When many of us first start writing, we might have dreams about what our life as an Author will be like. We might imagine our life changing, being more dramatic, or that we’ll become famous.
Of course as we get more involved with the writing community, we learn that’s not how it usually goes. In fact, most authors say their release day is much like any other. Some tweet and Facebook their news and promo with unwashed hair and an unfashionable T-shirt. (Not that I have any personal experience with that. *shifty eyes*)
But it’s okay to want more. To want to celebrate our accomplishment. To stop and appreciate what we’ve done. Because it is awesome, and it deserves to be celebrated.
One way we can feel good about our accomplishments and get more from the experience is to hold a book launch party. The best thing is that we get to decide what kind of party we want: a small inexpensive in-person party with our biggest supporters, a huge online extravaganza, a fun get-together with trinkets and decorations, etc.
Today, my vacation-fill-in guest poster is an expert at all types of launch parties. Tamar Hela has the best Pinterest board, filled with ideas from the web and examples of what she’s used at the parties she’s organized.
Her ideas look so fun that they’re almost enough to make this extreme introvert sorry she didn’t have a release party for her debut. *grin* Today’s post is long but a keeper—filled with tips and to-do lists for all kinds of parties. Please welcome Tamar Hela!
How to Plan and Host
a Successful Book Launch Party
So you’ve written your book, had it edited and polished to perfection, and now it’s ready to launch. That was the easy part.
Now comes the marketing, promotion, sales tracking, etc. But before you start your campaigns and draft Excel sheets to measure ROI and advertising results (and all that other marketing mumbo jumbo), you need to celebrate all the hard work that went into making the book in the first place.
A.K.A.: You need to have a party!
After all, you’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into your amazing book, so it’s time to celebrate. There are two ways to host a party for your book: host one online, or host one at a physical venue. I’ve hosted both types of parties, so I’m going to share my experiences and best practices for hosting a successful book launch party.
Online Book Launch Party
Definition: An online party to celebrate the launch of your book on: Facebook, your website, Twitter, Google+, etc.
Tamar Recommends: Hosting a launch party on Facebook to take advantage of the “Create Event” feature.
What to Do Before the Launch Party
If you’re independently published, you’ll need to make sure you have a concrete launch date to plan accordingly. If you’re traditionally published, keep your launch date in mind when planning all of your pre-release activities.
Assuming you already have an author platform that includes a Facebook fan page for your brand, use that page to create the event. Since many of you, I’m sure, are visual learners, I’ve taken screenshots to demonstrate how to make an event.
(Jami’s note: Newsletter readers will need to click through to the post to see the images.)
- Head over to your Facebook fan page and find the “Create Event” button.
- This is the screen you’ll get once you click “Event.”
- Next, fill out the details for your event. For the time period you choose, be sure that you can actually preside over the event for that whole time. I didn’t do so until recently, and being able to check in often actually helped the event to be more successful. Below is a simple sample of mine:
- Once your details are there, the actual event Page will pop up. Check the details, upload a cover photo for the event—never leave the photo area empty!—and decide if you want to spend some money on promoting your event by paying for a Facebook ad. (See my notes on the picture.) You can also start to invite your guests. Either invite everyone, or be more targeted in your approach.
Note: Sometimes I just invite all the people on my friends list, expecting about 20% of them to even respond; other times, I target the guest list to those I know are my readers, etc. If you make the event public, then you can have a larger reach as well, and even allow guests to invite others.
- During the lead up time to the event, you can input teaser posts, getting guests excited for the launch. You can even post excerpts of your book, etc., do some giveaways, or put up links for pre-ordering your book. Here’s a simple post I made on my event page (for now):
Other things to consider before the actual launch event:
- Think of some giveaways. You can use something like Rafflecopter to gain more followers on your social media sites, or you can do polls/quizzes/trivia and pick a random winner.
- Think of conversation starters. Just because you can’t see your guests face-to-face doesn’t mean you should stay radio silent on the event page. Let guests know that you’re hanging out on the page, make some posts, and get some conversations started.
For example, you can use an icebreaker like: Hey, everyone! Tell me what your favorite book is.
- Invite other authors to join you. By now, you should at least be friends (online friendships count!) with one author. Personally, because I write YA, I have a sizable network of YA authors in my network. They are the ones who I would ask to be a part of the event.
How, you ask? By asking them if they want to do a “takeover” on the event page.
Example: I send a message to my writer friend, Jane Writer, and ask her if she wants to “host” on my event page for 30 minutes. She can talk about her book, do giveaways of her own, and network with my readers.
Why would I do that? Because it always pays to give back, and because she can invite her network to my event, thus exposing me to new readers. Smart, right?
Before the event, be sure to follow up with the participating authors to remind them of their commitment.
- Create a quick video to invite people to the event, or even just talk up how excited you are for the event. When your enthusiasm comes across loud and clear to your invitees, they’ll get excited, too.
- Besides conversation starters, draft a list of topics to discuss and shape it into a schedule. You can figure out how many teasers or excerpts to share—chronologically or otherwise. You can come up with a list of questions about your series, or books/literature in general.
Pretend it’s just like an in-person event, where you can mingle with the guests and talk about many different things. The possibilities are endless, and for those of you more introverted, there’s less awkward sipping on your drink.
- Blog about it. Let your readership and social media followers know about the event and invite them to join in on the fun.
During the Actual Event
The actual event is probably the most exciting part. Your book is now live on online sales channels, and the entire world has access to it.
Since you’ve done a lot of prep work, this day should run pretty smoothly. Keep the conversations going, interact with your guests, and announce when other authors are about to take over the event.
Since you have a captive audience, remind them to purchase your book, enter any giveaways you may be hosting, add your book on Goodreads, etc. Throughout the event, also make sure to thank them for participating.
After the Event
Always follow up after an event. Always. This is a good practice for any business, any party, any relationship. From a young age, my mother constantly taught me to express my gratitude to others, and part of following up after an event is just that.
Yes, doing so involves reminders that you are selling a book and essentially want people to buy it, but it’s also about thankfulness and acknowledging that people took time out of their day for you.
You could also try hosting your book launch party on Twitter or Google Hangouts. As I have yet to do either, I don’t have any advice, but thought it might be nice to suggest other avenues for you to consider and experiment with.
Now, let’s take a look at hosting a book launch party at a physical venue. This will be very budget friendly, so it works if you have nothing to very little to spend, or even a lot of moola to push around.
Physical Venue Book Launch Party
- Definition: A party to celebrate the launch of your book at a physical venue: your house, a local coffee shop, wine bar, party/events hall, etc.
What to Do Before the Launch Party (in no particular order)
- Secure a venue, date, and time. Here’s how I saved in a huge way. Through a friend, I had a connection to a posh wine bar one city over—just about 20 minutes away.
They agreed to let me have my party at the wine bar, in exchange for an order of appetizers. I purchased the smallest appetizer plate—$120 worth of meat and cheese—but was allowed to bring my own dessert.
I also promised to tell my guests to purchase drinks to support the bar. And, I agreed to have my party on a weeknight, Tuesday, which was a day that was typically low in patronage.
- Determine your budget. I didn’t want to spend more than a few hundred bucks on my party, but I also didn’t want to be too cheap since it was my first book. Including ordering my paperbacks, I spent less than $300 on the entire party, thanks to connections and DIYing.
You don’t even have to spend a few hundred dollars. If you host the party at your house or a friends, that’s a huge savings right there. You can also reduce cost by making it a potluck, etc.
- Have a team. Even if it’s your mom, dad, sister, best friend, partner . . . whoever. You need a team for this party to be successful.
I had two good friends, acting as my assistants, who took care of lots of details for me: from booking the venue to purchasing flowers and candy, to posting flyers about the party around town. They were my peace of mind.
My mom was my cupcake lady, which saved me money on dessert. And, since I had a hair appointment the day of the party, my hairdresser was part of my team in helping me to look fabulous.
- Make your guest list. I invited about 120 people and 85 showed up—which is above the average for people showing up to a party. The more people who come, the more books you sell.
What you have accomplished is huge, and people want to celebrate that with you. Keep this in mind while drafting your list. (I even invited my physical therapist to my party!)
- Make or print invitations. To save money, but still keep things classy and avoid the whole Evite thing, I made my own invitations. Including postage, everything cost less than $50.
However, it’s perfectly fine to save time and money and send an Evite if that works for you. As I like to say: You do you.
- Come up with a theme. You probably want to stick with a theme relevant to your book. Because my first book takes place in a jungle, I asked the wine bar if they had a wine that could be categorized as “tropical.”
They had a crisp white wine that fit the bill, so I listed it on my invitation as the wine of the night and many of my guests bought a glass or two.
- Think about food—appetizers/snacks/dessert/drinks. As I said, I purchased a platter of appetizers and enlisted my mom to make cupcakes. The drinks could be purchased at the wine bar, so I didn’t have to worry about that.
Keeping everything simple saved me time and money, and it was nice to not have to clean up a lot of dishes, etc., after the party. But you have to think of what works for you.
Perhaps a potluck would save you money. Or, maybe you’re a food genius and can come up with a great menu that matches your party theme. Be creative, but don’t make things too complicated.
- Order your paperback books, with plenty of buffer for delayed shipments or other issues. When I was independently published, I used CreateSpace for my printing and distribution. I cut it pretty close—I’m talking about half of my book shipment arriving the day of my party—so don’t do what I did. Order your books weeks in advance to reduce your stress and have everything ready to go.
- Be sure you can take credit card payments, but have cash on hand. I use Square and its app with my iPad for all my book events. Square provides you with a free card reader that plugs into your smartphone or other electrical device.
Because the wine bar I had my party at had WiFi, I was able to use my iPad for transactions. I also made sure I had plenty of change for guests who wanted to pay in cash.
- Make some flyers to advertise your party. Because my party was going to be at a wine bar and wasn’t necessarily a private event, I made some flyers to post in and around local businesses close to the wine bar. It had my brief bio, the book’s summary, and the party details. Yet another way to bring your book some exposure.
- Post event notices online. If you have your party in a public venue like I did, it’s not a bad idea to post a notice online for more exposure. This, of course, depends on your comfort level in regards to letting just anyone know about your party.
I used a local newspaper service that allows people to post public events for free on their events site. See if you city has something similar by doing a simple Google search.
- Notify local press/send invites. One of my assistants notified the local press, along with some Barnes & Noble reps of my party. The B&N reps were actually planning on coming, but something had come up and they couldn’t make it. Still, it was a nice gesture that helped to build rapport with my local B&N.
- Give a copy of your book—signed—to the venue provider (unless it’s your own house, of course).
- Have pens, placards, business cards, and other promo items. For the purposes of my party, I had a placard with my bio and book information at my signing table, along with my pens, guest sign-in book, business cards, candy, and flowers. With each book I signed, I inserted a custom-made bookmark (I made them with a free template in Microsoft Word and printed them on semi-glossy cardstock at Kinko’s) that reminded readers to leave me a review.
- Secure a photographer. I lucked out with this one. I am a self-proclaimed “people collector,” so I know a lot of people in a lot of different industries.
One of my friends is a photographer, therefore, in exchange for helping him with some of his business needs, I asked him to take professional photos at my party. These photos now double as some of the awesome pictures I have on my website.
But you don’t need to know a professional photographer to get decent pictures. Ask a creative/trusty friend who will be at the party to capture photos for you. Trust me . . . you’ll want photos of the memories, and it’s a cool way to showcase an achievement.
- Confirm everything at least 48 hours in advance. This is a no brainer and good business practice. Do your part to make sure everything is on track so you have plenty of time to prevent and/or fix any impending mishaps. You’ll be less stressed and will have a good time at your party.
During the Party
This is the really fun part. I mean, who doesn’t love a party that’s for them?! Here’s what I did for my party:
I treated myself to a haircut and had my support team take care of final details like picking up cupcakes from my mom and flowers for the party. (We met a week before the event to discuss everything.)
That way, all I had to do was arrive early to the venue and make sure that everything was ready to go. I brought my party dress to my hairdresser’s and got ready there after I was finished getting my hair cut.
When I arrived to the wine bar, my two trusty assistants were already there, getting things set up. Some early birds were there too, but most every one came right at the official start time.
I chose a position in the wine bar where my guests could line up to get my autograph and then purchase the book from one of my assistants.
I had a guest book for people to leave their name, email address, and a note for me. It served as a sort of guest book that one might have at a wedding reception, but was also practical for gathering email addresses for my website/newsletter.
After I signed about 100 books (!!!), I finally was able to mingle with my guests and enjoy some wine. But, because I was on such an adrenaline high, I didn’t have much of an appetite. That’s something I would have changed—I probably would have made sure to eat a little before the party. Regardless, I had an amazing time and floated on that euphoria for days after my party.
Photo of me signing books at my launch party. (That’s my grandma in the photo with me, by the way.) You can see the extra pens, my bookmarks, candy, and info flyer.
After the Party
Follow up after the party. Always. I can’t stress this enough. Here are just a few ways to do so:
- Send thank you notes or an email to partygoers. I chose to send a mass email, thanking all my guests for coming (use the BCC option so as not to violate the privacy of others).
I mean, it would have been a bear to write 85+ thank you cards, and the email worked well. I also created an email group from my list so I could use those emails for my newsletters, etc.
- Thank the venue. Write a simple thank you note and mail it or hand deliver to them. You never know if you’ll be hitting them up to host another book launch party in the future.
- Remind partygoers to leave you a book review. I put this reminder into my thank you email. Reviews are so important for authors to get, so don’t be shy about reminding your readers to leave you one.
- Blog about it. Let your readers know about the party and how fun it was. Let them get to know you and share your photos.
- Start writing your next book. Now, it’s time to get back to work.
For visual inspiration,
visit my Book Launch Party Ideas board on Pinterest
You can opt to read an excerpt or several excerpts during your party. I personally did not do so because I wanted to focus on signing books and mingling with partygoers. But it’s up to you. If it feels right, go for it.
To really stick to your budget, consider splitting the cost and sharing the party with another (local) author—even if their book has already “launched.” You’ll then have access to their readership, while cutting down on the bill.
I am lucky to have a very good friend and writing partner who writes in my genre. She and I live in the same area, and we’re planning on doing a joint book launch party this summer at a local coffee shop.
Pros & Cons of an Online Launch versus a Physical Venue Launch
So, why would you choose one over the other?
- If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands or extra cash to put a party together, then an online launch party is ideal.
Just be aware that if you’re going to run some giveaways, you will be spending a little bit of money. When I do eBook giveaways, I like to gift the winner directly through Amazon, etc. It’s a safe way to ensure that my book won’t land in piracy land. You can also opt to do a paperback/hardcopy giveaway, which will include print costs and shipping.
The downside is perhaps not generating as many sales because not everyone you invite to an online launch can (or is willing to) participate. Many people would rather go to a cool party where they can see you and get a signed book that’s personalized.
- If you do have some time and cash on hand, an in-person launch party is awesome.
It makes quite the splash, and all the people who care about you and your success will be in one place to celebrate your book. Personally, I also made a decent amount in sales. Many guests purchased a second book for friends/family, and the price I paid for printing and shipping costs was more than covered.
The downside is that it’s going to cost you more than just time. There’s also more planning and details that go into this type of party versus an online launch. But, I’d venture to say that it’s all worth it.
Who says you only have to do one or the other? Why not both? If you can spare the time and have a supportive team behind you, do both! Test which method works best for you and go for it. You’ll never know what’s going to happen unless you try.
Good luck with your party planning!
Tamar Hela, an editor and writer from California, has always had a knack for words, loving the art of storytelling. As a musician and artist, she understands the importance of captivating an audience through various mediums, but especially loves using words to create visual images for readers. When she’s not writing, drinking coffee, or traveling to someplace cool, she can be found curled up with a good book.
Her Young Adult Spirit Lake Series was acquired by Cosby Media Productions this year. Spirit Lake, formerly titled Feast Island, was released in April 2015. Its sequel, The Wrong Fairy Tale, was released in June. Tamar is also partnered with Cosby Media Productions as the Publishing Director and Chief Editor for their Print Division, and has worked with Amazon best-selling authors like Mike Clemons and CF Waller.
Find/hire her at: http://www.tamarhela.com
About The Wrong Fairy Tale:
Being a hero is not such an easy job after all.
It’s junior year, and Alex and her friends are just trying to survive high school: boring homework, detention, crushes…and a fateful journey through a portal to another planet—you know, the usual. Despite being average California teenagers, this group of six finds themselves on a return trip to the strange land of Cantelia, where their Spirit Guide, Goden, has sent them. This time, they appear near the Alfaran Forest: a place, where, once again, many inhabitants claim these kids are the Chosen Ones and that they will help to find a solution for ridding the forest of a new kind of horror.
Will the teens have the courage to fight the real enemy? Or will they be forever trapped on Cantelia?
Thank you, Tamar! You make any kind of party look like a fun way to celebrate our accomplishment!
It’s great that you covered both types of parties. And I especially appreciated your advice for the pros, cons, and reasons for why we might want to choose one type over another.
As with many things writing, the best choice for us might depend on our personality and our goals. Do we want more of a…:
- fun celebration or pat on the back
- opportunity for book sales
- acknowledgement of those who have supported us
- something geared toward ebooks or toward print
- party within a budget, etc.?
I’m not sure how my extreme introversion would handle being the center of attention, but Tamar’s suggestion of a joint party might be perfect for me. Now to find the perfect partner in crime… *smile*
Have you ever had a book launch party? What type did you have? What worked and what didn’t? Would you do anything differently next time? Or, if you’re still unsure about hosting a party, what’s stopping you? Do you have any questions for Tamar?
(P.S. Don’t miss my 5th Blogiversary Contest!)Pin It