A Timeline for Launching, Marketing and Promoting Your Book

One of the questions authors ask us nearly daily is, “what should I be doing to launch and promote my book, and when?”

Like with everything in the publishing world, there’s no single “right time” or “right way.”  But if your publication date is at least six months out and you’re the kind of person who likes to plan ahead, below are the steps in what we at BookSavvy consider to be an optimal book marketing timeline.  

Spoiler alert: it’s long — potentially continuing on for a year after your publication date or more. That’s why we always say BOOK PROMOTION IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT.

Years in advance
—Get up and running on social media.  Instagram and Facebook are the hot platforms for authors right now, and Twitter’s a plus.
—Network with other authors through online communities or in-person classes.  They will become a valuable part of your promotion plans later.

6 months before your publication date
—Reach out to request blurbs from other authors. (That network in step 1?  Here’s one place it will play a role.)  Don’t worry if you don’t yet have a copy-edited version of your book’s interior or ARCs: most people will read a Word doc, even if there are still typos, or a spiral-bound print-off from Staples.
Start building a website if you don’t have one.
Research conferences or other events over the coming year you’d like to attend or pitch a talk to and start reaching out.
Keep posting to social media, engaging with other users and growing your community.

5 months before publication
—Bring in your publicist. The first thing a good publicist will do 5 months out will be to prepare a strategy and press materials and submit your book for the reviews (unless your publisher is handling that.)
Keep up the social media engagement, the conference research and the networking.

4 months before publication
—Start planning your launch event.  In these times of COVID, chances are it will take place over Zoom.
—Coordinate with your publicist as needed.
Keep up the social media.

3 months out
—Get together an email list for sending newsletter announcements and launch event invitations.
Your publicist will begin more intense media outreach.
Keep up the conference / event research and the networking.
You guessed it: social media.

2 months out
—Send out a newsletter pre-announcing the book if you have a pre-order page up.
Finalize plans for your launch event.
Finalize your website.
Look into readings or talks you can give over the months to come.  (In these times of COVID,  events are being held by Zoom.)  They do NOT have to be the week or month of your book’s publication.
Keep up the conference / event research and outreach, and the networking.  Start focusing on conferences and events over the coming year.
Social media, social media, and more social media.

1 month out
Send out another newsletter with whatever updates you might have (The final cover? A launch event reminder?)
Let your publicist work their magic.
Get a mani-pedi or a haircut.
Meditate. Pray. Indulge in your favorite foods.

Week of publication
Send out another newsletter announcing that the book is out and reminding people to buy it and leave a review.
Enjoy your launch event!  Relish the well deserved celebration.
DO NOT look at sales.

1 month after publication
—Send out your third newsletter
Your PR campaign might be winding down.  Post the news clips it yielded to social media.
Keep lining up more readings, talks and conference participation going forward.
Keep networking.
Consider new initiatives to keep up the visibility and networking: blogging on Medium? Starting a podcast? Organizing an author’s salon? Becoming a regular contributor to a news website?
—Peek at sales but don’t dwell on them.

2 to 6 months after publication:
—Keep sending out newsletters monthly.
Keep lining up more readings, talks and conference participation going forward.
Keep shouting out about your new news clips and growing your community on social media.
Keep networking.
Move forward with plans to blog, do a podcast, organize an author’s salon, contribute to a news site—or whatever other initiatives you think you’d enjoy that will help you keep building a community of potential readers over time.
When your PR campaign ends, consider whether there are any maintenance steps your publicist can help with: Doing a one-off press release from time to time?  Helping you line up talks?
Peek at sales if you must, but don’t focus on them.  It takes time.
Think about your next book (if you haven’t already).
Think about other long-term projects you’d like to see emerge from your writing: Coaching other writers? Teaching? Getting on the speaker circuit?

Above all, remember: books have a long shelf life.  In theory you could market yours forever.  Focus on the long term, not the publication date.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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