A Publisher's Conversation with Authors: What Makes a Good Book Launch?
(photo by Frank Perez)
It is Tuesday. Time to tall turkey. Monday's madness is over, and Wednesday will take us over the hump, so Tuesday it is--for some serious discussion with authors. Tuesday talks mean to address authors in waiting and self-published authors who would like to go a more traditional route or who would at least like to take their steps with a publisher by their side.
Today's topic is about launching a book, especially for authors without universal name recognition. It is a follow-on to our December 29, 2020 blog post. The model that many new authors have in mind are the events and actions that famous authors take. Unfortunately, those are not the most effective for unknown authors. Here are some things to think about.
- Book signings at book stores can fail more often than succeed where the author is an unknown.
- The current status at many bookstores is that there is insufficient staff to set up and support signings.
- That aside, even before the pandemic, bookstores did not bring in purchasers for books. Rather, they expected authors to bring in purchasers. The value to the store in doing the signings was more in gaining new customers and bringing awareness of the store to a wider group than in actually selling books.
- Generally, book store signings end up in a loss situation where the bookstore, even when figuring conservatively, orders more books than are sold, and the result is a net loss for the author when those boks are returned. In addition to printing costs, there are shipping costs; these lead to losses.
- Moreover, if no one walks over to your table, it can be pretty lonely! (And that happens a lot.)
- There are places where doing book signings can make a lot of sense and promote your book well. Consider the following:
- a favorite coffee shop
- your local library
- any local literary enterprise location
- some local-color restaurants like having local authors do readings, signings, etc. to bring attention to the local
- churches, if the topic is religious and the church is your own
- retreat centers
- community centers
- schools, if the topic is of interest to children or teachers; arrange to work with English classes and help students learn how books come into being and talk to a real-life author
- special locations associated with the topic of your book
- if you do a book signing, be sure to inform your local media
Meet with groups
- In addition to schools (if appropriate) as noted above, check our local library groups and library support groups
- Find local book clubs and meet with them to share behind-the-scenes information about your book
- Do a virtual book tour; click HERE for a description.
- Throw a party (or a series of parties); they can take any form you like -- BBQ, restaurant party, home party (your home or a friend's home or a supporter's home); consider inviting some or all of the following
- the movers and shakers in your community
- local media
- members of group to which you belong
- local book club members
- local library board
- groups that are interested in the topic of your book
Whatever you do to launch your book, ask readers you encounter to please write a review. You might consider offering a free copy in return for a review. That includes contacting local media with the same offer. (Usually your publisher will send a press release and provide a free copy of your book to local media if you provide the contact information.) Be sure, too to follow up in whatever ways seem appropriate with those who attended your events. Note: If you have a publicist, s/he will hand-hold you through this process.
Want to read more about this topic? Check out a good article on this topic HERE.
Lesson for today's Tuesday talk: Think outside of the box when it comes to book launches.
In many cases, the unique and non-traditional approaches that keep in mind your tartget audience will help promote and sell your book much better than the traditional approaches, such as a book event at a bookstore (but if traditional is also available, so much the better).
Read more posts about publishing HERE.
The Tuesday talks reflect real discussions between the management of MSI Press LLC and our own authors or those would-be authors who come through our doors but don't make the cut--yet. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, leave the question in the comment section. Chances are, in our 17 years of publishing first-time and experiences authors, we have had a conversation with one of our authors that we can share with you.