Don't order invitations and publicize your release party date until the book is written and you know it will be available for sale if your purpose is to have copies on hand at the event. I know this may be one of the craziest statements an author will ever read. I hear you asking, "Who does that"? From personal experience it is one of the best pieces of advice that I can share. I know because I had an event planned down to the tiniest detail, and out of nowhere in particular, the world stopped spinning and my fabulous one of a kind event was turning into the scariest nightmare in the life of an author.
Four weeks before the event, the venue was booked right out from under me, literally by two minutes. The news was delivered as the clerk flipped through the book. "The lady that booked the building just left. I haven't even sat back down yet", she said as her fingers peeled back the pages of the reservation book. I had been talking to them to let them know when I was coming. However, their policy is first come first serve. Three weeks before the event, I got writer's block due to stress and was unable to meet the editor's deadline to ensure the best novel possible. Eighteen days before the event, I was informed that the dresses were not going to be in on time after I had been assured they would. Ten days before the event as I stood in line to pay for the decorations, I noticed that prices had gone up on several of the items I was going to purchase, making the difference a whopping one hundred dollars. There was no way I could afford the items I needed to make my event a success. Whatever could have gone wrong did. Right before my eyes, less than thirty days before my over the top book release event was to be held, I almost threw in the laptop and said, "It must not be His plan".
You've got to remember, I’m self-published and on a budget. I have a team of volunteers that assist me with my every need. Fortunately, they believe in me; unfortunately they're not rich. The Casandra Writes team consists of twenty plus volunteers, each with a million and six things of their own to do. They have a variety of talents and connections which makes anything possible. We had an emergency conference call, put on our brainstorming bonnets and came up with some solutions. They eased my mind. Believe it or not, they prayed me through my writing difficulties. My editor began working on what was written and worked with me to make sure the editing process began. My coworkers monitored my writing time during my lunch hour, giving me motivation along the way, and even confiscating my cell phone. A dress suggestion was given by one of the team members. Another team member who shops daily actually found black dresses to flatter each participant’s figure and solved what we thought was a major disaster. These were less expensive than the original dresses. Each dress was different in style so the participants no longer had to purchase the previously selected shoes. The decorations that we couldn’t afford, were no longer needed. The niece of another team member was an event planner and loaned us all of the decorations except for the flowers. Guess what, my publicist's mother is a florist and she did the flowers for under fifty dollars. Talk about jumping over hurdles, we demolished the darn things!
We were able to use the original venue because the person who booked it was none other than a family member who didn’t need the facility the entire time they’d reserved it. We pushed the time back two hours. Oh my! I forgot to tell you all of the invitations had to be reordered with the correct time and mailed to the guests. The printers reprinted the invites for guess what? Free of charge.
One other thing, it was a wedding release event. I had no idea who the groom would be until nine days before the wedding. At six feet four inches tall, it was too late to order a special size tuxedo. A bridal store loaned us his tuxedo and tuxedos for the other participants using store samples. Whew....! The sizes for the guys were almost a perfect fit.
The finished product was ready for printing. Uh oh….. not quite. No one on my team knew how to format a book for printing. Another blessing was just on my heels. Together with a computer savvy team member, it was formatted in less than three hours.
I said all of that to say.......... Don't set the date and send out invites to the event until the book is ready, the venue is secured and everything you will need is paid for. We were able to make the impossible, a dream come true.
Things To Do Checklist
Select a Publicist
Solicit help from those who are willing to work
Create a time table and be vigilant about staying on task
Plan your event keeping good notes
Secure your venue
Compile a to do list and delegate
Request updates on tasks given
Budget for the unexpected
Cross train your volunteers
Motivate your volunteers
Plan for E Book conversion
Know how to format for printing
Select a cover designer and a cover that will showcase your story
Copyright your work
Order a sample book and review it line by line
Purchase event supplies when prices are at their lowest using coupons when possible
Have a marketing plan in place
Have a social media strategy and specialist dedicated to work
The order of this list can be switched multiple times but the first thing you must do is WRITE THE BOOK. The outcome of the story can be a factor in the cover, the release event and which marketing strategy you use just to name a few reasons why writing the book first is important.
Professionalism and Your Tools
An author should be able to reach millions of readers with the help of the internet. A well designed author website is your virtual tool that will go where you may never go. Social media has become another popular avenue to promote your work. Your personal and professional social media accounts should be separated from each other. We must remember that business is business.
The vision for your book should drive your marketing plan. Do you want to sell a thousand copies or a million copies? My hand is high in the air on selling a million copies. I'm going to take the lead and assume that each author reading this wants to sell a million copies as well. Again, your vision and your strategy should go hand in hand.
I have a rule to never turn down an opportunity to be a guest at any book club or literary event. If I am invited, and my schedule and my pocketbook agree, I am there. I have gone to a book club event with only five members. You ask, "What is the purpose to go for five book sales"? Again my hand is in the air. "Those five sales can lead to five hundred sales later down the road". There we go again with our vision, a long range vision is important. If those five members have a Facebook page with at least 1000 friends, let's say that 100 of them are readers. After they post a picture or comment about your book, your book has the chance to go viral. Before you know what's happening, some of their Facebook friends are sharing and commenting, and sales are soaring.
Interviews are often the golden path to opportunity. It is wise to be approachable, honest and knowing your work is a must. I have several author friends that have blessed me over the years with knowledge. To hear Suzetta Perkins orally describe her books, is simply amazing. Her eyes light up, her hands are moving and she’s off and running. Her stories come to life as you listen. Before she’s finished, you’re literally running out to buy the book, or pressing the "buy the book" button on your electronic device. Yes, she's just that good. Her enthusiasm and knowledge tells you, this story is a must read.
This is the age of technology, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your readers if your books are not available electronically.
Last but definitely not least, a great publicist is invaluable. I was able to secure a publicist who has the desire to help me accomplish my goal of being a bestselling author. Despite the fact that I can’t pay him, Reginald Barrett hit the ground running and gives his best to make sure that I’m visible. He is on his job at all times.