PLANNING a Memorable Book Launch

Planning the Book Launch

In my last article, WHY Host a Book Launch Party, I outlined all the reasons why you should host one. In this article I’ll be discussing the steps to planning a memorable book launch.

When my first novel was released, I hosted my book launch at a local independent bookstore. I loved the support of the booksellers and the ambiance of the launch, surrounded by books and people from different areas of my life. I repeated the experience with my second and third novels. Shortly afterward, the store reduced its size to half. For my next book launch, I’ll consider a larger venue, with more space for people to spread out.

The first steps for planning a book launch are to decide on a venue, date, and sales method.

The date will depend on the availability of the author, venue, and books—allow a cushion for publication delays. While a bookstore provides support and promotion, you might prefer to sell the books on your own to keep all the profits, especially if you’re self-published. I’d recommend you have a friend handle the sales, to free you to chat with your guests.

If you sell through a bookstore, they’ll usually host the event in their store at no cost, although they’re happy to go elsewhere. You might want another venue for reasons other than size. Perhaps you have a connection to a meeting room that offers you free use or a discount. Or you want a special place that relates to your book. My friend whose novel featured birds held her launch at Calgary’s Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Other friends have hosted their events at restaurants or bars, with guests buying their own food and drinks. This saves you the cost of providing wine and finger foods, a book launch tradition.  

Your second step is to decide what you’ll DO at the book launch.

This can range from pure socializing to hiring a band. I prefer to balance mingling time with a formal presentation that focusses on the author and book. A popular option is to have someone interview you in front of the audience. The questions can be scripted, but should appear unprepared.  At my last two launches, I did power point presentations about my research and writing process, and included photos I took of setting locations in my novels. I rented a mic so my voice would carry comfortably to the back of the room. Whatever program you choose, it’s good to include short readings from the book to give a sense of its flavour and invite audience questions to engage listeners.  

Door prizes are fun additional features–who doesn’t like to win something? These can be random draws, but a simple contest can be more engaging. My last launch was held on Zoom. I offered a gift certificate for my host bookstore to the person who chose the winning title for my next novel. I explained that the title had to contain the word ‘spring,’ my husband would select the winner from titles attendees wrote in chat (he didn’t peek at people’s names), and I wouldn’t be bound by his choice. I got a flurry of suggestions and interest. This spring, when I finished the first draft of the novel, I looked through the suggested titles, and one of the non-winners grabbed me. If it becomes my novel title, the contest will have had this practical benefit.

The Guest Book

Lastly, at my first launch, friends gave me a Guest Book for attendees to sign and add comments if they wish. I set it on a table at all my launches, and later add photos from each event. The book is a lovely souvenir of the good times I’ve had launching my novels with my whole writing and reading community.

By SUSAN CALDER

Read more by Susan Calder

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