You did it. You wrote a book. It all started with an idea, a little spark. You outlined, plotted, brainstormed and then sacrificed free time or a good night’s sleep, battled disinterest, fatigue and doubt to research and write until more words emerged than you thought possible. You revised, revised, revised and polished the manuscript to a fine shine. You enlisted a power team of editors and beta readers to ensure you produced a book that you are proud to bear your name. Now, it is time to introduce your book to the world. Here is Part 1 of the series on throwing a successful book launch event.
Before you begin any of the details of the event, establish a set of goals. Your launch doesn’t have to be atop a high-end rotating restaurant in a big city with tux-clad waiters serving the finest champagne, but you should not launch your book quietly. Determine if the goal is to simply sell a lot of books or something else. Is the purpose of the book to position your company for greater sales, introduce a new concentration in your business, collect contact information, garner reviews, set up the sale of your next book, expand your reach, change the way people view your industry or the world? List the desired outcomes of the event and then prioritize them. If time or money is limited, look to your list to determine where to put your resources.
Choose a Date and Time
Choose a date between one and three months in advance to give yourself ample time to plan. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete your book with edits and allow extra time for formatting, design and review of the finished product. If your goal is to present a professional publication, it is more important to get it right than get it done. If you are unsure of when to schedule the launch, using a guideline like Fall of 20XX or October 20XX is a good start. The date is important to set expectations and anticipation for both you and your readers. If you haven’t already begun spreading word about your book, now is a great time.
Two hours is plenty of time for the event unless you plan entertainment. By keeping the event short, everyone gathers at the same time fueling the excitement and celebratory atmosphere. If you anticipate a large crowd, you can always allow leeway on the back end for signing books.
Choose a location that can accommodate the crowd and the needs of your event. It can be a bookstore, restaurant, your office, a place of worship, a local business organization or a place specifically related to your book. Consider whether the location can assist with set up or handle other logistics or even help promote the event. Knowing your space, its limitations and possibilities, makes the rest of the planning easier.
There are several other factors that you may want to consider. Is the location easily accessible with a GPS? Does it have ample parking? Is it well-lit and accessible to those with disabilities? If you have to haul in tables and chairs, is an easy entrance? Make sure the venue allows outside food (or alcohol, if you choose to serve it).
Some authors choose a theme to highlight the book and tie the event together. It isn’t necessary, but can help generate excitement and purpose. If you own a garden center and the subject of your book is vegetable gardening, think fresh vegetables, plants, pots and trowels and align the food, decorations, book display and giveaways with those in mind. If your book is about retirement planning, travel brochures, beach umbrellas, and tropical drinks may be just the thing to create the festive atmosphere to engage your guests. If you are short on ideas, engage your fans on social media and ask for suggestions about how to decorate and what to serve at the event. You’ll likely get some great suggestions and draw people in to feel part of your event. They are more likely to attend the event and/or tell their friends about it if they help create it.
Whether you serve food based on a theme or serve it based on what the venue offers, offer at least some food at the event. It can be as simple as coffee and cookies or as elaborate as butlered hors d’oeuvres and specialty cocktails. Keep in mind that guests will likely be standing with a drink in one hand. Avoid big, messy starters that require a fork to allow people to mingle freely during the event without juggling their food and drink. Use food to enhance the event, not drown it out. The focus remains on the goals determined earlier.
Following the same line as food at the event, decorations can be simple or elaborate. At the very least, create a book display that generates excitement. One of your goals is to maximize sale of your book and the book display is the driver. Purchase ample copies to fill out the display with additional copies to sign. Use boxes of different sizes draped with cloth to create a 3-D display and unique props to make it stand out.
To encourage your guests to share the event on social media, consider the backdrop for taking pictures with you and your book. An uncluttered wall will do or you can purchase a retractable banner that features your book. You might also purchase a large version of your book cover laminated on foam core for attendees to sign. Have fun with the decorations to keep the conversation going after the event is over.
Like any grand opening event, offer a small token of appreciation. It can be as small as a bookmark or it can be something designed to make a lasting impression. Consider offering a gift certificate for a product or service you offer or a small gift bag with treats or a book related gift. Include a business card or social media card including a link to your website, Amazon book page and Goodreads book page with encouragement and appreciation for a book review.