Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Guest Author Heather Webb: 10 Steps to a Successful Book Launch

By Heather Webb, @msheatherwebb

Please help me welcome Heather Webb to the blog today, to share some tips on making the most of your book launch. The days leading up to your book's release (especially if it's your debut novel), are both thrilling and terrifying, but this a little launch guide can keep you distracted and help keep you sane.

Heather is a former military brat and traveling addict who lives in a rural town in New England. She's a historical novelist and freelance editor (For rates, check her EDITING page.) You may find her lurking at the popular RomanceUniversity.org where she contributes to their blog with editing advice, and at the award-winning site, WriterUnboxed.com, where she poses as Twitter Mistress (@WriterUnboxed). She also kicks around a local college teaching classes called “Write to Publish” and “Crafting Your Novel”.

Her debut historical novel BECOMING JOSEPHINE is out now from Plume/Penguin.

Take it away, Heather...

As a debut author and a recently released one at that, I have a lot to say about this topic. It’s been an utter whirlwind of excitement, sobering facts, and unknowns. (We won’t even touch upon the terror that attacks from time to time.) But within this chaos, I found the best way to tackle it all and stay sane was to keep a calendar and lists ONLY for book launch-related tasks. What are those tasks? Here are just a few:

1. STAY CALM Going completely ape shit crazy won’t change the massive amount of work ahead of you OR make you sell more books. Go for a run, do some meditation, get drunk—for the love of all that’s holy, take the edge off.

2. WRITE A PRESS RELEASE with your bio, a short blurb, photos of you and your cover, as well as any blurbs or endorsements you may have gathered about the book. Some of us are lucky enough to have a publicist who may do it for us, some of us, not so much. But this handy document can be sent to any website, newspaper, or media outlet you decide to pitch to. You may also submit every time a blogger wants to interview you.

3. SPEAKING OF MEDIA, make a list of all outlets you’d like to approach. Gather the emails and phone numbers you need. Work through your list, press release in hand. Remember to be polite and give them solid reasons why your book is appropriate for their station/channel, etc. Again, if you have a publicist, you may want to talk with them about how you can split the work. If your publisher doesn’t assign you a publicist, there are many companies and freelancers out there who do a wonderful job as well.

4. SET UP A BLOG TOUR Too busy to call upon the same friends who always hook you up? There are many companies who do this for you. Set up one by genre to start, then an additional tour that hits any cross-over elements your book may touch upon. Remember to put your book in front of as many different audiences as possible that may be interested.

5. DESIGN PARAPHERNALIA like book marks or postcards—something you can sign. (People like that.) Keep them in your purse, your car, your computer bag. Give a stack to your mom to give out.

6. GIVEAWAYS Remember that Goodreads and LibraryThing prompt readers to add your book to their TO READ list when they enter a giveaway. On release day, those platforms email everyone on that list to announce the release. This is crucial to getting the word out.

7. STAY CALM Wait, did I mention this? Try not to freak out. The day your book releases will feel anti-climactic in many ways. Yes, your cat will throw up on the rug and your child will puke on your new dress. Life goes on.

8. REACH OUT TO BOOK CLUBS interested in hosting you. Remember that book clubbers love to TALK ABOUT BOOKS. They may become your biggest supporters. And whatever you do, don’t forget to bring the wine and cupcakes. Everyone likes cupcakes.

9. CHAT A LOT create a hashtag related to your book, genre, or topics in the novel and set up chats on Goodreads and Twitter.

10. DON’T REFRESH your Amazon and Barnes & Noble ranking every five minutes. It will drive you insane. Go play with some friends instead.

11. CELEBRATE Okay, I promised ten points, but I HAD to mention this one. Despite all the pressure, despite things not going exactly as you imagined, remember that you’re LIVING THE DREAM! You’re published, people are reading YOUR words and loving them. Bask in the excitement and be proud of yourself. Celebrate like it’s 1999.

About Becoming Josephine

Rose sails from Martinique to Paris to trade her plantation ways and Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. But her haughty Parisian husband dashes her hopes when he abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the unwelcome love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century—Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.


  1. I absolutely love this list of pointers, especially number 2 and 6. Marvelous.

    Great post, Heather. Your book, Becoming Josephine, sounds really interesting. I'll add it to my TO READ list. :)

  2. Thanks, Christine. I'm glad you found them helpful. And I hope you enjoy Becoming Josephine! :)

  3. This post came at a perfect time for me. Thanks for the great tips. I hope I'm smart enough to use them.

  4. Ha ha! Mitizi, if you have a book releasing, you're certainly smart enough. ;)

  5. Thank you Heather Webb. I like #1, personally going apeshit crazy in private is my best release... I'm about 9months out from releasing my first novel and hope to have it together as much as your list suggests I could be :)

    1. I hear you, Harry. Been there, done that. I found the 6 weeks prior to launch to be the hardest. The week of, I had a lot of interviews and blog posts to write, but that was the extent of it. So definitely try to manage the stress, because in many ways, the actual launch is anti-climactic. It's really the lead up that is the most work and the most hectic. Good luck! Keep me posted on your success.

  6. I'm working through 3-5 right now in prep for a late spring launch. Very timely information. :) Would you recommend contacting media and book clubs near the location of the story?

    1. I would recommend reaching out to any book clubs you can--both in your area and any area where you may have contacts. Meetup.com is a great place to hunt them down. Good luck! I hope your launch goes off without a hitch. :)

  7. Wonderful post Heather, congratulations on Becoming Josephine, Matt

  8. Great advice…and very timely! Thanks, Heather. Becoming Josephine sounds like a great historical read.

    1. Julie, I hope your launch goes well! Feel free to ask any questions you may have. I'm always happy to help my fellow writers. :)

  9. Excellent advice. I'm so booking this for when my agents sells my book. (And I'm passing on to a few friends who are releasing this year.)