Marketing Tips for Writers: Book Launch Parties

You’ve worked for months or even years to create your book, so throw yourself a party! Launch parties allow you to: celebrate your hard work, thank those who helped along the way, and promote your book.

There are two types of book launch parties:

  1. Online
  2. Live

The following information mixes together tips for online and live events, but you have to make a decision about which one to do. If you choose online, then people can attend from anywhere (virtually). If you choose a live party, you have to set up plans with your venue. If you choose to do both, consult your marketing strategy for which one comes first. For me, I’ll run an online party first, because I’m working with an e-book publisher. According to my contract, Voodoo Butterfly will be released as a print book at a later date. When the print version comes out, I’ll throw a live event so that people can get signed copies.

Who should you invite?

Everyone you know: friends, family members, fellow writers, beta readers, bloggers, your connections on social networks. Facebook will be a great way for you to reach out to your supporters, because you’ve been telling them about your writing journey all along. For those not on Facebook, you can connect via email or with an evite invitation. Depending on how fancy you want to get, you could send out paper invitations, but using the Internet will definitely help you save money. You can also advertise your party with traditional media (radio, TV, newspaper), especially if you come from a small town, where they love to cover local news and human interest stories. Remember to tell those you invite to bring a friend (or five).

What should you bring?

Use a theme that is meaningful to your author brand and your book. Door prizes, food, decorations, everything should fit the theme. Giveaways (for both my live and online launch parties) will include things that my target audience would enjoy: gift cards (Amazon, Starbucks, Target), book swag (bookmarks, tattoos, stickers, and voodoo “potions”), iTunes downloads (give out songs that inspired your work or make a soundtrack for your book).

I plan to host my live event at a local restaurant in my hometown. I’ll choose one that’s willing to provide the space for free, then people can order their own food and drinks. In my novel, Voodoo Butterfly, the characters prefer a fruity martini called a Purple Potion, so I’ll ask to have that drink available on the menu. Since my novel is paranormal and has two psychic characters, I’ll invite a local psychic to provide readings for a small fee (if he/she chooses). Is there some clever entertainment that you or one of your supporters would be willing to provide?

When should you throw your party?

You can choose your actual release date, but you have to consider that, by then, you will be exhausted. Give yourself a break of a week or two so that you can recoup your energy. Better yet, if there’s a certain time of year that’s meaningful to your book, then choose that date. Since my book’s set in New Orleans, my live party will happen around Mardi Gras. My book is paranormal, so my online party will happen around Halloween.

Where should you throw your party?

The location you choose for your launch party should be specific to you. Do it in your hometown, then you know your family and friends are going to come support you and join in the fun. Trying to throw a book launch party at a big chain bookstore probably won’t garner you much success if you are an unknown author. Instead, focus on what’s important to you and your book. If your book is set in a small town coffee shop, then see if a local café would provide the space for free. It can mean more customers for them, especially if it’s planned for a day and time when business tends to be slow. Think outside of the box. Here are some other interesting venues: a winery, shopping center, bank lobby, hardware store, etc.

How should I run this party?

  1. Welcome People–Spend a short amount of time meeting and greeting people (maybe half an hour).
  2. Make a Short Speech–Your speech can just be a simple “thank you all for coming,” or it can include a short reading or Q&A. Don’t spend a ton of time doing either of those two things, because it can get boring. After you say a little something, spend the rest of the time taking pictures with people, signing and selling books, and announcing giveaways.
  3. Have Fun!–Prepare some activities for participants. If kids are invited, they can make a bookmark or work on a coloring sheet that supports your book’s theme. Run a trivia game based on your book or your book’s subject. (If the party is adults-only, make it into a drinking game).
  4. Ask For Help–Especially for an in-person launch party, get as many helpers as possible. You don’t have to be the cashier, be the emcee, run the trivia game, announce giveaways, and try to sign books, too. Give those duties to some of your friends.
  5. Team Up–Tag team with other authors at your event. Let 2-3 author friends “take over” with their own books, games, and prizes so that you can mingle and take a break.
  6. Freebies–For either an online or a live party, get as many things for free as you can. Ask fellow authors for books or swag. Ask local businesses if they have items they’d like to donate for giveaways. And don’t forget to ask the live party venue if they’d be willing to donate snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for the event.

After your launch party…RELAX. You did it! You created a book and threw it a party.

This week, start thinking about your book launch strategy. Do you want to do an online and/or a live party? What are some possible venues, giveaways, and activities that would be meaningful to your book?

Next time, we finish up this series of posts by talking about PR and traditional media in your book marketing strategy. Take care and enjoy the writing journey.

Photo courtesy dpotera.

Plus, here is more great info about book launch parties from Writer’s Digest and the Writers in the Storm blog.

Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog