Friday, May 3, 2013

Preparing for a Book Launch: by Eliza Wheeler

After the recent release of my debut picture-book, Miss Maple’s Seeds on April 4th, I’ve learned a lot in a short time about what goes into launching and promoting a book. This is more of a “do as I say” post, since many of the things listed I only wish I had been able to prepare for (see Pre-Launch #5 below), but hopefully with the next book I will be able to follow my own advice more readily!

Your book will likely be assigned a publicist by your publisher, so discuss all of your plans in detail with him/her first. There are some things your publicist will want to arrange for you, and there also may be expenses they’re able to cover (though do not expect this). You don’t have to do ALL of these things, just pick and choose what’s do-able, fun, and a good fit for your book. Each item involves many steps, and this just scratches the surface of what's involved:


1. Set up a page on your website for the book. Include:
- a link or links to buy your book
- quotes from reviews
- printable freebies: coloring sheets, gift tags, curriculum for teachers, trivia for kids
- a press release
- links to blog posts, features, news, etc. relating to the book

Coloring sheet freebie for Miss Maple's Seeds

2. Start sharing snippets online about your book in the months before your launch date:

- where your story idea came from, or what influenced your art
- fun things you learned while making the book
- tell the story of how you got the book contract
- show your process
- sketches or rough drafts
- pictures along the way of proofs, F&G’s, fun little mail items you receive

3. Create a book trailer

4. Create book postcards and promos
- mail them to friends, family, bookstores, librarians, reviewers, bloggers, etc.
- keep your mailing list and update it for later books

Postcard front
Postcard back

5. Try to keep your schedule clear of large deadlines close to your book’s launch date
The months around your book release will demand a lot of your attention for promotion, so be prepared to make time in your daily schedule for this (and don't forget it's a temporary schedule change).

6. Create author/artist pages on social networking sites, update them with new book info regularly


1. Throw a book launch party!
- get friends on board to help you plan and run the event
- send out postcard invites, e-vites, set up a Facebook event page
- give a speech telling the story of your book journey, and read from your book
- have books for sale and a book signing
- serve food and drinks
- decorate with fun themes that relate to your book
- set up coloring sheets/crafts for kids
- have party favors and little freebies (I made seed packets and bookmarks)

Launch Party - Photo by Maple Lam
Party Favors - Photo by Maple Lam

2. Hold a photo contest or giveaway online

3. Get Involved 
- get involved in groups and communities with themes that relate to your book 
- if your book's theme ties in with holidays or cultural events, be sure to promote heavily around those dates

4. Set up stock-signings with bookstores
- let your publicist know of local bookstores you'd be able to drop in to sign their stock, so that he/she can make sure the stores will stock up on copies. Signed books sell well!

5. Sign up for a story-time/craft with kids at local bookstores

At Pages Bookstore in Manhattan Beach, CA

6. Find book fairs and conferences to participate in

7. Find interview opportunities with bloggers, news sources, and kidlit friends


1. Make holiday cards with art from your book
Mail them early! They'll be a great reminder for those that might buy your book as a gift.

2. Post fun reviews/features to your blog and social networking sites as they come out

3. Consider school visits, workshops, and conference presentations

4. Create posters and bookmarks to give out at schools and libraries

5. Hold an art exhibition with other illustrator friends

6. Continue posting images and news to your social networks

Have more ideas for book promotion? Add to this list by commenting below!

Eliza Wheeler is the author/illustrator of Miss Maple's Seeds (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin), which debuted on the New York Times Bestsellers List! She is also the illustrator for Holly Black's middle grade novel, Doll Bones (McElderry/Simon and Schuster), coming May 7, 2013. Twitter @Wheelerstudio


  1. Great post! Love the doll - did you make that too?

    1. Thank you Julie! I did make the doll originally to use as a model for my illustrations. I've been bringing it to my events, and it's been a big hit with the kids!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Eliza. I've learned a lot from it. What a great post! :)

  3. You're welcome Maple - so glad you liked it. And thanks for all the wonderful pics!