Join Kathi today with her friend and guest, Michelle Ule, as they talk about preparations for a successful book launch!
The motto for today’s podcast is be prepared. Michelle shares the tasks to be completed in advance in order to be prepared for a successful book launch, even in the midst of a natural disaster! Michelle’s book, Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional, launched in the middle of the 2017 Sonoma County fires.
Learn the key to using the cloud, a fact sheet, and much more.
Leave a comment or your questions on your ideas for book launch and be entered to win a copy of Michelle’s book!
Find out more about all of Michelle’s books here.
In today’s episode, you will know:
- How to set up a fact sheet.
- The importance of preparing in advance.
- How you are the important key to a book launch.
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Download this week’s takeaways:
Thank you to our friend Susy Flory with Everything Memoir for sponsoring this episode!
Communicator Academy Podcast # 158
Your Book Launch Checklist
Listen to the Everything Memoir podcast, and learn how to leave a legacy with your memoir or personal story. Whether it’s still only an idea, or nearing completion, the Everything Memoir podcast is a place to connect, get advice from Susy Flory, memoir expert, and author, or co-author, of twelve memoirs, including two New York Times bestsellers. If you haven’t read Memoir, just know that leaving a legacy for family and friends is one of the most satisfying experience you’ll ever have. It’s not easy, but you’ll be glad you did it. Go to everythingmemoir.com, or check out the link in our show notes.
Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our goal is to help men and women tell the stories that God has created them to tell. I am very, very excited. This is a friend I’ve had for a long time and have loved many of her books. Her name is Michelle Ule. Michelle, welcome to Communicator Academy! So, one time I’d ordered your book of Amazon and Mrs. Oswald Chambers is the book I ordered, and my son saw it and he said, “Oh, that is the most Kathi Lipp book to read, ever.” I love historical, great stories about great people that we don’t know a lot about and that’s your jam. I love to read them, you love to write them.
Michelle – I’ll take it, yes!
Kathi – Yeah! I see you have Mrs. Oswald Chambers behind you on your wall right there. So, what I want to talk to you about today, ’cause we could talk about the Chambers, and Bitty and all the things, but here’s what I would love to talk to you about today, because I think so many people are waiting for their publishers to launch their book. That’s just not how we roll anymore.
Michelle – Unfortunately, no.
Kathi – Tell us a little about your experience with your book launch. What was your expectation and what was your reality?
Michelle – Mrs. Oswald Chambers was my eight book publish, and I had great hopes because I was with a wonderful publishing house, which is still true, but unfortunately, Mrs. Oswald Chambers launched in the middle of a natural disaster. Eight days prior to the book launch, my family was evacuated from our home in the middle of the night, during the Tubbs Fire in Northern California, in 2017. I happen to be the mother of three Eagle Scouts, my husband is a retired naval officer, and my daughter is an EMT, so being prepared is part of our family DNA, which is why I knew Kathi would find this interesting, since your book, Be Prepared, that’s coming out. So, we were prepared ahead of time for the book launch, and thanks be to God that’s how we were able to pull it off, because I was out of my house for thirteen days. I missed the week before, and the week of the book launch and had my excellent assistant, who happens to be my daughter-in-law, Alisha Ule, not been well prepared in the cloud, we would not have been able to be so successful with that book launch. I was also fortunate in that, I have many friends, and when they realized that I was not in my house, because I was Facebook Live-ing about the fires, during the fires, they just stepped up and posted on social media for me, about the book. That was just such a wonderful blessing. Between Baker House being prepared with graphics, between Alicia and I having made organizational plans ahead of time, we were able to go right through a natural disaster. Most of use are not going to have natural disasters in the middle of our book launch.
Kathi – You know what, Michelle? We`’re all going to have something.
Michelle – Yes! Maybe our house is being renovated in the middle of it. Who knows?
Kathi – Have mercy, right? Or maybe you’ll move? Our kids are so inconvenient, because they do things like get married and have babies.
Michelle – Exactly. Amy Carol’s doing that right now.
Kathi – It’s very rude.
Michelle – You can’t prepare for any of that, but what you can do is get yourself moving ahead of time and that was what worked very well for me. I have a whole checklist, which Kathi has, which I’m happy to share. Just the things I did as soon as I had that book cover, I had that ISBN number, as soon as I had a link. I used my publisher’s link to their website with all of my marketing for my book, because that way no one else was insulted. By getting all that material set up ahead of time, I was able to go through the launch. Then, my virtual assistant, Alicia, had put everything up in the Cloud for our launch team, so even though I wasn’t at my computer, we could access the graphics and all that other stuff.
Kathi – I think that is so brilliant. You were talking about my book, Ready for Anything, and I am working on that right now, but the most important thing I’m doing, if I have learned nothing from book launches and writing books, get everything in the Cloud, because you don’t know where you will be that day.
Michelle – No, and you can’t control any of it. Well, you can control some of it, but not all of it. There were just a whole lot of steps I did, but the first thing I did, when I got that cover and that ISBN number and so forth, is, I set up a fact sheet.
Kathi – Yes! Tell me about this fact sheet. And, by the way, you guys, Michelle has done this beautiful, step-by-step outline for do-ahead steps for a book launch. You guys will have access to this. Thank you so much, Michelle. So, you say, the first thing is to write up a fact sheet. So, tell me what a fact sheet is.
Michelle – I just open up a Word doc, and I put the high resolution cover in that. A high resolution photo of myself. In fact, you can do that ahead of time. You can always get your picture taken, and you should before your book launches. Then I included all the links. So, a link to my publisher’s website, to Amazon’s website, Barnes and Noble website, CBD, all those places. My last book was published five months ago, and I accessed that fact sheet on that book yesterday. It sits there on my desktop. I can just pull it up. It has all sorts of stuff on it. It has links to book club questions, a questionnaire from my launch team, notable reviews. Mrs. Oswald Chambers had lots and lots of reviews. I had an entire page of reviews on my website. That’s another thing I’ll come back to, the book page on your website. It also had links to freebies (there was a free ebook for signing up for my newsletter), that kind of thing, and links to all the graphics that were in conjunction with the book. Mrs. OC had nine graphics from the publisher, and we did other graphics beyond that, all right there. Then, links to all my social media. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook Professional page, and that newsletter sign up. Am I ever going to forget the address for my website? www.michelleule.com? Probably not, but, in a moment of weakness, or running through the night, who knows what will happen to me?
Kathi – You know what? This fact sheet, you’re not going to be the only one to access it.
Michelle – Absolutely. It goes on and includes a project description, ’cause you’re always getting asked “What’s your book about?” You have three lines that explains it, that you can just copy and paste it to whatever doc comes up. A short autobiography, with three lines. A longer one for people who want further details about where I grew up, and so forth. Include suggested questions for the media, the ISBN number. I also discovered, particularly with the Mrs. OC launch, that it’s important to have an outline of important points in my book. I had a really wonderful interview with a famous interviewer, an hour long interview, but he hadn’t read the entire book, and there were some really important facts that came up later in the story he just didn’t know, and I didn’t catch on to that until two thirds of the way into the interview, so if you have those five points that you particularly want to cover, the chances of the interviews being able to hit those is better.
Kathi – Right, and it gives a basis, so you come into every interview, to every article you’re writing just feeling prepared. You know what else I love about this, Michelle? There’s a lot of time between writing the book and publishing the book. To say, “I have got a checklist of things I need to do.” and you’re not just trying to make it up out of the air. Okay, so the first thing you say is, “Write up this fact sheet.” You guys, go to the website page and you can download this. Michelle has this all here for you. Number Two: Set Up a Launch Team (even if it’s early). So, talk about the launch team.
Michelle – So, the launch team, of course, is very effective and necessary, and your publisher is going to expect you to have one. So, what I did is, as soon as I had a cover for Mrs. OC, I went ahead and set up my Facebook Launch page, which was early on. Then I could start stashing things in that private group. Again, Alicia made a number of graphics, I had a questionnaire for my launch team, a spread sheet with all their contact information, I arranged for prizes. In order to encourage them, I went ahead and got prizes ahead of time and we had a draw every week for five weeks. My last book, A Poppy In Remembrance, which is a novel based on My Utmost for His Highest, because poppy was a theme, I ended up looking and finding all these clever little poppy items. But there’s lag time in getting things ordered. I had a puzzle made of the cover, for example. That took some time. So, get started on that stuff early. Then it is done. I have to say, in my own case, we had my adorable grandchildren pulling the names of the winners. I have five grandchildren. I had five weeks. We pulled them early, so sorry, it wasn’t a real surprise who won, but again, I went ahead and posted those, scheduled those on my Facebook group page, so even when I was out at the beach or at Wheaton College, or wherever I was during the fires, that ran.
Kathi – That must have given you such a sense of relief. The book launch isn’t just for you. You are doing this for your publisher. You are doing this for the readers who have supported you. And of course, 100%, let’s be clear, any publisher, any launch team who is worth their weight, will understand when you’re in an emergency, but also, you’ve worked so hard on this book, you want to give it the best chance you can. To be able to do that is an amazing gift. Okay, so, you’ve got this whole list, and you have the launch team questionnaire, spread sheets, all that kind of stuff. Taking them through and saying, “Hey guys! Reviews are important. Let’s make sure we have all the reviews.” Number One: Write Up the Fact Sheet. Number Two: Set Up a Launch Team (even if it’s early). The earlier the better. You don’t have to have them start doing things, but you want the people who are excited. Three: Update Your Website. So, talk a little about that.
Michelle – My publisher really wanted my website to reflect the fact that I was launching this book. So, we needed a new banner. They provided me with a banner and graphics, for pre-sale and launch day. I give each of my major books its own page on my website, and it includes information about specific media related to that book. Who was I to write a book about a Victorian woman, when I grew up in Los Angeles, the daughter of a Sicilian immigrant? I mean, who was I and why was I able to write that book? In my own personal case, at that time, I was blogging twice a week. I knew I needed to spend that month around the release of that book blogging about my book. So, because I knew what the subject was, I plotted out all those blog posts well ahead of time, and I started writing them immediately. Pre-schedule them. Again, I ran out of my house at 4 o’clock on a Monday morning. I had a radio interview at 8 o’clock that morning. Because I had a phone that worked at that time, I was able to do that interview four hours later. I was prepared to do my interview.
Kathi – You were ready for anything!
Michelle – Who knew I was ready for anything? But I was! Really important, I had my iPad with me, I did some Zoom interviews. I was continuing to interview throughout that disaster.
Kathi – That’s amazing, Michelle.
Michelle – The fact that was in a disaster, gave my story a little bit of a twang. So, a friend of mine, a reporter in L.A., wrote a story, “Hometown girl, in the middle of a natural disaster, launches her book”. It gave me a little bit more. I don’t think you should take advantage of that, per se.
Kathi – And I’m praying against that, for my book, Ready for Anything. God, we don’t need to test all that, thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you.
Michelle – When is that book coming out, Kathi? ‘Cause I’ll be out of town that weekend.
Kathi – So, you’re updating and making sure everything is fresh and shiny and people can find things. I think that’s super-important. If you have a team, having a place for them to go to grab what they need. Number Four: Look for Media Opportunities. I love this. Tell me what you did for this.
Michelle – Well, I had a lot of friends who were bloggers, and of course, my publicist came up with blogging opportunities, so I set those up as soon as I could, and I wrote them as soon as I got them, pretty much. It was quite a surprise, when I had two or three come out the day of the book launch, ’cause I had completely forgot that I had already taken care of that. What a mercy that was. I think, the week of the launch, there was some interview with somebody every single day of that week, or I had written a blog post and it was done months ahead of time. I always asked, “Can I write this early and send it to you early?” I only had one person say, “No, I’d rather have it closer to the date.” They just want to get things organized as well as I do. That makes me a good person to have as an interviewee, because I’m sure I’ll write a good post, and it’s done, so when I came back the next year, and had another book, they were all like, “Oh yeah, sure! We’d be happy to take that.”
Kathi – Yeah, your reputation is everything. And you had the best excuse of all, but here’s the thing: You didn’t need it. Okay, Number Five: (and I feel very akin to you on this one) Plan a Launch Party. I love what you did for your Poppy book. Can you tell everybody about that?
Michelle – Well, A Poppy in Remembrance, again, is a World War One themed book. A coming of age, with Oswald Chambers as a major character in the book. Oswald and Bitty, both. So, we had a party in which the artist who did the cover happens to be a friend of mine and lives in my community. She came and talked about how she put together the book cover. It’s a gorgeous cover.
Kathi – It’s a gorgeous cover.
Michelle – So, I had her talk about that, and I told some of the crazy stories that happened to me in the writing of the book, which were truly one stunning story after another. I served WWI rations. We ate candy that came out in WWI. We drank water. I gave away red poppies because it was Memorial Day, Veterans Day. So, I just themed it that way. With Mrs. Oswald Chambers, my launch team, again, was at the back end of a fire, not many people could come. Most of my friends were still evacuated. But we had a British tea, and I told more extraordinary things that happened, about Bitty and resilience, I mean, Bitty Chambers life is one of resilience, which fit exactly into what we were enduring at that time. I couldn’t have planned that ahead of time. It wasn’t my original plan, but if you have a theme that can pick up on your launch team, go with that.
Kathi – Here’s what I love. The launch team isn’t just for the people in the room. It’s for the people who are watching it on social media, who wish they could be there. You guys, this has been amazing, Michelle. Do-ahead steps for a book launch. I absolutely love that. We have a couple of copies of your book to give away, which I am very excited about. So, guys, we are going to go put up some more information about Michelle’s books, but I would love, either your questions, or your ideas for book launch. So, go over to our podcast page and share with us over there. Michelle, thanks so much for being on Communicator Academy.
Michelle – Totally fun! And it’s fun to see you and talk to you live, rather than just listen to you on a podcast.
Kathi – Well, I love that we get to do this as close to IRL (in real life) as we possibly can. And guys, you thank you for being here with me and Michelle today. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items
Meet Our Guest
Author and Speaker
Long time Bible study leader and genealogist Michelle Ule is a graduate of UCLA and the biographer of Mrs. Oswald Chambers. The author of six other published historical fiction works and a contributor to Utmost Ongoing: Reflections on the Legacy of Oswald Chambers, she also is a blogger. She lives in northern California with her family.
You can learn more about her at www.michelleule.com
For information on all her books, visit this page.
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