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Hi everyone! Pamela Meyers hePam2011SmallChinFistre with my monthly post on marketing your books. Last month I described the inception of my debut novel, Thyme for Love, which released last November with OakTara Publishing. Along with describing how the idea for my story evolved, I also shared ways in which thoughts toward marketing the book materialized as the story took shape.

As soon as I learned my release date of November 14, 2011, my thoughts went to how was I going to celebrate my debut novel and, at the same time, get the word out to people in my local area about the book? What better way than a party and book-signing event? After all, we only have one debut novel in our writing lives.

 

 

Location of Event

In recent years, book signings in the Chicago area where I live are not welcomed by local bookstores (Christian and Secular alike), especially for authors without a recognizable name and sales to go along with it. I needed a different kind of place to have the event, but still be visible to the public. I chose the Panera Bread restaurant where my local ACFW chapter meets. They First Signed Book
have a large community room that people can reserve for free. It’s comfortable, tastefully decorated, and also visible to the restaurant’s other customers. I set the date for November 19th, the Saturday before Thanksgiving and reserved the room.

Publicizing the Event

To get the word out to my friends I used a free online mailing service and designed an invitation, using the same header as my blog/website. I included an image of my book cover along with the usual who, what, when and where details and sent it out to everyone who had shown interest in my writing career, as well as good friends. My church library also had a copy of the invitation sitting on the checkout counter for anyone to see as they came in. I also encouraged people to pass the word about the event, stressing it wasn’t by invitation only.

Planning

My agent, Terry Burns, is affiliated with Hartline Literary Agency, and Jennifer Hudson Taylor assists all Hartline clients with marketing counseling. I learned a wealth of tips from her that really helped to carry off a successful book launch party. Some of these tips included:

 

  • Have a well-planned schedule and stick to it
    • Have a fun event like a gift basket drawing. A wheel of raffle tickets can be purchased at a party store or office supply store. I got mine at a party store, but a few days later saw a similar wheel at Office Depot for a few dollars less. Be sure to buy the kind with dual tickets, where one goes into the basket for the drawing, while the other stays with the guest. This is an expense that will only occur once in a great while as the wheels are huge and you can use the tickets at many events to come before you run ou
      t
    • Hold the drawing at the midway point of the event, making sure to tell each person as they receive the ticket that the drawing will be at whatever time you decide. That way they will likely hang around to see if they win the book before they buy it. Then when they don’t win, they’ll be forced to make a decision before they leave. Pam with the Watterses
    •     That’s me with the gift basket winners.
  • Decorate as Allowed by the Site Owner
    • I ordered balloons in the same colors as my book cover, blue and gold, and had the store anchor them with a weight. They went on a table along with my bookmarks.
    • Since my story’s heroine is an in-house chef, I gathered cooking tools from my own kitchen and covered several tables in the room with homey tablecloths. I used one for the signing table and the other for a vignette of bowls, wooden spoons, etc. along with the gift basket.
    • If you have a book trailer, have a computer and large screen monitor set up to loop the trailer during the event.
  • Serve Refreshments
    • Be sure to bring in light refreshments if allowed at your site.
    • I ordered a large tray of cookies from Panera along with a container of coffee and a pitcher of water. If anyone wanted more the restaurant counter was just outside the door.
    • You don’t want to have it over a mealtime unless you are willing to serve more than cookies and something to drink.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help!
    • I could not hand out raffle tickets, sell and sign my books while paying attention to my guests, and I quickly learned that friends are more than happy to help. TFL Ready & Waiting TS
    • One friend stood near the door and, as guests came into the room, she made sure they each had a raffle ticket. This served both the purpose of having someone welcome them immediately since I was sitting across the room at the signing table, and making sure each guest received a raffle ticket. The other friend sat next to me and handled the book sales. I supplied her with a money pouch from Walmart and a receipt book. The receipt book is very important as it documents the sale for my income tax purposes.
    • I also asked several people if they would take pictures and ended up with some great shots taken by three different people.
  • Reading and Drawing for Gift Basket
    • Halfway through the event, I welcomed everyone and gave a short talk about my writing journey. I then read two preselected scenes from my book. The opening scene and then another that introduced one of the supporting characters.
    • Following the talk and reading, I held the basket of tickets while one of my friends drew the winning number.
  • Saying Thanks
    • As a thank you to all who helped me celebrate, I put together a montage of pictures from the event and posted it on You Tube, then sent everyone the link to the video. You can watch it here.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with how everything turned out. One of my multipublished friends told me later that it was one of the better-organized launch events she’d attended. It couldn’t have been pulled off like that without listening to the advice of others and finding out what worked and didn’t work at similar events.

It took a few days for my feet to hit the ground after such a wonderful day. God really blessed me, and I hope you’ve been able to gain some ideas to help make your own book launch events successful, whether it’s a debut novel or not.

Next month I will share what went into developing the book trailer.

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5 Thoughts on “Have a New Book Releasing? Let’s Party!

  1. linda glaz on March 28, 2012 at 7:39 PM said:

    Good info, Pam. Thanks!

  2. Sharon Srock on March 28, 2012 at 7:56 PM said:

    Hanging onto this one for future reference.

  3. Glad to help you out Linda and Sharon!

  4. Mary Allen on March 29, 2012 at 8:32 AM said:

    It sounded interesting, entertaining, and hospitable. Good to remember for future reference.

  5. Thanks, Mary. Glad I could help!

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