Plan a Great Book Launch Party

By | March 19, 2009

I’m a proponent of well-designed launch parties. When a book is first published, the author is in a great position to plan and host a local event to kick-off the arrival of the new book.

This a key activity for book marketing that authors can do better, more personably, and often more creatively than publishers.

For a book I’m publishing in May through my Crickhollow Books imprint, Plank Road Summer, a historical novel for middle readers, the co-authors Hilda and Emily Demuth are hosting a party in a rural schoolhouse, the Yorkville School in Racine County, Wisconsin. (It’s near the site of where the story takes place.) And one of them plays in an old-time contra dance band, the Hoosier Recruits. So it’ll be a music/dance/book-launch party. It sounds fun to me!

My worst book launch ever? Think Katrina hurricane. I mean, literally. I worked for a year as editor on a book titled Lost Gold of the Republic, about a Civil War–era steamship, headed to New Orleans just months after the end of the Civil War with lots of gold and silver coins. It sank in a hurricane. The book launch site? New Orleans . . . the exact afternoon the evacuation for the whole city was ordered on the eve of Katrina’s onslaught. The museum where the book was being launched closed, and everyone ran for it. The irony it all wasn’t lost on us, but the sales were, and the news media had other things to cover for a while after that.

Why do a book launch party?

Motivation. It gets author and close friends to focus on a local promo campaign, something that only the author can do really well. A launch party is a way to spread the word the book has been published: to colleagues, neighbors, family, and friends, as well as to the local public interested in the book’s topic.

Celebratory Spirit. If family and friends turn out, the event can be lots of fun and enthusiastic. And getting a brand-new published book should be celebrated with gusto! It’s a huge accomplishment.

Spin-off Visibility. A well-announced event builds interest even if people don’t come. They hear about it beforehand – and if the event was a success, afterward.

Press Hook. Local papers and talk shows like to have an event to justify mentioning a book. (They may not see a need to review a book, but will announce events of local social interest – “things to do around town.”)

Circles of Influence. Word of mouth is key. Your neighbor or the receptionist in your office or your insurance agent might know someone influential who could boost your book.

Tips for planning a book launch party?

Location. Inexpensive or free! No need to rent the Grand Ballroom and hire an expensive caterer. But I do recommend finding a public place rather than a private home. Think about local community groups, cultural centers, or restaurants or pubs that serve food and have a meeting room. If you can hook up with an interest group or site that has its own newsletter or place to post a flyer in advance, that’s a bonus.

Theme. If your book has a theme that lends itself to a party, use it! A Jane Austen literary-criticism book will have different theme than a Canadian fur-trade voyageur book). Doesn’t need to be overdone, but it helps to create interest if you add a bit of topical flavor in some food to be served, design of the invitation, etc.

Program? Personally, I prefer to see a launch party as just that: a festive party, without expecting attendees to sit through a full program. An exception is if a sponsoring host wants to you to do a talk or slide show for a regular, well-attended meeting, followed by a reception. Of course, at some point, it’s good to have someone introduce you, to say a few words to the assembled throng.

Sales. Yes, you’ll sell some copies. How many? Depends on the book, the price, and how broad its appeal is! (Will people want to buy copies to give to others? Gift giving is a major impetus for book buying.). Personally, I like to give a small discount on the price, rounding down a bit. It’s an incentive to buy a copy right then, and a little thank-you gift to those who came. Others feel you shouldn’t mark down your work. By the way, have someone else in charge of the sales, to take the money. You need to be working the room, perhaps taking a few moments to sign a few books.

Order Form? I recommend not having an order form (some people will take that as an excuse to not buy at the event).

Send me any creative details (as a comment below, or email me) describing your book launch, and maybe I’ll feature it in a future post!

66 thoughts on “Plan a Great Book Launch Party

  1. Wendy Dashwood-Quick

    Thanks Philip I have just booked a venue for my book launch, in a very nice little bar locally to me which they’ve let us use for free, we only pay for the wine. Thanks for the hints and tips well worth knowing.

    Reply
  2. Hilda Demuth-Lutze

    As I am still basking in the afterglow, I may not be completely objective here, but I agree completely with Phil’s advice.

    Location, location, location: selecting Yorkville Elementary School as the site of the Plank Road Summer launch party meant that local folks were comfortable attending the event and out-of-town guests could find the place easily. As a result, everybody from my first-grade teacher to my high school principal and a kazillion old classmates I hadn’t seen in years showed up.

    The live music gave guests an incentive to stay longer, even just to listen to the band or watch the caller teaching the old-time figures of the dance.

    Refreshments were simple–we served cinnamon twists and lemonade, both significant to the plot, along with home-baked treats donated by friends and neighbors.

    After the public event that day, close friends and family gathered at the home farm for supper and further celebration. A great book launch party indeed.

    Reply
  3. Alice K

    Here’s another tip I use: make everything about your book launch party work to help others promote their business or project. For example, Life Tuneups author, Loren Slocum, held her LA party in a newly renovated hair salon, giving them an opportunity to attract new visitors. She also had sponsors: a tequila company provided shots to add to the non-alcoholic fruit punch and each guest received a goodie bag containing samples from various book theme related sponsors. Make sure one of your sponsors is a nonprofit that you passionately support. Good karma all around makes for massive connection to your community of readers/buyers!

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Tell me more about what you have planned for your book launch party! I’d love to hear any of the details.

      And tell me more about your book, Folk Tales from Zimbabwe!

      Reply
  4. Paula

    Hi Phillip,

    I found your tips very helpful. I’m launching my book release on April 10, 2010. I also considered a little price break to encourage more sales. Wish me luck! Glad I stumbled on your site :) Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Karen Hoffman

    Thanks for your tips. Having first book launch (The Art of Barter-Skyhorse Publishing) here in St. Louis, MO on Aug. 6th. A dear friend, Mandi Harrell, is GM of the J Buck’s restaurants here and offered her reastaurant and appetizers for our guests! Nice reastaurant and a win-win. A cash bar, new people to come to restaurant for Mandi. For me, cool place, easy to find location. We partnered with a local barter company and invited 2 other barter company owners. Used EventBrite (www.eventbrite.com )to promote to friends (free) and Vista print for free postcards (100) and other giveaways (www.vistaprint.com).

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Congratulations! And thanks for posting some details about your book launch; that’s helpful to others in imagining and planning similar events. Win-win all the way!
      Folks might be interested in checking out your book:
      The Art of Barter: How to Trade for Almost Anything
      http://www.barterstrategies.com/Blog/tabid/62/Default.aspx
      as the concept of bartering is useful to anyone planning an book or other product launch. Who can you involve as event sponsors or partners, or barter some exchange of services or products with, to keep your book-launch and related PR costs down, have a great event, and develop relationships that might continue to pay off down the line?
      Thanks, Karen!

      Reply
  6. Zakiyyah Lana

    Thanks Philip and all others who have contributed to this blog. I am planning a book launch for a client and your suggestions and recommendations are wonderful. This is my first event. With your encouragement and practical suggestions, I know it will be a success. By the way, the title of the book is “Lessons From The Pro”, by Tim Sanders. Tim is a golf pro who writes about how the game of golf relates to real life. Visit his website at http://www.tsanderspgapro.com. Any suggestions how to make this a fun event. It is being held at a golf course clubhouse. Wish us success! Thanks, Zakiyyah!

    Reply
  7. Michele

    Thanks Philip (and others)! I really appreciate all the suggestions, ideas and comments. You’ve given me a lot of practical and fun advice for a potential book launch coming up.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Of Book Launches and Chocolate, by Leona Wisoker « The Writer’s Handbook Blog

  9. James Ogolla

    This is a great article. I’m in the process of planning a major launch of some books. I plan to launch several books at the same time but vary audiences as per their areas of interest and later pull them together for a celebration (the fun part). Any thoughts on this idea?

    Reply
  10. Elizabeth

    Thank you so much for these tips! My publishing company is brand new and we have our first released author booked for a book launch on June 26th at a Borders bookstore in Maine and we wanted to make it perfect!
    So far, she and her family are dressing in costumes that the people in her book wear (a magical fantasy book), and she’s making elephant shaped cookies to provide (elephants play a role in her book).
    Your tips are great and very well outlined! Thanks so much!
    Liz

    Reply
  11. Tawanda Fisher

    Great suggestions. My book Carpe Diem With God (Book 1: Who Am I?) is schedule for release in a few weeks. I look forward to using your strategies. It is always good to get more information about any venue that we start. This book deals with finding out who we are in God to be able to seize the day. My book can be purchased from Reigning Light Publishing Company, the company that published it. Their website is reigninglightpublishing.info.

    Reply
  12. Sylvia Dickey Smith

    Tawanda, I’ve found we are limited only by our own lack of imagination! Your book should attract a number of folks interested in that topic. I would think contacts with Christian book stores might generate interest in a book launch event. Also, so many of them have newsletters where you might have ads at a reasonable cost. You might contact Pastoral Counselors, provide them a copy of the book as a reference to use with their clients. Likely they will refer it to others. Or you might offer yourself as a speaker to church groups. Of course this doesn’t have to do with book launches, but there are all kinds of places to market. I just did an event in a farmer’s mercantile store and sold books standing beside saddles and bridles and there isn’t a horse in my new book! Lots of luck. It’s fun!

    Reply
    1. Tawanda

      Thank you so much for the information, I will definitely follow your advice. Much success to you to.

      Reply
  13. Angela

    Thanks for your helpful advice. I’m planning my book launch party for Dec. 18 at a hairdressing salon. The title of the book is Women For All Seasons, so I’m having it at a place where women gather.

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Angela,
      Thanks, and best wishes for the coming launch of your Women for All Seasons book!

      Reply
  14. Linda Lee Pond

    Really glad I signed up for this newsletter. So useful.

    My book launch happens in early Feb 2011. The venue is the Old Town Hall in Carleton Place, Ontario – a wonderfully old heritage building overlooking Mississippi River (of the North!). The book’s title is ‘Top Secrets of a Girl Entrepreneur’, the story of a mother/daughter team of inventors who have successfully taken their patented invention to market. We are selling signed copies of the book at the event, and for the first 50 to buy a book, we are packaging it with one of our gadgets, The FAB Light.

    Reply
  15. Otis Robertson

    Philip, thank you for this article. I found it very helpful, as I’m planning a launch party in the Summer. I had an idea to rent out this very nice, but reasonably priced office space downtown Nashville, but I know a restaurant that’s even better; plus it’s free.

    I wish you much success on all of your endeavors.

    Reply
  16. CL Parks

    Great post, Philip! My launch party is planned for June 18 and I’ve planned it a local bar. The coolest part is my husband’s 80s cover band is playing, and I’ve secured little giveaways to include with each gift. I have anything from gift certificates donated from local florist and romance shops, to lacy panties and tote bags with images of my book on the front! You’ve given me even more ideas through this post!

    Reply
  17. Sandra Zerner

    Just came across your wonderful article. I was so happy to find it as I am planning a book launch party for my children’s book called IT’S GOOD 2B GOOD: Why It’s Not Bad To Be Good. You gave me lots of great ideas to get started on. Thank you very much.

    Reply
  18. Lena

    Hi Philip. I just came across your article while making last minute plans for my husbands launch party. He wrote a fantasy novel Legends Reborn: The Light of Epertase. We are having the launch party in the town where he grew up at the comic shop he frequented as a teenager. I think some ideas on here will help to make it a fun party. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      A launch party for an ebook is a bit more challenging in certain ways. You won’t have the physical item there to hold up, show, and sell. But this just highlights the other aspects of a book launch, especially the pure celebratory aspect.

      Certainly you’ve done as much work as for a physical book of the same length. So the party would focus on that: a little fest to acknowledge the creation of the ebook and its availability. You can enjoy some beverages, nosh a bit, chat with people.

      I’d certainly have a small handout, maybe bookmark sized, that people could take with them, giving the book specs, a summary, where to order it, etc.

      (Some authors create a business card–sized promo piece, one- or two-sided, with the book specs; it’s easy to hand out and easy to the recipient to hang onto. And it’s usually very cheap to print. It doesn’t really need fancy design; just clean, easy-to-read type with the core info is fine — and better than than a poorly executed attempt at a fancier design.)

      Having an event, even for a virtual item, still announces it to everybody. It provides a date to alert the local media and encourage them to mention the e-publication and you as a local author.

      After all, a birthday is a virtual event. In a sense, it celebrates a concept — the event of your birth — more than you as a product! But people still like to get together, laugh and talk, eat cake, and sing happy birthday.

      So it’s your book’s birthday. Go ahead, throw a little party.

      Reply
  19. Michelle Jorna

    The final proofs have just been sent off to the printer today! After years in the making the book Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle: Loving ALL of YOU Book 1 and a Physical activity health journal will be released in a couple of weeks. Its been such a massive effort everyone keeps asking about the launch!

    I’m trying to decide on a location, am thinking the local gym Im a member at, our local Church (its a holistic health book), the local Christian bookshops or somewhere else. Any suggestions? The target audience is adult women both Christian and non-Christian.

    As a give away we are getting some silicone wrist bands made up with the website and catchy health words like: mind body spirit, healthy active, live strong etc.

    Thanks for your tips will let you know how it goes!

    You can view the book at http://www.lovingallofyou.com

    Michelle

    Reply
  20. jonetta

    Hi Philip,
    My name is Jonetta Smith, Author of the book My Child My Responsibility.
    I feel it is time for us as parents to take the responsibility of our own child (ren). The parent should be the child’s role model. I have also created a parent pledge. http://www.jonettasmith.com
    I have created a blog for parents to express what issues they face as our journey continue while raising our children. http://www.jonettasmith.com/parentlounge.
    My book launch will be 9-23-2011 in Chicago, IL.
    Thank you for your helpful insight on how to launch a book release celebration.
    Sincerely,
    Jonetta Smith
    Author, motivational speaker, & life Coach

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Congratulations, Jonetta, and best wishes for your book launch!

      Reply
  21. fairysockmother

    Great article! I have my first book launch scheduled Oct. 30, 2011 for my picture book, The Christmas Cats (Pelican Publishing) . Thanks for all the good suggestions!

    Reply
  22. Alexia Fraser

    Hi Philip, I am so excited to find your blog on a great book launch. My book “Memories of Mom” due out in apporximately six weeks. I am now busy planning a launch party. These are great tips. I feel more prepared for the event and I am sure it will be a success now that I have read your tips. Thank’s a bunch! I will update you after.

    Alexia Fraser

    Reply
  23. Michelle Jorna

    Well the launch was a success! Managed to book a golf course private room which had large windows with views of the fairway, it was beautiful and related to the book’s theme of healthy active living! The food served was healthy, and we had some bottled water made up with the book title and author names on the label. We organised trade gift bags with gym membership, massage, Pilates and personal training vouchers, bookstore discounts and more. We invited close friends and family only, and then all the health professionals we have relationships with, with the aim of inviting people who could take the book further and hopefully use it in their professional practice. It was a great celebration and we sold a heap of books and made some excellent professional connections. Thanks for the advice on this blog!
    Michelle
    http://www.lovingallofyou.com

    Reply
  24. Varsha

    I am planning to launch a book on volunteerism. I am looking for some inexpensive ideas. Any idea , we are an NGO .

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Tell me a bit more about this book. Sounds like an excellent project! Give me any details you’re willing to share: brief description of the book, publisher, date you’re looking at, and intended audience/who you think the book will be most useful for, etc. and I’ll try to do a post with some tips specific to this book (but that might also be useful to others).

      Reply
  25. K. M. Walton

    Hi, Phillip. My contemporary YA novel – CRACKED – is being released from Simon Pulse ~ Simon & Schuster on January 3, 2012. I know I’m a wee bit early with my planning, but I’m planning my launch nonetheless. It is going to be held at my favorite indie bookstore, Chester County Book and Music Company in West Chester, PA on Jan 7, 2012.

    The book alternates from two sixteen-year-old boys’ points of view – one the bully – one the victim. It’s serious, it’s heartbreaking, it’s touching and even funny at times.

    I’ve made some cool items over at VistaPrint that have my cover on them, but I can’t figure out what else to do to make the night insanely awesome.

    This is from the inside jacket:

    Sometimes there’s no easy way out.

    Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.

    Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn’t stop Bull’s grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

    When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there’s no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….

    (And there’s more info about the book at kmwalton.com)

    I’ll take any ideas you’ve got : )

    Reply
  26. Jess

    Wow, Philip, your blog has been really helpful. Unfortunately I am going it alone, having had no joy with agents so far, and I am just about to upload my e-book to Amazon. I am arranging for a self published print run and a launch party to coincide with the upload so I have my work available in both formats. The only big thing I have ever organised was my wedding three years ago so it is safe to say I am pretty worried right now!

    I have set up a website and blog to try and create a bit of an online presence and since reading yours I have decided that the launch party is going to have a theme. My book, Poker Face, is a dark crossover thriller set in and around a law firm. It has mafia and organised crime elements to it. So, I’m thinking, those involved in the launch should be dressed up like they’ve just stepped from the set of The Godfather with some Italian Mafia background music as well as red and white chequered tablecloths, single red roses, table lanterns, dim lights and wall mounted guns (fake obviously). If the books don’t sell I could use my props to intimidate my guests into buying them! Obviously I’m kidding that not allowed!

    Maybe I could also get some local performing arts students (and I know at least one) to do some traditional dancing (perhaps Tango) in costume for entertainment too. The possibilities are endless…I wish I could say the same for the guest list!

    If you have any further ideas please let me know. Thanks for the tips. Jess.

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      My main advice is, while being creative, be sure to make it a party that’s appealing and easy to attend casually. Too highly developed a concept might be off-putting. So think through how the visitors will be make to feel comfortable. I’ve been at events where people were in costume and in character — trying for a total immersion experience — but was hard after a while just to converse and interact as friends and acquaintances. You want a party feel, not a theater performance. But you’ve got some great creative ideas. Just make them accessible.

      Reply
  27. mpsfamily

    The shelf life of a blog post is amazing! 2-1/2 years later and this simple, straightforward advice is still helping people. Since I dropped both my publisher and my agent and decided to self-publish, I have been scrambling to educate myself on some of the finer points of marketing. I’m planning a launch party for early December and this post was a big help.
    Michael Selmer

    Reply
  28. James Ihinkalu

    Dear PHILLIP,
    Am planning for a book launch in march 2012. Pls can you send me how the programme should look like. The venue and other things are in place. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Sorry, I don’t have advice for a set program. Just depends on what you want to do. I tend to recommend a focus on making sure people enjoy themselves. Yes, have copies and take-home information about the new book. But I see a book launch primarily as a publicity event, to let people know that the book has been published, rather than a sales event. That said, some books sell well at a launch. All depends on the book and who comes to the launch party!

      Reply
  29. Pingback: Launch Your Book In Style | Kekla Magoon

  30. Precious R.

    Hello,
    I was just searching and found this wonderful site that pretty much has all the reasonable answers. Congrats to me! I just finished writing my book and today I was discussing with a friend and she chipped in about a small launch. I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t know where to begin, and if people would come. She encouraged me well enough to research about it. I also spoke to my friend who hosts a club in town and I wanted to know whether he could advertise my launch to 5000 other party friends of his who may want to come to my event. He was glad and even told me he would like to get one for himself :)
    Now my question is, is it really cool to host a book signing it in a party setting? That’s pretty much where I would be meeting people.

    Reply
  31. Takara Sanders

    Thanks for the post. I am currently planning the book signing for my children’s book, Sister for Sale, and before reading this post, I had absolutely no idea where to start

    Reply
  32. Marilyn M. Biesel

    So happy to have found your website:) We’re hosting our second Book Signing for my new Inspirational book, I Left HIM But He Never Left Me. Author Marilynmbiesel.com

    We’ve invited well over 200 native county families in the county I was born and raise in. Having country theme outdoor party with DJ food and door prizes in our downtown local shopping center. Contacting newspapers and magazines now. This is the same county Tom Clancy launched his first book. As a matter of fact he knows my family and I’m inviting him too! Hope and pray he comes:) I can dream can’t I:) God Bless ya real good! Marilyn Biesel

    Reply
  33. Natasha

    Hi Philip .. We are publishing our book in March’12. Its a short story collection with 21 stories by multiple authors. We are planning to launch the book in Apr first week at a very popular book store. Also planning to invite all the authors and a guest of honour to launch the book. Any suggestions what else can be included in the launch except the things mentioned above? Since we are a start-up firm we want it to be a lowest cost event for us. What should be the flow of event? We want maximum publicity for our writers.

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      I don’t have specific tips for the flow of the event at the bookstore; each event and locale is different. I’d check with the bookstore staff for suggestions.

      My main suggestion, though, for publicity is to actively coach the multiple authors involved in the project and ask them to help with publicity for the event. I’d post a Facebook post on your page — with a link to the bookstore’s events-listing page (or some webpage about the book & event). Then, I’d contact the authors and ask them to do several things.

      1. Share the link on their own Facebook page.
      2. Add a comment to that, saying they have a piece in the book, are excited by the book’s release, and mention if they are going to be at the launch event.
      3. Have them do a “day before the launch event” reminder to their Facebook friends (“I’m excited by the launch event tomorrow,” etc.)
      4. Have them do a short note after the event, the next day, with a glowing report of the event.
      5. If they wanted, they could “friend” each other and comment on each others’ stories, etc.

      In theory, the contributing writers would all naturally know to do those supportive posts. In practice . . . well, I’ve found it helps to encourage contributors & friends — and tell them specifically what would be most helpful. The social networks of Facebook are quite powerful, so this is a great way to get a lot of buzz going, before and after the bookstore event.

      Reply
  34. Lorraine Moore

    Hello, I’m doing a children’s book launching party, I don’t know where to start. The title of the book is ” Lidoo Woodo’s Goes To Daycare”. The characters that’s going to daycare, I want them to be the main focus. I need some idea’s on how to the characters as well as the book..

    Reply
  35. nephilimtheremnants

    We did intensive research about book launch parties, and this was one of the sites I bookmarked 4 months ago. I wanted to thank you for your help and also wanted to let you know how well my husband’s book launch party for his recently released book ‘Nephilim The Remnants’. Both my husband and I are graphic designers, so not only did he write the book, he also designed the entire book layout, did over 90+ illustrations for the book and like you said did all the marketing of our book. We definitely planned ahead at least one month to start amping up the excitement about the book launch party. For location we used our home – we had 100+ people come for a 4 hour period.

    We also designed t-shirts for people who already purchased the book. For freebies on the marketing end there were bookmarks, magnets and mini scrolls given as handouts at the party. For decorations, I had so many old manuscripts that I used them to table covers to add to the look of the party. I also cowered many of the framed pictures in the house with the old manuscript papers – it looked so awesome. I created a 34inch outdoor banner at Vistaprint for 18.00 so it will stand out. To go on top of the cupcake I created mini books of Nephilim The Remnants, water labels in the same theme of the book design.

    Another huge hit was doing hourly prize drawings. We used inexpensive but nice prizes – like one of the t-shirts, a personal painting that my husband painted as the big prize, a little box of candies to read with their newly purchased books. :) And of course lots of food and beverages for kiddos too.
    Doing the prize drawings is a great way to get peoples info and on the form I requested that we could contact them concerning their review of the book. It kept the party going and a lot of people were raving about it the next day of social media.

    The only thing I forgot, was money change – so please don’t forget to get change ahead of time. Secondly, I regret not having a professional photographer around to get great shots of the guests. Those are my only regrets.

    Anyhoo, I apologize for the length, but thanks again for your help in helping us throw a great launch party for Nephilim The Remnants!!!!

    http://www.NephilimTheRemnants.com
    Johanna

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Johanna, thanks for the detailed report on all the creative ideas done for the book launch party for your husband’s book, Nephilim The Remnants. Excellent feedback that others can use.

      I wish you great success for that book going forward!

      Reply
    2. Lorraine Moore

      Thanks so much for all the great tips!! I’m finally having my book launching party August 25, 2012. I’m so excited about all the things i’m doing to make it a success. One of the main things i’m doing for my party is having the main two characters to make a guest apperance at the party. Because the book is talking about daycare, I’m having it set up like a daycare and we will be doing some activities with the children to keep thier interest as well as the parents. Do you think that’s a little too much?

      Reply
      1. Philip Martin Post author

        Lorraine, these sound like excellent ideas, with good creative thinking for a launch especially appropriate to your book. I’d love to hear how it turns out. The one thing to remember about guest appearances (of characters from the book, in this case) or any time-scheduled aspect is that people will come and go on their own schedule. So I’d do the appearance not first thing, but probably in the first half of the event. People who show up too late will just have to hear what they missed!

        Reply
  36. Shirley Corder

    Thank you so much for this post. I have a book launching in October, in America, United Kingdom and South Africa, plus online bookshops. I live in South Africa, and until now I have given no thought to having a launch party. Help! I really appreciate all your suggestions so now need to sit down and do some serious thinking. The book is “Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer” so the decoration/theme could be a challenge.

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      Shirley, sounds like a very positive and helpful book! Best wishes for its success. For a theme, it’s a chance to celebrate the concept of journey, and strength, and positive steps, and helping each other. This is a case of a book that’s really about helping others. So focus on the positive and invite people to help you launch this book that will help others on their own journeys. It’s not as important, in my mind, to have a visible theme (although some books lend themselves to that). Sometimes, it’s just a matter of inviting people warmly to celebrate a wonderful thing that you’re excited about: your new book!

      Reply
  37. Deb Wood

    Thank you, thank you all so much for the many ideas! My interest in book launch ideas comes from another perspective. I work for a non profit literacy agency. I teach adult literacy to disadvantaged women at a Salvation Army site. ‘My’ women have a wide range of literacy skills ( non readers to online college learners). The wife of the pastor team of the church part of the Salvation Army just had a book published about her many interesting aha’s and life experiences and the women in my class want to host a book launch for her. I, of course, see this as a wonderful and meaningful learning experience for all. I can see in the many ideas so many ways for all ‘my’ women to participate at their level and within their interest ( i.e. writing, design, decorating, preparing and organizing snacks, photography …) I am enthused and they will be too!

    Reply
  38. Christin Webb

    Thanks for the tips! My launch party/gathering is 10.19.12. I am too stoked and feel this article was right on time. Took a few notes, revisited what I have planned and I think I’m getting that much closer to a successful event. My first fiction novel is titled, Enough Time, self-published through Webb Publishing Co. I am making it a public event at a local, but nationally known art gallery. I’m using local media and online avenues to market. I’d actually considered having order forms, but that does discourage on site purchases (which is not what I want). Something for me to give big thoughts about. I thought something else that is very prevalent now days is ensuring you have the ability to accept those purchases electronically with some type of credit card processing software and equipment. People that are sitting on the fence about purchasing don’t need any help in leaning towards not making the purchase at that time.Don’t want to lose a sell and lose an opportunity for another reader to read my work!

    Thanks again for the article and good luck to you and everyone else in their publishing journey.

    Reply
  39. Elaine Marais

    Hallo!
    I am having my first book launched on 7 November 2012 at our Golf Clubhouse in Worcester, South Africa. It is an inspirational novel with a romantic theme – Liefde vir Lienke (Love for Lienke). I was thinking lots of balloons, flowers and delicate hand bites with wine and grape juice. The whole time I was worried about the invitations, venue, book sales and just about everything else! I am soooo grateful for all the helpfull tipps from all the people on this page. Some confirmed that I was on the right track and some suggestions I would have most certainly forgot about (change, somebody else to handle the sales, lucky draws and no order list – they must buy there and then!) I am still unsure about one thing – should I organize card facilities or put the price of the book on the invitations to make sure people bring enough cash? The publishing company is very helpful, but this is my own launch for my close friends and reletives. They only organize the press.

    Reply
    1. PhilipMartin Post author

      Good question about dealing with cash sales vs. credit card. In my own experience, I’ve always just dealt with cash sales. Most people who come to an event have enough cash on them to buy a book if they wish. The problem with credit-card sales is that they can be complicated to process.

      I sometimes round the price to something easy to make change for, like selling a $16.95 book for $15 at an event.

      But if you have access to credit-card processing, you might be able to offer it. And the more ways people have to buy, the better.

      I’ve found the best way to put the list price on an invitation or postcard is to give a block of specs:

      How To Write Your Best Story:
      Advice for Writers on Spinning an Enchanting Tale
      by Philip Martin
      Crickhollow Books • June 2011
      Softcover • 128 pages • 5.5” x 8.5”
      Writing / Reference
      $14.95 • ISBN 978-1-933987-14-9

      Or in a shorter form:

      How To Write Your Best Story
      by Philip Martin (Crickhollow Books, 2011)
      Softcover • 128 pages • $14.95

      Reply
  40. Billie Jade

    Hi, this site has been so useful I am due to self publish my first novel AWOKEN over the next couple of weeks and the idea of a book launch sounds great. My novel is a supernatural romance and the first in a planned series. I had some questions about ideas that I have – A lot of people have mentioned raffles of some kind – where does the money collected go (Charity?) what is the norm here?

    What is the best way to advertise the event beforehand?
    Someone mentioned sponsors. How do you get sponsors for the event?

    Any help or key advice that hasn’t been posted that you think could help me would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    Billie Jade

    Reply
    1. PhilipMartin Post author

      There’s no best way to do a book launch. The main thing is to do it at a level that you can manage without going overboard (unless that’s your style!). Just having a public-event launch is a good basis for getting the word out to friends, friends of friends, and local media.

      For raffles, I think the idea isn’t to charge money but to give folks free tickets for a drawing. It just makes a fun giveaway, and who wouldn’t want a free ticket (which is also advertising for the book to everyone who doesn’t get a free book. If you do this, you’d want to select the winner before the event, or if tickets are given to attendees (the early ones?), do the raffle early so the non-winners consider buying a copy.

      Sponsors? This probably depends on the book and its topic or genre. For nonfiction, say a book about pets, a good sponsor might be more obvious. For a supernatural romance . . . what are the types of stores or businesses your readers like most? A great local producer of decadent chocolate? A local winery? A coffee shop? The idea might just be to have a raffle for that company’s product. Or maybe they’d provide edibles for guests to nibble on. However, unless you have a contact who works there, or feel comfortable cold-calling to ask if the owner would like to contribute a little product in return for the exposure you’d give in the pre-event and event advertising, etc. this might end up being more trouble than it’s worth. And if your book is at all controversial, or too edgy, even in appearance, a sponsor might not want to be associated.

      So . . . give it a whirl! And good luck with the event. Remember, it can be as small as a dozen friends gathering to pat you on the back, but the publicity can still reach farther and pay off longer.

      Reply
  41. Delania

    Hello, I have publish a cookbook. My first time every doing this. But now I want to sell them in bookstores, How do I do that. I want to do a book signing also. Can some one help me with this. Thanks

    Reply
    1. PhilipMartin Post author

      Not a simple question; no easy answer to how to sell your cookbook in bookstores. For a short answer: find someone close by who’s already done it that you can maybe find a way to partner with or at least do some cooperating marketing. Might be another author, or a small indie press, maybe a friendly bookstore manager. That’s easier than figuring it all out yourself. If you do need to figure it out, go to Amazon and search for books on self-publishing; they all have sections on marketing, working with bookstores, etc. You can look for books by Dan Poynter, Peter Bowerman, Steve Weber, John Kremer . . . some of the books are a little out-of-date, but will help you figure out the basics. But the best answer is to find a knowledgeable partner in your community that knows the ropes and can help you.

      Reply

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