How to launch a non-fiction book in Australia: book launch ideas

How to launch a non-fiction book in Australia: book launch ideas

February 22, 2022

Though it can be a lot of fun, it can also be a bit nerve-wracking organising your own book launch.

Of course, it’s also nerve-wracking if your traditional publisher, assisted publisher, colleagues or team of book marketing professionals (including a book publicist) has planned and organised it for you – that’s because it’s still you and YOUR book that’s in the spotlight.

But  I’m really enjoying my book launch today, and that’s probably because I’ve split all the elements up so it’s not overwhelming.

Also, a lot of book marketing (including building your community and getting your advance reviews in) needs to happen well BEFORE you actually launch. By doing all the groundwork, there’s less to worry about on book launch day.

And rather than a book launch ‘day’, I’m treating it more like book launch week (and when you self-publish…it’s almost like book launch all year long anyway!). That’s right, not everything has to happen on book launch day. It’s okay if people hear about or receive your book in a week or two – or even a year or two after your book launch – as it means it’s still being discovered, it’s still helping people, and it keeps on being recommended!

BIG FYI: Not all your potential readers will even know they want or need your book on the day you launch…and some may even be actively challenged by your book’s key concepts when they first come across it. (Don’t worry, time and their own experiences can change that…that’s why a book launch is good for exposure, but may also mean you don’t hit the mark in sales immediately). A slow build is okay for a self publisher…though it can be the death knell for a trad author as your books may be returned by bookstores to your publisher after a few weeks, and ‘disappointing’ sales mean you may not be offered another book deal).

So, there are no set rules for an awesome book launch. You can do your book launch face-to-face or online, you can do it on your own, or with a professional MC…even with celebrity guests (or maybe you already are the celebrity!).

You can also avoid a traditional book launch event by doing lots of cool book marketing instead, sharing the buzz from your online book launch team (fans!), through book bloggers and by being savvy with your socials. But hey, who doesn’t like a little party?! And a book launch is one of the best ways to throw a concentrated spotlight on your book.

There’s a whole section on ideas for book launches in Look-It’s Your Book!, but here’s what I decided to do for my book launch. Keep in mind, that I’m not outsourcing any marketing or publicity, or paying for any traditional marketing beyond the 500 book postcards I printed – and which double as stationery when I send out handwritten notes – so you can go much bigger than this if your goals and budget allow. (However, I may in the next few weeks throw a $100 to online ads just to see what happens and so I can let you know the results).

  • My main book launch strategy up front was to write a really helpful book for a targeted audience of Australian authors thinking of writing and publishing non-fiction. If I’ve done my job, people will recommend it and writers and authors at a crossroads and looking for writing and publishing help will seek it out.
  • Then, after it went through the editing process…I set the book launch date. I picked a week that school would be back and that I knew I didn’t have any other major (besides the usual!) family/work/caring commitments to work around. I then used the date as a goal to work towards, so I could plan everything such as when I needed to finish the interior layout so I could get a proof in time before having the books printed etc.
  • I had fun picking the date too, and even matched it to the ISBN for the paperback…(yes, you can do quirky, attention to details things like that when you’re an indie publisher). So, the book launch plus official on-sale date for Look – It’s Your Book! is 22/2/2022, while the paperback’s ISBN is 9780645342222. 
  • Next, I made sure the book was gong to be available on time through multiple channels: awesome bookshops across Australia, libraries and library wholesalers, online stores, global bookstores and direct from me, the publisher. (The only one I missed for book launch day was Apple Books for the ebook…but hey, I will blog about this at a later date so it doesn’t happen to you)
  • I chose to do things a little differently too: I had the physical book launch a few days earlier on Saturday so I could concentrate on publicity and other opportunities on the actual book launch day. That’s right..I didn’t physically launch my book on launch day…I went early!
  • The in-person book launch was held at Port Macquarie Library a few days ago. With COVID restrictions eased, we were able to have a great crowd and events librarian Leanne Wrights did a fantastic “in conversation” style interview with me. Being interviewed rather than doing a straight presentation made the launch fun, relaxing, personal and interactive. Can’t even express how enjoyable it was and how grateful I am to Jim the Library Manager and Leanne for their generosity and all the effort they put into the day. NB: If you’re planning on writing a book, please get to know your local librarians, they can be a wealth of knowledge and support. And also, the library helped promote the event, the local paper (thanks Port News) covered the story in advance and there was no fee involved to rent the room, for ticket sale management etc…this kind of collaboration can be great for an indie author. It was also great for book sales after the event (thank you attendees!).
  • There’s all sorts of publicity in train for the book launch, including a live radio interview with the amazing presenter Kia Handley on ABC Radio Statewide NSW Mornings. (You can listen to the interview here…the intro is at 1.06-1.07 and the interview 1.13 to 2.00).
  • Australian book blogger Tracey Allen (who gives some great advice to authors in the book about how to approach book reviewers), will also release her book review and will run a giveaway for the book through her online channels. (Okay…yes…I’m nervous about what the review will say…aren’t all authors nervous about reviews when they don’t know what’s coming or how people will respond to the book!?)
  • Another way to take the pressure off on book launch day is to draft a post like this the day before and schedule it (and update it five gazillion times as you think of better ways to say things). Drafting and scheduling ahead means you’ve done the bulk of the work, and you can always update it during the day if needed.
  • I also know that a number of fab bookstores and contributors will be mentioning the book in their socials throughout the day (thank you!)
  • I’ll be doing some social media posts on Linked In, Instagram and Twitter.
  • I’ll implement some other marketing I have up my sleeve as well.
  • And I’m going to take a walk. A walk along the beach or in the forest. A celebratory book launch walk. (Oh wait…I just went through my checklist (yes…do yourself a checklist) and remembered I need to update the book product pages from “Pre-Order” to “Available Now“. Luckily that only takes a few seconds to do. The walk is still happening! (Update: It did happen…a walk, some green tea and a delicious treat!).

You know what my biggest fear on book launch day actually is? It’s not that I won’t make a motza in sales or get fab publicity, it’s that I haven’t thanked and praised highly enough all the people who contributed to the book in some way. Yes, there are so many people who generously helped in the creation and publication of Look – It’s Your Book!, it’s impossible to mention them all in one post…but, if you get yourself a copy of the book…you can read about them IN the book and take in their wonderful advice… and, if you already have your copy, you can find links to their web sites in the URL resource for the book.

However, an extra special thanks must go to Jaqui Lane, Kelly Irving and Andrew Griffiths for their extensive insights and generosity of time and thought. And couldn’t have done it without fab book cover designer Tess McCabe, editor Geoff Whyte, proofreader/copy editor Tina Morganella and first reader Susie Jones.

And a special callout to Kim McCosker of 4 Ingredients for not only sharing her recipes, but also her recipes for publishing success.

A book launch is just one small part of your book marketing strategy, have fun with it but don’t get hung up on it. Just do the next thing. Book writing and book marketing can only be done one chunk at a time…and one of Guy Downes’ cartoons in the book illustrates that concept so well.

So happy book launch day for ‘Look – It’s Your Book!’, and sending you the best vibes for YOUR book launch day whenever and wherever that is.

Let me know when your Australian non-fiction book launch is on so I can spread the word!