This weekend I held the book launch of my latest two children’s novels, Daniel Barker By Power or Blight, and, Amy and Phoenix.
I have planned and implemented a few book launches with my five titles. I find a book launch is like a wedding but on a smaller scale. It needs preparation, can be stressful and overwhelming, and you’ll have a sore mouth from smiling for all those photos!
I congratulate you if you are coming up to your book launch, because already you’ve put in a mountain of work to have your book published, whether traditionally or independently.
Here are five tips to help you hold a successful book launch:
1) Decide on the date
If you are traditionally published you will be given a date that the book will be released. If you are independently published you will have an approximate date you think your book will be printed and ready to go. Even if you are traditionally published, you will most likely have to organise your own launch.
When making the date there are some things to think about:
* What other activities are on at the same time? Will your friends and loved ones be able to come or are there a lot of other conflicting events on the same day?
* If you would like your book launch put in your local council’s newsletter you will probably need to get that date to them six months in advance.
* If you need to book a venue, you will need to allow time to be able to negotiate this with them. They may not be able to do your first date.
* Make the book launch at least a month away (many say three months is better) so you can advertise and promote your book.
2) Book the venue
Where do you want to hold your book launch? There is no prescribed place. Many people hold their launches in bookshops or libraries, but you do not have to. I have held my book launches in two different parks and the local art gallery. I’ve had other friends hold their launches at sports clubs and in community halls. Do what you want to do.
Some things to think about before you book your venue:
* The cost of the venue. If you are hiring a room in a library or a community hall, sports club venue etc. you will need to pay.
* The weather. If you are outside, what will you do if the weather is inclement?
* Is the venue near public transport? You need to consider people who are unable to drive. All of my book launches have been near the train line.
* What facilities does the venue have? If you are at a park, are there toilets? Also, if you are at the park, what do you do for hot water etc.? If you are at the park you will also have the added furniture - gazebo, tables and chairs.
3) Send out invitations
If your venue has a limit of the number of people it can hold, you will need a guest list or a ticketed event. Invite people from all the different areas of your life. On Saturday I had family, and friends from my three writing groups, school, church, my childhood and my community. If you don’t have a limit, invite everyone who you think might be interested in attending.
After saying this, if you invite a large number of people, expect a large number of apologies. People are crazy busy and some people will just not want to attend. I had 70 apologies, and 40 people attended, and others who did not RSVP. Keep positive when all of those ‘I’m sorry I can’t make it…’ start coming in. Look at the people who do come and enjoy your celebration with them.
4) Market the launch
You may need a press release
A book launch is really a part of your marketing plan. Put your book launch on all of your social media platforms. Add snippets from your planning process, glimpses of your book and what it is about, and if you are able, make a promo video. It is a great idea to contact your local newspaper and ask if they would be interested in doing a story on you. In some instances, you may need to write a press release to send to media.
5) Plan your day
Like a wedding, you will need to have a To Do list, and a program for the day. Think about everything you will need depending on what you want to do in your book launch. Some people like to do a book reading, have art and craft activities, dress-ups for the children, prizes, pantomimes, or have puppets. Think about yourself, the book you are launching, and how you can make it unique in some way. Don’t try and replicate someone else’s but by all means take ideas from others you have seen and like.
* A banner
* Flyers, business cards, bookmarks
* Books (pre-sign to save time) and a pen
* A float/credit card facility (organise a person to handle the money for you on the day so you are free to just sign the books and chat)
* A cake & knife, tablecloth
* Food & drinks (plates, cups etc)
* Your speech
* Public liability insurance (check with venue)
You must have some type of speech. Your guests will be in awe of you. Many people would love to write a book but will never. You have! Make sure you explain a little about your book, or read some of it (if it is a picture book then read it all) so they know what it is about, and say anything else that you think would interest your guests. You can have someone interview you, or you can tell a story and then relate it to your book, act out a play… whatever you are comfortable doing. Write a list of who you would like to thank in case you forget someone. Even though writing is a solidary activity, there will be people who helped or supported you, encouraged you or have influenced you in your journey. And if you forget someone who is present, go to them and apologise (I did this on Saturday!) I also suggest that if you suffer from anxiety, practise your speech beforehand.
6) Post about it afterwards.
You’ll be exhausted afterwards, but this is not the end. You need to post on social media photos from the event and tell your followers how they can support you – by purchasing your books, posting reviews and telling people about you.
Then it’s time to get on with more writing!
Jenny Woolsey is an educator, author and speaker, on difference, diversity and difference. She is passionate about advocacy for facial differences, mental illness and inclusive education. Jenny has published five children’s/YA novels on her theme. Through her work, Jenny presents three messages: 1) Just be yourself 2) Embrace your differences 3) Be a victor not a victim. She ultimately wants everyone to feel valued and be accepted for who they are.