(photo by Kara Allyson. This is — unhelpfully in this particular case — not a photo of assets, but a photo of book edges. Sorry about that.)
It’s a lot of work to make books, so sometimes it’s nice to have newsworthy, shareable moments that you can work up to in the road to publication!
Here’s the first shareable moment: when authors announce their book.
Now I should first note – I’m talking about a specific point in the process of authors announcing their books. When an author first signs up a project with a publisher, oftentimes there’s an announcement in some industry forums like Publishers Marketplace – an excellent forum from which news of an author’s book being published may get picked up in some other online media. This announcement will run something like, ‘Editor So-and-So has acquired a book from Author So-and-So for Publishing House So-and-So; it is projected to be scheduled at This Year, Agent So-and-So was the agent on the deal.’
That is great! However, that is not a book announcement – that is a book deal announcement.
What’s the difference? A book announcement contains a lot more information, and is closer to the publication date of the book.
A book announcement may contain: the actual final publication date for the book; the final book cover; a Q&A with the author; at least a paragraph of content about what the book is about. It is also highly newsworthy — check out this book announcement on Wired, and this one on EW.
To create these newsworthy, shareable moments of book announcements, it’s good for authors to hold back in talking about their upcoming books. That doesn’t mean that an author should never talk about their book ever — it is perfectly fine to talk to friends and family and people in real life (after ascertaining they are not journalists trying to write stories about upcoming books).
It’s also perfectly fine to talk to the internet — but in a more limited way. Putting up panels, talking about the creative process — those things are all fine. Basically, what authors should avoid is putting up something that reads as, ‘The Tell-All Interview from Author X about Their New Book — With Pictures!’
And that becomes the first asset a book can have — its very existence can be parlayed into a news story.
(Of course there are other assets too – excerpts and sometimes book trailers and interviews and all of that jazz. It tends to be useful to think about structure and timing for all of these things as well, so you can get the optimum reach for each separate thing that you’ve worked so hard to assemble.)