Launch Plan Experiment

It’s time for another experiment! This one is a plan to launch three books in eight months, and I hope you find it helpful.

From January to September (I’m late posting), I’ll apply everything I’ve learned about publishing and launching books in the last four years to release two picture books and one middle-grade book.

One of the biggest differences between this time and my previous releases is that I’m not on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter anymore—which is what makes this plan an experiment. Conventional release plans for indies rely on an author’s social media. Instead, I’ll explore and rely more on other avenues for reaching readers (to let readers know the book exists).

Fair Warning—this plan has many moving parts. Since the timing and order of items can shift and overlap, I’ve attempted to group them into phases for the plan. On the printable checklist (included at the end for download), they are grouped by type.

Side Note: All that’s required to publish is a finished book formatted into the required file types, and an account with the print-on-demand (POD) distributor of your choice. Amazon and other POD distributors offer free ISBNs (for use only with them), as well as formatting templates. This experimental plan is for those who want to reach a wider audience.

A few resource links are included, but more can be found on my list of publishing list of resources here.

Phase 1: Foundation

Before beginning, have the books professionally edited, and the illustrations completed or near completion. Proofreading can be still be underway, just be sure to note that on the ARC copies.

Timing goal: At least 4-6 months before publication date.

Phase Items

  • Marketing copy (book blurb, one-line hook, etc.)
  • Book cover
  • Formatting and file creation
  • Metadata for distributors (keywords, book categories, etc.)
  • Schedule release date
  • Newsletter announcement
  • Goodreads & BookBub setup
  • Create advance reader copy (ARC) of the book (most accept digital versions, but some may only accept print)
  • Submit to any applicable contests of interest


Many industry reviewers consider a book’s distribution network when considering whether to review it. Not having your book widely available (beyond Amazon) for preorder can affect the chances they will select your book for review.

Contests deadlines vary, and they differ on requirements (publication status, copyright dates, etc.). It’s good to have a list of reputable contests ready, and be prepared to submit on a rolling basis.

Phase 2: Framework

Now it’s time to focus on the supporting tasks for the visible promotions and marketing activities.

Timing goal: At least 3-4 months before publication date.

Phase Items

  • Create a loose marketing schedule so that all the public facing items don’t occcur too close together
  • Plan giveaways and promotional campaigns
  • Update your website(s)
  • Other marketing collateral (book trailers, information sheets, etc.)
  • Consider creating a free resource related to the book (it should be something others will find useful and appreciate)
  • Submit to any applicable contests of interest
  • Reach out to your street team and/or list on a book review site (Netgalley, BookSirens, Booksprout, etc.)
  • Reach out to organizations you belong to who offer promotional opportunities
  • Consider developing a cross promotional campaign with other authors and/or doing newsletter swaps
  • Contact relevant news and media outlets (including podcasters)
  • Have a professional proofread the book, if it hasn’t already been done


If you hired someone to do a book tour or another type of marketing campaign, consider areas where your efforts may overlap with theirs—like reaching out to reviewers and bloggers. That’s not to say you shouldn’t work in those areas. You may be reaching out to a different group of people than they are. But before you do, communicate with the people on your team so your efforts don’t hinder theirs.

Phase 3: Curb Appeal

Gather those advance reviews, marketing materials, and links. It’s time to ramp up the promotional stuff!

Timing goal: At 1-2 months before publication date.

Phase Items

  • Post on your blog (announcements are good, but it’s better if the post is about something more than your book)
  • Share relevant milestones and reviews with supporters (include social media, if you have it)
  • Launch giveaways
  • Submit to any applicable contests of interest
  • Send mailers to schools, libraries, and bookstores
  • Reach out to book boxes
  • Share blog tour schedule with your supporters, including links to upcoming posts
  • Participate in blog tours and interviews, be sure to respond to comments and thank your hosts

Post Launch

Congrats! It’s release day! Now that the book is in the world, be sure to send thank you’s to all the people who helped you: editors, cover designers, illustrators, endorsers, and your street team, to name a few. Keep submitting to applicable contests and sharing relevant milestones (like contest news and reviews) with your supporters through your blog, newsletter, and social media.

If you’ve found this useful, or have any suggestions or questions, share them in the comments. I’ll post a follow up this fall.

Happy Publishing!

Releases May 4, 2023

Releases June 29, 2023

Releases August 31, 2023

Published by K.A. Cummins

K.A. Cummins is an award-winning author and artist. Her publications include Havok Publishing, Rattle, Blue Mesa Review, and her middle-grade series, Snow Globe Travelers.

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