Launching a Book is the Starting Line (Not the Finish Line)
Greetings people of the internet!
I'm back on the other side of launching my second book! Woo hoo! I did it, right? I can chill out, relax. Maybe take a nice long bubble bath.
[cue the laughter from other published authors]
The truth is, launching a book is the start line not the finish line.
I know that's a hard thing to hear. So much work— so much y'all— goes into before launching a book. First there's the writing the whole thing. Then the editing. And then, figuring out a strategy for your advanced reader copies. Figuring out swag. Deciding your marketing strategy. Planning what kind of media outlets you're going to pitch.
And yes, if you're at a larger publisher, they may help with many of these things. But you'll still be called upon to decide. You'll still be the one writing the blog posts, talking to bloggers. You'll still be the one writing personal essays or reaching out to new readers on social media.
There's so much work that goes into before your book even comes out into the world.
And the thing I think we often forget as writers is this: pub day is really Day One of that books life. The first day that someone can go into a bookstore and actually buy your book.
As an author, you've probably been working on your book for ten to eighteen months by this point. You are, most likely, sick of thinking about it. Even if it's just a little bit.
And I'm here to tell you that you've got to rally, because all of that work was really just pre-season training. Sorry to bring in another sports and training metaphor, but if you've been reading my posts before, that shouldn't totally surprise you.
A lot of work goes into pre-season training by the way. It's the foundation for everything you're going to do. You can't race or win games or win fights without adequate pre-season training. It's where you build your base. It's where you provide the foundation for all of the work that comes afterwards.
But the thing is, a lot of work still comes afterwards. You still haven't raced a single race. You still haven't fought a single match. Your season is still ahead of you.
Which is why you've got to save your energy and you've got to pace yourself before you get to launch day. You've got to accept that you've worked so, so hard to get to this point and you're still not done.
If you don't believe me, by the way, there's a great thread over on Twitter from Margot Wood about how book marketing really lies in the eight weeks after (rather than before) a book launch. She used to work in marketing at a big publishing house and her findings are based on real data.
The best advice I can give about launching a book is to not spend all of your energy before the book comes out. To learn to manage your promotions and your marketing in smaller chunks before your book comes out—so that they're slowly distributed over a longer timeline. Because you've got to save that big push of energy for right after the book has launched.
Your book release day is something that you should honor and celebrate on your own terms. You worked so hard to get to this point. Pat yourself on the back, throw a party if you like. Or maybe just order a large pizza and watch your favorite adventure movie (my favorite way, honestly).
And then dust yourself off and remind yourself that there's still work to be done. There are still readers out there, who may not have heard of your book yet. Because that's the real joy in all of this work— your book just launched into the world and it's time for the world to meet it.