e-mailed to me, and that’s how my publisher asked me to handle corrections. (With my first publisher, there were no galleys. I proofed a print-on-demand paper copy that was shipped to me. )
- Approximately two-and-a-half weeks before release: Proof the e-book, looking for formatting issues and any errors you missed in the galleys. My publisher preferred I make notes of changes on a Word document, citing the chapter and paragraph to direct her to the error.
- Approximately two weeks before release: Start creating Tweets if you haven’t already, because you don’t want to rush to do that when near the finish line. Chances are you won’t write those sparkly Tweets when you’re under pressure. You can add the purchase links when they become available.
- Approximately one-and-a-half weeks before release: Prepare text that you can copy and paste onto your Facebook event/party page as needed to remind guests and post information about giveaways. Remind assistants who will help you monitor the party, take notes, and keep lively comments going. You will need moral support during the Facebook event—and bathroom breaks.
- Approximately one week or more before release: Announce your Facebook party wherever you choose. Send Facebook invitations. Tweet and blog about your upcoming release! Ask friends to re-post and retweet your information.
- Approximately three or four days before release: Update or create your Amazon and Goodreads author pages for your new book. (You can create the Goodreads author page earlier than this, once you have an ISBN number for any of your books, but your publisher needs to list your book with Amazon before you update there (or create the author page if this is your first book).
- Approximately one day before release: Set up purchase links on your website or blog so buyers can find where to buy your book online. Mention other places that readers might find or ask for your book. On your Facebook author page, use the Call-to-action button to direct visitors to where they can buy or learn more about your book. If you will be selling directly from your site, I assume you set that up months in advance but can activate it now.
I’m sure to have forgotten something, but please forgive any omission. If you wonder how I recalled what I did remember and when it happened—some of which I’m doing now or will do in the next couple of weeks—I keep a calendar. I recommend you do too, if only to look back and see all that you’ve accomplished!
What details would you like to know about anything I’ve mentioned? How about what I may have forgotten?