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Take these steps before your book release

Today’s guest post offering advice for your book release is from Michael Murphy, who wrote a wonderful article for us before on how to get publicity. A full-time writer and part-time urban chicken rancher in Arizona, he is the author of the new book  The Yankee Club, the first in the Jake and Laura Series. His next, All That Glitters, will be released in January. He’s currently hard at work on book three. Learn more on his website

Take these steps before your book is released

By Michael Murphy

On August 12, Random House Alibi released my Prohibition-era mystery, The Yankee Club. This was my tenth published novel. Release day brings joy, excitement, and pride – a deluge of emotions much like the birth of a child (something I also know a little about).

Release day is filled with activity, blog appearances, and interactions on the growing list of social media sites. It includes posting about the event and accepting congratulations from friends, family, fellow authors, and readers. My release day was busy, but went smoothly. Much of this can be attributed to the work I did months before the release date.

Whether you’re an independent author or your book is being published by a traditional publisher, as an author you’ll be responsible for marketing and promoting your book. I hope the following tips help your release date go well.

Six months before your book’s release 

Here’s your checklist six months out: 

  • Polish your book’s description
  • Modernize your website
  • Get more blog followers
  • Take a new publicity photo
  • Identify media contacts
  • Consider a street team

Polish your book’s description. A succinct description can be used anywhere: website, blog, e-mail, social media, parties, family get-togethers, elevators, stoplights. Readers are everywhere, so have your pitch ready. Be prepared to summarize your book in approximately 25 words.

Modernize your website.  Come on, dust off those cobwebs and give your site a makeover. You’re competing with other authors for a reader’s time. Pay attention to the top of your homepage. Your goal is to get the visitor to scroll down or click links to other pages.

Get more blog followers. You don’t have a blog? Start one months before the release. Establish your credibility and your brand with posts that demonstrate your writing expertise and attract followers with content that doesn’t focus on your book. Prepare, save, and schedule posts leading to the launch.

Take a new publicity photo. I enjoy getting my picture taken about as much as I enjoy trips to the dentist, but you want to get a modern look and several poses that you can use on your website, blog, and social media sites.

Identify media contacts. Accumulate e-mail and mailing addresses of media members you plan to contact about the release of your novel.

Consider a street team. A street team is a group of fans who support your work and spread the word on social media. They can multiply the number of followers and increase pre-release buzz. Don’t have fans? Sure you do.

Three to five months before the release

Here’s what you’ll want to do closer to the release date: 

  • Solicit book reviews
  • Schedule blog tour stops
  • Solicit media appearances 

Solicit book reviews. Reviews are crucial in attracting readers. Each review can reach thousands of potential readers. They’ll show up on the reviewer’s blog and social media sites that include Goodreads. Use them on your website and blog, too.

Schedule blog tour stops. Do blog tours turn into sales? Results are hard to quantify, but blog tours (also known as virtual book tours) can reach followers you don’t have. Solicit various types of tour stops, interviews, guest posts, and book reviews.

Solicit media appearances. The launch of your book is not news. Find a link between your book, its theme, or issues addressed with current events. Be ready for rejections, knowing that one “yes” can have a significant impact on your sales.

Just before release date

Your book is about to be released. Here are three things you can do: 

  • Generate reviews
  • Start the blog tour
  • Publicize pre-orders

The Yankee ClubGenerate reviews. As noted above, reviews can pique the interest of readers, enticing them to pre-order your book. Post links to advance reviews on Goodreads and other sites on your social networks.

Start the blog tour.  Start your tour at least a week in advance of your release date so followers – yours and the blog’s – can begin to look forward to your book’s launch. Continue the blog tour during and after the release.

Publicize pre-orders. Pre-orders of your book will be noticed by your publisher, so get the word out as soon as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers make your book available for pre-order. On your website, post links to each of these sites, not just Amazon.

These are the steps that worked for me, but don’t just follow my suggestions. Re-engineer what others have done and are doing before their book’s release, particularly those books within the genre you write. Best of success to you!

What was the single most important thing you did to promote your book before it was released? Why was it so important?

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  1. Michael, this is a wonderful posting. All the information is clearly explained. There is nothing like a to-do list when facing a big project–especially a backwards countdown. Thanks very much for the post. Ellen Callahan

  2. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing these steps to launching our books. I was happy to see you emphasize two things:

    1. We’re responsibility for our marketing and promoting our books, whether we are legacy or indie publishers.
    2. The launch of our book is not news. We have to find the news angle that ties into our book theme.
    (Fortunately, Sandra has this covered.)

    1. Ah, Flora, I always love when you stop by! You bring so much experience to the site. Thanks for this wise observation . . . and would you think about writing a guest post, too?

      : )


  3. Thanks for the great tips, as usual.
    The single thing that helped my award-winning book Look Good Now and Always become a best-seller was to put it in the correct category. Authors might want to ask advanced readers what category they think it belongs in before their launch, and really fine tune that for best sales.
    Best wishes for much success!

  4. This is great information, and it’s so true that a wise author lays the groundwork long before the book is published.

    As a long-time editor for independent authors (more than ten years now) and as an indie publisher since 2011, I think what would tremendously help this checklist would be to mention at what stage of book production these steps should be done.

    For instance, would you suggest having the book cover (at least the front) designed FIRST so that you can use it in all the buzz-building?

    Then, which steps should be done during the month or two it takes to edit, design, and format the interior of the book? (The process varies according to the length of the book, meaning word count, and whether there are lots of photos and images to be inserted.)

    Since most authors are now managing that process themselves or they’re hiring someone like me to do all those steps for them, your fantastic advice would be complete if you included the book production timeframe in each block of marketing steps mentioned in this article.

    I look forward to your reply, and possibly and revised article with this very helpful information included!

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Thank you, Janet. There will be no re-write, but you might have given Michael an idea for a product he can create and sell. Thanks!


  5. This is a great information. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom—especially since I am terrible at the marketing aspect of being a writer.
    I will take these and see what I can do for my next release.
    Janet Angelo, thank you for sharing your thoughts on a time frame. I’ll have to see if I can find a happy place between yours and Michael’s advice.

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