If you’re an author who has recently signed a contract with a publisher, then chances are you’ve heard the term “book launch” thrown around once or twice. No, this isn’t a second book marketing campaign, but rather your novel’s first step out into the publishing world.

Typically, a book launch is in the hands of a marketing team. As the Queensland Writers Centre put it, “If you’ve gone with a traditional publisher, the organization of a launch should be taken care of for you.” This means that quite a few vitals decisions have been taken care of, such as:

1. The Date

There’s a number of reasons why a book’s release date might suddenly get pushed back, and half the time it doesn’t even involve missed deadlines or human error. Rather, it has to do with marketing, and how a book’s first few weeks on the shelf are projected to go. Obviously, you don’t want your book to accidentally publish on the same day as a new novel by J.K. Rowling and disappear under the Harry Potter hype, and neither does your publisher.

2. The Platform

Depending on the season, your publisher’s marketing team will consider a number of different angles to use to introduce your book. Of course, they’ll eventually settle on just one, and that’ll define everything from your finalized book cover, to your standee to grace bookstores. As Publishing Push shared, “Your book cover is now a product thumbnail, the header in an email campaign, your Facebook or Twitter header, the main image in a blog post or piece of PR. It doesn’t just sit on a shelf these days. It is all over the internet.” And that’s just one piece of the puzzle!

3. The Party

Oh, didn’t we mention that? Yes, most every book launch kicks off with a book launch party! Even self-published or strictly e-book launches are getting in on the fun, and if you’ve got a traditional publisher footing the bill, then there’s really no reason not to join in! As Author Carol Tice said, “Most of all, I think it’s just time to take a day to let it sink in. I wrote a traditional book. All by myself. No one can ever take that away.” Not to mention, a book launch isn’t without promotional benefits. “Documenting the event gives you another marketing opportunity,” Tice advised, “So that’s just another good reason to have a launch party.”

So now you know what goes into a book launch, but perhaps you still aren’t quite sure what you can do to help as the author. Never fear, an author’s involvement is very important; in fact, author Scott Thompson cites “lack of writer involvement” as one of the five reasons why book marketing campaigns fail.

1. Create an Email Campaign

Maybe you don’t have the financial power to fund a marketing campaign on your own, but a free email campaign could be just up your alley. Now is the time to call upon all of your fans subscribing to your newsletter and reading your blog. Book Launch Specialist Tim Grahl suggests that you “Share excerpts of the book, make videos, etc.” A giveaway certainly couldn’t hurt, either!

2. Post/Share/Tweet Your Little Heart Out

A publisher might be promoting your book on their social sites, but never forget that you aren’t the only book they’re talking about. Instead of relying on their channels, use your own social media accounts to help get the word out. Try starting a new hashtag that you can use on multiple platforms, or even try your hand at Search Engine Optimization. As Book Promotion Hub pointed out, “As an author, you can easily take care of SEO by making sure you have a killer blog and that you post content on a regular base.”

3. Reach Out in Your Community

Don’t leave everything to the big publishers huddled up inside their offices, especially when you live hundreds of miles away and have an untapped market that would never cross their mind to invest in. Instead, make a few calls yourself. Author Keith Ogorek proposes scoping out a local venue or two for book signings, or even contacting a local media outlet to run a story on your new publication. As he puts it, “National coverage may be one of your goals, but the best place to start is locally. That way you can build upon your local success.”

And there you have it! With this information in mind, you should be ready and rested for your very own book launch. Of course, that book launch could still be a few months coming, so here are a few more author tips to keep you sharp from Jared Dees and Caitlin Muir.

Good luck, and good launch!