Thursday, 17 September 2015

Book Launch advice from Catriona King!

Happy Thursday, everyone.

I've another guest this week - a fellow author from the Crooked Cat cattery. Catriona King's here to share some excellent tips for those embarking on a debut book launch, or even for other authors who maybe haven't tried a virtual launch, as yet. With a lot of novels published in a short time, Catriona knows exactly what preparation can be done. 

Welcome back, Catriona! 

Hi, Nancy. Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog.

To paraphrase William Shakespeare: to book launch or not to book launch, that is the question. And here’s another question; should you have a real life launch or a virtual one?  This is a topic particularly close to my heart at the moment, having just released two new novels, The Sixth Estate and The Sect.

In my time I’ve released a total of twelve novels; eleven featuring the detective Marc Craig, and a standalone thriller. For all of those novels I’ve had a launch, an event that says to the world “here it is, my new baby” subtext “please buy it” (often while completely forgetting to mention where people could do so!). Here’s what I’ve learned.

I’ve had real life book launches; hiring a venue, inviting everyone I know and their friends, organising drinks, nibbles and goodie bags with an excitement previously reserved for children’s birthday parties (except with different goodies of course). They were fun, but nerve wracking. Stressing about having enough books, a pen that actually worked to sign them with, an ample supply of alcohol and, of course, whether anyone would actually turn up or I would be left with a mountain of glossy covered pages crying into my Shiraz, with just a sympathetic waiter to sob to. It was a constant anxiety trip for the week beforehand!

Thankfully things worked out well and once people had arrived they were chatty, lively evenings spent surrounded by old friends and new, the only stressful part being when I was asked to actually read from my books! So real life book launches can work but they’re nerve wracking and expensive, even with the support of your publisher, and sadly your readers from far away are unlikely to attend.

Compare that to virtual or online book launches. What are they and how are they even possible? Can you really engage people properly in a virtual world, when you’re competing with television, radio, movies, their kids, the need to cook dinner and feed said offspring, the siren call of the wine bar etc.? After so many launches I would say the answer is a resounding yes, but there are definitely things that can help make an online launch a success.

Advertise: Spread the work about your launch on social media for the couple of weeks beforehand or no-one will remember to come. Make sure your readers from far and wide are alerted. The joy of an online launch is that everyone, irrespective of geography, can attend.

Timing: I used to run all day launches; my advice would be not to. You wouldn’t stand in a wine bar all day hoping that people would drop in; if you did your liver could suffer. So I now confine my online launches to four hours. I can focus and give it my all for that long, I don’t get writer’s cramp, dry eyes and a sore back from hunching over a computer, and I don’t get blamed for hogging the broadband.

Also on timing; pick your time of day and the day of the week carefully. Research has shown that the end of the week is best for holding people’s attention online and that launching in the late afternoon/early evening helps, although of course if you have readers in different parts of the world that can be challenging, so if you pick a median time range that’s best.

P.S. Don’t forget to post the time of the launch in different time zones. You may be a UK or USA based author but your readers elsewhere can feel left out if you don’t refer to their time zones, e.g. 4pm GMT is 12pm WST and 9am PT, and so on.

Content: How can you engage people effectively online? My advice would be to make your launch visual, musical and interactive. Post trailers, videos, pictures and songs, but check the copyright before you do. Make it fun for the people who drop in. I’ve found that quizzes with decent prizes engage people best, so plan ahead, get decent questions (your readers are very smart and they will get bored if the questions are too easy) and reward your readers with worthwhile prizes, however small.

Sense the mood of the launch; speed things up if it’s lagging, slow it down if things are running too fast and, above all, stick to timings, people have busy lives and they’re giving up their time to support you. Also, remember to leave the launch page open for a few days to pick up on any commenters posting late and respond to them. If you’re offering prizes post the list of winners within a few days.

What not to do: Don’t start late, if you’ve said 4pm stick to it. Try not to go on and on about your books during your launch, unless someone asks you a specific question. People already know about them; that’s why they dropped in. Similarly, don’t talk about how many copies you’ve sold, where you are in the Amazon rankings etc. etc. By all means post snippets and trailers but parties aren’t about the hard sell.

Above all, remember that your launch is meant to be a party. So relax, enjoy it and have fun. And remember, with virtual launches you won’t have to do the dishes when your guests have gone!

Links for Catriona 
Amazon UK 

Catriona King is a doctor/ manager who trained as a police Forensic Medical examiner. She has worked closely with the Police on many occasions. In recent years, she has lived in Belfast, basing her Craig Crime Series of novels there.

'A Limited Justice', her first novel, was released in August 2012 in paperback and eBook to five star reviews. A second novel in the Craig thriller series 'The Grass Tattoo' was released in December 2012. The third in the series, 'The Visitor', was released in March 2013, a fourth 'The Waiting Room' in May 2013 and the fifth book in the Series 'The Broken Shore' was released in December 2013. Books six and seven in the Craig series called 'The Slowest Cut' and 'The Coercion Key' respectively were released in June and August 2014. Craig eight 'The Careless Word' was released in November 2014 and book nine 'The History' in April 2015.
Two new Craig novels, 'The Sixth Estate' and 'The Sect' were released on 11th September 2015.
Catriona has also released a standalone thriller set in New York City called 'The Carbon Trail'. An action packed espionage thriller with adventure, intrigue and romance.

That was great advice for those new to book launches, and for some authors who might not have tried an online virtual one. Thanks for visiting, Catriona, and best wishes for great sales of your latest Craig Crime novel. 



  1. Thanks Catriona - and Nancy! - with a book launch coming up, this is useful and encouraging. :)

  2. Hi, Margaret- it's always timely because there are new launches every other day!

  3. Great advice, Catriona, thank you!


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