Planning a Book Launch: Three Months Out

Many people who are not involved in the publishing world have asked me why it takes so long between the announcement of a publishing contract and the actual book-on-the-shelves moment. As is the case with anyone unfamiliar with the inner workings of a given industry, it can seem bizarre that it takes so long to get a product to market. I point out to these people that, actually, with She Writes Press, the time has been much more efficient than with traditional publishers (11 months instead of 18 or so) and that I’m very happy to have had this time to get ready. As I write this, I have only two months left, and despite having spent so much time prepping since January, I find this to be very alarming. I can’t imagine getting ready in any shorter time.

Here’s a taste of what I tackled over the course of the last month:

Whether to include a Reader’s Guide
For some reason, I had not expected this question, and when She Writes Press asked if I’d like to include such a guide in my book, I was taken aback, and stymied. My agent, April Eberhardt, strongly recommended I write one up. But my own gut reaction, mirrored by the reaction of my writing group the Salt & Radish Writers, was the opposite. I balked at the idea of telling my readers what to think about, what questions to ask themselves. And yet, I do want people to discuss my book, whether in book clubs or not. Very much so. My husband resolved this for me by asking what I’d do if someone called me to say their book club wanted to invite me to their meeting, and would I be so kind as so supply some topics/questions to ponder in advance. My response to that was of course, I’d be flattered and happy to do so. Thus I did write up some questions, and they have been included, at my request, as “Discussion Questions” as opposed to a “guide.” It’s a small word change, but to me it makes a difference.

Event planning
Things really started heating up in the event planning department. I added a number of events, some at bookstores, some at Indian cultural festivals, some at literary festivals. In some cases I responded to calls for proposals, in others I was approached by organizers. I am getting the distinct feeling that this is a cumulative process, and that the more events I participate in, the more I am likely to participate in. At least until I decide it's too much. For the most part, people have given me a warm and supportive reception, and I am very much looking forward to getting to speak about my book and its topics, and read passages, with my audience.

A professional social media presence
I have not done this to nearly the extent that my writing partner and social media maven Crystal King would like, but I’ve tried to expand my presence in some key places, namely by creating my Amazon Author page and my Goodreads Author page (which need some additional work, but at least now exist). On my list are also other sites such as LibraryThing, but I cannot do it all, and so my author-ly focus is on Amazon and Goodreads at the moment. Also my Facebook author page, and Twitter. And I’m trying to keep up with Tumblr, too. (Perhaps this is too much.)

Topics for articles
At my publicist’s prompting, we’ve lined up some article writing opportunities, and so I’ve been noodling around with some ideas. These will include a piece on my research process for Necessary Fiction, an interview on Dead Darlings, a piece on the history of kathak on The Aerogram, a piece on a female writer who influenced or inspired me for Literary Mothers, and more. 

Sending out my first MailChimp email
Having decided on MailChimp as my service provider for informational emails to my list, I sent out my inaugural message. It took a while to set up the template, pick the fonts and layout, determine how much or how little to say, and make sure everything was set up smoothly, but I was delighted with the result. (Please feel free to subscribe to updates.)

Updating my trailer
With the cover finalized, I decided to take up the offer of my filmmaker-friend and let her update my trailer. She turned the trailer itself into a story, the story of the transformation of the manuscript into a book. Do check it out up at the start of this post!

Finalizing the back cover
The book is ready to print, and I made some final decisions, with SWP, regarding the back cover: what information to include, what blurbs to put in, etc. The book’s now been uploaded to the printer, and a first batch will be on its way to me soon!

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  • Anjali Mitter Duva

    Thanks, Patricia. There's lots of potential in MailChimp emails. So far I've found it the best way to disseminate information among my friends, family and acquaintances.

  • Anjali Mitter Duva

    Shakuntala, thank you for your note. Lovely to hear from you.

  • Shakuntala Rajagopal


    Your recounting of the events is informative, interesting and reflects your patient participation in a necessary process.

    I am looking forward to your book release. Wish you the best.


  • Patricia Robertson

    Read your enewsletter - nicely done! I have a MailChimp account but I'm not using it effectively yet. I have so much to learn. I especially liked the video at the end. Best wishes on your book launch!

  • Patricia Robertson

    I checked out you mail chimp enewsletter. Nice! Especially liked the dance video. I have mailchimp account but not using it effectively yet. Good luck on your launch!