There will be a day (coming soon?) when it’s your turn to host a party. A book launch party for your very own book. At Conquer Books, we’re all about using every opportunity to become the writer you dream of and we want to help you make the most of the experience.
If you’re looking for canapé recipe lists or bookish play lists, you’re going to have to go elsewhere. Rather, we’re going to focus on the book launch party as one of your most important marketing and networking opportunities.
A Party? For me?
If you’re not thrilled at the idea of all the attention or are only doing this to please your publishing team, let’s take a step back and look at why this is important.
Hosting a book launch is a celebration of all of your hard work and a way to welcome your story to the world, but it’s also a valuable networking opportunity.
- A book launch party helps non-literary friends and family members see you in a new light.
- After working from home, alone, for years, you now have an opportunity to invite your writing and publishing community out.
- You will sell books. And getting those books in hands early is essential to fostering buzz.
- It’s a way to thank the people who have worked hard on your project.
Well, canapés aside, we need a baseline for building the event.
There’s flexibility in when to host your book launch party, but many authors choose the night before, the day of, or within the following two weeks.
A bookstore is a great location and certainty gets store owners on your side, but you can also consider a venue that fits your book’s theme, a seasonal outdoor space, or something utterly informal like an afternoon picnic with champagne.
Do plan to sell books and have someone there to handle the transactions so you can focus on the party and signings.
Who to Invite
A book launch party is conceptually different than most other parties you will throw. On those occasions, you likely invite similar groups of family and close friends, but this is an opportunity to expand beyond that. What local writer do you wish you knew better? What industry professional have you been able to chat with on Twitter, but haven’t yet met IRL? What local literary types are you dying to have coffee with and would settle for cake instead?
Here’s a list to generate some ideas:
- Individuals you’ve served on committees or boards with
- Writer friends
- Critique group buddies
- Local bookstore owners
- Editors, printers, accountants, marketers, and other business partners
- Anyone who was kind enough to blurb your book
Of course all of these individuals may not be local to where you’re hosting the party, but don’t shy away from digging deep to come up with a great list of contacts.
Outside of your existing network, you can also use the opportunity to connect with a new crowd. You might do this by running a FB ad of the event, writing a press release and inviting media, or giving attendees a plus one.
It's Not All About You
Though you’re the reason for the evening, think of the event from your participant’s point of view and try to build a fun event from there.
Depending on your book, venue, and audience, your readers might enjoy a short reading, a Q&A, games and activities, a chance to win merch, or something else to help guests mingle.
Be sure to give people opportunity to take and post photos of the event. Think hashtags, photo stations, and props.
I really enjoy attending book launches, but I always feel a sense of regret on behalf of the author when there’s a missed opportunity. Steer clear of the following:
- Don’t schedule your event too close to when your books are supposed to arrive. I once went to a very nice, well-planned launch. The only problem was there were no books. I would have bought one at the event, but the books had failed to arrive in time and the author was left looking unprofessional.
- Don’t give away your books for free. If you want to do a giveaway drawing, that’s fine, but trust that people showing up expect full and well that if they want a book, they must buy one.
- Technical difficulties. If you’re hosting a virtual event, test everything out ahead and check out this IngramSpark article on virtual launches.
- Don’t forget to have someone taking video or photos, even if it’s a family member. The moment goes so fast but the digital credibility goes far.
Good luck on planning your event. Take your time. Make the most of it. And when you’re cleaning up glasses of wine or taking down streamers, assure yourself you’ll do the hard work of getting to the next one.
In the mean time, if you want to do better at networking in all aspect of your author life, check out our blog post Network as a New Writer.