If you’re opening a new store, it’s important to spend a good amount of time, effort, and even dollars planning the best “grand opening” you can plan. Obviously, the success of your venture rests on getting the word out to as many possible customers as you can. Planning a book launch is the same, and a lot of authors – despite the industry shift to faster submission to release times – work hard at that. But there are some who seem to think that A. there’s no need for pre-publication effort, just start when the book is released, or B. once the initial launch is over, they can forget promotion and go back to writing the next book. Try either of those approaches, then look and see where your sales are in 6 – 9 months.
Neither of those is the right answer. You probably knew that, but if I’ve learned anything in my 15 + years of book promotion, it’s that If it goes without saying, you better say it twice!
Even a grand opening with an SRO crowd and out-the-roof sales will not keep a store going if there are no customers three months later. You have to plan a great grand opening, but the next part of the plan involves how do you A. keep customers coming back and B. keep bringing in new customers? It would be nice if those things happened by accident and maybe – once in a long while – they do, but rarely.
All too often, when I’m contacted by authors about my promotional services at BreakThrough Promotions, I find they want to skip right to the national markets. Nice idea, but again, it doesn’t usually work that way. I never say never, but experience says not likely. I guess it’s kind of like due diligence. It might seem exciting to think you can go straight to the Today Show without ever having been on your local morning show, or to be interviewed on a SiriusXM program or CSPAN Books when you’ve never been on the radio, but again, not likely. Why? First, because if I call them and suggest you as a potential guest, the first thing they want is for me to send them some clips so they can hear or see you on other shows. Hosts really don’t want to be in a situation where their 5-minute interview guest gives every question a one-word answer, or worse, talks non-stop or mumbles or, horror, leaves them with dead air.
Think of promotional campaign planning as juggling, because that’s kind of what it’s like. Plan a great launch, but also have a plan to keep your name in front of an ever-increasing group of potential buyers with targeted efforts that will keep them coming in 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 + months. Trust me, it won’t happen on accident.
If you were starting a new business, you’d need a business plan. If you want a career as an author, you need a business plan. What does your 12 month promotional calendar look like? Got plans?