Thursday, January 19, 2012

What I've Learned


AC Gaughen (author of Scarlet, Walker Books for Young Readers, February 14, 2012) has posted her debut check list on the Class of 2k12 blog today, which, inspired me to write my own list. Now that my release date has come and gone, I know better what to do the next time around *fingers crossed there's a next time*

Some of this info I learned from Saundra Mitchell, and believe me, she has way more on her website, so you should check it out. Some I've learned through the Classes of 2k11 and 2k12. And the other stuff is my own experience.

And I'll say this, it will cost some money, but it doesn't have to cost a lot, and it's all a write off.

Well before the release:

  • Find your local writing associations and join.
  • Start planning early. Implement your marketing plan as early as possible. I'm not saying start your marketing plan, just start starting your marketing plan.
  • Choose what kind of swag you want and order it. You need to check with your publicist regarding what needs to be put on your swag, publisher name, website, copyright for art work used. Also, be creative. I was kind of a total swag whore, but people love to get free stuff. That's all there is to it. And if that free stuff has your book title, your website, all the better.
  • If you're sending out postcards, get them ordered early, write them out, and have them ready to send out. The closer your release date gets, the more you'll have to do. You'll feel a lot better if your mailings are ready to go. I sent mine to my local libraries, high school librarians and English teachers, and indie book stores. Even if you only get a couple hits, I think it's worth it.
  • Donate. Believe me, you will be asked to donate for giveaways, auctions, etc, etc. Get your name the name of your book out to the world any way you can.
  • Do not skimp on social media. At the least, Twitter, Facebook, blog, and website. I suggest you stay off of Goodreads. Sometimes I wish I'd never heard of Goodreads. While you will more than likely get many rave reviews, you will also get bad ones. And some of them will make you cry. I know it will be hard, but stay away. At the very least, just don't read the bad ones. You've probably heard that publicists from publishing houses don't offer much help to a debut author. I think if you're proactive before you get to that point, your publicist may be more inclined to offer help. Also, find every directory/website, etc and add your name.

Closer to the date:

  • Send out your mailings.
  • Again, find a way to get your name and book out across the country. I did this by:
  • Joining the Apocalypsies and the Class of 2k12.
  • Setting up a blog tour with YA review bloggers.
  • Doing guest posts and interviews for bloggers.
  • Hosting giveaways for swag and/or signed arc.
  • Planning a marketing campaign that will reach from one coast to another. My publicist and I came up with my Pass It On campaign, and it's been really cool so far.
  • Stay organized. Create different folders in your email and on your computer (excel) to keep track of guest posts, giveaways, and keep a calendar of them and author events also. I'm not so good at this and sometimes I forget who I owe what to, re: swag, arcs, posts.
  • Order your own books so you have extra. These will be good for giveaways, and overstock if you're at a signing and they run out of books.
  • Practice your signature. I'm not kidding. Make it different from your legal signature. There are some kooks out there.
  • Plan your party. There are pros and cons as far as the different kinds of places that will host your party.

  1. Library. They usually have larger event spaces, but you may be limited with food and drink. Also, if you're going to sell books, you need to get a book seller there. This you will need to plan for at least a couple months in advance. And they will want to know how many people you'll be expecting. They may not do off site sales if it's not worth their while.
  2. Indie book store. The space might be smaller, but food and drink may be flexible, and you can sell your books right there on site.
  3. Private site. More flexible with food and beverage. Larger space. May be hard to get a book seller there. Will be way more expensive.

There are also some website that offer other ideas for book release parties. Google is your friend.

Release:

  • Communication is key. Make sure you and your host are on the same page about everything, book sellers, ordering books, refreshments, decor, and set up.
  • Plan for disaster. We got snow right before mine, so we adjusted the party a little to accommodate. Also, a box of books didn't come in. Luckily I had brought two boxes I had purchased, so we have a few more, but still not enough. Just make sure you're ready for anything.
  • In case of disaster let go. Things happen. Don't let it stress you out to much. It is what it is. Deal with the things you can control, adapt to the things you can't.
  • If you're using multi-media, make sure your host knows this, you have all the right equipment and it's working properly. If you're using a CD or DVD, test it at home to make sure it works.
  • If you're going to read, practice in front of a mirror or webcam.
  • If you're speaking, have a podium or take a seat so you're not standing there awkwardly shifting from side to side.
  • Project your voice. If you're having someone else read for you, tell them to project their voice.
  • Depend on family and friends for help. They will offer, they will help, use them.
  • Expect people to come early.
  • Bring extra books in case you run out.
  • Give stuff away. People like prizes.
  • Have a guest book, have them write email addresses if they want to keep up with news and events.
  • Give to charity. It will make you feel good. Many writers choose a charity and host a raffle. Carrie Harris hosted a raffle for a hospital library. Robin Bridges did a blood drive. I'm doing a raffle to benefit Mary Bridge Children's hospital at my private party this weekend.
  • Have fun. Very important.

Here are some of the sites I used for my swag:

Gotprint

Pure Buttons

Wrist-band.com

Inkhead

Cafe Press

I think that's all I'll bore you with. I know it's a long list, but chock full of good info. Happy planning.
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