If you're thinking television, given the phrase Prime Time is in the title of this post, you're partially right.
But, I'm not talking about getting your book on TV. I'm talking about launching it and putting it out in the world - prime time - for everyone to see. And read. And possibly, comment on.
Just like Prime Time television, which used to be between 5 - 10 pm when most families sat down to watch, your book's prime time is that week or two after you've announced it, after you've published it on Amazon or wherever you've chosen to do that. It's the time people start really giving it attention.
This is when your marketing push counts the most.
Of course, you won't want to stop after prime time is over. In TV time, that's when the news begins, the kids go to bed, and the parents settle in to watch their late-night shows.
There are a lot of people you need to connect with after prime time - people who are on the fringes, but still interested in what you're doing. They're just silent about it. In the old days, we called them lurkers.
The key is to know how important your audience is and be ready for them in prime time. This sets you up to be ready for them at any time.
Below are 12 things you must have or do to succeed in prime time for authors.
One: Before you can publish and promote the actual book, not just the idea or the concept, which you will have been doing for weeks and weeks leading up to this day - right? - you have to have a completed manuscript.
What constitutes a completed manuscript is not up for discussion. It's not this or that. It's everything. In order to have the confidence to shout to the world that your book is published, and then after it is published, you and it must pass #2.
Two: Your book must be complete. No wishy-washy maybe endings. Even in fiction, you must bring your story to a close. You may have more to say. You may already be starting another book or planning a series, but this book, the book you're announcing, must be complete. If you don't know whether or not it's complete, ask your beta readers.
Three: It must have been properly edited. This means more than punctuation and grammar. Most books are improved by working with a developmental editor. Someone who keeps you honest. Keeps you focused. Knows the right word when you're blanking. Isn't afraid to say, "This does not fit. We should remove it." One who keeps you accountable. As explained here, in a previous blog post, this is a developmental editor:
"...I keep the big picture in mind. For a manuscript of, say, 50,000 words, you could have 15 or 20 chapters. Each chapter needs to bring something useful and relevant to the book's purpose. We call it a throughline. It's my job to make sure we're keeping true to that throughline.
"In addition to working on the content, I work with the writer/author on cover design. We do design in-house at Master Book Builders and Tom, my husband, does our cover design. We work with the author to guide her on what the overall colors, font, design layout, and brand presentation for her book. This includes the spine and back cover, also.
"The interior design is done in-house, also. By Tom. He works with our authors on choosing the look and feels for the inside of their book, including running headers, paragraph headings, chapter headings, font choice, and book size. Sometimes he creates an index.
"This is all part of editing because the editor turns those parts of your work that are blah into beautiful."
Four: The launch plan must be in process. For a successful launch, your promotional plan should have started at least 3 months ahead. You will be contacting the people you want to invite to your launch party (all of your beta readers and everyone else you know all around the world - launch parties are often done on Zoom now, which allows you to bring in people outside of the U.S. depending on time zones, of course). Try and create a party atmosphere wherever your launch is. It's a elebration, after all.
Five: Your front cover must be fantastic. The title must be compelling enough to draw the reader's attention. The subtitle, for nonfiction, should tell us what we will learn in the book. How it will benefit us if we read it. The colors and font and design all play into a successful book cover. I recommend looking at the covers of your favorite books, to see what you like and what you don't. But also look at the 100 best sellers on Amazon, in your genre. Learn from them. You might also put the most compelling testimonial on the front cover. Or, if you have a celebrity quote, put it there.
Six: Your back cover should include at least two testimonials. A synopsis of the book. A picture of you. A short, short, short, did I say short? bio of you. Maybe your design can wrap around the book - from the front cover, over the spine, and across the back cover. That's always remarkable.
Seven: At launch time, you should have your 2 available categories chosen. Amazon KDP pretends there are only 2 available, but if you email them after your book is live, you can get listed in up to 10 categories. The categories shown on launch day will influence your bestseller success. Your publisher should be able to help with this. We work with our authors to choose the most marketable categories.
Eight: You must have your talking points ready. Once you're in prime time, you'll be asked on podcasts and interviewed in other places (on local TV or at your book signing, perhaps?) so having a clear, concise message about your book, and about yourself, is imperative. None of this, "Well, my book is about the changing times we live in." Really? Because no other times were changing times? Have your throughline memorized. Practice it without ums and ahs. Over time, it will morph into your best marketing.
Nine: You should have an established platform. What is that? It's the foundation of your book promotion. This should be developed in the months leading up to the book. You should be promoting the book on all of your social channels, your website, in your email signature, and anywhere else you can. This influences the strength of your promotional messaging. Think of yourself as standing on a platform giving a book reading to hundreds of people. Also, see #4 - in your Zoom launch, some of those people might be from other countries!
Ten: People expect you to be well-versed in the content of your book. This means having select passages either memorized or highlighted in the book, where you can easily turn to them and quote from them. No stumbling along. No forgetting to do this. If you forget, you will be thumbing through the book during an interview and wasting people's time. They will not think kindly of you.
Eleven: Never forget this isn't about you. It's not really 'about' the book, either. It's about the reader(s). It's about the people who buy your book, read it, and connect with you. It's always about the people out there. If you remember that, you will do well. Serve them what they want and they will love you forever.
Twelve: If you don't know what to serve the people, find out. Leading up to the book launch, ask people what they want. Maybe even do this BEFORE you start writing? Feedback from potential readers is worth more than diamonds! Ask them what their biggest, most terrible nightmare is about in their world or their business. Find out if your book addresses that. Find out if the story you're writing is the one they want. Building relationships as you go, learning the names of your people - makes you golden!
Be that author who cares about his readers. Be that author who admires her readers. Be that author who never forgets it's about the readers and not about them.
If you do, you and your book will be ready for prime time.
Keep this list handy as you get ready for prime time. Share it with friends who are authors, preparing their book for prime time.
Any questions? Comment below.