Purpose & Goal of Book Launch: From all reports, most book launches don’t sell tons of books (unless you’re a celebrity author). Readers sell tons of books if they enjoy reading them. Don’t worry if your book launch guests don’t buy that night, but do make sure they meet you personally and enjoy the event. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and can grow sales exponentially.
Your purpose and goals for a book launch event might be multifold and look more like these:
- Glorify God.
- Celebrate the book, your family, your friends, your accomplishment.
- Have fun!
- Get your name out there.
- Engage the public and create a positive association.
- Help your cause (if it’s an integral theme in your book).
- Sell books.
- Thank readers and supporters.
First Things First – The Invitation List:
- Put an invitation list together so you’ll know what kind of venue you need. Separate the list into these groups: 1) Definite; 2) Good Chance; 3) Maybe; and 4) Unlikely.
- Ask all family members to attend and to bring a few friends with them.
- Same with all your friends. (You might offer them an incentive for bringing a guest.)
- Invite all the people from local writing-related groups.
- Think about 1) local business owners you’ve supported; 2) local business owners who may want to support by donating goods toward a raffle in exchange for the free PR.
- Leadership from the non-profits you support, especially if their cause is a theme in your book. (Pro-life, anti-sex-trafficking, mental illness, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc.)
- Pick a date that gives you enough time to plan—maybe a few months away.
- Is there a date that would coincide with a theme in your book? (For example, if you have a pro-life theme, you might choose The Walk for Life Day or the National Sanctity of Human Life Day.
- Establish your theme. It will help you in planning decorations, refreshments, and printed materials.
Determine Your Budget: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a fun book launch. But, here a few items that may cost you a little:
- Refreshments — However, you probably know many who’d be willing to bake and/or buy and donate.
- Drinks — Even if you get people to bake or bring snacks, you may have to provide water, coffee and tea, along with cream and sugar.
- Paper goods.
- Decorations – Might want, but not necessary.
- Advance copies of your book.
- Cost of Square Credit Card Processor. (You will need an iPhone or be able to use someone’s.)
- Raffle prize for those who buy book or door prizes. I bet these could be donated by sponsors.
- Venue – Many suitable places can be found for free.
- Swag – Although not necessary, freebies like magnets or bookmarks or whatever are nice.
Choose Your Venue:
- Based on your estimated attendance, choose a venue that is convenient, easy to find, and a place where most people would be comfortable going.
- Church halls might work, but they may not qualify as the most neutral place.
- If you’re book is in your local and national chain bookstores, start there.
- Outdoor venues might be nice, but it’s hard to count on the weather.
- Coffee or sandwich shops or ice cream parlor.
- Christian College Campus.
- Local public library.
- Retail stores (Christian-owned, like craft store, garden shop, restaurant).
- Place of business, if it makes sense based on your book.
- Location that might match a main scene in your book.
Consider Partners for Your Book Launch
- Other local Christian authors. (“Meet Your Local Christian Authors!) Each author would have their own list of invitees, which would increase size of event.
- Staff from ministries you support through book sales.
- Your publisher (Financial support is unlikely, but they may send books or blog about it).
- Partner with a ministry or business mentioned in your book, and encourage them to promote their services.
Your Launch Support Team:
- Event coordinator.
- Artistic person to do posters, flyers, etc.
- MC for the evening.
- Cook/baker to provide refreshments.
- Set-up, servers, and clean-up teams.
- Cashier to handle sales.
- Photographer — Know anyone who will do it for free?
- Music – Live performer or someone who will handle recorded background music.
- If possible make the refreshments to go with the theme.
- If it makes sense, name some of the food items after characters, settings, or chapters in the book.
- Have family and friends bake and/or bring items. Doesn’t have to be expensive.
- Make sure you offer coffee, tea or cold drinks.
- Remember serving utensils and paper goods.
Have an Agenda and Follow It: Personally hand every guest an agenda so they know exactly what to expect and when. Make them want to hang around by saving the drawings or entertainment for later. Also, by handing guests an agenda personally, you’ll be able to see at a glance who you’ve spoken to. Your agenda might include all or some of the following:
Welcome by MC with brief idea of what to expect.
MC introduces author and/or mention special guests and/or partners.
Author’s greeting – Thank guests for coming, give brief book blurb, and tell people to enjoy refreshments and stick around for reading and drawings.
Q&A – Come up with some questions in case no one asks anything or plant some in the audience.
A reading by Author
Book signing and sales – Figure out three different messages you’ll sign inside the books. Perhaps a scripture reference, too.
Be thankful the whole night long. Try to remember names.
Anyone you know who could provide live music?
- Have plenty of books on hand to sell.
- Don’t handle the sales yourself.
- Need a cashier, someone who can make change. Need a cash box with plenty of change.
- Round the price up/down so you’re not dealing with coins.
- Offer discount prices for volume purchases.
- Make it easy to buy. Cash or charge. (Square Credit Card Processor for your smart phone.)
- May want to have order forms on hand with place for credit card info if you run out of books. (Note: Some authors suggest NOT having order forms because it gives people an excuse not to buy that night.)
- Suggest gift-giving opportunities.
- Facebook — Post thank you’s and photos of book launch party.
- Blog about book launch party (before and after).
- Twitter – Tweet about party, link to blog.
- Guest blogging — Invite other local Christian authors to post to your blog.
- Record readings and post audio files online.
PR & Marketing Prior to the Party:
- Have a cohesive image to all your printed and online promotional material. It’s called branding.
- When marketing this event, make sure you include what it is, who the host is, where it will be held, date and time, how to get there, who to respond to.
- Be professional, but be yourself. Let your personality show through all you marketing materials.
- Order free business or postcards from www.vistaprint.com.
- Use EventBrite www.eventbrite.com to promote free to friends.
- Use Facebook invitation and sign-up or an online invitation program.
- Blog about it.
- You might be able to get others to promote it on their Facebook sites, too.
- Send flyers and invitations.
- Post signs and posters wherever you can.
- Newspaper articles.
- Post notice on online calendars.
- Press releases.
- Local radio station interviews.
- Invite other artists to participate (musicians, photographers, poets, non-profits).
- Brain storm possible sponsors.
PR & Marketing During the Party:
- Show interest in your guests.
- Keep your sales pitches light.
- Use a copy of your book as a guest book.
- Have guests complete a Contact Info Card. Contact Info Cards of those who purchased book will also qualify for the big raffle and/or door prizes. (Raffle gifts can be those donated by business owners. Or, you can look around your house to see if you have anything new (Bibles, copies of your book, etc.) NO SECOND-HAND JUNK, unless you advertise it as a booby prize.
- Rally the guests to post reviews, tell a friend, and email a friend, post on Facebook. Let them know you’ll be reminding them.
- Do you know someone who is a good people person (besides you) that could record conversation tidbits and comments that you could refer to in thank you emails? (You know, like a spy, but not creepy.)
- Swag or Party Favors – – This isn’t necessary, but if you decide to have others join you, you could each put a little something in a small bag as a guest favor. You might consider a magnet, bookmark, and envelope with a coupon, something with the name of your book on it that they won’t throw out right away.
PR & Marketing After the Party:
- After event, contact guests and thank them for coming. If at all possible, remark on something personal about them that your people-person (spy) recorded.
- Via email, remind guests to post reviews and give them the links. Remind them to tell a friend, post on Facebook, Tweet, etc. Consider giving them a funny or outrageous list of comments to choose from. If you make them laugh, they’ll be more likely to want to help you.
Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? I’ll add them to the list. Thanks.