Category: The Writing Journey by Denise Colby

Denise Colby's column
Home > Columns > The Writing Journey by Denise Colby

Debut Author Book Launch Checklist

April 12, 2024 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

As a new debut author, it’s amazing how once you get the green light to publish, there are so many little details for an author to complete. And quickly. I’m in the process of building a debut author checklist to help me keep track of everything. One is specific to book launch, while the other is for a debut author overall.

blog header with title debut author book launch checklist by denise M. Colby with laptop graphic on right side

I’m sure there are lots of helpful lists out there. I’ve seen many posts and emails related to this over the years. I’ve even taken lots of notes during workshops. But it’s sooo different when you are finally in that moment yourself.

So I’m compiling my own list and would love to have input from all the other authors who are part of this blog. Please share lists you use or your own ideas in the comments below. And keep reading to see if I’m missing anything.

Book Launch Checklist

Your book is being published, and you have a date. Now what? Here’s what I have experienced so far with my first book, When Plans Go Awry, launching June 4, 2024.

Book Cover for Denise M. Colby's Debut novel When Plans Go Awry
  • Cover design
  • Announce cover reveal in newsletter and social media
  • Sign up for some blog interviews close to book launch date
  • Back cover copy
  • Send file out to authors to write endorsements
  • Final edits
  • Final inside matter – map, dedication page, acknowledgements, author’s note, endorsements, author bio
  • At the end of the book include a link to sign up for newsletter
  • Teaser for next book
  • Galley Proof
  • Update facebook header with new book cover
  • Book page on your website
  • Book page on your publisher website
  • Book page on GoodReads (and link to author page)
  • Pull quotes from book to create graphics

Are there other things you do with each book? Since I work full time and my son is getting married the same month my book launches, my husband and I agreed a book launch manager would be beneficial for my first book since I wanted to do an official launch team. Additional tasks for this include:

  • Recruit people to be a part of book launch team (with google form for signups)
  • Identify giveaways for book launch members (see my rooster below)
  • Create content for book launch members to use
  • Create special content for members
This Rooster Squishmellow is a giveaway for a debut author book launch denise colby
One of things I’ll be giving away to a book launch team member

Debut Author Checklist

I’ve been working on this journey a long time and even though I’ve established my website and social media, I’m finding my debut author checklist is long for all the things I still want to do. Of course working on Book 2 is on the list, but there are other things that need to happen so I can maximize this first book launch.

  • Create an author GoodReads page (this is a bit of a process without an ISBN number, but it is possible. I was able to get this built and link my book page together) Need to have this account use the email that you use for your website
  • Newsletter set up – build newsletter list
  • Update website pages where needed (make sure all references to previous book titles or content have been updated)
  • Create a new updated logo (my son is designing one for me)
  • Create Amazon Author page
  • Booksweeps account
  • Bookbub account
  • Fictionfinder account
  • Take new head shots
  • Post a lot on social media to generate buzz and gain momentum

Again, I’m sure there’s things I’m missing and I would love to learn what others have done or wish they would’ve done in the very beginning. Let’s hear it! Post in the comments below.

All-in-all, I’m enjoying this new stage of my writing journey, even though it’s all new for me and feels a bit never-ending. This year I chose the word grow as my focus word. As you can see from the list above, I am growing in lots of knowledge on how to be a debut author and manage a book launch.

If you are interested in joining my book launch team, I’d love to have you. Sign up on my book launch team google form. And have a chance to win the stuffed rooster.

2 1 Read more

All the Emotions with Designing My First Book Cover

March 12, 2024 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

This month I have had the pleasure of experiencing all the emotions of designing my first book cover. We all know how important book covers are. Book covers sell your book. They communicate what’s inside. And there are numerous blog and social media posts just on covers. So EVERYONE looks at book covers, because they are very important. 

Blog Header with title All the Emotions with Designing My First book Cover by Denise M. Colby and photo of a book with a plain brown cover

Initial thoughts for book cover designs

I think many of us newbie authors visualize what we think we want for our covers at the beginning of chapter 1. So I knew going in that I had an opinion. And ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. So how do you put all those ideas together into something appealing. A design that sells your book?

I have a graphic design background. Sort of. Things have kindof evolved since I was in college over thirty years ago, and even though I work in the field of marketing, my years of experience is more on layout now then specific design elements. I’m also a visual person. So I like to see something to see how it would work. 

My publisher, Scrivenings Press, has a questionaire we fill out to add our ideas and thoughts behind the story for our book cover design. This is useful to communicate key messaging and visuals desired. I might’ve had a lot of ideas written down on my sheet. I certainly didn’t fill it out like a work project. Many emotions were tied into all my ideas. And it was hard for me to land on just one set.

Can anyone else out there relate?

Taking out the emotions when looking at book cover design

So I have to give a shoutout to my husband who asked me some very pointed questions like he would a marketing packaging project (he works in product marketing), since my book cover is my packaging. 

This discussion was not emotional based, but true design and product packaging based. He asked me what is the main element of the story that you want people to know? And then asked to look at some books and guessed what the stories were inside.

When I told him what elements were most important, he agreed that those were in my cover design.

Our Emotions Can Get In The Way of Our Decision-Making 

And this is when I realized I had a slew of emotions tied up into my cover design.

First, we spend years writing our first novel and agonize for weeks on the verbiage we use, editing continuously our words. My book cover was designed in less than a week. Something as important as a book cover shouldn’t be done overnight, right? But I have to remember my publisher makes mulitple covers a month and know what they are doing. They have standards and expertise. I need to trust that and get out of the way.

Second, we have so many ideas to convey the story on the front of our cover, but then realize that all those elements would make it way too busy and really don’t work the way we think it would’ve. Simpler really is better.

Third,  I’m terrified how my cover will be received. But I’m also terrified on how my entire book will be recieved. So my emotions may not be just about the cover.

A Moment to Grow 

Now that I’ve realized these new things (remember GROW is my word this year), I can learn from them. Processing emotions is an important step for me (and writing this blog post has helped me immensely).

I do not make decisions quickly. I kindof over think things a bit (Hello! Remember twelve years working on book 1). With a contract and deadlines (I love saying those words and wrote about that last month), everything is moving so fast and it’s all new territory. 

There’s bound to be fear, uncertainty, and second-guessing. I need to allow myself room to feel those, but also know that this is all normal and not get caught up in them too much.

Clearly, I will have a much better handle on the process and my emotions for the next round (right?)

Now to agonize on how to do the cover reveal!

Denise’s first book, When Plans Go Awry, will launch June 4, 2024. Watch her facebook page and instagram page for her cover reveal

2 0 Read more

I GET To Say I Have Deadlines

February 12, 2024 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

I’m in a fun new season of my writing journey. One where I truly get to say I have deadlines. Those deadlines include turning back in my corrected edits that are due on the nineteenth of this month.

blog header by denise m. colby titled I get to say I have deadlines

Pulling together a blog post for this month completely skipped my mind because my focus has been on my edits as well as working on book two, which is due later this year.

I Get to do this

This is the phrase that I feel every day. I get to do this! And I’m so excited. I still feel as if I’m in a dream state that my first book will be published this year and that others will be reading my stories.

I’m also excited to be learning and GROWing (my focus word this year) on how to work full-time, manage family responsibilities, and build my writing career. And I know I’m not the only one. Every writer I know does this. Happy to be joining them.

I have attended many workshop sessions related to time management and scheduling. It’s now time to apply the lessons learned from them.

So this post will be super short because I need to get to the other things us writers do.

Happy February, everyone. And Happy Writing.

Denise chooses a focus word every year. GROW is her word for 2024. You can learn about focus words on her website, where she’s building separate pages on each word she chooses.

0 0 Read more

2024 is My Year To Grow

January 12, 2024 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

Happy New Year! I’m super excited for all this year will be. You see, 2024 is going to be my year to GROW. Last year was all about change and I found a fabulous quote that illustrates the connection between last year’s word and this year’s word.

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”

Gail Sherry
Blog header with book, flowers, glasses and words titled My Year to Grow by Denise M. Colby

What does it mean to grow?

I love looking up synonyms for my word of the year. For grow, there are several other words that help communicate what I’m thinking. Those include evolve, build, cultivate, develop, product, sprout, thrive, and stretch. Each word jumps out at me at different times. Right now the one that makes me laugh is sprout. My plan for 2024 is to sprout out of my little seed as a writer and bloom into something more.

Growing as a writer

My goals this year include learning new things. Most of these will be related to publishing my first book. When Plans Go Awry will be launched into the world June 4, 2024 and there are many steps to finish this story’s journey. To support the launch, I’m interested in growing my newsletter list, building a launch team (more to come about that), and all the other things needed to ultimately grow sales. There are a lot of new things to learn about all of this!

Growing in my relationships

In my personal life I hope to grow as well. First, our family dynamics will change. We are growing as a family when my son gets married this year and we gain a daughter-in-law. I’m also wanting to grow in my walk with Jesus, and grow in my relationships with friends and family by spending more time in these areas. I’m also looking to continue to grow in better health. I spent a lot of time in 2023 working on things to make changes and I hope to continue in this area as well.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

All in all, I’m excited about 2024 and what it will bring. You’ll see all sorts of reminders for my word throughout the year. I made a mug with all my words on it, so I could be reminded of the magical journey picking words to focus on takes me. Here’s my first reel I made about my mug, which was too large for me to post here. Instead I’ll share a pic of me using my mug!

Denise M. Colby holding her handmade mug with all her words of the year on it with GROW, her 2024 word, the largest.

I love choosing a new word every year. It is by far one of my favorite new years traditions. If you have a word for 2024, I’d love to hear what it is. Just make comments below. Here’s to growing in our word we’ve chosen for this year.

0 1 Read more

From Aspiring to Contracted, A Very Big Change

December 12, 2023 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

I bring good news and tidings this merry December, as I’ve gone from aspiring to contracted author and I have much to celebrate. And I wanted to share this very big change with all of you.

Denise M. Colby signing her first contract with Scrivenings Press for her first historical romance series titled "Best-laid Plans"

My word CHANGE was the perfect word for me this year. 

From a writing perspective I chose this word because I wanted to change how I approached my writing. To not be afraid to change my opening or what my characters said. I wanted to be able to try new phrasing and change my manuscript for the better. 

Besides being able to do all that, I can now add several additional changes that have happened this year! 

  • 1. I finaled in a contest and had to submit my entire manuscript 
  • 2. That entire manuscript won 1st place in a contest
  • 3. And won the grand prize in a contest
  • 4. And that grand prize includes a contract
  • 5. And that contract has grown from 1 book to a 3-book series titled Best-laid Plans
  • 6. And my first book will be published in 2024

From Aspiring to Contracted Author

I’m excited to share I won the grand prize in the Scrivenings Press #GetPubbed writing contest. My novel, When Plans Go Awry, won first place in the Historical Romance category, and then went on to win the grand prize. The grand prize includes a book contract. My novel is scheduled to be launched into the world on June 4, 2024. The contest results were announced on November 16. I think I will always remember this day. It is a pivotal turning point in my writing story. Where I went from aspiring to contracted.

Scrivenings Press #GetPubbed 2023 contest announcement where Denise M. Colby won the grand prize for When Plans Go Awry

What’s amazing is looking back over the past thirteen (yes, 13!) years of working on my stories, making friends, learning, and growing as both a person and as a writer. I’m so thankful for the journey. And yes, there has been a path for me getting here. Sometimes it’s been a lot of winding cross-backed, up and down, narrow dirt trails, and sometimes it’s been paved and flat. Just last month, I wrote a blog post of Attitude is Everything, which posted on Nov. 12. It was posted after reviewing results from another contest, where yet again, I didn’t final. Then, November 16, these contest results were announced, and everything changed.

Scrivenings Press welcomes Denise M. Colby to the family of authors with her grand prize entry When Plans Go Awry which will publish in June 2024 making her go from aspiring to contracted author

Very Big Changes in My Personal Life, Too

Change has been up front and center in my personal life this year as well. With one college graduation and our youngest’s high school graduation, we are moving on from being booster presidents and weekly performances or activities to attend. Our middle son asked his sweetheart to marry him, and we are experiencing new things with being parents of the groom. We’ve been blessed with new responsiblities in our day jobs, and been able to travel quite a bit this year.

So in the month of June we will celebrate a book launch and a new marriage for my son. I’m so excited for 2024.

Contracted Means Changing and Adapting

I’m already feeling how going from aspiring to contracted is changing me. And as the year 2023 ends, it is the best change possible. I have a plan and I now have deadlines. And all this makes me excited about my word for 2024. You’ll have to wait till next post to find out what it is.

Denise M. Colby loves to write words to encourage, enrich, and engage with others. You can find similar encouraging posts on A Slice of Orange such as meeting writing goals or when your confidence wavers, and on her own website , including a blog post about Moments of Encouragement. Or you can scroll through all of her archived posts on A Slice Of Orange here. She also loves to write about her word of the year and share quotes that include that specific word in them. Each word builds a new layer in her writing journey (and her life). In 2022, her word was Work. This year, her word is change.

4 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM