Hi, all – Ava Pennington here. I love a good party, don’t you? And I’m planning a special party in October – a launch party for my first book! If you’ve ever hosted a party, you know there’s a lot that goes into the planning. When we add the launch of a book to the mix, it’s not just another item on the list.
A book launch party has its own peculiar nature. In this post, I’ll touch on the various logistics we need to consider for a successful launch party. Since I’m planning my first book launch for next month, I’ve received helpful suggestions from fellow authors and CAN members, and am including them in this post. Feel free to jump in with your own comments and suggestions.
As with any major event, early in the planning we need to establish a budget, set the date, and decide on the location. Of course, the budget will depend on the type of event and on how much you want to spend. Don’t forget to save your receipts for tax purposes.
Whatever you decide, remember that the launch party is a celebration. Of course, you’d like to sell as many books as possible, but this is also a time that others can mix and mingle and rejoice with you!
The location can be part of the fun. Are you planning a formal or casual event? Will the party be held in your home, at a restaurant, your church, or at a park?
Think of locations related to your book’s topic or featured in your story. If a particular restaurant or other establishment is mentioned prominently in your story, consider approaching the proprietor about hosting the party.
If you’re considering an outdoor venue, have a back-up plan in case of inclement weather. You’ll also need to consider arrangements for tables, chairs, a tent, and portable bathrooms.
The date of the party should be close to the book’s release date, but not too close. Allow enough time – perhaps two weeks – to permit shipping after the release date. It wouldn’t be much of a book launch party without the book!
However, don’t wait too long after the book’s release or attendees may have purchased the book already.
Also, be sure to schedule a time when most people are free, i.e. evenings or weekends.
As an author, you can order a supply of books directly from your publisher to sell. Or perhaps your church bookstore or a Christian bookstore in your community will order the books and sell them. If you do it yourself, you’ll need to have someone in charge of the sales and accounting (you’ll be too busy signing to take care of that yourself!).
You’ll also have to make decisions about pricing. Some authors discount prices based on the number of copies sold—the more copies, the greater the discount–to generate momentum for their book.
Theme & Decorations
The party’s theme should spring from the book topic. Again, make it fun! If your book’s setting is Florida, your theme might be fun in the sun. If a zoo featured prominently in your novel, use animals in your decorations. Two of my friends, Jenness Walker and Tracy Bowen, have co-authored a novel entitled Bliss (Written World Communications, 2010). I expect to see Hershey’s Bliss® chocolate and maybe even a few Special K Bliss® cereal bars at their book launch!
Also, be sure to arrange for tables and chairs where guests can visit together and enjoy their refreshments while waiting for you to sign their books.
Refreshments can be as simple as cookies and punch, or as elaborate as caviar and champagne! Once again, think of tie-ins to your book. Is there a recipe mentioned in your story? Does your heroine have a favorite cookie? Is she a chocoholic?
Also, consider having a cake decorated with a picture of your book cover.
Have music playing in the background. If possible, select music with a theme that fits your party…and keep it upbeat!
Games, quizzes, and drawings add to the festive atmosphere. Prizes can include tie-ins to your book, and can range from gift cards, jewelry, or candles to gift baskets or artwork.
You might read an excerpt from your book, or have a guest read it for you.
As an alternative—or in addition—have a guest provide special music.
Consider a guestbook with space for email addresses, or offer slips of paper for guests to fill in their email addresses for subscription to your newsletter. Note on the bottom of the paper that you will keep their information confidential…then be sure to do it!
You’ll be too busy greeting and signing (and hopefully, having fun!) to remember to take pictures, so ask a family member or friend who is into photography to do it for you. Remind them to take random as well as posed pictures.
You can use these photos for your newsletter, blog, website, Facebook, promotional posters and flyers, articles for your local community’s print and on-line forums, or even to make a scrapbook for your own keepsake. When using these photos for promotional purposes, you may want to have the subjects sign a release form.
I’ve been advised by fellow CAN members not to set up the signing table too close to the door. Give attendees a chance to come in, and mix and mingle before they get to your table.
Arrange the table where you will be sitting with a tablecloth – if possible, a color that matches your book cover.
You might choose to keep the guest book at your table or place it on a separate table. Other things to place on the table are bookmarks, business cards, and a dish of candy.
Oh, and remember to bring several pens that will not need to blotted when you sign your name. 🙂
Set-up, Clean-up, and Hosting Volunteers
You can’t do this alone, so involve your family and friends. The more people are engaged in the launch party, the more they’ll talk it up to their friends. Don’t be shy about asking for help. You’ll need people to host for you – from serving refreshments to directing people to restrooms. They can also keep the party looking sharp by picking up dirty plates and cups.
If you have purchased your own books to sell, be sure to have a volunteer coordinate the book sales—everything from handling the money to ensuring an ample supply of books are displayed. It’s next to impossible for you to sell and sign at the same time, so don’t even try!
One more thing – note all your volunteers so you can send thank-you cards. You may also want to present some of your helpers with small gifts: candles, boxed note cards, bath gels, or other tokens.
With proper planning, you’ll be able to enjoy your own book launch party. Take time to celebrate with your guests. The event will be over before you know it – appreciate every minute!
Have I left anything out? Join the discussion!
Next month, I’ll talk about invitations and ways to publicize your event…