The 7 things authors do before book launch day

Authors lead odd lives. Most of what people know of us we control through blog posts and books. Behind the scenes things are different. As I wait for Wednesday’s launch of The Ghost of My Father, my sixth book, it’s a strange and taxing experience.

Psychologically this is the hardest time. I have years invested in this project, but before launch there are no rewards. Right now is the widest gap between the effort I put in and any response (which don’t exist yet). It’s also clear now how writing and marketing are different things, but a successful book demands strength in both.

If you wonder what authors do during this period here’s a list.

The 7 things authors do before their book launches:

  1. Exchanging limbs / future offspring to journalists and bloggers in exchange for reviews of the book
  2. Offering of secondary organs to places that will let me speak about topics from the book
  3. Spending most waking hours in email pitching people, or answering interview questions, about said book
  4. Running up bar tabs larger than many 3rd world economies (there are reasons many authors have signature drinks)
  5. Figuring out how to ask for marketing help from friends and colleagues without being “annoying author friend”
  6. Making backup plans for changing identity via the Author Protection Program (APP), similar to the Witness Protection Program, but for writers of criminally bad works.
  7. And the best, but hardest, answer: Start work on the next book. Nothing can ever really stop a writer from writing.

I hope that satisfies your curiosity. Ask a question and I’ll answer.

Are you an author? What did you do during this odd period of time? Leave a comment.

[Post updated 10/20/14]

19 Responses to “The 7 things authors do before book launch day”

  1. Amy Packard

    “The 7 things book publicists WISH authors did before launch”
    1.) ask all of their media contacts to feature the book in some way when it is out! Now is the time to ask for those favors!
    2.) ask all your friends who have media contacts to ask their media contacts to feature the book in some way when it is out!
    3.) send your list of media contacts with addresses in plenty of time for them to receive the book before launch date
    4.) clear your calendar for the weeks following launch!
    5.) make yourself available for all interviews about the book!
    6.) Tweet, FB, Google+, Link In the heck out of the fact your book is coming out!
    7.) And I’ll repeat because it’s THAT important–ask all media contacts and friends to feature the book and spread the word!

    Luckily Scott is a pro at all of this and I don’t have to wish he does this because he already has!!

  2. Christopher Dillon

    Borrow a page from Thomas Edison’s book and take copious notes. What worked and what didn’t work? Who promised to write a review? Who should I follow up with? And which authors should I steal marketing ideas from in future?

    1. Scott

      I hope some thoughtful fan comes up with one for me someday.

      1. Jay Schumacher

        We can do this… :)

        I’m thinking the “Frozen Berkun” instead of the “Frozen Berkeley”?
        Typical Ingredients: Light rum, Brandy, Passion fruit syrup, Lemon juice

        Or… The Scotty Boy?
        Ingredients: Absolut Kurant, Sour mix, Soda water

        In honor of TYWP coming out… Make the “Hot Pants” into a “Not Pants”?
        Typical Ingredients: Tequila, Peppermint schnapps, Grapefruit juice, Powdered sugar…… So we change it up to be the color red and I think we’ve got a “Not Pants”! ;)

  3. Jay Zipursky

    So, what’s your next book? :)

    1. Scott

      It’s a three way fight between half-finished book projects.

  4. Eric Lawrence

    Hiya, Scott! I’m enjoying TYWP so far; it’s amusing and insightful. I’m sure you have many topics in mind for your next book, but I’d love to see you share your expertise and experience on writing and evangelizing a book (much of which you’ve shared on this blog in somewhat piecemeal fashion over the years). I know you enjoyed GuyK’s recent book APE, but I suspect that you’d do an even better treatment of this topic.

  5. Katrina Alcorn

    Hi Scott,

    We met at MX Week years ago–if you remember me at all it’s because I was the hugely pregnant lady sitting at your table. You told great jokes and I’m looking forward to your new book!

    My first book was just published last week with Seal Press/The Perseus Books Group (more at and I agree with everything you have on this list EXCEPT #7. I can’t imagine starting the next book yet!

    1. Scott

      Hi Katrina. Congratulations on your book.

      Working on the next book helps me have a sense of control, since so much about how the world responds to a book is well out of my control.

  6. Sean Crawford

    Hi Scott. I can’t answer you directly, since I don’t write books. (only essays)

    But you being a writer, and able to get tax write-offs, you may wish to come and ask the authors at When Worlds Collide, in mid-August in Calgary: a world class (I think) conference for readers, writers and publishers held in my home town, organized by the folks who hosted the world fantasy convention for writers (no costumes—shudder) here a few years back.

    Calgary compares to certain Texas cities for computers per capita, and has the highest number of library cards per capita of any Canadian city. And there is a man there who will buy you a beer.

    1. George Wenzel

      Make that two men who will buy you a beer. I’m in Edmonton (just down the road from Calgary) and would happily swing South for a chance to buy a beer (or Frozen Berkun) for a favourite author.

      1. Scott

        I can’t think of a nicer thing to say. I look forward to that beer. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Too bad

    You forgot #8: “Claim you’re going to post daily until launch, and promptly stop doing so, much to the chagrin of your fans.” Irony!

    1. Scott

      Mea Culpa. The pre launch tasks have eaten all of my time. But I haven’t forgotten my promise. Happy to pay back the post debt the question is just when.

  8. Paul Jarvis

    What about sweating? Or maybe that’s just me? Who knew book releases were such a physical/contact sport.

  9. Melanie

    I’ve written four books- two short ebooks aimed at grown ups and two kids books. I’ve only recently started considering myself an author, though, because writing is not my main career focus. It was having the fourth release date loom that made me realize I was being silly on that front and add “author” to my social media bios!

    Anyway, yeah- I’m in release week for my second kids’ book and your description rings true. You left out “obsessively refreshing the Amazon page to see if any reviews have posted yet,” though. Having something else to focus on is definitely the best- but you have to do some promotion work, too, so I find it hard to get the right balance.

    One thing I’ve noticed since becoming an author is that I am much, much more likely to leave a review or signal boost someone’s release messages. I don’t know if that is empathy or concern for my author karma, but either way, I’m a much more involved reader now.

    I’m looking forward to reading your latest book. It is next in my queue!


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