In just under four months my seventh children’s book, Happy Birthday Christmas Child, published by Paraclete Press and illustrated by Gabi Murphy will release. For a couple of months already, I have been busy preparing for release day. And as I have been doing so, I’m realizing that over the course of these seven books, I have hit upon a strategy that really works for me in terms of keeping track of all the many moving parts that go into successfully welcoming a new book into the world. The moving parts include communicating with the publisher to see what their plans are and complementing/enhancing those with your own publicity efforts including setting up social media/blog/podcast opportunities, building and working with a launch team, setting up in-person and virtual book events at stores, schools etc., creating ancillary materials for your book like lessons, activities, etc. and more.
All this can seem a bit daunting, but I think I’ve found a way to keep it manageable. What’s my secret? For each of my books I have created a book launch notebook which serves as ground control for all aspects of the launch. And today, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek into how I have organized it.
Here’s the cover. There’s logic behind this colorful cover. I want it to stand out and be easy to find. Having it be book-themed and cute is also motivating to me to persevere with my planning because good things come to those who plan ahead.
Small (but not too small). I have chosen a 5”by 7” notebook with a thick and sturdy cover so it’s small enough to toss into my bag and carry with me, but not so flimsy as to slip between the cushions of my sofa which happened with my first book launch notebook and, oh my, but I was stressed before I found it again!
Front page. Here I have clearly noted the title of the book that is releasing, the publisher as well as two over-arching goals.
Five Sections. The notebook is divided into five sections, each marked for now with a post-it, though I may switch those for paper clips as I get going, for extra easy flipping.
Section One: Events. This section has two parts.
The first is a summary page which will be filled in later, once I have all my events in place so I can list them in date order. This page also include columns with each book title so I can note how many books were sold as a result of each event. (It’s fun to look back and see the grand total of sales I directly influenced over the years and also is good for analysing what worked well (or didn’t) at each event.)
The second is a large, continuing section where I make notes on each of the events as I set them up. I also fill in dream destinations and then see if I can make them happen.
Section Two: Blog, Podcasts, Press etc. This also has two sections.
The first is a summary page, which again I will fill in later, once I have everything in place. It will include the date, venue, and topic with the goal of reaching a range of target audiences including teachers, librarians, parents, faith-based ministries, writers and more. I will also strive for a range of topics and formats so it all feels fresh and fun.
The second, again, is a large, continuing section where I make notes on each of opportunities as I set them up. I also leave open boxes for dream opportunities and then see if I can make them happen (such as being on a nationally or regionally syndicated show! A girl can dream, right?)
Section Three: Launch Team. This section is for contacts, who aren’t necessarily bloggers etc, but who are active in their communities and who have said they’d be happy to help spread word about my newest book. This list typically includes teachers, librarians, directors, friends, moms in the thick of the preschool years etc. Again it includes two parts. The first is a list of who they are. The second is a list of tasks/requests for them to do (if they so choose). All efforts are voluntary and doing even just one or two helps! The tasks include things like telling three friends about the book, suggesting it for purchase at local libraries and schools, taking a picture reading the book and then sharing on social media, writing a Goodreads review etc.
Section Four: Libraries This is where I record libraries that I or others have reached out to to recommend the book for acquisition – along with a column for the result.
Section Five: Daily Actionable Steps This is the secret sauce to the success of the launch. It’s also what keeps everything manageable. The secret? I set myself a goal to take two manageable/actionable steps per day towards reaching my book launch goals and I record them at the back of the notebook, working from the last page towards the front. I simply record the action taken. This can be as small as reaching out to a venue or creating an order form for a school visit. Just two small steps per day, recorded at the back of the notebook. Each daily effort is entered in the left hand column, with the eventual result in the right hand column. Keeping this list helps me remember what small steps I have taken and serves as a reminder for what I need to follow up on until I have a result.
And that’s my notebook! Anyone else have something similar? I’d love to hear what works for you or if you plan on giving something like this a try. Happy Monday, all.