As a soon to be debut author, there are many things running through my head. Besides the usual worries about edits, copy edits, ARCs, and first pass pages, there are concerns about cover reveals, reviews, and, of course, publicity and promotion.
Many of these items are out of my control, but the one thing I feel like I can try to corral is publicity and promotion. That may have to do with the fact that I spent ten years working in marketing, public relations, and advertising. And while I have experience, I’m also aware that the publishing world is a completely different animal than the general retail marketplace.
With that in mind, I decided to start this new blog series called, Dealing With A Debut. The plan is to share advice and tips from past debuts in hopes that future debuts can plan a clear path for the time leading up to their own release.
As I’m new to all of this, I reached out to previously published author friends who write Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade and asked if they would mind sharing their debut experiences, in particular how they approached publicity and promotion. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of help, and I must give a HUGE shout-out to all those writers who patiently read over my long questionnaire and provided more than brilliant answers!
For today’s first installment we are going to cover timing. Here are the questions I posed in my questionnaire:
“How early did you start your book promotion? Six months prior to your release date? Three months? One month? Did you feel like that was too early or too late?”
Preparation (nine months prior to release)
Many respondents commented that somewhere around the nine month mark they started planning for their release. Several writers mentioned putting together a spreadsheet outlining what their promotion would look like from the six-month point on. If their book was on Goodreads, they promoted the link to get adds and create buzz for their title.
By this time many had either scheduled a talk with, or already spoken to their publicist. The conversation usually covered things like cover reveal timing, signings, conference attendance, launch day parties, and when their book would appear on NetGalley. If pre-order links were live, they were also encouraged to promote the links on social media.
Promotion kicks into gear. Blog tours are scheduled and so are interviews. Many writers responded that at this time they had firm plans in place for their pre-order giveaway. Some were also promoting ARC giveaways either on their publisher’s website or on Goodreads.
Week of launch
By this time most fixed promotion is in place. Blog tours or storygram tours are posted. At this point, authors are encouraged to use social media (Twitter, Instagram) to promote their release.
Other important points mentioned:
Many writers joined debut groups as soon as they had a deal. Several times it was mentioned that these groups not only provided support, but also helped educate one another on the process of promotion.
Most commented that when their cover was revealed the promotion game changed. Once they had a reveal (most said this happened around the six-month mark) they did little bit more promotion. If by that time they had ARCs, they were encouraged to do giveaways on Goodreads, or promote a giveaway if their publisher was providing an ARC. Many also mentioned a big promotional push when their book was added to NetGalley.
Once their cover was revealed, many responded that their next step was promoting pre-orders. Planning for this started around the six-month mark (ordering swag, etc). The actual campaign began about three months prior to their book’s release. Pre-orders campaigns included everything from stickers, to postcards, to other types of swag like enamel pins and tote bags.
The majority of writers agreed that pre-planning was their most important piece of advice for debuts. For them, having a good plan in place relieved some of the pressure and anxiety that came with being a debut. Many also mentioned that heavy promotion is still required after the book comes out. They recommended pacing yourself and enjoying the process so you don’t get burned out.