photo by purplemattfish

Too many book launches are panic attacks, similar to a trip to the dentist.

With 1.5 million books published last year, writers nowadays know that publicity for their books around book launch can be challenging. The days where you can silently write your book, and then scream about it on launch day are producing lesser results than they may have once done.

So we introduce this concept of author platform – slowly developing a trusting relationship with your ideal readers over time. So that, when your book finally does launch, you have an audience of people waiting for it. They WANT to buy it. They WANT to spread the word. You have to rely less on screaming at the world about your book, and more on communicating with an audience that already knows you and trusts you. An audience ready to take action, to buy your book.

But we are all busy. We put off core aspects of developing your brand as a writer because, well, you are writing; you are working through a tough publishing process, whether you are self-publishing or going through a traditional agent/publisher relationship.

So we wait. And as the book launch approaches, it becomes more and more similar to how we treat a trip to the dentist:

Between your twice a year checkups, you get busy. You brush, but you don’t floss as much as you could. You brush for 20 seconds, not 60. You miss the teeth in the back, day after day. And you justify it as “I am busy, I did brush every day… but I will floss tomorrow.”

Then you go to the dentist. And you panic. You hope for a clean checkup, no cavities. The image of a drill in your mouth comes closer to reality. You realize that you EASILY could have done better keeping your teeth clean in the past few months. You realize that those extra 60 seconds per day would, cumulatively, would have avoided the feeling of terror you now experience. You make promises to deities.

This is how many writers feel when they get to their book launch. They neglect developing their platform, building their audience over the months/years before the book launch, only to panic when the launch day approaches.

So they are left with few options other than to hope for a miraculous thing to happen. They have few options but to begin screaming: “Buy my book!” They desperately want to find a big audience, when really they have done very little preparation to even understand who their ideal audience is.

This is why so many previously published authors work with me the second time around, they learn from their mistakes: that publishing alone does not guarantee an audience.

A friend of mine said this to me recently: the highest price in the world? 1 cent. It is HARD to get someone to commit to buying a book, for ANY price. It is hard to get them to commit to reading 300 pages, to entering their credit card information, etc.

So how do we avoid this feeling, this panic of the drill in your mouth as you lead up to your book launch? At the most basic level, I would encourage you to answer these questions:

  1. Describe to me, in detail what your ideal readers read in the last 12 months. Specific book titles and authors. Tell me why they read those books, what was their deeper motivations, passions or needs?
  2. Where specifically can you go – online or off – to meet your readers? What blogs do they go to, what forums, social channels, print media, bookstores, organizational affiliations, what libraries, do they actively participate with?
  3. Who manages or organizes these places. I want names, email addresses, phone numbers.
  4. Who can you send a personal email to about your book that would care? Again: I want names.

The key word in the list above is: “SPECIFICALLY.” If you have to write this list all at once, it can be overwhelming, even stifling. But what if you add one name a week to a list? Or one place per month? That, 6 months from now, you would have a really strong list of:

  1. Other books and authors your ideal readers love.
  2. Places online and off where you can find your ideal readers.
  3. People who you know that can connect you to your ideal readers.

Wouldn’t that give you a sense of confidence. Options that feel like you are connecting to like-minds, not spamming unknown masses?

We talk a lot about the habit of writing, but this also applies to that habit of connecting. The more you understand who your audience is; where they are; what motivates them; who is connected to them – the more your book launch will feel like a natural extension of writing, and less like an arduous panic attack.



About Dan Blank

Dan Blank is the founder of WeGrowMedia, where he helps writers share their stories and connect with readers. He has helped hundreds of authors via online courses, events, consulting, and workshops, and worked with amazing publishing houses and organizations who support writers such as Random House, Workman Publishing, Abrams Books, Writers House, The Kenyon Review, Writer’s Digest, Library Journal, and many others.