Planning a Book Launch: One to Two Months Out
Written by
Anjali Mitter Duva
September 2014
Written by
Anjali Mitter Duva
September 2014

Deep breath. The launch is in four weeks. The events I lined up several months ago are suddenly just around the corner. The to-do lists are spinning out of control. Every nibble of interest from a blogger wanting to conduct an interview, a friend wanting to organize a book club event, a writing association inviting me to a panel elicits a spark of delight, followed by a realization of how much more work it entails. The lists grow longer. I did, however, manage to check off a number of items during August:

Book pre-orders:
The pre-order numbers from the trade (i.e. bookstores) started coming in, enabling me to make a decision, with She Writes Press, on how large to make the initial print run. It was exciting to see the names of the actual bookstores that ordered copies. Some great indies: The Tattered Cover in Denver, CO, the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, MA, and plenty of others. And of course Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In addition, I placed an order of copies for myself, to have on hand at non-trade events, to keep as back-ups for bookstore events that draw a larger than expected crowd, to send to reviewers, etc. The books arrived faster than expected, while I was on vacation, but a valiant local teen brought them all in for me. All 11 boxes!

Final launch prep:
With the launch event coming up, I looked into, and finalized, a caterer to provide the Indian snacks and chai. I also settled on a nearby restaurant where I could reserve a room for close friends and family to gather for a celebratory drink after the official bookstore event. And finally, I contacted the family of two young girls in my dance group who will do a short song/dance performance as part of the event, given that my main character is a temple dancer. I’m aiming to make this launch a more comprehensive experience than just a reading.

Promo material:
I took it upon myself to work with a designer (Nilou Moochhala, who designed the book cover) to create an image that I can use on a postcard (which I then printed at as well as on a flyer (which I’m supplying to bookstores and others hosting my events). Nilou also designed a beautiful bookmark, which I printed for a very low price on I’ll be handing these out at conferences, book club meetings and other events.

Writing articles:
My publicist and I lined up some opportunities to post essays on various sites (including Necessary Fiction, Literary Mamas, Bloom and the Huffington Post Books page). I started writing some of the pieces, mostly in the 700-1000 word range, and sending them over to my publicist. Most of these will run in the 10 days leading up to the actual pub date of October 7th. Meanwhile, the publicist started approaching book bloggers.

Event prep:
Oof. All those events I was excited to line up are now alarmingly close. I started doing some serious practicing of the excerpts I plan to read, selecting a variety of excerpts from 5-17 minutes long, and with different moods, so that I can be prepared for different atmospheres and contexts. I also scoped out a couple of the venues with which I was unfamiliar, and am very glad I did so. For example, I found out that there is a lot of background noise at one of the bookstores at which I plan to read, and that the set-up is a bit awkward, with lots of tables set with ketchup bottles, which is incongruous with the 16th century India setting of my book. I can work around these issues, and the store staff will help, but I’m glad I’m avoiding the surprise factor on the actual day of the event.

Planning for sales:
Apparently, people will be buying my book. And at some of the upcoming events I’m involved in, there will be no bookstore to sell them. And so, as writers used to do back in the day, I’ll be doing some hand selling myself. I’m actually looking forward to this, the human interaction with people who are doing me the kindness of reading (or at least purchasing) my work. So I ordered a Square credit card reader because, really, who carries much cash around these days? I also opened a secondary bank account in which to direct revenue from sales, just for ease of keeping track. And I made an appointment with an accountant to discuss any tax implications of book sales in general.

New section: what I didn’t get to!
Sadly, there are things on my lists that I need to carry over to the next day, week, month. Last month, these included:

  • Planning my outfits for the first few events;
  • Creating an FAQ list for myself, to prep answers for some of the questions I’m likely to be asked;
  • Preparing how to sign books, both in style (how to write my name) and in content (what types of messages to write).

These are now at the top of my list as I enter the last pre-pub month!

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