How to Screw Up a Book Launch: 7 Easy Steps

All ready for a book launch!

Yay, you. After completing a successful Kickstarter campaign to finish and publish your memoir, you’re ready to introduce it to the world. The gestation period has been long (about a dozen years), the labor protracted. But after many struggles with editing, design, and printing, you’ve birthed a book and are uncharacteristically pleased with the way it turned out. You’ve got 350 copies ready to go out to supporters and to sell at your Tucson book launch party.

What could you possibly do to screw things up–besides using a cliched, mixed, and slightly creepy birth metaphor to describe the process?

Here are a few possibilities.

1. Become so obsessed with getting your book perfect that you neglect to devote enough time to book launch logistics.

Fuss with word choices, obsess over syntax, rethink the pseudonyms… because you can: You’re publishing this book yourself and you’ve hired an interior designer who didn’t restrict the number of passes the book could go through, though you’re pretty sure she will never make that mistake again.

In my defense: A lost-in-translation glitch between my designer’s PC and my Mac stripped all the italics out of the book. When the designer said she would “take care of it,” I thought she meant electronically. So while I was correcting the mistakes introduced by her manual fixes–and search and replaces that introduced more errors; damn you More magazine!–I couldn’t help but notice other little things that desperately needed to be addressed.

2. Send your print book to your Kickstarter supporters in different batches rather than making sure they all go out at once.

That way, when people announce on social media that they have received a copy, others who haven’t yet received theirs will be irritated and impatient.

All those envelopes to address!

All those envelopes to address!

3. Forget the fact that you conducted your campaign on social media, especially Facebook.

When supporters who have received books celebrate them publicly because you’ve encouraged social sharing during your Kickstarter campaign, be surprised and try to suppress those celebrations because you haven’t officially launched your book. Do not share the pictures they’ve taken of book arrivals. Send a confusing direct message to several supporters about this, thus squelching their public enthusiasm even further.

4. Neglect to research in advance how to send e-books.

Be oblivious to things like .mobi files, readable pdfs, and all other pre-publication options that would enable you to send books to your Kickstarter contributors in a more organized — if not necessarily stealthy (see #3) — fashion.  Instead, listen to the advice of the man at Kindle Direct Publishing who says the only way to do it is to run a one-day free promotion of the Kindle version and tell only your Kickstarter supporters about it.

5. Freak out when you see your free e-book promotion posted in a memoir writers group on Facebook that you don’t remember joining.

Happily, the member of the group who posted it was very nice when I asked her to take it down. I think she pitied me. It was she who told me about things like .mobi files and readable pdfs. She also said that she saw the promotion on Amazon, which was why she assumed it was my intention to let people know about it. Apparently, my book was #28 out of 100 free books available that day.

There are no secrets on Amazon.

6. Neglect to encourage people to buy your book once the free period is over, except for a desultory effort on your birthday.

Tell yourself yourself you need to wait for the official launch, because you don’t want to confuse people.

7. Become so upset about your botched launch and your squandering of birthday guilt that you become semi-paralyzed.

That includes obsessing and over and being unable to finish this blog post, which I started last week.


That ends now. Here’s a link to the book (it has several five star reviews). Go forth and buy it and then review it!

Even though this is not the official launch.

Coming soon: A contest.

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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

11 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Get moving! The book is great and we all don’t care about the launch being perfect. The book.

  2. Kate says:

    So much to consider! I had no idea of the many options to consider after you’ve finished the book. No end to the learning curve as publishing is constantly changing with technology.

  3. Anna Redsand says:

    You are amazing. Let that in. It will work out because you’re working it like a boss!

  4. Mike Webster says:

    Edie, if you want to put more pressure on yourself, schedule your official launch for October 20. That way, you’ll already be a week behind as of the date of your blog post.

  5. Aurelia says:

    I think your book is terrific Edie. A wonderful mix of bare body, soul and humour. I’ve just got to the bit when you arrive in England and I am feeling upset for you as it sounds as if you had rather a difficult time. Hope things look up when I read the next chapter tomorrow night.

    • Edie says:

      Thank you, Aurelia! I had hoped that my friends in England wouldn’t be upset but so far two people who are in that chapter (under pseudonyms) have been very good sports about it. And yes, when I get to Egypt things definitely look up — for the most part 🙂

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