Marketing with Teeth: Preparing for a Book Tour or Book Launch Party

Preparing for the book launch of my novel Return of the Mothman this past week, I remembered a nimiety of promotional things to do during the week leading up to the event.

I looked at particular dates for the book tour--determining the geographic locations--and began jotting down notes. Consider this your outline. I wrote down a date and location and began listing media outlets under each column. I’m talking about television stations, newspapers, radio stations, etc. Now many of these outlets will cross over into various geographic markets--for instance, a television station may cover three of the cities you will be touring within weeks.

The thing you should do is determine which city or event would be best served by each station or media outlet that covers multiple locations for each individual event. This will make it easier to spread your coverage around in the best possible balance. The reason you do this is a station will give you good coverage on one event, but will not continue to do so over and over. And because of that, you don’t want to blow your marketing cache in one event.

That’s why it is best to find the best event for each media outlet and save others for geographical events they are more suited for. This is targeting your marketing plan to get a better tour coverage rather than a single event covered well.

Next, begin contacting the media outlets. Don’t forget that doing this in person is best. Don’t be afraid of asking for the general manager. Go to the top. You have no idea what kind of power these folks have. They can make one phone call and you are getting star treatment. But you won’t get that from a phone call or E-mail. Go see them in person.

Have something for them. You can always follow up with an E-mail with all the information they will need ... it’s a good reason to get their E-mail address. But, don’t get me wrong--you must have the information with you when visiting in person. Promise to send them the digital files via E-mail, which include photos and other items they would need.

The general manager may introduce you to a producer, program director, news editor, or on-air personality. Be prepared for them to record an interview with you while you are there; however, most will probably schedule a day and time for you to come back for that. And if you are at a radio station, they will set you up for the day and time to come in for the live morning show to be interviewed. If they do not, ask about it. Don’t be afraid to come right out and ask what you would like to see happen.

Have a good calendar. You don’t want to double book on the same day/time. You want to make sure if you do, you have plenty of time to get from one media outlet to the next without a hitch.

As far as scheduling, you want to schedule your interviews or articles to air or hit stands as close to a few days before the event date as possible. To be honest, a week or two before the event is far too early, and many times the day of the event is too late. So, if the event is on a Saturday, having your media coverage hit on Thursday or Friday is ideal.

Now, this is important. When going to a radio station for your scheduled interview, you do not want to be on time. You want to be extremely early. If they tell you to be at the station at 7:30 a.m., you want to be there at 7:00 a.m. for a number of reasons. The first reason is traffic or other things can cause you to run late. Second, which is the real reason I go as early as I do, is you get more promotion. As soon as I arrive, I make sure someone knows I am there, and that I am scheduled to be there for an interview at a specific time. The reason I do this is because I know the morning show hosts have a strict schedule they have to keep. I know they won’t be able to get me on the air any earlier than the time that is set, but it will ensure they will be talking more about my upcoming interview until they do it. They know I am sitting in the waiting area listening to them and they want me to hear them talking it up before I walk in the studio.

Be sure to thank them for talking it up when you walk in. Let them know they made your day by hearing them promote you while you waited. Feed the egos of the people who are introducing you to their listeners. Because if the radio people like you, the listeners will like you.

This is also the reason I say you should always make the hosts look good during the interview. Always make them look like a genius to their listeners and they will make sure the listeners love you, and encourage them to go meet you at your event. What I mean by that is do not correct a host if he or she says something that is not true. Make him or her look good.

If a host says, “Nosferatu is the first vampire,” you can say, “You are absolutely correct, NOSFERATU was the first film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s book Dracula.” And then you could follow up with something like, “I can’t believe you knew that!”

Remember, a successful book tour or launch party will depend on good planning/organizing skills, and a work ethic to follow through.

To give you a good idea of how it can pay off, I just did the book launch party last week for Return of the Mothman and it sold out during the event. That was 105 copies of the novel, plus 35 copies of my other books. And I did not have to pay one cent for any of the promotion.

Good luck, and get promoting!