Third Thursday Wrap – Up

WLT November 3rd Thursday 2012 The Book Launch and Beyond

Do you remember, the Third Thursday in November? (Sung to the tune of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September.”)  If not, this post will refresh your memory.

It seems like a long time ago, especially with the holiday activities happening since then.  Good for us that the information shared about “The Book Launch and Beyond” at November’s Third Thursday meeting has an extended shelf life.

The evening’s panelists were author Greg Leitich Smith, former editor and current children’s and teen’s book buyer at Book People Meghan Goel, author and The Writing Barn owner Bethany Hegedus, and author Cory Putnam Oaks. WLT Programming Director Jennifer Ziegler poked and prodded the collective wisdom of the panel, helping us learn the about book launches.

Book Launch

A book launch is not what happens to a manuscript when the writer is frustrated. Quite the contrary. A book launch is like a party for your book.  As Cory said, “Think of it as a victory lap.”

What if you’re not a party person? You don’t like attending parties, much less planning and hosting them.  That’s okay. Don’t think of it as a party, think of it simply as a gathering of your support team.  If that doesn’t help, you probably have a friend who loves planning events and would jump at the chance to help you.

A book launch is also a way to thank the people who helped you and support the local writing community at the same time, helping bring people together in a public way.

So, how do you go about planning your party (or your gathering of friends)?  Regardless of what you call it, you need to plan ahead. Meghan said that Book People events have a lead time of 3-6 months. Generally you want to schedule it within a month of the book’s publication date, depending on the book. (If it’s connected with a season or event, you would launch around that time.) Try to avoid November and December when people are really busy. Also, keep an eye on when competing books may launch.

Where can you host a book launch? A bookstore is a natural place to launch a book, but there may be other venues that fit your book well. The Leitich Smith’s hosted two launches for a children’s book, a child-centric one at a bookstore with an after party at their home for the adults. Think of organizations that connect to the topic or theme of your book.  Bethany’s place, The Writing Barn, is a beautiful venue for a book launch.

What do you do at a book launch? There are no book launch laws, but successful launches do have some things in common.

  • Snacks. (And wine if you’re at Book people and the audience is over 21.)
  • Simple structure of  something to listen to (a brief excerpt read by you), followed by time for questions and answers.
  • Theme and guests related to your book. (Examples mentioned: miniature ponies, an MLK-era civil rights marcher, middle school cheerleaders, and a Dachshund rescue group.)
  • Tone suited to your book and your personality.

Once your fabulous event is planned, who should you invite? First on the list are the people who put up with your while during the book birthing process. You can also invite personal friends and writing fans and watch your words collide beyond their existing overlap. If you’ve been making an email list and checking it twice, now’s the time to use it. Also invite your feeps (Facebook people) and tweeps (Twitter people).

Finally, embrace the fun of your book launch. Enjoy running your victory lap with your book jacket draped around your shoulders, if that’s your style.

Beyond (after the launch)

So, you made it through the planning and partaking of your book launch, but there’s more.

Greg said the best publicity for your book is to write another book. Cory said that by the time you launch one book you’re already deep in the next book (Of course, your mileage may vary on that.)

Staying active on social media and in writing guilds and organizations is helpful, but don’t let it detract from your writing time.

Another aspect of an author’s life is appearances. Depending on your book, find related places to go talk about your book with potential readers. This requires some research and creativity on your part, but it can be rewarding in terms of book sales and marketing.

Finally, if your book is stocked in a local bookstore, go in and sign your book.

Looking Forward

Regardless of where you are in the publishing process, you can benefit from joining us at Book People our next Thursday Third in January 2013.

Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through and  A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.


Third Thursday Wrap Up

October’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up

Author’s Guide to PR and Marketing: On Your Own, But Not Alone

By Lexie Smith

Marketing your book is like life. Ultimately you’re responsible for how you live your life, but you don’t have to live it alone. Unless you want to, in which case you’ll have a quiet life and even quieter book sales.

You need other people to help market your book, but you don’t need advanced degree in glad-handing. October’s Third Thursday program provided a quick marketing primer from panelists author Ernest Cline, writer and publicist Jennifer Hill Robenalt, author and writers’ resource blog maven Cynthia Leitich Smith, and author Jo Whittemore.

Here’s a quick breakdown of ways you are on your own, yet not alone.

You’re on Your Own

The reality of the publishing industry is that you are responsible for marketing your book.  Your time, your money, and your self are investments you must make to promote your writing projects.


  • Time to network online and offline with readers, potential readers, librarians, writers, event organizers, etc.
  • Time to create content for marketing and networking (social media posts, media packets, etc.)
  • Time to learn about the publishing industry


  • Money for marketing education—ebooks, books, coaching, classes, conferences, etc.
  • Money for website development – At the least you need to buy your domain name (something like ) for about $10/year. There are lots of free tools you can use for your website and marketing.  (Including blog platforms, Facebook and Twitter.) Eventually, you’ll want to spend some money on the design of your website and hosting for your site.
  • Money for a publicist or marketing team—Once you’ve done all you can do, you may want to take your marketing to the next level and hire a professional.

Your Self

  • You bring a unique energy and tone to your work. Only you can bring those same things to your marketing efforts.
  • You know your work better than anyone else, therefore, you will have ideas that other people may not.  (See the FAQ about the DeLorean Ernie used on his book tour.)
  • You are more passionate about your project than anyone else will be.
  • It takes time to develop your writing voice, it also takes time to develop your marketing style.  Experiment with different things to find out what works for you.


You’re Not Alone

So, you have to spend your time, money, and your self selling your book. Isn’t it enough that you wrote the thing? Not if you want people to buy your book. Thankfully, you have many resources available to help you learn about and execute marketing.  Avail yourself to opportunities in person, online, and in print.

In Person

  • Local writers groups can provide feedback on your projects and moral support. Search online for these groups. (Check the Organizations for Writers page on the WLT site.)
  • The Writers League Third Thursday programs in Austin provide loads of information from a variety of panelists and the chance to connect with other writers.
  • Classes, workshops, and conferences offer learning and networking opportunities. (Including WLT workshops, like the PR Boot Camp Jennifer Hill Robenalt taught.)
  • Join forces with other authors to help promote each other’s books. (For example, Jo Whittemore is a member of the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels at
  • At some point you may want to hire an agent and/or a publicist to help you. has some good resources to help you with that when you’re ready.


  • Search for genre specific writing groups online. Members can help you with all stages of writing, including marketing.
  • Educate yourself about marketing by enrolling in an online class. Check from Writer’s Digest.
  • Subscribe to a few blogs that include book marketing and promotion in their topics such as Jane Friedman , Cynthia Leitich Smith  and Dana Lynn Smith.
  • Look on websites of authors you like for information about the site (who designed or built it), email them and ask what they did to help them market the book.

In Print

  • Check your local library or bookstore for books on book marketing.
  • Consider books about small business marketing.
  • Look at the books you like. Scour the books for any reference to any person or thing that helped them market the book; look in any nook and cranny you can think of in the book: acknowledgements, about the author, book jackets, preface.

The idea of marketing your book may be daunting, but our panelists showed that it can be done and it can even be enjoyable.  Stay tuned for November’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up about launching your book. (Subscribe to the WLT blog feed here and sign up for the WLT newsletter here  to get updates about upcoming events and other useful information.)

Lexie is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through, and A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.

Feature Article by Elaine Krackau: How to Make Your Book Stand Out

Publicists Care That It’s “I am so thankful Month” and So Should You
By Elaine Krackau, of PR by the Book

You’ve probably seen the statistic by now. More than one million books were published in 2009 alone. Did you hear that? ONE MILLION! And that number keeps climbing each year. Needless to say, competition for air time and review space is fierce, so books have to stand out in a big way in order to stand a chance of being covered.

Hooking a book’s topic or the author’s expertise to current news is what we publicists do on a daily basis. In a saturated Continue reading