12 Tips for Successful Book Launch Parties

by | Jun 24, 2013

We don’t often talk about one very important part of self-publishing: it can be a lot of fun!

Maybe it doesn’t feel that way when you’re trying to figure out which ISBN option to choose, or how to hire a cover designer, or which font would really be the best for your book. But if you like the book creation process, you might also enjoy all those little decisions and the many chances to be creative that it opens to you.

One of the more institutionalized ways to have a good time in book publishing is with a book launch party. Sometimes authors plan parties because they want to celebrate, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But a book launch party can be a great way to give your marketing a push, too.

After all, a lot of books take years to write and months to edit, design, lay out, proofread, and set up for publication. When your book is finally published, it’s the end of a long, sometimes arduous journey.

Do you need a book launch party? Well, it’s difficult to say you really need one. Although it can be a great promotional activity, a big party can put your budget into a hole so deep it will never recover. However, there are ways to host launch parties on a budget.

So if you’re thinking about a book launch party, here are some tips that will help you decide whether or not to go ahead with one and, if you do, some things to look out for.

But First, A Decision

Before you can start planning your book launch party, you’ll need to decide whether you’re throwing this party to congratulate yourself and share your joy with friends and family, or whether it’s mostly intended to be a chance to promote your book.

There’s nothing wrong with throwing yourself a party. Hey, knock yourself out, invite the neighbors and anyone else you like. A book launch party also can be a great way to say “thank you” to people who have played a significant role in getting your book to market.

But if the party is part of your overall book launch strategy, you’ll want to focus mostly on what’s going to help get news about your book out to the people you really want to reach. The tips that follow are aimed at these sorts of parties that are meant to promote books.

Tips for Authors Thinking About Book Launch Parties

  1. Make a budget. How much are you willing to “invest” in this one promotional event? Expenses for live events can easily get out of hand as unexpected wrinkles arise. Compare what you’re willing to spend to other possibilities. For instance, to hire someone to write a professional press release and have it electronically delivered costs about $200-300. Will that accomplish more with the resources you have than throwing a launch party?
  2. Find a venue. Hold your party in a retail environment if at all possible. Bookstores and other retailers will be happy if you can bring in a lot of people to their store, and they usually will handle the sales. They will probably sell your books on consignment (no payment unless books sell) and will require a minimum 40% discount from the retail price. Another good strategy is to locate a retailer with some connection to your book. For instance, for the launch of a book about moving to Spain, an author had her launch party at a Spanish tapas bar with authentic foods and beverages mentioned in her book. For a hiking, bicycling, or trailwalking book, try the local recreational equipment store. And you don’t have to be limited to retail spaces, either. A book launch that’s more of a celebration can be hosted at a private home. And some people have taken their launch parties outdoors; with a permit from the local authorities and some good weather, you could have your launch party at a park.
  3. Plan your space. If your party is in a store, you will probably be supplied with a table but don’t count on anything else. You’ll need to provide some appropriate decorations and don’t forget any bookmarks or other “freebies.” If you’re having your party at a retailer that’s not a bookstore, you may have to help the store with planning for tables to sign books and other details.
  4. Get the word out. If you’re working with a retailer for your launch, ask about promotion. For instance, they may be able to include you in mailings or email newsletters about in-store events. Or they might allow you to put a flyer up in the store a couple of weeks before the event.
  5. Keep people entertained. You’ve gone to a lot of trouble and expense to set up your party and get people there. What are you going to do next? Instead of planning one long reading, why not create a shorter event you can repeat over the course of 3 or 4 hours? If you can, include appropriate music and visuals for entertainment. A slide show or book trailer running on a laptop can capture the attention of browsers who will want to know more about your book.
  6. Make sure you have books. Yes, there’s nothing worse than planning a party, then realizing you can’t get printed books in time. Work backwards from your party date and plan to have the physical books on hand at least a week beforehand, just to be safe.
  7. Use the media. Let local media know about your book launch party and invite them to come around to join the festivities. At larger media outlets, look for writers or editors whose subject specialties correspond to your book topic and notify them.
  8. Build your crowd. Don’t forget to invite your friends, family, co-workers, writing group, and social media contacts. More people equals more excitement, and that’s what a party is all about.
  9. Take pictures. Ask a friend to take pictures and make sure to get some shots of you signing books, talking to readers, and speaking. If you have any “notables” attending, get a shot of the two of you together. These will come in handy for your promotional efforts.
  10. How to sign. If you’ve never autographed books before, spend some time thinking about what you’ll write. Many authors use a few stock phrases which can be helpful when the autographing line is long. Many people like their name included, too, so make sure to ask for the correct spelling. I’ve often used the phrase, “Good luck on your publishing journey,” which fits with the subject of my books.
  11. Prizes and giveaways. Who doesn’t like them? Having a drawing for a free book or a prize themed to your subject will be popular. And if you repeat your reading a couple of times, go ahead and have a couple of drawings to keep people interested.
  12. Gather addresses. Here’s my last tip, and it’s one of the most important. You want to stay in touch with people you spend time with at your launch party. Make sure you have a way to capture each attendee’s email address, whether it’s a sign-up sheet, a bowl for business cards, or a laptop or tablet where people can opt into your mailing list on the spot.

Planning and executing a book launch party is quite a bit of work, but it can pay off. You’ll establish good relations with the venue, with media contacts, and with attendees. You’ll make sales and add to your email list, too.

And listen, you worked long and hard to get to this point. Throwing yourself a party—and getting all the benefits—is a great way to celebrate.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Originally published as “It’s Party Time! Book Launch Parties for Indie Authors” on CreateSpace.

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35 Comments

  1. Cephas Ugochukwu Anozie

    Hi Joel,
    It’s was amazing when I got into your website and the guidelines on how to launch a book, I have wrote a book titled (COMING TO AFRICA) which I believe in this our generation everyone of us as individual should help to eradicate wars in our society.

    Thanks for your help and directives, in this reason I believe humans should have opportunity to be educated and helpful to each other to enable us have a better future and generations to come .Thanks

    Reply
  2. Favour Amadi

    Your tips are very helpful . I am planning to launch 4 books Christian books same day . What do I do to create a “Wow” experience.

    Reply
    • Hey

      Die and come back to life

      Reply
      • LA Naylor

        Hahaha! Got to love a sense of humour!

        Reply
        • LA Naylor

          I’m doing a small launch event at The Last Bookshop in Oxford tomorrow at 6.30pm for my book The Land of Trees – come in and visit :)

          https://lanaylor.com

          Reply
  3. Bereket Matusala

    I am a self publisher and I got a wonderful idea to my New Travel Guide book of South Ethiopia (to make effective launching ceremony ) and I am so happy by peoples idea for launching ceremony. Thank You.

    Reply
  4. simon harding

    Hi what about the time of day? In my old industry, if we wanted industry people, we would have to run it during the day, but if it was just a “thank you” party we would have it in the evening.

    Does that hold true for books or will reviewers, press, bloggers etc turn out, for example, early evening?

    Reply
    • Danielle

      My question exactly- what is the best time to have a book launch party?

      Reply
      • Sharon Goldinger

        Danielle, the answer depends on whom the book launch party is for. The majority of ones that I or clients have had have been for their supporters, friends, family, etc. I’ve seen them as lunches, brunches, mid-day, and evening events. In terms of one for media or bookstore staff, it’s very difficult to get them to attend these days (unless of course, you’re a huge celebrity). In the past, I’ve seen those be successful in the evening, during the work week (and often on Mondays).

        Reply
  5. Matej Valuch

    I never considered a book party as a marketing tool before. You gave me some inspiration. The only problem for me is that while my target audience sits in the US, I’m in Europe. Would be quite an expensive to organize :).

    Only thing I would disagree with is the size of a party. From my experience from readers-writer meeting with the readers of the University of Solitude in my own country, anytime the number of attendees exceeded a certain point, the meeting lost the desired ambience, and I wasn’t able to make a right connection with the attendees.

    So I’d suggest throwing in more smaller launch parties rather than one really big.

    It can differ for various genres, though.

    Take Care Joel, I look forward to reading more from you.
    Matej

    Reply
  6. william dwyer

    Hi Joel,

    What if there is a special date that is tied to a launch (in my case 15 year anniversary of 9/11)? I am finding that I am not even close to having the platform, tribe, marketing etc that most authors have developed at this point in the process and I am about 2 weeks away from an ARC. I wonder how important it is that the launch be done at a certain “critical mass” point in the marketing, where the buzz is at its peak. On the one hand, if I have a tiny mailing list, the book launch will be a flop; but if i do a launch past the special date then I could miss out on all the attention that will be surrounding the event. Let me also mention that in my case there is little branding to be done, since the novel is more literary and unique (i.e. there will not be a series).

    Reply
  7. Rosie Atkinson

    I just published my second book. Two years ago I had a launch party for the first one, Albin’s Letters, so think I should have one for the new book, Hilda’s Secrets, the sequel. Both are memoirs and were well received, although I know there is a slim market for family history,I believe stories about immigrants are always welcomed by readers interested in history.I live in a retirement community connected to a nursing home next door and find the nurses and caregivers were my biggest fans! I will have the party in our activities room mostly for residents who no longer drive.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Rosie, I think that’s a great idea, and I’m sure the folks at the retirement community will support you. Have fun!

      Reply
    • Lyambila Cletus Edson

      I published my book ‘Shatters And Love’ end of April and find your article helpful. I am a first time author and practically do not have any clues beyond writing but I am not giving up. Cletus

      Reply
  8. Sunita Saldhana

    Thanks! My book “Who shall I Be today?” is out for publishing next month and this is going to help me so much with the launch!

    Reply
  9. Sandeep Sharma

    thanks for the tips.
    my book has just got pubished.
    title of book: Headmasterji-The man with literacy mission
    now available on amazon.com,bookbutler.com, nationalbookstore.com and a few more.
    my budget dont permit me to go for a marketing package. please advice me how can i market my book.

    Sandeep Sharma

    Reply
  10. Michael

    I will be publishing a new book soon, title is 3 keys to succed in the kingdom of God

    Reply
  11. ABCO Specialties

    How about another tip for a successful book launch party. Discover “How To Attract More Faces, Book a New Website Launch Platform”.

    Read all about it in Bing, Google, and #YahooNews search listings soon! By the way, online research revealed your “12 Tips for Successful Book Launch Parties” article in Yahoo News.

    Reply
  12. Thomas Radzilani

    Tips were very appropriate as I am planning for self published book.
    Do you offer something to eat or drink?

    Reply
  13. chinenye Nwokorie Okeke

    I just finished my first book{Entangled. Self published} I want to launch but the expenses been the problem. But now,I can economize,thanks. I still need your help because I need serious help on how to go about the promotion. Thanks again.

    Reply
  14. Anne Russell

    Very helpful info. I’ve 6 published books (only 2 self-published) but never gave a thought to a launch party until now. Your article has me on the way for October 13 in Wilmington NC for new novel Tropical Depression. Thanks!

    Reply
  15. Richard Oluyinka

    I will be launching my book titled MAKE THAT MOVE NOW-a self help and personal development book and I have found this short tips powerful to help me have a successful book launch. Thank you.

    Reply
  16. Joel Friedlander

    Awesome! Good luck with the book, John. It’s always easier the second time around.

    Reply
  17. john hoda

    Had my book launch the week before opening day of Baseball season. I was told by friends and family that they wanted me to sign soft-covers. I had purchased them for reviewers and to give to sports celebrities for endorsements. I read a short piece, signed books, ate doubles on my wife’s custom cupcakes and the sheet cake that had a screen print of the cover for the decoration. I had a blast. Did I send out press releases in time? No, but I will next time. I am still glowing from the launch of my first book

    Reply
  18. Linda Bonney Olin

    Misty, you can self-publish a POD paperback edition on CreateSpace for very little $$. Copies of my own book cost me only $2.15 apiece. (Books with a lot of pages or color interior are more expensive, of course.) I ordered a box of 15 to have on hand for in-person events, and the shipping worked out to less than 50 cents per book. You’d have to format the interior and cover a bit differently from ebooks, but if I can do it, so can anyone. :)

    Reply
    • Misty Dietz

      I’ll have to check with my publisher about this. I wonder if they didn’t talk about this…

      Thanks for the responses, Joel and Linda! :)

      Reply
  19. Misty Dietz

    Hi Joel, great tips like usual! I would really love to have a book launch party, but I’m missing one major ingredient: a hard-copy book.

    Do you have any book release party tips for us e-book only authors? Or maybe that’s another post… :)

    Reply
  20. Michael N. Marcus

    Some authors sell books at launches. I think it’s tacky to make friends feel obligated to spend money. My wife spent $25 for a neighbor’s book at her at-home party and we will _never_ read the book.

    Give books away if you can afford to. They’ll probably cost you only a few bucks each and will help create buzz. Give out bookmarks or business cards, too. For an e-book, you can provide a card showing a link to download a freebie.

    Michael N. Marcus
    https://www.BookMakingBlog.com
    https://www.CreateBetterBooks.com

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Part of the problem with inviting friends and family to these events is that a lot of people show up and expect to get a book for free, and that can be quite awkward.

      Reply
  21. Ernie Zelinski

    Great article. Great points.

    I had only one book launch party, for my book “101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting.” It was at a restaurant with my picking up the tab for a meal for all attendees. It did not pay for me given that I sold only a few books.

    A writer in my home town also threw a book launch party at one of the independent bookstores. She got quite a bit of publicity and even got local businesses to sponsor the giveways of wine and food at her launch. I don’t believe she did any better than me in the number of book sales but she spent very little money for her book launch party compared to what I spent on mine.

    When it comes to parties related to my books, I now have them to celebrate milestones. For example, in September of 2011, I had a party to celebrate the fact that it was 20 years since I self-published “The Joy of Not Working.” And last year, I threw a celebration in November to celebrate the fact that my “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” had generated over $700,000 in pretax profits for me since I self-published it in 2004. And of course, I will throw a big celebration when “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” has generated $1 million dollars in pretax profits, which should be a bit over two years from now.

    But no more book launch parties for me unless it is to celebrate a new book that I want to give away to my close friends, with no expectation of sales.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Ernie,

      I’m not a big fan of launch parties, but I have seen some authors do them fantastically well and generate lots of publicity (although, as we know, it’s hard to get lots of sales at these parties) and it did seem worthwhile for them.

      Reply
    • Monica

      Are you self published Ernie or traditionally published. Would love great advice on getting to that $700,00 mark…..

      Reply

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