This week, I managed to go to the book launch of “Struggling With Serendipity“, a memoir from a blogger I’ve been following for 3 years.
In the past, I’ve made it to book launches at conventions (The Perils of Prague and TV Gods) and I volunteered at the book launch of The Cursed Child (mostly because I missed the original Harry Potter launch parties and wanted to see what one might have looked like).
I’ve attended book signings — for authors AND web comic artists. And while lower key, these have some overlap.
Some were book signings with a reading first, some were book signings with actors and performances, some were open room parties with snacks and a credit card machine if you wanted to buy, and some were fun and games with the books off to the side, waiting for you to feel obliged to at least check out the reason for the event.
No two launch parties have been the same, but there are usually some overlaps.
1 – You Need To Advertise
If people don’t know it’s happening, they can’t come.
2 – Pick A Good Location
Pick a location that will appeal to your audience (and a good time of day)
- If the story is based in your hometown, you’re going to have some local appeal there.
- If your fanbase is full of people who love conventions, have your book launch at a convention.
- If your book is for kids, have it at a kid-based festival, where they’re already going. Or at a school book fair.
3 – Be Prepared To Extrovert
If you can’t do it all yourself, bring backup. You want to be able to welcome people in, or call bypassers over (in a friendly, but not aggressive manner. Especially in a dealers’ room, you don’t want to tick off your neighbors).
You want to put out a warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes people comfortable asking the question, “so, what’s your book about?”
You’ve got to be able to answer that, in one sentence or less, in such a way that more-people-than-not will want to know more.
4 – Do Something
You can’t just show up with a book, at a book launch, and expect to sell. Otherwise, you might as well just be a seller. What makes this a LAUNCH?
You can have free snacks or cake! You can have swag (magnets, bookmarks, etc).
You can have a raffle for a free copy!
You’re probably going to want to read an excerpt from your novel. Have a section — preferably near the beginning if it’s a novel — that requires minimal explanation. Best are scenes with dialogue, world building, and maybe even some action.
If you’re selling your book, be sure to offer to sign it! Maybe even personalize it. [If there’s a huge crowd, have paper for people to write their names on, so you can spell them right].
5 – Bring Your Friends and Family
Some of you might have the mistaken impression that your friends and family aren’t ‘real’ fans, they’re obligatory fans, and that you have to have strangers there to endorse you.
People are busybodies and herd animals. If we hear someone else being excited about something, we’ll probably take a look.
I’ve seen book signings, down around the corner from the actual event, where fans had trouble finding them. If you’re sitting quietly at a table, people might not realize something’s going on.
If I had nightmares, I’d have them about book signings where no one shows up.
So? Bring your own party!
Either you have company while you’re stuck at a table. Or you have enthusiastic fans who can talk you up and run for drinks, pens, and your backup box of books.
Let your friends and family fete you! But if it’s open to the public, make sure you’re welcoming, without a cliquish vibe.
6 – Bring Your Own Supplies
Make sure you have everything you need!
- A box of your own books (small or large, you should at least have some on you)
- Even if your book launch is at a bookstore, sometimes the shipment doesn’t come in. Sometimes, they sell out. Having backup helps keep things less stressful for everyone.
- Quick drying pens (or markers — whichever you prefer). With backup ones, in case one dies.
- Business cards
Next? Things that can make a book launch go better
- Swag – bookmarks, postcards, pens, magnets, whatever
- A banner and/or table cloth
- A candy bowl (for guests) — they usually feel obligated to at least HEAR your pitch if they snag a chocolate
- Your own drink and snack — talking is thirsty work.
Plus, if you’re doing your own sales:
- A decent amount of change for the standard ATM $20
- A credit card reader
- A spare battery pack for your phone
As you should know, I’ve never actually held my own book launch, I’ve just been taking notes from those I’ve made it out to.
I like to attend the book launches for people I know or read. I want to encourage them! And… I want some good karma saved up for when it’s my turn.
If you’ve attended — or HELD! — a book launch, let me know!
What do you like?
What do you hate at book launches?