Ready to Launch? One author’s checklist. Jen Salvato Doktorski
Tomorrow is the day. My debut YA novel HOW MY SUMMER GOES UP IN FLAMES (Simon Pulse) will be released and I’ll officially join the ranks of published authors. To quote Chris Martin, I feel like I’m the gap between the two trapezes. I’m also sitting here wondering, have I done enough to get word out? Am I prepared to launch? When in doubt, I make a list. Lists calm me, and this one ties in nicely with this months’ theme of marketing and social media.
1. Web site? Check. After meeting and speaking with several web site designers and getting price quotes ranging anywhere from $800 to $3,000, I decided to take the DIY approach to a web presence and sign up with Wordpress. A writer friend put me in touch Lori at www.pureimaginationblog.com, a YA blogger who also does custom designs for Wordpress and Blogger. She came up with the perfect look for my site. I love her design and she added pre-order links for my books as well as links to all social media, which brings me to the next item on my checklist. Social media.
2. Twitter? Goodreads? Facebook? Pinterest? Check. I tend to be shy both in real life and online, but at my agent’s urging, I joined all of these and have done my best to put myself and my work out there, keeping in mind that there’s a fine line between self-promotion and bragging. To date, Twitter has been my go-to media for getting the word out and more importantly, connecting with authors, bloggers, librarians, and readers. Most of the people I follow are connected to the book and publishing world in some way.
3. Advance Reader Copies sent? Check. I know the marketing team at Simon Pulse did an amazing job placing ARCs in the hands of bloggers, librarians, and reviewers all over the country and world, but I felt like I did my part in sending ARCs to some other key outlets like my local newspapers, college newspaper and alumni magazine, local teen librarians, independent bookstore owners, reading specialists, and YA bloggers that I personally connected with. The results have been positive. To date my efforts have netted me interviews with several newspapers, including my college newspaper, which has a nice circulation size that hits my demographic and two offers for bookstore appearances this summer. I have a second novel, FAMOUS LAST WORDS (Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers), coming out on July 2, 2013, and both bookstores were very accommodating in scheduling events that would help me promote both books.
4. Swag? Check. For the most part, I stuck with the tried and true here and ordered several thousand bookmarks created by my husband/daughter design team. I’ve been busy mailing these to librarians, bloggers, and anyone else who wants or needs them. I’ve also ordered pens shaped likes matches to tie-in with the cover of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES. In FAMOUS LAST WORDS the main character gets a job writing obits for a local newspaper, so for that one I ordered official report’s notebooks. Additionally, I’m working on stickers. All swag will be included in prize packs and giveaways, which again leads me into my next checklist item.
5. Giveaways? The YA bloggers I’ve met since embarking on this road to publication have been amazing. They’ve gotten the word out early and often about my books, helped me reveal my covers, and next week, a few will be hosting giveaways that include signed copies of my novel, swag, and gift cards. I also registered for two different young adult novel reading challenges—The Debut Authors Reading Challenge and The Standalone Reading Challenge—so signed copies of my books and swag will be included in the monthly prize packs in those contests as well. With the help of my wonderful publisher, I was able to create a summer road trip gift basket for a fundraising event at my daughter’s school, including my book and other road trip-themed YA novels published by Simon & Schuster, flip flops, a gift card, and a small tote bag. Finally, my publisher is giving away five copies of the finished book on Goodreads.
6. Blog tour? Check. Sort of. While no official blog tour has been organized by either myself or my publisher, as it turns out, in the next week or so there will be enough posts and giveaways on blogs worldwide to constitute a mini international blog tour. See above for how amazing the bloggers in the young adult world are. They’re so passionate, well-read, and willing go the extra mile for books they’ve read and loved.
7. Networking? Big check. Aside from “meeting” other writers via social media, I’m thrilled to be associated with groups such as this one (YAOTL), the New Jersey chapter of SCBWI, The Lucky13s, and Women Who Write. The world of publishing can be challenging and the craft of writing can be lonely, so it’s wonderful to have this connection to people who do what I do. Perhaps this last one isn’t so much networking as it is making vital connections. The writers and authors I’ve met are some of the most generous people I know when it comes to giving their time and talent in the spirit of paying it forward.