Before, During, and After Publishing: A Marketing Checklist


Shout from your soapbox.Ciao, amici!
If you’re like most writers, the actual writing process is fun(ish) for you. The launch, on the other hand, is probably a soul-sucking, frenetic nightmare. There’s nothing worse than feeling like the people in the graphic, standing on your soapbox announcing to everyone in earshot that you have a new book for sale.

Yeah, that’s a horrible feeling, especially when no one cares.

I’ve been releasing a lot of titles lately, one under the Staci Troilo brand and a few as Keira Beck. So when I tell you I’ve been in launch-mode for months, that’s no lie. While it’s foremost on my mind, I figured I’d share my checklist for before, during, and after the nerve-wracking publication process. Much of what I’m going to share won’t cost you anything but time. But remember, time and money (when you’re talking promo) tend to have an inverse relationship. The more you spend, the less work you probably have to do. And the less you spend? That generally means more elbow grease. You can:

  • hire an assistant to do all this for you (paying the most and doing the least)
  • do it all yourself (paying the least and doing the most)
  • or you can pick and choose from the options below (some of which, like ads or blog tours, can be both time consuming and costly)

While Your Book is in the Editing Stage

  1. Write a blog post about the book. The goal here is to begin enticing the readers with your enthusiasm.
  2. Do a cover reveal. Contact members of your author network whose readers might be interested in the genre of your story. Ask if they’d be part of your blitz. On the day you choose to release the cover (including blurb and preorder information), you’ll make a big splash. This should garner some comments at the individual sites as well as a lot of social media sharing.
  3. Create five or six graphic teasers. These can be as simple as a colorful background with plain text or much more elaborate. While you’re making these teasers, pull out longer excerpts that include those quotes and save them for later.
  4. Email your newsletter. Share a teaser or two, giving them an exclusive peek at your new story. Ask them if any would like to read a copy for free because you’d like to have reviews ready to go at launch. (If you have a large email list, you’ll want to limit the number.)

While Your Book is in Pre-Production

  1. Send out ARCs to your street team. (You might also want to try services like BookFunnel, NetGalley, Instafreebie, etc. These services have a range of options for delivery and have different payment plans, so do yorur research and choose carefully.)
  2. Talk to your network again. Ask for blog hosts during your launch. Try to schedule only one or two posts a day, over the course of two to four weeks. (You can also hire a blog tour service, but I find these are mostly noise and can cost a lot of money.)
  3. Write the posts. This part is where the time commitment can really ramp up. Yes, you can write only one or two posts and give the same content to all your hosts, but eventually readers will tire of seeing the same post over and over. Instead, I recommend you give every host a custom post. Make sure you tailor them for your hosts’ particular audiences. If you write romantic suspense, you wouldn’t give a crime author a love scene; you’d offer something more mysterious. If your book is a LitRPG, you wouldn’t give a fantasy author an excerpt with the computer screen readouts; you’d choose to focus on the epic quest theme.
    There are several types of posts to choose from. Here’s just a sample.

    • Cover and blurb. (A standard, but the least interesting. Best for a general audience.)
    • Teaser and excerpt. (You should have five or six of these. And now you know why I told you to set those passages aside when you designed your teasers. This will save you from hunting them down now.)
    • Character interview.
    • Author interview.
    • Inspiration behind the work.
    • Research that went into the work.
    • A song list.
    • A recipe from the story.
    • Pictures of who you’d cast if the story became a movie. (Be sure to only use actor photos whose owners grant the rights to share. Getty Images has an embedding feature for non-commercial use.)
    • A short story prequel to your release.
    • Deleted scenes.
  4. Distribute the posts. Sending preformatted HTML posts is nice, but some bloggers like to design their own post, so sending a text file and the necessary graphics is also considerate. Don’t forget your book cover, blurb, purchase links, headshot, bio, and social media links.
  5. If you’re so inclined, design and create ads. (Popular choices are Facebook and Amazon. This can get pricy. Use caution.)
  6. Request listings on book promotion sites. (Everyone covets a space on BookBub, but those are hard to come by. Look at other places, too, especially if you’re running a special [free or discounted].) Here are just a few to consider:
  7. See if you can schedule any in-person talks at libraries, book clubs, perhaps a media interview. (Preparing for these things is a whole other post.)
  8. Update your website. At the very least, create a page with the book cover, blurb, and purchase links. You can also include a scrolling gallery of your teasers, some of your research… anything that will spark interest in your story.
  9. Remind your street team the book will be live soon and to have their reviews ready.

When Your Book Goes Live

  1. Follow up with your street team to remind them to post their reviews.
  2. Announce it to your newsletter and on social media.
  3. Visit your blog hosts, share their posts on social media, and reply to every comment.
  4. Post their links on your site, or reblog.
  5. Update your website. Include Amazon’s preview feature and perhaps a review or two (or excerpts from reviews).
  6. Be sure to add your book to Goodreads and BookBub.
  7. Oh, and I forgot to mention… through all this, you should be writing your next work.

So, that’s my general before, during, and after publishing checklist. (I may have forgotten a few things; I’m writing this from memory because I never actually wrote out my checklist before.) I’m sure you guys have suggestions that I neglected to list or maybe don’t even know about. Why not share with the rest of us? I’m looking forward to hearing what you do.

Staci Troilo Bio

64 thoughts on “Before, During, and After Publishing: A Marketing Checklist

  1. Pingback: Winding up for NaNo | Facets of a Muse

  2. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  3. I am bookmarking this! Great list, Staci! I’ll have to print it out and check things off as it gets closer to my release in March. Sucky thing is my cover isn’t done yet. Hoping to see the next mockup by the end of the month. You’ve got such great promo advice (and I saved the post about press kits, too 😀 )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great checklist. Also, don’t forget to let your local media know – a press release to all local publications. And if you can find details of book groups in your area – they are often delighted to have an author come and talk about their book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re absolutely right, Mary. Thanks so much for bringing it up. I’m glad you mentioned it. (We actually had a discussion about news releases about a year and a half ago — https://storyempire.com/2017/04/19/author-media-kits-part-2-the-news-release/ — but it certainly bears repeating.) Not long ago, our very own Mae Clair was on her local channel talking about her work, which is proof that fostering relationships with local media is fruitful. As for book clubs, it’s my experience that libraries and bookstores often know about them (and sometimes host them). These are avid readers who would love to meet and talk with an author.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    If any of your are as bad at social media marketing, cover reveals, and book launching as I am, you’ll really like this helpful list Staci Troilo has put together. And even if you are much better at it all than I, you’ll probably find some things you haven’t thought of. Check it out! And pass it along. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. SO saving this list, Staci. I don’t have time to do all of this with my new novella, though I’m doing more than I ever have before. (I’ve never done a single bit of online marketing for a new release other than posting on my blog, FB, and Twitter.) But I’ve started a wee bit on this one, and plan to do a whole lot more with my next novel. I do pretty well with live events, and simply must get better with the social media aspects. Now I have your handy list of things I can plan on right from the start, so I’m not caught short. THANKS so much!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This a a great check list Staci:) With each book I release I put alittle more effort into this part. You had great teasers. There is more I could be doing, too. It is very time consuming, but needed. I think I need to make a list next time. Thanks for sharing your list with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I kind of like doing the teasers because it gets me away from writing and into a different art for a little bit. The switch from language to visual arts gives me a much-needed break, but I could be doing more, too.

      Glad you found this helpful, Denise.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your check list is awesome, Staci. What a handy resource for authors to reference.
    There is so much that goes into promotion, and this is an excellent snapshot. A few of the sites you listed I’m not familiar with. As I have a release coming up the beginning of next year, I need to get cracking on a lot of this stuff now.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae. I have to admit, I haven’t managed to do all of these with every release. With ANY release. But these are all things I’ve looked into. I’d like to start doing more of the paid promo, but that requires me to be proactive rather than reactive, and I haven’t had the time to do that. Hopefully I won’t have to have such a blistering pace next year, and I’ll be able to do more of these effort-intensive things.

      Wishing you luck with your next release!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fabulous checklist, Staci! I’ve never written it down, either. With SCATHED, I tried something new. Since the novel released during the nice weather, I concentrated on showcasing the book at numerous signings and events (almost every weekend from late-June to Sept. I appeared somewhere, and I’m not done), rather than hit up my fellow blogger friends. In-person appearances also help online sales for days after the event(s), as well as driving traffic to the backlist. All-in-all, I consider the launch successful. My local readership more than doubled in size. I even had a lovely religious couple come to the door with their “Save Your Soul” pamphlet, and when I answered, the husband said, “Hey, aren’t you Sue Coletta, the author?” LOL No better feeling! The trick is to hit the same venues year after year, so folks look forward to seeing you. The only downside is, I find it even harder to ask for reviews when a new reader is standing in front of me and a live event takes time to coordinate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, my gosh! How cool to have had someone recognize you out of the blue like that.

      Live events are great for garnering fans. They do take a lot of time and effort, though. I think it’s great that it’s working for you with Scathed.

      Liked by 1 person

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