Your book is fresh off the printing press. In your hands you hold your finished work, fruit of your labour, object of your pride. Now to throw an event that will launch your brainchild into commercial existence, initiating it into the public’s eye. A launch is basically a book’s baptism. It most often takes the form of a happy hour event, thus allowing optimal attendance. Tuesdays and Thursdays, the two weekdays less likely to fall prey to workweek drudgery, are your best bet.
We’ve provided a list of a few essential points that you’ll want to keep in mind as you begin planning your book launch.
Preparation and communication
Your book launch needs to be an event that people will commit to their calendar. Send out invitations at least two weeks in advance (though no more than a month, as that gives people time to forget and make different plans). Don’t forget to send out a reminder two or three days before the event date. In making announcements, make sure to pull on as many of the social media platforms as you can muster:
- Facebook: Create an event and invite everyone you know. Post a photo of your book cover. Don’t forget to share the event on your wall. You can also boost your audience by purchasing an ad on Facebook (price per click, generally comes out to 10-20$).
- Twitter: Twitter is the perfect tool to keep your readers up to date on your book’s progress: announce milestone events like when the first run has finished printing, when your book launch is to be held, and reminders.
- Newsletter: Create a newsletter (mailing list) to keep your network informed of progress and events.
- Website: If you have a website, create an attractive banner featuring relevant information about your book launch (place, date and time).
- Press: Know any journalists? Make sure to invite them personally.
- Promotion: Announce attendance and raffle prizes to be won. For example, invite guests to write their names on slips of paper, and at the end of the night the name pulled from the hat walks away with a copy of your book.
One last piece of advice: hire a photographer (or someone you know who owns a camera) to document the event and provide awesome material to feed your various social media profiles for weeks to come.
Location is crucial. Choose a comfortable and welcoming venue where people will be at ease and will have easy access to your book. Venues to consider include:
- A bar or restaurant: these count among the less expensive options for a book launch.
There are different solutions to organizing a happy hour-style book launch: negotiate a fixed rental rate based on the amount of expected attendees, distribute tickets at the front door to avoid going over-budget, etc. People tend to stick around when food and drink are involved.
It’ll have a positive effect on the event’s atmosphere and on your book. Make sure to reserve a table for book signing.
- Other locations: You can organize your launch in a community centre or a private hall, but you’ll have to cator it yourself. Do be careful, as many such venues can feel a little impersonal.
- A bookstore: Another option is to organize your book launch in a bookstore. You’ll have to scout several bookstores in order to find one that is open to the idea of hosting your event.
Some bookstores might charge a rental fee. As with community centres and private halls, you will be responsible for your own catering. Also note that bookstores generally request a 40% commission on all sales made during the event.
During the launch
At one point during the event, ideally 45 minutes to an hour after the announced start time (to give time for latecomers to arrive), you’ll make a short presentation to introduce your book to your audience. Don’t go on too long. People tire quickly of drawn out speeches. 10 minutes is more than enough. When introducing your book, talk about the theme and your creative process. It’s also important to read an excerpt of your book. If you’re not comfortable speaking in public, you can ask someone you know to read for you. For the excerpt, choose a strong passage no more than a page and a half in length. Don’t forget to thank attendees during the launch.
After the launch
The book launch is only the first of many promotional steps. Here are a few ways you can continue the promotion of your book after the launch has taken place:
- Post the best photos from the launch on social media the day after the event.
- Make sure to thank everyone who came for their support.
- Stay actively engaged with whatever promotional channels you’ve chosen (social media, traditional media, press, etc.). Also check out our article on 7 tricks to promote your book through social media.