When you sign a book deal with a traditional publisher, it’s important to get your head around the 3 key phases of your book launch timeline. These phases include the pre-launch, the launch itself (and yes, this is more than just the book launch event itself!), and post-launch.

The reason you need to have a rough idea of your book launch timeline is so you can do what needs to be done in each phase, for maximum book sales both before, during, and after your book launch!
The WORST thing you can do is simply pick out your launch outfit and write a thank you speech. You need to meet your traditional publishers halfway and do some key author publicity and marketing, particularly in the 6-12 months before your book is on shopshelves.
Most people think a book launch timeline is just about the launch event at the bookstore, and this is simply not true and going to hurt your book marketing campaign in the long-term and mean you sell less books.

A new way of looking at your book

As I say, your book is a product and the author is the brand that sells that product. Traditional book publishers are simply the product development team. For you to prepare properly for your product launch (your book launch), you need to building brand assets that will result in more sales in the long term. This is one of the ONLY things you can control in terms of ensuring your book is a bestseller (and beyond). Only 1% of authors become bestselling authors and I want you to be one of them. To do so, you MUST know what to do in the first phase of your book launch timeline.

So let’s explore what goes into each phase, and more importantly, what can you do as an author to ensure your book is as successful as possible: ie. sells as many copies as possible!

Understand the purpose of each phase so you can prioritise

The most important thing you can do is to understand the purpose behind each phase of your book launch timeline. By understanding the purpose rather than getting into task-mode (ie. running around in circles trying to create a canva graphic!) you know what to prioritise, what to outsource, and how to best spend your time.

Phase one of the Book Launch Timeline:
PRE-LAUNCH PHASE

The first phase of your book launch timeline is the pre-launch phase. This pre-launch phase begins at least nine months before your book hits shopshelves. The more time and energy you can devote to the pre-launch phase, the better it will be for your book sales.

In my experience launching an average selling non-fiction book and a bestselling non-fiction book, the pre-launch phase the MOST important phase which will directly impact big-picture sales of your book.

>>The purpose of the pre-launch phase is to set up strong marketing foundations, build hype, and set up media and publicity foundations for the book launch and promotion. 

 

The keyword here is foundations. In this pre-launch phase you are building foundational assets for future sales of your book.

The reason you need to understand that this is about foundations is so that you can get your marketing assets together ahead of time and really start to craft the message and build hype for your book on these channels.

What do I mean by book launch marketing ‘assets’?

  • Your author website, Goodreads & Amazon profiles
  • Creating a pre-order offer
  • Building your social media channels
  • Building your email list (you need to be emailing them regularly with valuable content, sharing stories, building hype)
  • Creating foundational video content: Book trailer, behind-the-scenes videos, storytelling
  • Preparing signature talk for events
  • Product imagery (cover, quote graphics, author photos)
  • Content and messaging (brand stories, product stories, quotes, messaging, PR and communications)
  • Brand and product alignments (events, other brands, comparative literary products, competitions, book clubs, podcasts…honestly this is THE most fun part to brainstorm and the sky is the limit)
  • Literary relationships (comparative authors, editors, reviewers, historians, influencers etc).

Now, this pre-launch phase takes time, effort and energy, but it will pay off in the long term, and every little piece influences your book sales. 

 

LAUNCH PHASE

The book launch itself will go from 2-4 weeks, and possibly longer. With my second book, A Letter From Paris, the launch itself went from September 2018 – early December 2018. It was every day for the first fortnight and then I was doing interstate events and occasional media throughout November and early December.

>>The purpose of the launch phase is to celebrate, gather social proof, maintain as much momentum and hype and product awareness as possible (your book is a product, so this is a product launch!).

More than just the book launch event itself, the launch phase involves:

  • Announcements galore (to your email list, to bookstores, to social media followers etc
  • Media and interviews (radio, TV, podcasts, etc.)
  • Paid advertising (your publisher might do this, or they may not.)
  • Publicity tours and in-person events (bookshop signings, events, library chats etc)
  • Social media reviews, posts and potentially ‘blog tours’
  • Reviews in major and minor publications – be sure to re-share all of these
  • Giveaways
  • Book Club events

This is like the wedding day after all the preparation and foundational work, this is when you’re ‘on show’ and so the preparation work you did in pre-launch will save you time, help you feel more confident, and of course, sell more books for you in the long-term.
One of the LOVELIEST things I did in the launch phase for A Letter From Paris was to write handwritten postcards with copies of my book that went to independent booksellers across Australia to add a personal touch (to such a personal book). It was a beautiful idea from Scribe’s marketing team and felt very special.

 

POST-LAUNCH PHASE

The post-launch phase is anywhere from one month to three months after your publication date. With traditional publishers, you will typically be able to get support from your publicity and marketing team for about a month (maximum) if you’re a first-time author. They simply don’t have the money or time as a whole fresh batch of new products (books) will need to be launched the next month, and the next! Remember that traditional publishers are launching between 60-200 books a year.

>>The purpose of the post- launch phase is to have long-term sustainable marketing techniques keeping your book top of mind in its category for fresh buyers or people interested in the problem or issue that your book solves.

Now, this is when having a digital business REALLY helps your book, because if you’ve set it up correctly, your offers align with the messages of your book, and any and every piece of promotion you do feeds into your business as well.

Your long-term post-launch strategy might involve:

  • Podcasts
  • Brand-aligned events
  • Brand-aligned competitions & giveaways
  • Promotions to your email list
  • Content marketing (posting to social media, blogging or guest blogging for comparative authors, you-tube)
  • Partnerships with brand-aligned authors
  • Celebrating and re-sharing reviews

Personally, one of my favourite parts of the post-launch phase is that the eyes are no longer on you and you only (!) so this is a nice time to reciprocate some of the sharing and love from launch month and do some posts about comparative titles and authors, review other books, or interview a comparative author for your blog or media.
As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and your success and others’ success can only benefit everyone. Share the love in this post-launch phase and don’t be afraid to intermittently re-share some of your bigger media wins from launch phase, for all those readers who still haven’t heard of you or your book!

In Summary:

There are 3 key phases of your book launch timeline and the most foundational work is done before your book comes out. If you’ve signed a book deal with a traditional publisher you need to learn the steps YOU need to take to become a bestselling author. If you have 6-12 months before your book comes out and you want to make sure you’re primed to launch a bestseller, I have something exciting coming soon. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own!

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