The Finished Book!
It was a warm September day when I met my publisher, Stacey, at a coffee shop to see the promo copies of the actual book! It was an amazing feeling to hold it in my hands and flip through the pages. It turned out beautifully and I was extremely pleased. The weeks ahead were filled with "setting the stage" for the launch day by emailing out PDF's of the book to friends, family and colleages to see if we could conjure as many reviews as possible on Amazon & Barnes & Noble sites. These would be posted ON the actual release day...November 10th, 2014. In order to make this interesting, I created a little event on the Rafflecopter site. With this raffle site it was possible to get points in the raffle by "Liking" the FB page, posting comments on Twitter (about the book) and after people created their review, they could post it on one of the chosen book sites and then get many points in the raffle. They also could win gifts of Bezert books, t-shirts and prints. I was greatful beyond belief to those who participated and in the end I had 18 honest reviews on the Amazon site and at least 12 on the B&N site. It was a thrill to read the wonderful things that everyone shared and in the end it gave Bezert lots of credibility with the viewing audience.
The other important thing to do was to send out lots of demo copies & cover letters to the reviewers (ie School Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, Horn Book etc) to try to get some professional reviews that I could use on marketing materials and to get the book into bookstores and libraries. Lots of research went into this phase as the entire publishing world was completely new to me. I learned so much during this period and I also had a great clue that this was JUST THE BEGINNING of the long road of endless marketing that would lie ahead. And so it goes. I was surprised in late December by a favorable review from Midwest Book Review that was published in the January "Book Watch". This goes out to librarians and schools throughout the midwest. I was honored and hoped this would get The Bezert into the right hands.
Next came the prepping for the BIG LAUNCH! We decided to go large and really have fun with the launch period. Supposedly the first 6 months are key to laying the groundwork for the future of any book. I started by going door to door to all of the local indie bookstores in the greater Milwaukee area to see who might be interested in carrying the book...or launching it. Many stores like to support local authors, but honestly they are so bombarded with books, email and local talent that many bookstore owners/buyers are relatively difficult to track down and talk to. I managed to connect with a few bookstores and gift shops in town that were interested so I placed some on consignment around town and managed to get into a few book fairs and art shows before the holidays. I had a window of 6 weeks to sell books from Nov 10th-late December so I tried to maximize this precious "gift buying" time. One Indie store in Milwaukee was particularly supportive. They were open to hosting a launch and since I had also made a nice connection with one of the local Librarians at the Wauwatosa Library, they were happy to affiliate and host the launch and sell the book. Whew! That was the biggest step. From there the other book fairs, art walks, book signings and book readings fell into place through the holiday season. A co-worker who also worked at Barnes and Noble set up a book reading during their preholiday storytime and we had a blast with that as well.
Now that the dates were set the launch planning could begin! I contacted our school drama teacher to get some names of kids who might want to participate in a fun "dramatic reading". Turns out 15 of my son's friends participated in the launch and a few other events to follow. They did a fantastic job reading parts as different characters and using simple props as needed. I had Bezert t-shirts made for them and we had a blast on stage reading the entire book. It was far more interesting this way and the kids really enjoyed the process. My sister did a fabulous job making treats in the theme of the book. They really stole the show. We also planned an afterparty at a local cafe for the cast and crew. Looking back, this period was one of the highlights of my life. It was a busy, busy time...but so worth the hard work.