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What is Launch?
Today I'm going to discuss one of the most important days of a book's life. The launch meeting. If you follow editors on twitter, every three months or so, you'll see them enthusiastically tweeting phrases like
"Winter 2014 Launch today!"
"I can't wait to launch all of my great Summer 2014 books!"
"Today's Fall 2014 launch was fantastic!"
What are they talking about?
Launch is typically the first time the entire sales, marketing, and publicity teams learn about a book. At houses with acquisitions boards, those groups may voice opinions before the book is bought, but launch is the first time it is really introduced them as an actual book on the list.
What is a launch meeting like?
Launch typically takes place in a large room that can fill all the various teams, along with the editorial group. The publisher will typically start the meeting talking about how enthusiastic he/she is for the list being presented. At that point, the editors will "launch" their books. I just had my Summer 2014 launch a few weeks ago, so I'm going to give you an idea of what my launch consisted of.
My imprint publishes both original fiction and licensed tie-in fiction. My first titles were a brand new license for the imprint. Before I could discuss the editorial aspects of the book, we had to introduce the license (a pretty awesome cartoon show) to the team. We showed clips from the show and discussed how the brand is already in the marketplace. Once the brand was explained, I told the room about the three books we would be publishing into the program in Summer 2014. At that point, we received feedback from sales on how similar licenses are doing and they had some preliminary discussions on how to position the books for retail.
After we wrapped up the licenses, we moved into our original fiction list. I launched a brand new chapter book series by an established author, but one who is new to Penguin. The manuscript had been sent out several weeks before launch to be read by the sales/marketing/publicity teams. This was the first time I would be getting feedback on the manuscript, as well as the first time I would be showing the teams the covers. The moment before I launch a new series is always full of a combination of excitement and fear. Will they like the cover? Did they like the manuscript? In addition to the revealing the covers, I took time to position the series for our team. I discussed the author's presence in the marketplace and how the series fills a hole in our list. This was my moment to show the enthusiasm I felt for the series. Luckily, this new series went over very well. We received very positive feedback on both the manuscript and the covers.
I launched several other fiction titles that day for books that were part of other existing series, along with my first picture book.
Launch is important because it sets the tone for a book's life. The feedback received is essential to a book's success. If the sales team feels a cover isn't working, the editorial and design teams work to fix the issue before sales conference. It is a moment for all of the teams to ask questions about an author's platform and begin to think how to promote the book.
There are many more discussions after the initial launch meeting that help determine a book's future. Launch is just the beginning. It is full of excitement and positive energy. Everyone in the room wants to make the best books possible.
To answer my initial question of "What is Launch?" It is the moment an editor's love of a book becomes known to the entire team responsible for selling it. Hopefully, they fall in love, too.