Following an exchange with @Mansplanation on Twitter, I thought I’d post the timeline I use for the launch of my books.This is in clunky table format because I’m not cool enough to know how to translate my calendar into WordPress.
|T -6||Engage editor
Manuscript to editor
|Buy ISBN||Compile newsletter mailing list|
|T -5||Write back blurb
Write character interviews
Write blog posts
|T -4||Edits from editor – rewrite and final line edits
Engage cover artist
|Set up pre-launch page
Assemble street team
|T -3||Give final page count to cover artist
Finished MS and cover art to formatter
|Finished MS to US copyright office||Post sample chapter on blog
ARC copies to street team and book reviewers
|T -2||Formatted versions back from formatter (book final)
|Set up pre-orders on Amazon
Swag (biz cards, bookmarks)
|T -1||Upload book final to Amazon
Street team cover reveal
Twitter and FB pre-launch ads
|Launch||FB launch party
Street team blog tour
I hope the elements of the table are pretty self-explanatory, but a few words of explanation might be helpful:
- This timeline is actually a month longer than the one I used for Neon Blue. I learned my lesson. I didn’t give my editor enough time and I got really crunched in months T-3 and T-2. In future, I will give myself six months and the editor at least a month, six weeks if possible.
- Not every author uses a professional editor, cover artist or book formatter. I have no issue with folks who don’t, but I think it’s good to know your limitations. Writing novels does not make me an editor. Sketching occasionally (or playing around with Photoshop) does not make me a cover artist. Having a rudimentary knowledge of Calibre does not make me a book designer. Had I done those things myself, I would have saved some money, but my books would have been poorer for it.
- I buy ISBNs. I know this is a divisive issue among self-published authors. You do not need to buy ISBNs in order to publish your ebook. If you do a paperback version through Amazon, Amazon will assign an ISBN to your book for free (although you’re only supposed to use it on Amazon for the paperback version). But, hey, I’m a lawyer and having an ISBN means my books are included in the market research cool people like Kris Rusch do on the ebook market. I also think, although I have no proof, that having an ISBN is why a couple of libraries have bought my books (or librarians love me, either way, still cool).
- You do not have to send your book to the US copyright office in order to copyright it, but, again, lawyer.
- Some authors have street teams; some don’t. I haven’t seen any stats on sales via street teams, but I’ll say that having a street team on Snowburn made my first publishing experience so much easier. There were several published authors on my street team who generously gave me the benefit of their experience. They also formed the core of the book’s early reviewers, which helped drive initial sales. (Critical for a first book.) I didn’t know what a street team was when I published Snowburn, mind, nor did I call the kind folks who supported me a “street team” but they were and I will always be very grateful to them.
This timeline doesn’t take into account anything other than the run-up to the launch of the book itself. It doesn’t address “building your author platform” or reviewing other people’s books or solving world hunger. All of those things are important, too, but too much for this timeline (or this blog post). I hope you find this helpful, @Mansplanation, and anyone else who reads this!