On April 12, I held a book launch party to celebrate the release of my debut novel, Voiceless. In my opinion, it was a great success and lots of fun.
I held the launch at an independent bookstore for a couple of reasons. First, stores will sell the books for you, rather than having to sell them yourself if you choose a private space, like an art gallery or even your home. Second, independent bookstores are becoming fewer and they need the exposure. Many of the attendees at my launch hadn’t been to this store (some hadn’t even heard of it) but all loved it and vowed to return.
The store’s event coordinator told me my launch was the first time all the books sold BEFORE the author did the reading. By the time the evening ended, he’d already contacted the book distributor to order more copies.
Based on my relatively limited experience, here are some tips for making a book launch successful.
Invite Everyone You Know
Now is not the time for quiet modesty. You wrote and published a BOOK. Holy cow, celebrate it by telling EVERYONE you know. Twice.
Maybe I’m just lucky to have wonderful people in my life. But you can keep in mind that, in almost every case, family, friends and colleagues are as excited as you are about your success, and equally anxious to help you celebrate.
Use Media to Get the Word Out
Social media is the obvious choice. Facebook and Twitter, et al, are the perfect vehicles for keeping people informed about the date, time and location of your launch. Don’t go overboard and tweet every five minutes, but keep the event in people’s minds by posting or tweeting reasonably frequently, especially in the days leading up to it.
Another choice is print media. If your city or town has a local weekly paper, contact them. They would love to do a story on a local author. Make sure they publish the launch details with the article they write about you and your book.
Do a Reading
Yes, I gave a short speech and did a reading. Boy, was I nervous, but I felt I owed it to the people who went out of their way to attend and buy a copy of the book to thank them for their support and read a scene from the novel. It wasn’t easy and I don’t know how well I did, but I did it and you can’t beat this kind of experience. If you’re going to have to do readings, it’s best to begin by looking out on a sea of friendly faces. Someday you might have to read to hundreds of strangers. Yikes!
Bonus Tip: If you’re over 40, keep your reading glasses handy.
Have a Signing Table
Make sure to have a dedicated table just to sit and sign books. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a
modest lineup. The lineup, either at the cash register or signing table, can get people excited about buying a copy of their own. It’s also a good place to take photos with the people who bought your book.
Provide Food and Drink
If you can afford it, make sure to provide refreshments. Having a wine glass in hand and eating tasty nibbles gets people talking and mingling. It also might get them in a buying mood.
I hired a caterer, but you can get reasonably priced platters of veggies and dip, sandwiches or cookies at the local grocery store. If you’re worried about the details, a caterer is a good idea because she’ll refill the platters of food and keep the drinks topped up, leaving you free to chat people up and enjoy the moment.
Of course coordinating something like this is stressful, particularly if you’re going to give a speech and read from your work. But this is YOUR party. You worked hard and earned your success. Try to let yourself enjoy it and have a good time.