Beyond the Manuscript: Developing your product launch plan (week 4)

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Beyond the ManuscriptOver the span of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will be sharing a series he calls “Beyond the Manuscript.” Whether you’re a new or seasoned author we hope you’ll find this material helpful:

We’re now 4 weeks into this series and today we’re going to be looking at Developing Your Product Launch Plan.

Ideally the building of your platform should be in full swing while you’re writing and especially as you advance into publication.

As you move into publication you want to start working on your launch plan. This is very important. If you wait until the book is out then start planning you will have lost valuable time and opportunities.

Developing a launch plan starts with creating buzz.

You need to get people excited.


Your book is coming out!! This is exciting, let people feel your energy and enthusiasm, you’ve put a lot of hard work into getting to this moment.

Use your social media, share updates of when and how your book will be available, publicize scheduled signings, readings, book festivals, conferences. Let your fans know. Offer your followers pre-release exclusives, this could be the ebook and print book bundled or personalized copies. You can partner with your publisher on this for joint marketing.

You will want to connect with retail. This is especially important in your home market, this should be were your biggest initial audience and personal sales come from.

Pick a strategic retail partner. You might decide you want to have the support of a local indie store or if your publisher has distribution into a national chain you may take this route. Many writers develop friendships with bookstore managers early on in the writing process so you may already have a store in mind.

Once you’ve picked a retail outlet you feel is central to the local success of your title make those all important introductions. You’ll want to connect with the manager, owner or CRM (community relations manager), share with them about your book (using the title, not “my book”), how you’d like to work with them on a local level for a launch party/signing. They may have questions so be prepared, as I shared in earlier posts you’ll want to master your pitch. This allows you to draw in the manager and get them excited, be prepared to tell them about your local reach, what you’ve been doing to build a following and most importantly be prepared to tell them how and when they can get the book. Is it nationally distributed through a publisher/distributor or is it a self-published title that you will be handling the distribution? If this is the case know your discount scales and terms.

Once you’ve established your local retail partner, link to them on your website. Plug them in your social media and connect with their social media, keep a close eye on what they are doing so you can make yourself available should they be doing anything locally that will help get your book out there.

Stay connected with the manager work with them on your local events.

When planning events you have three main categories you can consider:

  • Retail: this includes bookstores, gift shops, coffee houses
  • Non-Retail: covers churches, book clubs, libraries, schools and of course
  • Online: Google+ Hangouts, blog tours, giveaways

Each of these categories need to be explored and tested by you. You will find that you’re going to have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. If you plan wisely you can have each event cross promote another.

Think about your audience and where they will be likely to go.

The next step is creating a media database. A media database along with your retail contacts and fan base will become a go-to list for the ongoing success of your title and any future titles. You will want to compile a spreadsheet including:

  • Local TV and radio show producers
  • Local news papers and magazine editors
  • Local events calendars
  • Bloggers and reviewers

Do keep in mind national media likes several months lead time. National magazines around 3-6 months lead and national broadcast around 3 months lead unless it is breaking news. If you’re reaching out to local TV and Radio the lead time is not as essential.

Creating this database for yourself is going to take work but it is worth it. If you have a good publisher they’ll have reach into an extensive media databases and will pitch your title as they see appropriate. I do however recommend you make your own connections when possible and build on relationships with any that interview you. You never know when your subject matter ties in perfectly with breaking news.

Your platform is established. Your social media is active and working. You’ve got your pitches down. You have store contacts, media contacts and a launch plan created.

Next week we’re going to put this all into action and help you make your first big event a successful signing.

What retailer do you want to have your first big event at? Have you got a game plan in place to ensure a buying crowd is in attendance?

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