10 Tips for a successful book launch event

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Hosting a launch party is like presenting your first baby to your friends and family. You’ve poured heart and soul into writing this book, worked tirelessly to self-publish or alongside your publisher to get it through production and marketing. You’ve been shyly telling friends and family that this book is on its way and now,boom, it’s ready for them to read; happy and proud…and just a teensy tiny bit nervous (alright, yes, a lot nervous) as you consider “How on earth do I go about organising a book launch?”

Never fear, here are our Freshly Press Top Ten Tips:

1. Decide on a Venue

You have a few options to consider with choosing avenue. You can do a private event by hiring a room or a space somewhere. Think laterally about who you know or places that rent out such as local cultural centres, bars, galleries etc. You need to think carefully on the space you rent so that it is appropriate for the number of people that you are confident will come, and, watch your budget too. You can do book launches like this quite cost effectively and they can be a lot of fun if you are creative, the key is to manage the process and cost it out fully.
The most common option is to do a launch in a bookstore. Choose either a major chain or a specialist indie store. If you are in a major city, then the store will be interested in your ability to draw in an audience. Do not expect that to be the job of your host, you have to get your guest list organised as soon as you have the date and keep on top of RSVP’s and follow ups.

Libraries are also a good option, some relish the idea of opening their doors to authors and their local communities.

2. Decide on a format

You are the attraction, you and your book. If you do a private event, then you have the control for how this event will be run, if you choose a bookstore or library, then you are governed by their space and other restrictions. Reading from your book is a good option and talking around the subject of the book with an informal Q&A session.

3. Decide on refreshments

Keep it simple. A glass of something and some nibbles. Provision will be down to you, wherever your event is. Providing refreshments helps to keep your audience around and chatty, making the event sociable and relaxed.

4. Invite EVERYONE you know

This is not a time to be shy. Our advice is to keep a spreadsheet of your contacts. Friends and family are your first tier. But have a look at your email contact list and consider inviting everyone on it to your book launch. Your journey thus far, may have included writing clubs, or book clubs, ensure they are invited. You could also include local radio, newspapers and TV if you tailor their invitation, so they can see how and why it may interest their audience.
Ask your invitees to bring along anyone that may be interested. Be sure to follow up on RSVP’s sometimes emails go astray, and send out reminders one week before and a couple of days before.

5. Have books available to buy

Don’t rely on your host to get books in for the event. Your book is more important than you at a book launch, so take control of making sure it shows up at your event. If you are self-publishing or traditionally publishing, think ahead of time for printing and delivery (this may be up to a month if you want to keep delivery charges at standard rates.) Don’t under-estimate how many books you may need. Bookstores can order the book via distributors and the general rule is on a sale or return basis. BUT don’t assume that the bookstore will do this automatically. Be in charge and make sure this has happened, and still bring your own stock, just in case.
You could also offer a slight discount for buying two books on the night, one for them and one as a gift. You can sign and personalise the books you sell.

6. Use Social media to promote the event

Blast your social media feeds with notices about your event. Start a month ahead of the event. Create an event and put all the details on it. Link to the venue, with a map location, timing and details. Ask your followers to share your event. You can reach a large number of people via social media platforms. Use #hashtags for genre or specific themes that your book deals with and keep them consistent. Engage with people about the book, if someone asks about it online then give them the information with a link to the book online.

7. Be PREPARED

This is important, you may be nervous, but this book is your baby, you created it, you have spent months, even years bringing it to life, and now you are presenting it to the world. Decide if you are going to read from your book and memorise that section as well as possible. If you are talking about the themes of your book, ensure that you know your subject well, throw in anecdotes, and keep it light. Do not lose your audience by making the talk/reading too long.
Why not print some personalised bookmarks or postcards for the book with your website details etc on it so people can sign up for your newsletter after the event? This can be done quite cost effectively with online printers or even by you using templates, a decent printer and some good quality card stock.

8. Sign Books

Who doesn’t like a signed book? Buy or use a special pen for this and ensure that you are practiced in how best to use it. Decide on a generic dedication based on the book. Ask for the spelling of names, don’t assume.

9. Talk to everyone individually

This is a hard one. Your aim is to acknowledge the presence of all those that took the time to be at your event. Ensure that they have had refreshments. Ask them if they have read your book, engage with them about it. Gently mention that reviews are the lifeblood for books on Amazon or Goodreads. Don’t be pushy though, gentle encouragement is the most effective way!

10. Thank everyone who has been involved

Appreciate all those that have been on your journey to get to this launch event. Thank individuals at your event. Send individual thank you emails to those who attended the launch and a ‘sorry you couldn’t make it’ email/post with photos of the launch. Don’t forget to thank your host.

And finally: It’s your moment. ENJOY YOURSELF!

At Freshly Press we can help you design your book launch marketing plan, we’ve lots of experience, and can work with you as part of our Mentoring and PR packages. Just contact us for an initial chat to discuss your requirements.