Blogger: Rachel Kent
You have a new book coming out! Hooray! You want to celebrate with friends, family, and fellow book lovers, but you don’t have the money to throw a big party. What can you do?
Some of the best launch parties I have been to are done with little or no cost to the author. Typically, a local bookstore is happy to host a book launch event–especially for traditionally published books. All you need to do is call them and talk through the details. They will order your books ahead of time and will even advertise your appearance so that some of their customers might become your new readers. Many bookstores have a snack bar or coffee shop, so food and drinks can be purchased if the attendees are hungry, but you could provide some cookies and lemonade or some other small, free snack to offer during the event. All you would need to do is mix and mingle with your friends and fans, sign books, and offer up a few behind-the-scenes stories from writing or researching the book. You might want to put together a CD of music that relates to your book in some way and ask the bookstore to play it during the party to set the mood. If you have a little bit to spend, you could do a door prize drawing.
If a local bookstore isn’t an option or if they won’t host you, you can always try an independent coffee shop for a meet & greet party. If you are bringing them business, they are likely to say “yes” to hosting you in a corner of their shop. You can let friends, family and fans know that you will be at the shop with books for sale for a couple hours on a specific day and have them come by to see you and celebrate. You could have a bowl of candy or something on the table and some free bookmarks. Just be sure you aren’t offering anything that would compete with what the coffee shop has for sale. The goal is to create a win-win situation for you and your host.
During your party, be sure to collect names and email addresses, too. Maybe for the door prize drawing, you could have your attendees drop in a form that asks for name, email address, and permission to add them to your e-newsletter list. This will help you grow your list and let your attendees know about future books and events.
Have you ever been to/hosted a book launch party? What was it like?
Do you think launch parties are beneficial?
I think launch parties are wonderful. I believe it’s a time for people to meet the person behind the words, seeing that the author is more than just a name on a cover and have an opportunity to develop lasting friendships … faithful readers. I love the ones you’ve shown … like Sarah Sundin’s, where there were lessons on dancing, etc … making it fun for the readers. They’ll never forget that, you know.
*I hope Becky Wade has something on her new release this spring, since she’s in my area … I’m going to do my best to be there and get a signed copy! 🙂
Thanks, Shelli! That party was a blast!
Aww, you are welcome, Sarah. I wish I could have been there!! 🙂
Sarah’s party was a lot of fun! I was a little nervous teaching dance though. It had been many years since I taught. 🙂
The book launch party I had at a local Hastings for BPH was terrific fun. They invited me back for two more signings within a year, and said that if I ever had another book – even SP’d – they’d tock it and host another party. Alas, physical circumstances now make that impossible, but it’s a great memory.
* A couple of suggestions –
1) If you’re physically able, stay on your feet.. It’s much easier to engage people walking by that way.
2) Make eye contact unless the eye contact you make is scary. (I let Barbara do the eye-contact thing while I wore Oakleys.)
3) Learn the Royal Handshake. Moderate grip, one pump, then gently push back as you let go.
4) Supply candy bowls, both regular and sugar-free.
5) Don’t overdress. Business casual is appropriate. (I wore shorts because of scarring on my legs that makes the skin sensitive, and no one seemed to mind…but they were nice shorts, matched with my best shirt. Didn’t do the Key-West-Spring-Break look. Unfortunately.)
6) Have fun, whether it’s one person or a hundred that show up. The party is not for you; it’s for the guests that come, and even is there IS only one, he or she deserves to be treated like royalty.
Andrew, you never cease to amaze me with the great knowledge and experience you have. Your ideas for this are so great. I especially love the handshake tip. 🙂 Cute.
* One other thing I would suggest…don’t go alone. Take your husband, or a friend…someone with a good ‘stage’ presence and a willingness to help. When you get mobbed…and I have been…having that second voice to do crowd control and direction can keep people from going away disappointed.
Great suggestions! And if you have a themed book, you could dress to the theme.
i am doing something a little different with my first release this spring
i am doing an invite-only celebration for family and friends and people who have in some way supported the book. i will be selling books there at an event discount and a short reading. the setting is one prominent to my series. this is about 65 people. they all got invites and i am holding this unique little party two weeks before the book’s release.
however ,i am also doing a release party at a bookstore that actually got in touch with my publisher and asked if i would be willing to do an event there. that one will cater more to the general public.
i attend a lot of launch parties ( i live in a big city with a pretty active literary community) and the ones i like best ARE the intimate ones celebrating the book and thanking the supporters who helped it make it happen!
Rachel, what a neat idea to have two parties. I especially love the thought of pulling together your extended “team” who supported you. Great ideas.
You are lucky to live in an area that you get to attend a lot of launch parties. We don’t get a lot around here.
Jaxon M King
Good morning, Rachel. I published my first novel through Amazon last September, and I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even think about any kind of release party. I’m a little bummed, now that I think about it. After reading your blog and Andrew’s response, I am disappointed that I missed out on an opportunity for such a fun time. But thank you for your ideas because I just started working on the sequel, and am going to start planning for an event now!
You could still have a book signing at a bookstore! It’s not too late. 🙂
Jaxon M King
Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’m in a somewhat small town, but we do have a Hastings here. I’m going to give it a go. Thanks, Rachel!
Amen! My book launch party for Through Waters Deep cost me about $100 for decorations (nautical flags, balloons, and nautical napkins – all of which were fun but optional) and $100 for giveaway items. My Barnes & Noble was thrilled to work with me because I brought in sales 🙂 B&N provided cookies and beverages (which was wonderful of them!), they played a big band music CD overhead – and they allowed us to dance in the aisles. Literally. It didn’t take a lot of time or money – my kind of event 🙂
Sarah, your party sounds so fun! And it’s great to hear that B&N was so supportive.
Thank you for sharing the approx. cost! Very helpful.
Rachel, the thing I’m most excited about as an author is building community with my readers, not just viewing them as customers. If they like my book, chances are we’d have interests in common and simply enjoy each other’s company. So, I love the idea of a book launch to get readers together. I’ve never been to a book launch party, but love dreaming about what mine will be like. Thanks for the post!
Building a community of readers is so important! The more connected they feel with you, the better.
I have a series starring a group of church ladies known as The Glory Circle Sisters. So, the first novel launched at a local eatery that has a Thursday night buffet for seniors. The staff decorated my corner to fit the book’s theme and supplied free cookies. We had a blast.
The next book launches in March with an indoor garden party hosted by my local writer’s group. We are holding it in the dining area of a local college. Once again, it will be low budget but loads of fun.
Another thought…invest (about $80) in an instant-film or instant-print camera. A lot of people would love to have a picture taken with a Real Live Author.
* Yes, cell phone cameras work, but there are two problems –
1) Digital images are true ephemera, and the context is easily lost, and it’s very hard to autograph someone’s phone screen.
2) If you take it with yours, so you can email to the party attendee, there’s an explicit request for an email address…and to some people it may seem like kind of an underhand way of putting them on a mailing list.
* Besides, instant cameras are just plain fun. Everyone should have one.
Love the idea of the instant-print camera! What fun that would be to have photo mementos.
Jaxon M King
Good thinking, Andrew. I’m definitely using that one!
Janet Ann Collins
The best book launch I’ve ever heard of was when John Olson and Randy Ingermanson launched Oxygen. It was at John’s house. Members of our critique group dressed up like Sci-fi characters, refreshments were available, and there was a game that involved hunting for clues. This was in the San Francisco Bay Area. The local newspaper sent a reporter and photographer so the book got lots of publicity and the party didn’t cost much except for time. And it was fun for everyone.
Sounds very fun and not all that expensive!
What wonderful ideas! Thank you, Rachel. Have a wonderful weekend.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Since my books are ebooks, I’ve only done online parties, which were really quite fun. But I’ll keep all this in mind. We have a wonderful little local bookstore with a coffee shot next door. A Book For All Seasons in beautiful Leavenworth, WA. Such a fun place. I imagine it would be really fun to have a launch party there.
Kristen, would they do a launch party for you if you consigned books printed on a CreateSpace platform, or similar? Being an independent, I would guess they could make that decision on the spot? In my experience – all independent stores love events, if they don’t have to put in a big investment (and risk).
This post is perfectly timed, Rachel! My book releases in March and I’m trying to figure out how to have a launch party that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Your ideas are great!
I’m planning to make some crocheted heart-shaped sachets to give away. My book is for single moms and I want to give them something that says “you’re loved.” These will be simple to make, yarn is inexpensive, and I can even use scrap yarn.
Nine authors from our writers group have written a devotional book together. While it was being published one of the ladies had to go to a nursing home. We wanted her to be able to enjoy the book launch party so we are having it at her nursing home this coming Monday night (2/8/16). The owner of the nursing home was so excited when we asked about having it there that he put ads in the newspaper and is providing simple refreshments for us.
And I’d call that an example of heroic grace, Cathy. People like you make the world a better place, and give me hope.
Thanks, Andrew! All the details fell into place so nicely, I knew it was a God thing.
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Jaxon M King
Thank you, Paul.
Thanks for these great tips! A local Christian-owned coffee shop will be the venue for the launch party for my novel–fortuitously titled You’re the Cream in My Coffee–when it releases next fall. I’m thrilled, but it didn’t just happen. I’ve been a regular customer of the shop for years and they know me as someone who supports them in a town with umpteen coffee shops per capita. It’s wise to invest in community relationships well before your book releases (not that that’s the only reason to be nice, lol).