I had an interesting conversation with a veteran publicist yesterday who told me an interesting fact: a large percentage of authors that have come to her seeking PR help over the years do so within the final one or two months before the book is published.
Launching a book is a complex challenge (especially if it’s your first), and building the proper strategy, networks, and infrastructure require a lot of time. Here’s a rough list of the things you need to do before you’re ready to start:
- Finish your manuscript
- Design a compelling cover that will sell to your target audience
- Develop outreach materials to seek endorsements for the book
- Reach out and secure endorsements from individuals with clout in your genre
- Hire a publicist or firm to help you get media attention
- Build your online platform (blog, facebook, etc) for launch
- Build a compelling website that effectively sells your book
- Coordinate with your publisher to make sure that the book is being promoted to proper booksellers
- Develop and implement a marketing and advertising strategy
- Write marketing copy and distribute it to your promotional partners
- Organize a book tour (virtual or actual)
- Get media training so that your interviews are effective, clear, and compelling
- Get out there and promote your book!
This is just a rough, list and there are hundreds of other “sub-tasks” that can make this list pretty daunting. And for most authors, you have to pull all of this off while continuing your “day job,” which means you have only a small amount of time each week to keep this process moving.
So how long in advance should you start? It’s hard to say exactly, but in my experience 1 year is not too early, and 6 months is definitely too late. The exact timing will depend on your resources (financial and personnel), your time, and your ambitions.
It’s human nature to procrastinate and underestimate how long things will actually take. So a good rule of thumb is that you will need to start your campaign at least 25% earlier than you think you should.
I’d love to hear your experience of how early to start. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.