Your book is coming out after months and years of work and you’re ready to celebrate! It’s been a long journey but the book is finished and you’re ready to release it out into the world! As a self-published author, a book launch party is definitely in order. It’s a chance to showcase what you’ve been up to, to thank those who’ve helped you along the way, and to share your work with a wider audience. As fancy or informal as you make it, a book launch party can be tailored to you and the theme of your book—a fitting event to celebrate your accomplishment and share it with your readers and friends.
Whether you are planning a black-tie affair or a relaxed gathering at a coffee shop, here are some specific things to keep in mind as you plan your important event:
- Pick a venue – Bookstores and libraries are classic choices for book launch events. You can also rent space at a restaurant, meeting room, or a venue corresponding with the theme of your book. For example, if you wrote a book on the history of your area, check with a local museum to see if they would be interested in hosting the book launch or a church if your book is on spirituality.
- Set a date – Pick a date to hold the party shortly after the book comes out. An evening event usually works best though a Saturday or Sunday afternoon would work well too. Try to choose a date that works best for the majority of people you want there and that works for your chosen venue. The earlier you pick your date, the sooner you can publicize it so begin early!
- Send out invitations – Brainstorm a list of everyone you want to invite: fans, community members, journalists, important people in your community, friends, and family. Invite them in person, by phone, over e-mail, through your author newsletter, by creating and sending out a Facebook event, posting on Twitter, and through your blog. You can also create posters and hang them at the venue, in coffee shops, local libraries, community centers, and online community calendars. Make sure to tell them how fun the event will be!
- Contact the media and market the event – Try to get a local newspaper to write an article about you and your book before the event. You can also try to get interviews on a local radio station, community television, or local art publication. Also talk to bloggers in your area to see if they would talk about your book and help promote your event in return for a free copy. It’s especially helpful to use your existing networks. Do you have a friend who works for the paper? Check with them first about who you should contact. Make sure to follow up with who you’ve already contacted as the event approaches.
- Recruit volunteers – As the author, you are the star of this party. Your priority is to mingle, answer questions, receive compliments, and sign books. To take care of everything else, recruit your friends to help with the following jobs:
- Prepare and serve food – Food is a great way to encourage mingling among your guests. If you’re holding the event at a restaurant, the staff will take care of it all. For anywhere else, either have it catered or ask friends to bring appetizers.
- Running sales – You need to be available to sign books so have a friend or family member run the sales table. Make sure they are organized, excellent at giving change, and able to multi-task. You may even want to recruit two friends so one can be in charge of taking debit or credit cards. Make sure you have a cash box and plenty of change for them to use.
- Photographer – Ask a friend who is a good photographer to take pictures of the event and perhaps even some video. This is great social media material! Try to include photos of you talking with readers, speaking, signing books, and posing with those who helped you along the way.
- MC – You’ll need someone to introduce you when you stand up to speak and read and someone willing to run things so you can concentrate on your guests. This can be a family member or friend if your event is informal, a bookstore or library staff member, or another important person relating to your book topic.
- Obtain raffle items and tickets – A raffle is a fun way for people to sign-up for your newsletter or as a fun feature of the party. Raffle prizes can be your book, gift certificates, donated items (ask your friends!), or another gift corresponding to the theme of your book.
- Buy decorations – You can decorate around the theme or setting of your book or, at minimum, print large posters of your book cover to place strategically around the room such as in the front, at the sales table, and next to the raffle.
- Make sure you have printed books on hand – This may go without saying but it’s helpful to give yourself at least a week between the books arriving and your release party just in case anything happens. If you’re selling an e-book only, you may want to consider having a few books printed as well for the launch party or have an easy way for people to purchase your book through their phones.
- Acquire a sound system with a microphone – If you are holding the event in a small space, you won’t need this but in anything larger, a microphone will be extremely useful. Many venues will already have one on hand but if they don’t, perhaps you can borrow one from a friend or rent a sound system.
As the star of the party, you need to play the part. Whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, people will be watching you, listening to you, and asking you questions. Make sure you prepare yourself ahead of time to be in the spotlight. Appearance-wise, wear something nice yet comfortable. You may even want to get a haircut right before the event so you look sharp.
When planning your talk, keep in mind that no one wants to hear you read for an hour. Variety is key here. Try a talk along with reading aloud and add a question and answer time at the end. Also give your guests a lot of time to mingle and buy the book such as a half hour before your presentation begins and after the Q&A.
During the party
- If your venue isn’t well-known by your guests, purchase some brightly colored balloons and have them out in front so your guests can find you. You can also take a picture of where the venue is and post it on social media.
- If you’re running a raffle, give each person a raffle ticket as they come in the door, or make sure you have someone instructing people what to do at the raffle table if it’s something they need to sign up for.
- Offer a discount for purchasing two or more copies of your book. This works especially well if you publish your book right before Christmas as you can then encourage your guests to buy them as gifts.
- Have you written other books as well? Make sure you mention them when you speak and that they’re for sale along with your new book. Perhaps you could also sell them at a discount.
- Plan ahead what you’re going to say when you speak and bookmark ahead of time what you’re going to read. Make sure there is a variety of stories and selections from the book to keep the audience engaged.
- Consider holding a Q&A when you’re done talking. A lot of people, even if they are friends and family, may not know this side of you and will be curious to know more.
- Be gracious and thank everyone for coming, especially those who helped plan the event and helped you with your book.
- Hold a door prize for signing up for the newsletter.
- Ask your guests to post a review on Amazon or mention the book on social media with a link back to your website.
Holding a book party is a great way to celebrate and showcase your new book! Consider creating your own checklist of what you need to do to make it a successful event and ask friends for ideas as well. Are there things other authors have done you really liked? With good pre-planning and lots of help, it will be a fun event and a great launch for your new title!