Guest Blog: How To Plan a Book Launch Party

By: Jennifer Arezzo
A New Leaf Events

You wrote a book.  Congratulations; you did it; the monkey’s off your back.  Now you can sit in solitude (as you have for the past year) or you can take that hot-off-the-press labor of love and share it with the world.  If nothing else, your ego deserves a stroke after all of the hits it’s taken in the past few months.

I’m talking about a book launch.  But let’s call it was it really is—a book launch party, because you are going to be launching your book whether you have a celebration or not.  A book launch party allows you to celebrate your accomplishment while you drum up interest, attract publicity, spread the word, and appeal to your audience.

The hard work’s been done: you’ve isolated yourself from the world, created complex characters, written, revised, revised, revised…. So how difficult can it be to throw a book launch party?  It all comes down to planning.

Here are 5 tips (and more) for planning a successful book launch party:

1. It’s time to shift into sales mode–change your mindset.

2. Think of your book launch party like a good story: it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, otherwise known as the pre-launch, the launch, and the post-launch.

3. Most of the work will be done during your pre-launch and can be thought of as your business plan.

  • Think about what you’re going to do to attract guests.  I highly recommend incorporating a theme into your launch party that relates to your book.  Not only will this attract guests, it will get them excited about your book.  If your book has a nautical element, host the launch party on a boat.  If it takes place in the Elizabethan Period, book-20use Shakespearean language in all of your communications.
  • Select a venue with enough space to accommodate your guests and is easily accessible.  A lot of book launch parties take place at private homes, which I recommend against doing.  I think any professional should keep his business life separate from his personal life.  Plus, you don’t need the added liability.  Where can you have the party?  A book store, a library, an art gallery, coffee shop, restaurant, or a special event space.
  • Who is your target audience?  Select a date and time that works for that audience.  If you are a children’s author, consider hosting your book launch party at a library in the middle of the day.  If your audience is white-collar professionals, host the event on a weekday from 5:00-7:00pm or on a weekend.
  • How are you going to attract media attention and publicize the event?  Who is on your guest list?  Be sure to work your networks and utilize social media.  If you feel that you are asking your friends, family, and neighbors for too much help in publicizing your event you are doing just enough.  Send a press release to media three months in advance and treat it like a query letter (sigh!).  It’s worth the effort—your hometown press loves local success stories.  And what about star power?  Could you get someone there who can draw a crowd?  Say you wrote a book about football– see if you can get a professional football player to attend your book launch party.  Once attendance is confirmed, publicize, publicize, publicize.  Hang posters, distribute postcards, and offer to do interviews with radio stations and newspapers.

4. Now that you’ve done all of the hard work, it’s time for the launch party.

  • Set a timeline:

5:30pm Doors Open

6:00pm Event Begins

6:15pm Introduction

6:20pm Reading

6:30PM Q&A

6:45PM Signing/Photo Ops

7:30PM End

  • Give away books if you can so that people don’t feel obligated to purchase them.  If you can’t give them away and you are relying on sales to offset the expense of the book launch party, come prepared.  Bring plenty of cash for change and set up your iPad or iPhone with a Square so that you can take credit cards.  Bring order forms with you so that if you run out of books, you can still take orders for them.
  • Create a fun atmosphere!  Offer food and drinks (name your signature cocktails after your characters), have giveaways and door prizes, give away favors, do a book signing (bring plenty of pens!).
  • Enlist help.  You will not be able to do it all that evening, so make sure you have volunteers to help host, greet guests, answer questions for the press, oversee event logistics, and keep the evening on schedule.
  • Thank everyone—profusely.  Thank them for attending, thank them for their support, thank them for their purchases, and thank them for their time.

5. Post-Launch

  • Follow up with your guests.  Thank them again.  Rally them.  Ask them what they thought of the book and don’t be shy about asking them to write a review for you.
  • Attend other authors’ book launch parties.  This will not only foster goodwill and support, but it will help you build your network in and outside of the publishing world.
  • Reach out to the media again and ask them if there is anything you can do to provide them with follow-up information.
  • Continue to publicize your book.  Blog, utilize social media, and maybe, just maybe host another book launch party.

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