Guest post by Jessie Glenn, Owner of Mindbuck Media Book Publicity
With books, prerelease timing may not ensure the Nobel Prize in Literature, but it does ensure the opportunity to be absolutely positive that a book has the best possible chance at success. After all of the work of writing, editing, and working toward a pub date, no one wants to feel as if a “might have been” has passed.
When I meet with an author who has a first book release looming large, I tend to hear one of two observations about the prerelease period. The first is: “I just want to get my book out there,” as if the book were a fertilized egg under a heating lamp and the success is the hatchling moment.
The second most frequent sentiment is that, in a cold sweat, an author suddenly realizes how impossible it will be to complete the prerelease checklist they’ve researched.
This is the timeline I would like every author to know in the year before a book release:
- Social media: Start the year before release or as soon as you can.
a. Twitter is used to position yourself with comp authors. Read books from authors who have a similar readership as you and interact with them. Review their books and post about them, tagging the authors. Note their most influential followers and engage them. Ask questions from the writing community using hashtags like #amwriting. Brand yourself as an author—not as a book. Streamline the topics you talk about into interests that are related to writing, plus one or two personal topics (like cats—and adorable cats who sit on books).
b. Instagram is used to interact with instagramers who focus on books: bookstagramers. For one’s own page, posting images related to writing and your book are helpful. Focus on finding bookstagramers and interacting with their pages. Learn who is interested in books like yours. Don’t post images that are off brand. Use hashtags that are used by comp authors and reviewers.
c. For nonfiction books, LinkedIn can be useful for reposting articles you’ve written in your feed.
d. Facebook is not great for growing a new audience with “author pages,” but it is good at disseminating info to people you already know. Don’t spam your friends a million times with your book release info, but do share links to your short clips and send messages to people you know who would be interested in reposting some of your content (no mass mailings though!)
- Blurbs: Your publicist and publisher will want blurbs for your press kit and one-sheet between four and six months in advance of your book release. Earlier is fine.
a. Be a good literary citizen: Attend readings, buy and read books, get to know writers.
b. Reach out to writers you know.
c. Ask your agent, publicist, publisher, and friends about authors they know and if they can reach out on your behalf for a blurb.
d. Cold-calling for a blurb can be awkward (and useless) but sometimes you get lucky. The best way is to get to know the author in question at least a little through social media, see if you have friends in common, and get to know their work. Then, send an email to the author if a contact is listed, or send a letter to their agent or publicist, explaining what their work has meant to you and the importance of their blurb. Include a personal letter to the author. Your publicist can also do this.
- ARCs: You’ll want to have printed advance reader copies (ARCs) and an ebook ARC five to six months in advance of the book release.
a. ARC deadlines are set by industry reviewers such as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. These reviewers have a timeline meant to influence the publishing and bookselling communities (rather than the book-buying community).
b. ARCs can also be added to Netgalley or Edelweiss at this time, which can be very helpful for additional reviews and exposure.
- Book Publicity Campaign: This should be in place and started four to eight months in advance of the book release.
a. The point of a publicity campaign is to garner media and reviewer attention. Your publicist will help you through the timeline and may offer help with social media and blurb acquisition.
b. Press kits, one-sheets, and media lists should be written and built by about five months in advance of release.
c. Advanced reviewers should be pitched at least four and a half months in advance of release.
d. Two to five months before release, pitch the rest of the media list and send out ARCs.
e. At release, compile a list of how many people requested the book, the number of publicity hits (with links), blurbs, and other earned media.
We understand your excitement to get your book out. We really do! To build the most buzz (and sales!) possible, follow the above tips to make sure prerelease publicity is part of your book production timeline.
Jessie Glenn runs Mindbuck Media Book Publicity, a comprehensive book publicity company in Portland, Oregon. Also a writer, one of Jessie’s essays was named Best of 2018 in Salon magazine. They’ve also had essays in NYT “Modern Love,” Washington Post, Toronto Star, and elsewhere. They are currently writing a memoir. Glenn teaches book publicity at Portland State University in the master’s in book publishing program. Jessie and spouse have a blended family with five children.