So You're Planning A Book Launch. What About Pre Launch Promotion?

Posted at 11:25am on 2nd July 2016

In my last blog post, So you’re Planning a Book Launch.  Do you Know What You’re Doing? we considered some of the forward planning that’s necessary.  Now, with mine so recently behind me, I’ll continue to share my experiences.  We’ve looked at Venue, Timing, and Ease of Access, Invitations, and Refreshments, so today I’m going to move on to one or two platform-building activities, and in a third post we’ll look at the practicalities of the day itself.

PRESS RELEASE

A pre-event press release is highly recommended – if you can secure one!  Sadly, some, such as the local newspaper where I went to school and where my parents lived for sixty years, will want to treat your event as an advertisement rather than a news item, in which case you would have to pay.  It would also open the event up to all and sundry which, if you’re catering for it, might not be to your advantage.

Persistence is vital.  Despite the rejections, there are many regional papers that welcome a well-written short piece to help fill their pages - with certain provisos.  First it must have some local or specific interest.  Second, a photograph is a must.  Third, try to find the name of the editor or journalist to whom you can address it personally.

Could you link your book to something newsworthy – perhaps breast cancer awareness day, the anniversary of a local occurrence, or even to an organisation like Relate?  Early on in my book, Time to Shine, in which a client arrives at Evie Adam’s counselling practise seeking help in solving the mystery behind her broken marriage, the concept of ‘passive aggressive behaviour’ is mentioned.  Later, the practice of transactional analysis is presented and explained.  These counselling procedures lend gravitas to what might, otherwise, be thought of merely as entertainment.  Likewise, in my novel A Painful Post Mortem, there are links to organisations supporting those afflicted with drug addiction, and with bereavement support agencies.  

Making a connection between items in your book and something in the real world could make the difference between acceptance and rejection.  Think carefully about what might give your press release more credence, and especially if you can link it to recent news of a real life situation.

Does your book mention anything of contemporary or historical interest?  The opening page of Chosen? has the protagonist, Evie, chiding herself, humorously, by making a comparison between the ‘mish-mash of history and architecture’ spread at her feet (Exeter’s Cathedral Green, the site of a Saxon burial ground and Roman basilica) and the ‘fashionable but disposable’ shoes she had previously criticised, but secretly yearned to own.  Again, this could be linked to something relevant, like the fact that Exeter Tourist Board was seeking to promote tourism in the area.

In this instance, I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the Plymouth BBC studios while waiting to go on air in a radio interview with Fitz – David Fitzgerald – when the presenter of the regional TV programme, Spotlight, arrived.  Having made sure I’d brought several copies of my book, I was able to hand one to Justin Leigh and link to the tourism item he’d mentioned on TV only a night or two earlier.

Is your book located anywhere recognisable?  My latest novel, Chosen? is set largely in Exeter (as is Time to Shine) plus Dartmouth and Kingswear, with particular mention of the higher ferry shown here.  In a push to link with other local entities, I arranged a competition with the Torbay Photographic Society whereby each member could submit a maximum of three images of the locations to my publisher for the book cover.  That, in itself, made it newsworthy, both before and after the book launch.  It has also meant that in addition to the bookshops sourced by my publisher’s distributors, I’ve found local hotels have been more than willing to take books direct from me on a Sale or Return basis. 

Finally, don’t forget to approach potential sellers in the places mentioned in your book.  In my case,  this includes Exeter Cathedral Bookshop, The Dartmouth Community Bookshop and The Floating Bridge – a restaurant on the banks of the River Dart - which is the image on the front cover.  Even if unable to stock your book, the proprietors may well be willing to promote it.

Next time, we’ll look at Presentation at Your Book Launch

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