Today's challenge is to plan your book launch. If you don't have a book coming out soon, that's okay - you'll have a prototype launch ready for your next book. (Tomorrow we'll talk about launching an e-book.)
This topic would fill a book, but here are some key points to consider:
1. Choose the date and venue.
Deciding where to hold your book launch depends on a number of things such as the type of book, subject matter and setting, what you can afford to spend and your contacts. Here are a few examples:
- If your book is a genre book and there is a convention for writers and fans of that genre, consider booking a room at the conference center or hotel for your launch. If this is expensive, can you go in with another author (or two or three) and have a joint launch? Could you launch a non-fiction book at a convention on that subject?
- a friend of mine has published a book of poetry and artistic photos inspired by her trips to Malta. Her launch is in a small art gallery, at no cost to her. Her launch will bring her friends and contacts into the art gallery and the gallery owner will advertize the launch to her clients: both the gallery owner and the author will meet a new potential market. Win-win, at very little cost to either. Similarly, a history book could be launched in a museum, etc.
- book stores often host book launches at no charge to the author, but they will sell the book themselves and keep a percentage of the profit.
- Libraries might charge you for use of their room unless you can come up with a way it will benefit them and their regular patrons.
- Churches are good especially if the book is appropriate for that clientele, and if you belong to the church they likely won't charge you.
- for a children's book, a children's play center or school gym after hours is good, and if the book is geared to an older crowd, maybe a senior's rec center. If you offer to donate to them a percentage of the profits for your sales, and create an event their regular clients would enjoy, they might not charge you to use their facilities.
- prepare a press release for the local TV and radio stations and the local newspapers. If your event has a unique twist, you are more likely to get an article or media interview
- a unique twist = seasonal (relate it to a season or holiday theme); local angle (local author, author's childhood home, story setting, etc.); topical (ties in with current social issue or anniversary of a news event, eg. a suicide story launched during National Mental Health Week); charity (percentage will be donated to a charity)
- send invitations to everyone you know - hard copy they can tape on their fridge or calendar
- if your local paper has a 'community events' page, list your event there
- prepare posters and put them up in the venue, in book stores and libraries, and wherever your target market goes
- ask the venue to let their regular clients know, ie, the patrons of their store/museum/gallery, the seniors who come to their center, a handout for the children at the school to take home to parents (you may have to supply this) etc.
- prepare an article on your topic and submit it to your local newspaper (mention the book and launch at the end) or to appropriate newsletters (ie, if it's an historical story, does the local history club send out a newsletter - print or online - to their members, if a business book, the chamber of commerce or business clubs)
A book launch is entertainment. How will you entertain your guests so they go away and talk about the launch?
- food and drink - you don't have to feed them a meal, but parties are better with something to drink and nibble on. I had a cake decorated with my book cover. Appoint someone in charge of restocking/pouring/etc & leave it entirely to them.
- reading - choose a scene with action, or dialogue in which there is some conflict, and practice until you can read it dramatically. Stand to read, use a mic even if you believe you have a loud enough voice, and stop at a significant point where they want to find out what will happen next.
- appreciation - there are people you need to thank - your publisher, editor, long-suffering family. Keep the list short. A few heart-felt thanks are gracious, a ten-minute list is dull.
- music makes a nice change of pace. Do you have a friend who can sing or play WELL?
- what can you do that's fun? I know someone who bottled her own wine with the book cover on the labels. These also make good door prizes. She gets raffle tickets and every guest who buys a book gets one ticket. If it is a multiple-author launch, she gives a ticket for buying one author's book, 3 tickets for buying books by two of the authors, etc.
- tie your door prizes in with the theme or setting or something in the book (does your heroine wear scarves? there's one prize. Is it a seasonal book? get a few seasonal items.)
- dress as one of the characters in your book. If it's historical fiction, suggest your guests dress in period attire. MAKE your family do so :-)
- supply appropriate hats/masks/badges at the door
- Give away a copy of the book to: the person who guesses the best/funniest version of what happens next (after the section read); or who remembers some fact or name from the reading; or is wearing the most interesting apparel that ties in with the theme of the launch, etc.
- ask someone else to sell your books so you can mingle and chat with your guests. Announce a specific time you'll sit and sign books and place the signing table apart from the selling table so there's no confusion.