Any writer who has been through the launch of a new book will tell you, the process can be all-consuming. Sometimes it feels as though it’s impossible to write, and market your writing, at the same time. Whether you’re a well-known author on book tour with a top tier release, or a newly published writer managing the logistics of marketing mostly on your own, it takes tremendous effort and energy to send a new book out into the world.
For my first two picture books, I didn’t really do much for the launches. Both times I had small children at home—for the second book I was pregnant and my mom was very sick—so, beyond a book signing at my local bookstore attended by mostly close friends and family, the books went into the world quietly, despite some lovely reviews.
This time around is different. While I still have little kids at home, the youngest of whom is only three, I am a more experienced parent, far better at juggling work tasks and mom tasks. And with the help of my publicist at Penguin, and the incomparable marketing guru Kirsten Cappy of Curious City, I have a plan. A full-fledged marketing plan complete with book trailer, blog tour, giveaways, story hour kits, a social media campaign, launch party, holiday tie-ins… heck, I even started my own hashtag (#BakingDay).
I explained this to a family member recently, who very candidly (and not unkindly) asked, “Do you think it’s worth it?” Translated, this person was asking, will all the work and investment amount to significantly more book sales? And the honest answer to that question is, “I don’t know yet.” I believe it will. But I can’t say for sure until the book is out there and our promotions get rolling. And even then, some books pick up steam over time vs. having breakthrough sales out of the gate.
The question made me ponder the small miracle of getting a book published—one picture book’s path to publication. Books have hurdles (many!) before they reach store and library shelves. First, you, author-person, must get an inspired idea. That idea then needs to morph to paper in first draft form. You re-read it, revise it, put it aside and re-read and revise again (multiple times). Perhaps at this point, you share it with your critique group. You absorb their feedback and revise again.
Then, if you have an agent and feel it’s in good shape to share, you send it along. (You wait, wait, wait.) Your agent likes it! (Huzzah!) She sends it to a handful of editors. (You wait, wait, wait some more.) An editor likes it! (Huzzah, again!) But hold on, the editor must take it to an editorial meeting.
And here’s where it really gets perilous.
Your little manuscript is read aloud and discussed at a roundtable of editors, editorial assistants, art directors, marketing executives and sales folks. (Eeeps!) If the group doesn’t like it, or it’s too similar to something they’ve already acquired, it gets passed over.
(Insert more waiting, here.) They like it! Eureka!
Think your story is home free? Not necessarily. It then goes to an acquisitions meeting (yet more waiting) where the final vote is made to acquire your book and offer you a contract. (Shoo.)
The good news is, books surmount these hurdles every day at publishing houses all over the world. But it’s still a miraculous moment when someone offers to publish your story.
Think of all the hard work your little book did to get here!
That’s what I’ve been doing as I approach the launch of Baking Day At Grandma’s. It’s like a baby—my book baby—and I want to give it the very best chance to thrive in the marketplace, and all the love and support it deserves.
So, is it worth it?