While I've been preparing for my release date, I've spent a lot of time considering various options for building up awareness of my book and publicity for the launch. Below is the general outline I have for publicising my launch, and some advice from what I've learned or realised so far.
1: Book Launch - The big one. This is the thing every aspiring author dreams of when they send off their first manuscript. Or at least, I did, anyway. Mine is being planned for a couple of days after the release date so I can make sure that the book is available and in stock at the venue. This is a lot of work. I've heard a book launch compared to a wedding in terms of its importance to the host and the dedication involved in pulling one off well. I'd believe that. Already I have to consider catering, whether the venue is allowed to play music (in Ireland any business must have a licence to play copyrighted music on its premises, whether it's on the radio or on an mp3 player), how easy will it be for people to get to, etc. And that's not taking into account little touches like free gifts to give away or things like that.
This is probably the most labour-intensive part of my promotion. And I think that's good. This is the night when I get to celebrate a part of my life which has fora very long time been kept very private. Friends and family will see something that means so much to me in a way I've never shown them before. Opening up like that is an intimidating prospect, but this is something I love. This book is the product of love and years of hard work. I want the people I love to be with me when I get to reveal it.
My advice is to start planning this early. As soon as you've got your release date confirmed. If there are things you can get done before then, like getting friends and family together who can help with various tasks, or working out exactly what you want to have at the party in the way of food or what kind of venue to go for, do it as early as you can. Preparation is key for events like this. After that, get in touch with potential venues. Find names of people who deal specifically with this sort of event and contact them directly. If you have friends or family who can out you in contact with the right people, ask them for help. While events like this are part of your venue's business, building a friendly relationship with them can only help you in the long run and make the whole process much more pleasant.
2: Virtual Book Launch - I've had enormous support from people I've met through my blog, Twitter and Facebook, as well as from friends who live overseas and who I only get to speak with over the internet. I need to show everyone how much that support has meant to me and I'd feel wrong not marking this occassion in a way that people not able to be at the actual launch can join in. So I'm also having a virtual book launch on the Saturday after the launch party. I'll likely come up with a Twitter hashtag for people to use.
This seems like it'll be deceptively easy to organise, which is why I want to make extra certain I'm prepared. Not only do I need to make sure it's publicised enough, but I may want to look into some kind of incentive like a giveaway or different things to talk about related to the book.
3: Blog Tour - Another daunting exercise. Throughout November, I'm going to be doing a blog tour, which means as soon as I know how many people want to host me, I need to pull out the stops and get posts written or answer interview questions.
The best advice I can give with this one is to make sure you don't overdo it. No-one will be impressed if you crash and burn trying to write 30 mediocre blog posts when you could have written 10 really good ones instead. Quality will always trump quantity when it comes to blogging.
Incidentally, I still have plenty of space left if people want to host me for the tour. Just let me know and I'll take note of your details and get in touch closer to November.
4: Local Awareness - The book launch ties into this, since most of us will be doing all this work to boost local sales long before we're worried about international sales. We will always have better odds of increasing exposure in our own local area than any other. Whether it's because you know the right people, the area is smaller, or there's a community sense of supporting local authors. TV and radio stations, newspapers, school or library groups, all can be informed of your launch and invited along, or you can inquire about having them promote your book with a short spot, accouncement, or even an interview.
The advantage of building local awareness is that it's the best way to build a strong word-of-mouth about your book. If one town creates enough of a buzz, nearby towns will pick up on it, and they may pay attention. Then people from that town talk about you as "that new author from X" so word spreads bit by bit. If you can get yourself onto a popular local talk show, or in a well-circulated newspaper, the word spreads even further.
It's not easy, and a lot of it is down to the right combination of knowing people, timing, and chance. But building that professional relationship with local media is still important, even in today's internet-dominated society. You can never know who will mention your name in the right place at the right time.
So there you go, a rough idea of the kinds of things I'm learning and observing as I work towards my launch. If anyone has anything to add, I'm always eager to learn!