Tuesday, April 16, 2013

As the launch day approaches...advice from two people who know what they're doing!!!

Thank goodness authors no longer have to sing their books
Since my first novel-- A Murder at Rosamund's Gate--will be released next week, I asked my awesome co-bloggers Nancy Bilyeau and Sam Thomas to share some of their experiences and insights into their book launch and that that first week was like, as a published novelist.  

Sam's novel The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery, was released in January, while Nancy's SECOND novel, The Chalice, just released a few weeks ago. So, I view both as all-knowing pros.
What was the experience like, for each of you, as your release date approached? Were you nervous? Excited?  Worried?  What (if anything!) do you remember about the release day? Did you do anything special? 

Sam: The days leading up to the release were far worse than the release itself. So much seemed to be riding on that one day, yet I felt so powerless to do anything about it. Sure I sent out hundreds of postcards to bookstores, libraries, friends, relatives, etc., flogging the book, but even if I had a 100% purchase rate from those - hard to imagine - it couldn't make a difference in the grand scheme of things. At the outset, at least, your book will sell if the publisher decides to put money into marketing. If not, your sales will be modest. Fact. Of. Life.   As for the release, it was pretty unspectacular. I went to work, home for dinner, and then to my launch. No champagne, dinner out, or anything like that. 

Nancy: I was very nervous for both books, in a daze really as it came upon me. I was blogging as much as I could. For the second book I posted four blogs or interviews on the actual publication day.

Describe your first event as a newly published author (book launch). Where did you hold it?  Who came?  Did it go as you expected?

Sam: My local library was nice enough to host the launch, and the woman in charge did a marvelous job on the publicity side of things. Thanks to her, I landed a ten-minute spot on the local NPR, which really goosed my numbers. In the end we had about eighty people show up, only a handful of whom I actually knew! In the end, it went as I'd hoped and expected. I read a little (maybe eight minutes in all) and talked a lot about the history behind the book, for a total of maybe half an hour. Then we had about an hour of Q & A, which was great.

Nancy:  For both The Crown and The Chalice, I had a book launch event within 2 days of the book’s official drop date. For The Crown it was a reading at a large Barnes & Noble, followed by a party. I invited absolutely everyone I knew in New York City, plus there were posters in the window of BN and the publisher did a few things to publicize. About 80 people came. For The Chalice, the reading was at an indie called The Mysterious Bookshop. Wine was served and I signed books. I would say 60- 70 people came. I think the second event was more successful because I feel so much more comfortable talking about my books.

What have you learned about doing author talks/book signings? What works well? What works less well?  (I'm eagerly taking notes here! :-)) 

Sam: Be ready for anything. I've been to signings that turned into formal presentations, and book clubs that did the same thing. Other  times, it just becomes a raucous discussion of the book and characters. You can't go in knowing what you want to do. You're just along for the ride.

Nancy: For me, I try to talk about the research and the journey of writing a book, and I keep it positive and anecdote-rich. I actually don’t read more than a few minutes. I remember that I need to enlighten and entertain at a reading. I try not to make it too insiderish to other authors, but interesting to a wide spectrum of people.  I went to one book event where the author went on and on about how hard it was to be published and how her editors tell her she is no Lee Child, and it didn’t make me excited to read her book. I think that sort of thing is for your writers’ group, not potential readers.

What advice about the book release would you offer someone who—say—has her first book coming out next week? 
Nancy:  Blog, post and tweet like crazy the first two weeks. That is key! The first two weeks. And ask friends (like myself) to tweet and post on your book. Because personal recommendations are what counts.

 Sam: Chill. It'll be anticlimactic. Nothing about your life is going to change except you'll be busier.

Thanks, Nancy and Sam! 

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