Sunday, September 20, 2009

So Your Book Is Finally Written and Published--How Do You Launch It?

If you're in the very lucky position to have (1) finished writing your book, and (2) sold your manuscript to a publisher, you'll soon be facing an exciting question:
How do I want to launch my book?

You're about to be on stage--and that's a good thing. Long ago, publishers did this work and writers stayed behind the scenes, but readers of this blog who are savvy to the changes in the book publishing industry know that publishers no longer launch a book for you, unless you're a proven best-seller. You do your own singing. Often there's very little publicity budget once your book is published, and most publishers depend on writers to do the legwork, find the reviewers, and set up their own book events to help readers find out about their books. You can't be shy now--you have to believe in your book enough to design, dream, and deliver a successful launch.

I can hear those trigger fingers moving, but before you click away from this post ("I am nowhere near launching anything!"), read a bit further. Even beginning book writers might have fun with this week's exercise. It's a way to design your book launch but also work with a tried-and-true universal principle of thinking from the end. In other words, what you put your focus on, manifests. Put your focus on publication, and it might work.

This week's exercise is in two parts, and we begin with famous cartoonist Scott Adams.

Scott Adams Did It
Dilbert's creator, Scott Adams, was said to have penned a positive statement about his cartooning career each day. He wrote it fifteen times. The theory is that his focus was shifted, over time, to the potential instead of the fears. I don't know what he wrote, but it was something like, "I will be a famous cartoonist." And so he was.

I love this exercise. I use every time I am wanting to manifest something really good--like an excellent book launch--and remind myself of the potential rather than the fears in this crazy life of writing books. The exercise works best if you keep the statement beneficial to more people than yourself (another universal principle).

Some examples of this exercise from my writing students: "I'm delighted with my published book." "My published book is everything I've dreamed it could be." "Readers are loving my book and it's changing lives for the better." "My book is practically writing itself--and I am thrilled at how it's coming together." "My writing feeds my soul."

As I prepare for three book events for my new novel, Qualities of Light (see below for dates--please join me!), my positive statement is: "My book events are easy, delightful, and full of joy, and people are so inspired by my novel."

It focuses me on the highest dream. Try it yourself, at whatever stage in book writing you are right now. Make sure to write the statement fifteen times--because something shifts around the tenth or eleventh time you pen that statement. It starts to click in the change of attitude.

Part 2 of the Exercise
Once you've set the tone of your book launch, it's time to get specific. Ask yourself:

1. What venue would I enjoy most (a bookstore, a writing school, a gathering in a community center or art gallery)? No limits nowadays. Just be sure you can accomodate the crowds you hope for, there's plenty of parking, and the venue is open to the public.

2. What format would make my book shine? At a minimum, authors will often read an exciting excerpt (about 10 minutes max), answer questions from the audience, and sign books at a table. But you can also conduct a free workshop on your book's topic, talk about how you wrote it, offer a panel discussion of contributors, etc. Think about your best result (see part 1 of exercise) and what would bring it.

3. What publicity do I want to do ahead of time? Are you up for radio/TV/print interviews? Posters and postcards? Email to friends and family? Publicists say that people need to hear about something six times before they are hooked enough to buy or show up, so spread the word in more than one way.

Using the inspiration from your positive statement, written fifteen times, brainstorm on the specifics. Spend 10-20 minutes on this part of the exercise. Benefit: You focus on the potential, not the fears.

Please join me for the book launch of Qualities of Light, my first novel,
if you're near any of these locations:

Tuesday, October 13, 7:00 p.m.: Hudson Valley Writers' Center, Sleepy Hollow, NY (Westchester County, on train line from NYC), for directions.

Sunday, November 1, 2:00 p.m.: The Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT, for directions.

Thursday, November 5, 7:00 p.m: The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, MN, for directions.