Monday, May 24, 2021

The 7 Elements of a Book Launch


For many authors, the thrill of writing compels them to keep going, and the excitement of seeing their work published is the icing on the cake. But once their book is published, they’re often stymied by how to launch and market it.

Authors frequently ask me, “What comes next? How do I get people to buy my book?”

The answer is: There is no set formula for how you effectively launch and market your book. Figure out what works best for you and your readers, especially considering your time, skills and budget.

Here are seven broad areas to consider as elements of your book launch.

1. Get Reviews

The two primary types of reviews are editorial (or trade) reviews and consumer reviews.

Editorial Reviews

For bookstores and libraries to carry your book, they’ll want to see editorial reviews (or to have a lot of their patrons asking for it). Each review service has different submission requirements. Some will want to see the manuscript three to four months before publication. Others will look at it anytime. Some will only work with certain types of publishers. Others will be open to anyone.

Consumer Reviews

Consumer reviews are the star-ratings you see on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub and retail sites. They act as “social proof” for potential readers who don’t know you already.

Before spending time or money driving traffic to your book listing, you want to have at least ten reviews posted and at least a 4-star rating. So line up a review team before the release date so they’re ready to post reviews as soon as your book is available for them to do so.

2. Gather a Launch Team

Having people join your launch team allows you to leverage other people’s audiences. So, rather than being the only one promoting your book, others will share about it as well.

Your launch team could be friends who are willing to share your content in social media, blogs willing to write a review or publish a guest post, or podcasts interested in having you as a guest.

Sometimes launch team members are also willing to provide bonuses to entice readers to buy your book when you want them to instead of when they get around to it.

3. Update Your Author Website

Make sure you update your author website with information about your book and how to opt in to your mailing list (a crucial component for a successful writing career).

If you don’t have a website, consider making one, even if it’s a simple one-page site letting people know how to connect with you and where to find your book. Your website is the only online presence you actually own. Your social media accounts can be closed without warning, so don’t rely on a strong presence there as the only place people can find you and your books online.

4. Develop Your Social Media Strategy

Social media can be a great way to connect with readers, but it's tempting to try to be everywhere at once. That’s quickly exhausting. Discover which social media platform your ideal reader predominantly uses, and then focus on that one. Over time, you can add others if you want to. But get comfortable with one first.

You’ll also want to find the hashtags your readers follow so you can amplify your content. Hashtags will allow people who don’t already follow you to discover you.

5. Look for Publicity Opportunities

From trending news and press releases to book awards and alumni newsletters, there are many ways to generate publicity.

It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or nonfiction, publicity is out there for the taking. Every day, the media is looking for sources and new stories. The key is to make it quickly apparent how you will appeal to their audience. Connect the dots to make it easy for them to quickly say “yes” or “no.” They’ll appreciate you for it!

6. Consider Advertising

Advertising isn’t going to be for everyone. But it can be an effective means of creating more visibility for your book.

Choosing where to advertise and how to configure your ad is a learning experience. But I recommend starting with Amazon ads and setting a daily budget you’re comfortable with (even $2.50 a day can be effective if your keywords are set appropriately).

As for Facebook ads, those work more effectively if your book is in Kindle Unlimited or to advertise author events.

7. Produce Marketing Materials

I highly recommend producing what’s called a “sell sheet” for your book. It’s a useful flyer that provides details about the book, where and how to buy it, ISBNs and pricing information, etc. If you have received editorial reviews, add them to it too since this sell sheet is what you can provide to libraries and bookstores who might be interested in purchasing your book.

Other materials to consider include bookmarks, postcards, business cards and event flyers for when you’re doing in-person events.


If you’re interested in learning more about these book launch elements, check out my course, “Book Launches Simplified.” It walks you through various considerations and best practices, as well as recommending specific tools and services that can help you successfully launch and market your book. Learn more at

Short Bio

Tara R. Alemany is a multi-award-winning author of seven books. She is also a speaker and publisher, as well as a serial entrepreneur.

Although she’s started many businesses during her career, her favorite is Emerald Lake Books, which she co-owns with her best friend, Mark Gerber. This boutique publisher specializes in working with positive people to integrate a book into their marketing or sales funnel to build their business.

In her spare time, Tara leads a writers’ critique group and is a winemaker, a military Mom to 2 young adults (one of each), and is owned by a black cat.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Time Crunch & Writerly Tips

As writers, the writing job is never done. As you type The End on one story, the next is nudging to be written. There is editing and marketing. Contests to join and craft to study. And don't forget networking.  Or book events and record keeping. I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting. The list is truly endless. 

A writer could spend twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year doing writer stuff and still have things on the to-do list. It's an endless job that wears down some of the best of us.  

At the start of the pandemic, I knew that being a social worker during a world-wide crisis was going to be time consuming. I should have altered my schedules and commitments from the get-go so my life was more manageable. But I'm guilty of allowing the business of busy-ness to get me spinning in circles and it's only when I force myself to pause that I can take stock of all the wisdoms I've accumulated during my writerly years that have kept my spins as 360's. Spin round, then keep going.  

So, here's my short list, a refresher course for myself and for you. 

1. You started writing for the love of the stories; don't let the business of it wear you down. Step back and remember: it's the words you love.  Focus on them and move forward. 

2. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself. 

3. If you want to be a novelist, you have to write books. 

4. Write down what you're doing every fifteen minutes. If you're playing solitaire during check-ins, delete it from your phone. 

5. More than one path leads into the writer kingdom. 

6. Doing a few things well is better than doing everything half-assed. 

7. Don't forget to read.

8. Don't forget to exercise.

9. Don't forget to eat a healthy meal. 

10. And finally, always remember that juggling balls is cool as hell. Dropping balls that cause you to trip and face plant in public is not so cool. Hold tight to your balls by letting go of some when you have to. 

What sage tips do you suggest? I'm always looking to add to my list!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Keeping Book Production on Schedule

By Elizabeth S. Craig

Running a writing business isn’t exactly a piece of cake. It often feels like juggling a lot of things at the same time with varying degrees of success.

But it does follow a certain cycle, which definitely helps, once you’ve established a production routine.

I have three active mystery series and want to make sure that I stay on track with every part of the process to keep anything from falling through the cracks. This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in writing multiple projects in a year, here’s how I do it. I hope that it might also help those who work on just one project in a year by helping remind them of the different cogs in the machine.

First off and most importantly is the draft itself. I set a reasonable goal that I know I can achieve daily without even thinking about it. Eighteen years ago when I had a baby in the house, my goal was 15 minutes a day. Now it’s 750 words. For you it might be a lot less—again, it’s whatever you can easily handle.

While I’m drafting the story and getting in the last 1/3 of the manuscript, I contact my editor to get on her schedule. At this point in the process, I’ll know about how long it will take for me to finish my draft and proofread or revise it.

Proofreading is next on the list. I read through the story and correct typos and awkward sentences. If something bigger needs to be addressed (continuity errors, parts of the mystery that don’t seem to make sense), I note it on a separate document called “Things to Fix” and the book’s name. After the proofreading draft, I go through and fix the things that need fixing. Then I put the chapter breaks in (I don’t put them in as I go along because it puts my head into editing mode).

After proofreading, I send the manuscript to my beta readers.

After the betas make their comments, I send the book to my editor.

I also send the manuscript at this point to my ARC readers along with a short newsletter thanking them for being early readers/reviewers.

While my editor and ARC readers are reading through the book, I go ahead and list the book as a pre-order on the retail and distribution sites I use. (For me, this is KDP, IngramSpark for print, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, and Google Play.)

I don’t do a lot of promo, but I will usually schedule a Goodreads giveaway for the first book in the series (sometimes the current book) and a Freebooksy promo for the first book. I also (using a template I’ve already prepared) create a newsletter for my readers. I make sure my website is updated with the pre-order and that I’ve updated what I’m currently working on.

At the same time I’m doing the above promo, I’m also still writing—I’m outlining the next book in the series I’ve just finished a book in. It takes me about a week to write the back cover copy and the outline for the mystery. They’re often about 35 pages of typed notes (with handwritten additions in the margins and on the backs of the printed outline).

With the back cover copy, I ask my cover designer for a cover for the recently-outlined book (the cover conference would have been on our mutual calendars for months). Once that’s done, I add it and the back cover copy to my website under the “coming soon” section with an estimated date for release. I also get on my cover designer’s calendar for 3 months out (when this process will be happening again).

By this point, the edits will be back in from the editor and ARC readers and I make changes to the manuscript. I set a goal for working through them.

As soon as the edits are done, I add the back matter, run it through formatting in Draft2Digital, and upload the book to the sites where I have the pre-order info loaded.

Then I start on my next project, which will be a book in one of my other series which I would have outlined several months earlier (after finishing a book in that same series). I work on the first draft during the pre-order period for the upcoming release.

A couple of days before the release, I make sure the newsletter is ready to go and that I have graphics and text to announce the launch for my Facebook and Instagram ready to go. I also load the book on KDP Print since they don’t offer pre-orders…that way the print edition will be ready to go on release day.

On release day, I respond to comments and emails and make sure my LinkedIn and website are updated again. I continue working on the new project. I send the finished book to my betas as a thank you.

Glancing over this, it seems like a lot, but it’s all manageable if you do a little at a time. The key to what I’m doing is that I work on more than one aspect of production in a day. Given the day, it might be an outline and a newsletter. Or it might be loading to KDP Print while also creating promo graphics. Or it might be working on my next project while adding back matter to the upcoming release.

One thing that helps with this, for me, is the fact that I’m switching modes. It’s difficult for me to work on one thing all day long. This keeps things fresh while also knocking things off my list.

What does your production schedule look like? Do you have any questions for me?

Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, the Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries, the Village Library Mysteries, and Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. Follow her on Twitter where she shares writing links @elizabethscraig or at her blog where she offers tips for writers: BLOG. She lives in Matthews, North Carolina with her husband and is the mother of two.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

IWSG Anthology Contest and Dark Matter: Artificial

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

May 5 question - Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

Our next anthology is now available!

Dark Matter: Artificial
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Discover dark matter’s secrets…

What is an AI’s true role? Will bumbling siblings find their way home from deep space? Dark matter is judging us—are we worthy of existence? Would you step through a portal into another reality? Can the discoverer of dark matter uncover its secrets?

Ten authors explore dark matter, unraveling its secrets and revealing its mysterious nature. Featuring the talents of Stephanie Espinoza Villamor, C.D. Gallant-King, Tara Tyler, Mark Alpert, Olga Godim, Steph Wolmarans, Charles Kowalski, Kim Mannix, Elizabeth Mueller, and Deniz Bevan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter.

Release date: May 4, 2021
Print ISBN 9781939844828 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844835 $4.99v Science Fiction: Collections & Anthologies / Space Exploration / Genetic Engineering

Artificial - Stephanie Espinoza Villamor
Space Folds and Broomsticks - C.D. Gallant-King
Rift – Kim Mannix
The Utten Mission – Steph Wolmarans
Sentient – Tara Tyler
One to Another – Deniz Bevan
Resident Alien - Charles Kowalski
Nano Pursuit – Olga Godim
Resurgence – Elizabeth Mueller
Vera’s Last Voyage – Mark Alpert

LINKS: Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Barnes and Nobel, and Goodreads

Our official judges:

Dan Koboldt, author and #SFFpit founder
Dan Koboldt is the author of the Gateways to Alissia trilogy (Harper Voyager), the editor of Putting the Science in Fiction (Writers Digest, 2018), and the creator of the sci-fi adventure serial The Triangle (Serial Box, 2019). As a genetics researcher, he has co-authored more than 80 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. He is represented by Paul Stevens of Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Lynda R. Young, author
Lynda R. Young is an Aussie writing fantasy novels as Elle Cardy. Wielder’s Prize is her debut YA epic fantasy. She is also an editor, game developer, 3D artist, graphic designer, photographer, gamer and more.

Colleen Oefelein, agent, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Colleen Oefelein is an author of YA, picture books, and author promotion guides, a devourer of books, and the owner of the book review site North of Normal. Formerly an associate agent and PR manager with Inklings Literary Agency, Colleen has hosted numerous “Pitch Perfect” and “Rejection Correction” workshops on Facebook and at conferences nationwide, and she’s mentored several authors one-on-one through online pitch contests such as Pitch Wars.

Damien Larkin
Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction author and co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community. His debut novel Big Red was published by Dancing Lemur Press and went on to be longlisted for the BSFA award for Best Novel. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland and is working on his next novel Blood Red Sand.

Ion Newcombe
is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia's longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics into literature and communications.

Julie Gwinn, agent, The Seymour Agency
Julie Gwinn most recently served as Marketing Manager for the Christian Living line at Abingdon Press and before that served as Trade Book Marketing Manager and then Fiction Publisher for the Pure Enjoyment line at B&H Publishing Group, a Division of LifeWay Christian Resources. Recently, she was awarded Editor of the Year from the American Christian Fiction Writers and won B&H’s first Christy award for Ginny Yttrup’s debut novel Words.

David Powers King, author
David's works include Woven, The Undead Road,, and Full Dark: An Anthology. He currently resides in the Mountain West with his wife and 4 children.

The Seventh Annual IWSG Anthology Contest!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Sweet Romance

Theme: First Love

Submissions accepted:
May 7 - September 1, 2021

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group. You must belong to at least one aspect of the IWSG to enter.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Our official judges:

Author Nancy Gideon
Nancy Gideon is the award-winning bestseller of over 70 romances ranging from historical, Regency, and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal and horror, with a couple of produced screenplays and non-fiction writing books tossed into the mix. She’s also written under the pseudonyms Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West, and Lauren Giddings.

Agent Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Associates
Caitlin Blasdell has been a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates since 2002 with a focus on commercial fiction. Before becoming an agent, she was a senior editor at HarperCollins Publishers.

Author Susan Gourley

Susan Gourley is traditionally published in fantasy and science fiction romance using the name Susan Kelley. She is currently serving as the President of the Pennwriters writing group renowned for the annual conference.

Author Meka James

Meka James is a writer of adult contemporary and erotic romance. A born and raised Georgia Peach, she still resides in the southern state with her hubby of 16 years and counting. Mom to four kids of the two legged variety, she also has four fur-babies of the canine variety. When not writing or reading, Meka can be found playing The Sims 3, sometimes Sims 4, and making up fun stories to go with the pixelated people whose world she controls.

Agent Melissa Gaines, Victress Literary

Author Jennifer Lane
Jennifer Lane writes sports romance and romantic suspense with a psychological twist. She has published nine novels and two short stories, including Behind the Catcher’s Mask as part of the IWSG Masquerade Anthology.

Agent Rachel Beck, Liza Dawson Associates
Rachel Beck joined Liza Dawson Associates in January 2020 after working at a boutique literary agency for four years. She has been in the publishing industry since 2009 and worked at Harlequin editing romance novels for nearly six years before transitioning her skills to the agent world in order to be an advocate and champion for authors.

Author Loni Townsend

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head. People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Dancing Lemur Press' imprint, Freedom Fox Press, next year in the IWSG anthology. (Please see their site for general submission guidelines.) Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

This is our seventh anthology contest! In addition to Dark Matter: Artificial, previous titles include Voyagers: The Third Ghost, Masquerade: Oddly Suited, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, Hero Lost, The Mysteries of Death and Life, and Parallels: Felix Was Here.

Picking up Dark Matter? Entering the next IWSG Anthology contest?