Note: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.
So you’ve got an idea for a book. Maybe you’ve started writing it already. Maybe you’ve already polished the final draft! But what do you do after the writing is done? What do you need to plan for before you’ve even finished your manuscript?
The answer: your book launch.
Indie authors are not JUST authors. We’re also marketers. As a self-published author, you’re responsible for the success of your book. And the first step to success is setting a launch date.
So let’s delve into the basics and discuss why you need a launch date.
Launch Date Basics
What is a launch date?
A launch date is the date that your book is first available for purchase. It’s the publication/release date. It’s the start of your book’s life!
When should I set my launch date?
I like to select a launch date as soon as I’ve started writing the first few chapters/pieces in a book. I suggest you figure out when you PLAN on having your book done, then set your launch date about a month AFTER that date. This extra month allows you time to play around with formatting and marketing – just to make sure everything is perfect. Plus, it gives you a couple weeks leeway in case of any hiccups while the book is being written (maybe you get some serious writers block for a week, or maybe your beta readers take FOREVER to get your manuscript, or maybe you find a plot hole and need to spend an extra two weeks rewriting half the book).
When should I announce my launch date?
This is tricky, and there are a lot of factors to consider, but it basically boils down to how long you’ve been writing.
If you’ve been writing and self-publishing for a while, you know how long something is going to take you to complete. If this is the case – announce your book and the launch date as soon as you start writing the thing! If you’re especially good at marketing and have your method in place, find ways to get pre-orders for your book before it launches!
If you’re relatively new to self-publishing, announce your book a couple months before the launch date – at least after your editors/beta-readers have had a go at the manuscript and you’ve made a round or two of revisions. Writing a book is hard work, filled with a lot of unforeseen pit falls. So make sure you don’t back yourself into a corner by setting a date without knowing that you’ll be able to have the book ready by then.
Where should I announce my book/launch date?
Really, tell everyone about it. Tell your mailing list and social media followers. Post it on your blog/website. Arrange to have it put up on other people’s blogs or sites. Tell your family and friends and sort-of friends. Tell everyone!
Why You Need a Launch Date
Launch dates create buzz
Just like I mentioned in the basics section, building up to your release with announcements about your upcoming launch gets people wanting to buy the book NOW. Having a launch date gives your fans (and potentially new readers) a concrete date to get excited about and tell others about.
You can start lining up marketing/advertising for your book ahead of time
If you have a launch date, you can schedule posts and ads to go out on other sites on your launch date. It’s much better to have a fellow blogger say that your book will be out on “February 2nd” than “some time in February”. Plus, some sites that run ads require you to submit the date that you want the ad to run – and what better day than your launch date?
When you announce to the world that you’re going to write a book and that it’s going to come out on a certain day, you’re much more likely to actually have the book ready to go on that date than if you hadn’t announced anything at all. It’s much easier to let yourself down than to let other people down. Having an official launch date keeps you on track.
It keeps you motivated
This is similar to the last point, but having a date that you book NEEDS to be finished by is incredibly helpful. It keeps you writing when you don’t want to. And it forces you to push through any writer’s block in order to get things done on time.
So what are you waiting for? Go set a launch date for your next project. Then get to work!