Friends, Nicole Gulotta is one of my favorite writers on writing. Her Wild Words Podcast is a new must-listen in my feed, and I read her weekly newsletter without fail. Today, she’s sharing some of her great wisdom with us and helping those of us – me included – find ways to healthily promote our work. Be sure to keep reading until the end for a chance to win a copy of her new book, Wild Words.
What does it look like to manage a successful book launch without feeling burned out?
I asked myself this question about six months ago as I prepared to enter the launch period for my second book.
It’s a topic on my mind frequently, because even when I don’t have a book coming out (which is most of the time), living the writer’s life means there are periods that require us to promote ourselves in both big and small ways. In order to share our message with others, we must converse, leave the house, engage. It’s a fun part of the process, but if you’re not mindful, can quickly drain your energy—especially if you’re an introvert.
So if you’re preparing to head into a book promotion period (this falls into what I call The Season of Visibility), there are a few ways you can care for yourself along the way—while also getting the word out about your writing.
Make a spreadsheet.
My first step towards a successful book launch is making a list. This is your time to go wild. Make sheets for each type of promotion, such as podcasts, guest posts, and event locations. Fill it in, take notes, and get as many ideas down as possible. Then get ready to step back, take stock, re-organize, and start with one thing at a time.
Pick and choose.
Three months ago I was explaining some of my mounting stress to my husband over dinner. I was struggling to find enthusiasm around a couple of guest posts I’d assigned myself. He asked me: “Do you have to write them?” This immediately made me reconsider my approach, and I realized there would be no harm in setting the drafts aside for another time—or never.
With a finite amount of energy, you’re best served by being choosy, and doing a few things really well rather than a lot of things not so well. Here’s a short list of some of the ways you might promote your book:
- Guest posts
- Bookstore events
- Radio or TV interviews
- Managing a launch team
- Hosting a Facebook group
- Instagram videos
- Twitter chats
Overwhelmed yet? When I get to the point of feeling like it’s all too much, I ask myself one simple question: How can I make this easier?
Remember, you don’t have to do everything. You especially don’t have to do everything all at once. You might choose to focus on writing guest posts for a month rather than plan a local workshop. Better yet, push the workshop down the road when you aren’t so busy with the book launch. You might look at your list of podcasts and decide three to pitch, instead of ten. This is where your spreadsheet comes in handy. You can re-organize it, put the most compelling opportunities at the top, and start with those.
After making some decisions about promotional activities, get in the habit of taking time to prepare. For podcasts, I always ask for a list of questions or talking points ahead of time. For bookstore events or panel discussions, practice reading aloud the passage you’ll share, and brainstorm common questions that might come up from the audience. I also like to arrive at event spaces early to walk around and familiarize myself with the area. All these small details can help you feel more relaxed in the moment, and better able to show up and serve your audience. Also, don’t forget snacks for yourself when you’re traveling!
Build in breaks.
Knowing who you are is an essential element to surviving book launch as an introvert. In order to show up as my best self, I need time alone to recalibrate. That’s a simple fact of my existence, which means travel, bookstore events, podcast interviews, and social media can deplete me. When these types of activities are clustered close together—on the same day and in the same week—it can be a recipe for burnout.
Sometimes we don’t have the final say on interview times, bookstore availability, or weekend workshop dates, but we can look at our calendar and do our best to keep space around each event so you can have a day or two to relax in between.
Play the long game.
It’s easy to get caught up in the weeks surrounding your launch
While it’s certainly an important and exhilarating time, once your book comes out, don’t forget about the fact that it will always be there. Did you land a guest post three months later? Great! Get interviewed on a podcast the following year? Perfect. That’s why your list will come in handy because as time goes by, you can work your way down, pitching and drafting at a pace that feels more manageable, and hopefully, generating interest about your book for many months and years to come.
Finally, a good place to start is always by tuning in and simply seeing what sounds like fun. One way to decide is by sitting quietly and holding an idea in your mind one by one. I’ll imagine myself at an event, or writing an essay, being interviewed, and literally see how the idea feels in my body, which is always a clue I can use.
Do you have any questions about launching books as an introvert? I’d be happy to answer them in the comments!
NICOLE GULOTTA is the author of Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path and Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry. As the founder of Wild Words, she helps fellow writers embrace the season they’re in, create at their own pace, and care for their minds and bodies along the way. Head here to learn more about the community and join a private Facebook group for writers.
I’m giving away ONE COPY of Nicole’s BRAND NEW book, Wild Words, to someone who comments below with a question or concern about marketing their work. Post your comment for Nicole by Friday, October 18 at Midnight Eastern, and I’ll randomly choose one winner to receive a print copy of the book. (I’ll inform the winner over email and announce it here on the post next week.) GOOD LUCK! — Andi
Quick update – I’m up to 282 copies of Love Letters To Writers, so climbing (by two copies since last week) but still going quite slowly on my quest for 1,000 copies. I’m choosing to be hopeful while I also keep my plans for my big promo going. 🙂