Book Marketing and The Real Timeline For a Book Launch

Author surprised by book marketing, timeline for a book launch

Looking for a book publicist to help you plan your book marketing or book launch for your new nonfiction release? You might be surprised what the timeline for a book launch really looks like, but it’s good to know so you can give yourself plenty of time. After all, you want to make sure your book gets into the hands of readers, right?

I’ve worked in book publishing for nearly twenty years and here’s a situation I’ve seen time and time again.  I’m approached by a potential client. They need a book publicist to help promote their book. Then they tell me that the book is out already or comes out next month.  Whether they had a publisher who didn’t do as much as they had hoped, or they just didn’t plan, either way, it’s too late.

Yes, I can do my best to pitch them to short-lead media like podcasts, bloggers and writers for online publications. But many times, even if I book a podcast spot for a client, it could be months before that podcast even goes live. And forget about asking someone to do a “rush review” of your book. It’s not happening. To give your book the best shot at garnering key publicity, you need to hire a book publicist six months out. Sometimes more.

Not convinced? Here’s are four reasons you need at least six months before your publication date to plan and execute your book marketing strategy.

What to factor into your timeline for a book launch:

Lead time.

Pre-publication book reviewers have a 16-week lead time. That’s right, reviewers like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal and Booklist require AT LEAST 16 weeks lead time. Meaning, they need a printed galley or e-galley in their hands or inbox 16 weeks ahead of publication. That’s four months.

Why are reviewers important? They create early buzz with key influencers including librarians, booksellers and bloggers to build a grassroots awareness for your book. And they aren’t the only ones who need advance notice. Top glossy magazines can have an even longer lead time of 6-9 months. News magazine television shows? Same. 

And chances are, you’ll also need guidance from a book publicist prior to that on press materials, strategy and help with the galleys themselves if that isn’t a service your publisher provides.  

Your publisher isn’t handling it.

You might be lucky enough to have a book publicist and a book marketing manager in charge of your book. That’s fantastic. But the workload of an average in-house publicist is astronomical. Also, they are prioritizing which titles get the most attention based on direction from upper management. And if your book happens to fall near the bottom of that list, they aren’t going to tell you.

I’ve worked with all kinds of authors. I’ve worked with self-published authors, authors who come from a hybrid house and those with more traditional publishers. It has never been a problem getting in touch with the publisher and finding out exactly what they have planned so that I can focus my energy on other things. It’s a win-win. Nothing falls through the cracks. And I’ve never had an in-house publicist refuse to work side-by-side.

You need a strategy. Plain and simple.

Launch day is show time. Months and months prior to that of planning and strategy go into a successful launch. You need press materials, you need book and blogger reviews, you need blurbs, you need verified Amazon reviews, you need a launch team, you need a digital ad strategy, and the list goes on. Is your head spinning yet? Because it should be.

A good publicist will help you share your message, maximize your platform, create a customized media pitch list that fits you and your book, email or send out advance copies, hold your hand on marketing decisions, and line up media months ahead of time to all start hitting launch week. You have about a three-month window to make your book happen. Launch week and the first month are critical.

I hope I’ve shed a bit of light on why once your book has been accepted by a publisher, it’s never too early to hire a book publicist. Sure, not every author is going to be chasing media appearances like The Today Show or appearing on The New York Times list. But if you have a story to tell and a book you’ve written, isn’t it worth it to give yourself the necessary time to maximize every publicity opportunity within your reach?

 I’d love to talk with you more about your book publicity needs. Email me at with any questions or to schedule a time to chat.

If you are writing a book, you don’t need to be a publicist (or working with a top publishing house) to create massive buzz for your launch. You just need to follow my book marketing checklist and learn the secret to promoting your book like a pro. These “must do” marketing activities are designed to help you sell more books AND set your biz up to land more paying clients, book speaking gigs, and opportunities for years to come! Click here to download it for free!

Vicky Lynch

Vicky Lynch has worked in publishing, marketing and PR for nearly 20 years with experience working in-house at several publishers and a stint at Barnes & Noble. She is currently a Senior Publicist with Guide My Brand.

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