In Tips for a Killer Book Launch (Part 1), we laid out the basics for getting your book launch event, well, launched. Here is Part II where you will find out what goes on at the event itself.

Ask For Help

Ask for help with the event. Because the focus is on you and your book, don’t get stuck handling the details that day. Delegate tasks to employees, ask co-workers or beg friends and family to help with any and all of the big and little aspects of the event. With each new person you engage in the process, the more likely they are to help spread the word. They are invested in the outcome and have more reason to ensure its success. The more people you anticipate at the event, the larger the staff needed to run the event efficiently and free from added stress. Here is the help you might need.

  • Greeter – Invite a smiling face (or two) to greet guests, answer questions and tell them what to do first when they arrive. They can gather guests for a picture, point to the book signing table and allow you to concentrate on signing books.
  • Food/beverage – If you don’t have paid servers at your event, invite friends or family members to tend to the food and drinks. Consider who you have to clear tables and/or deal with the trash during the event. Keep the food options simpler if you don’t have paid staff on the task.
  • Taking payment – Speed up the line for signing books with another person taking payment either at the same table or at a table nearby. Test the credit card processing prior to the event so there are no glitches once the line has formed.
  • Sound/Presentation – If you choose to have music, an MC or have a slideshow running, get someone to set up the sound system or computer and make sure it is functioning properly prior to the event.
  • Photographer – Hire a photographer or ask people to take pictures and tag you on social media.
  • Social Media – Hire or ask someone to post on your social media channels during the event on your behalf.
  • Coat Checker – If it is coat season, you may want to have someone taking and storing them out of the way.
  • Setup/Clean up – If there isn’t staff at the location to handle it, ask for help. Use the time right before to the event to work on your speech or oversee the various aspects of the event. Because you worked so hard to get so many people to your event, your hand may be too cramped from signing the books to do any clean up. Maybe, you will just be exhausted.

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Your books

Make sure you order ample books and that they arrive on time. Especially if you self-publish your book, be realistic about the date you set for the launch. Everything takes longer than anticipated: completing the book, editing and revising, formatting and cover design, upload to a publishing platform (and any challenges that it presents), ordering and reviewing a proof and shipping the books can all have glitches that interfere with your timeline. Expedited shipping is possible, but save yourself the heart palpitations and allow some leeway in the time required.

Signing your book

Bring several good pens or markers. Give some thought about how you want to sign your books. You can simply sign them in your best handwriting or your best author scribble or include a short thought to include in each book. Think about the fact that you may sign 20-100 books during your launch and can’t get bogged down with a lengthy monologue. If you decide to personalize the books, bring a small pad of paper and ask people to write down their name so there is no miscommunication. There is no need to waste any books if you write the wrong name. The person taking the money can direct guests to write their name on a piece of paper and hand it to you. It will keep the line moving and remind you of the names of the people in your line should you forget.

Taking payment

Bring a cash box complete with proper change. Be prepared to accept credit cards with PayPal Here or Square unless you already have a remote way of accepting credit cards. Print a sheet that indicates the price of the book and that you accept cash, credit card and accept checks made payable to XX. If you haven’t used the credit card system before, practice at home before you have a line full of customers desperate to buy your book.

 A Speech

You may want to include a speech in your festivities. It is best to keep it short to give people more time to purchase your book and get it signed. With that said, there are a few things you may want to include.

  • Thank everyone for coming.
  • Talk about the inspiration or purpose for the book. If it relates to your business, tell them what problem it solves and how your business can be the solution.
  • Thank people who helped bring the book into the world.
  • Thank people who helped with event.
  • Tell your guests how they can help as outlined in the next section.

How Attendees Can Help

At the beginning of the planning process, you set out goals for the event (See Part I). Make it clear to those who come to your event what you would like them to do next.

Sign up for your mailing list. Upon entering the venue, the greeter can encourage them to sign up and get a name tag. You can use individual small pieces of paper or business cards for a drawing at the end of the event and use the rest of the contact info for the mailing list if you prefer. It is always best to get permission to add someone to your list. Nobody likes spam.

Write a review. On the sign in sheet, include a check box to indicate they are willing to write a review. Reviews drive future book sales and book sales drive more business. It is worth asking a few times during the event for a review. After all, the people who join you at your launch are likely your biggest supporters. They want to help. A direct plea makes it clear what you want them to do. Reviews are valuable whether they are on Amazon, Goodreads or on your website.

Post on social media. Encourage each person to use their camera to take a picture of themselves holding your book with you by their side and then post it on all of their social media channels. Create a hashtag (#myawesomebook) for the event and include a reminder in several different places around the venue with the intention that posts include the hashtag. Each post by a reader is an endorsement of you and your book. There is a buzz and excitement as more people post their pictures. Put your signing table with a good backdrop for pictures or purchase a retractable banner that features your book. Avoid locating your table in front of a window or with poor lighting or a distracting background for the best pictures.

Tell a friend. Personal referrals are the surest way to boost sales of your book or any product or service, for that matter. Let your guests know how much word of mouth advertising means to you.

Sign up for a free consultation, a workshop, a discounted offer or visit your place of business. If writing a book is part of a greater business plan, use the occasion to promote your business. If you are targeting growth of a particular aspect of your business, use signup forms, flyers, coupons, promotion codes or giveaways to highlight it. Give your guests something extra for attending your event as a thank you.

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Whatever steps you want your guest to take, make the message clear and consistent throughout the event. From your greeters, your signage and your speech, ask for what you want. The people who come to your book launch are already on your side and most are willing to do their part to be on a winning team.

Watch for Tips for a Killer Book Launch Part 3 where we will tackle the wonderful world of publicity and promotion to get you and your book out to the widest audience possible. If you missed it, click here for Tips for a Killer Book (Part 1).

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