The day that the galleys of your debut novel arrive in the mail is a very exciting day. It is also a scary one, because that’s when the rubber hits the road for PR and marketing.

What PR and marketing, you ask? I ask? We all ask?

Just some of the questions for which I needed answers … informed opinions, and sooner rather than later.

Put together a think tank

The first thing I did was acknowledge that despite my 20-plus years in the book business, I really did not know all I needed to know to prepare a sound book launch strategy. I knew I needed to call upon the wisdom of my friends, colleagues, and fellow authors. I approached three of my favorite people in the business, all successful novelists, and asked them to serve on my think tank. All generously agreed. Yay!

Ask the question

The first question I asked is the one headlining this post: What to do with your galleys?

Galleys are the pre-publication bound copies—or ebook copies—of your book.

Use these to get blurbs and reviews, to distribute at book events, and start building buzz about your book before it comes out. These galleys are often unedited proofs; that is to say, they are not the final version of the product (in either text or ebook format) that will appear when your book is officially printed and published. But they are very useful, and the more you can get out there, the better.

Typically debut authors receive only a limited number of galleys, because galleys are relatively expensive to produce, and publishers aren’t convinced we’ll know what to do with them (or will bother to do anything with them, besides give Mom a copy). I didn’t want to be that debut author.

I wanted to make the most of the few galleys I got.

My think tank provided this list of suggestions:

  1. Use them as giveaways in various pre-pub promotions.
  2. Send copies to reviewers and bloggers. If you’re traditionally published, your publicist should have a list; make sure your favorites are on that list, and that they’ll receive galleys. Consider signing and sending these Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) to those most important to you.
  3. Donate one or more to your local public TV telethons.
  4. Give them to librarians, especially those at libraries where you’d like to speak. We love librarians and librarians love us.
  5. Send them to directors of conferences where’d you’d like to appear.
  6. Donate copies to charity auctions. You can do this for your local organizations, as well as for those sponsored by conferences. For example, thanks to the fabulous Hank Phillippi Ryan, I donated a galley to the auction at Malice Domestic. Since I’m an agent, I also threw in a consultation with an agent as well. I’m doing this for as many auctions as I can. Note: If there’s any way you can leverage what you do for a living for these donations, do it.
  7. Send them to news outlets. But be smart about it. Figure out what nonfiction angle there might be to your story and leverage that. (For A Borrowing of Bones, which features a retired MP, a game warden, and bomb-sniffing and search-and-rescue dogs—one of which is inspired by the dog we adopted through an animal rescue organization and the other by a fundraiser I did to help working dogs. I’m using the slant of the military, working dogs, and animal rescue.) Write up a Q&A for interviewers at local, national, and online news outlets, and send that along with a press release, an ARC, and photos if applicable. This means dog pics for me.
  8. Send to anyone who blurbed your book or helped you with research.
  9. Don’t forget your Mom.

To swag or not to swag

Add swag to your ARC packages. But first, see what Hank has to say about what promo items authors need. I’ve done postcards, and I’m thinking about bookmarks, buttons (librarians love them), and something dog-related. Make sure your swag has your book title and your name, the ISBN, and the pub date on it somewhere.

Got any great ideas about galleys? Where did you send yours? Let’s continue this conversation on Facebook.