Planning a Book Launch
By Amy Groening

After many months or years of writing, revising, editing, and finally publishing you are ready to release your story to the world. This calls for a celebration. It’s time for a party! But what do you do and where do you start? We have put together a Book Launch planner to help you throw the party your book deserves.

Book Launch Schedule

PLAN AHEAD. A book launch can take a lot of prep. Make sure you’ve got ample time to make your event a hit. A lot of authors aim for a summer book launch—fair weather, vacation days and sunshine can get people in the reading mood and encourage foot traffic. That’s why we’re posting this launch blog now—if you want a summer book launch, start planning in the spring.

6-8 weeks ahead: Pick the Venue

A bookstore or church is a logical choice and can get you some great connections for your intended market. However, don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the bookstore box. You might want to look into a different location that is logically connected to your book—it can help expand your audience if they have a shared interest with your book. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • if it’s a children’s book, why not try a toy store or boutique? Make it worthwhile for parents (and the store) by planning fun activities to go along with the reading.
  • if it’s a historical novel, your local historical society might be interested—especially if it has a local setting.
  • if it’s a book on a social issue, try getting in touch with the local chapter of an organization or ministry tackling the same issue.

These are just a few ideas. Museums, arts societies, galleries, coffee shops, and stores can all be great choices for a book launch venue, provided they fit with the theme and subject of your book. Wherever you’d like to hold the launch, get in touch with them well in advance. Schedules can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons. Calling a month or two ahead of time will help ensure you get the venue you prefer.

Contacting the Venue: Once you’ve established your venue preference, prepare to contact them. Hosting a book launch can be work for the venue as well; when a venue agrees to be your launch site, they’re putting a lot of trust and value in your work, so do your best to show them your book is worth the effort. You’ll want to set the stage for them, give them an idea of who you are as an author, what your book is like and why it’s important, and what sort of event you’re planning. If you have a media kit, send them a digital (or physical) copy of it. If you have done any publicity work already (articles, radio interviews, workshops, etc), be sure to mention these—it will lend you credibility as an author.

Get the Details: Once your venue has agreed to host the event, nail down the details. Make sure to establish a date, start time, and end time for the event. Here are some other questions you might want to ask:
* can I serve food/beverages? If so
* do you have any of the required materials on site (carafes, cups, napkins, garbage cans), or should I bring my own?
* what sorts of refreshments can I serve?
* do you have a table (and tablecloth) I can use for the signing, or would you prefer I bring one?
* If your venue is a bookstore: do you have a book launch promotion package? (some bookstores offer customizeable flyers and posters for a fee; depending on your budget, this might help simplify event promotion).
* what is your capacity?

4-6 weeks ahead: Publicity

The Press Release: Start preparing your press release and compiling a list of media contacts. You’ll want to send the press release out at least 4 weeks before the launch date, so it’s good to give yourself some time to carefully craft that release. Once you have perfected your release, get it out to your media contacts.

Coordinate promotional materials with the venue: Discuss the possibility of printing flyers that they can put in their customer’s shopping bags and/or keep on the front counter to advertise the event. Make sure they know you’re promoting the event as well. Post information on your website, social media, etc.

Advertise: Look into taking out an ad to promote the event in your local newspaper, and post the details on online event and community sites. If you have community bulletin boards, look into posting flyers. Ask local businesses if they would be willing to carry flyers for the launch as well (you might want to offer them a free copy of the book as a thank you). Other possible places to put up posters/ads:
* your local library
* schools (for children’s books) or universities (for adult books)
* grocery stores

Giveaways: Make the event memorable by handing out little gifts and giveaways to your guests. Ideally have these connected to your book (they can help promote it, too!): customized pens and bookmarks can make great giveaways.

2-4 Weeks Ahead: Helping Hands and Event Details

Chances are, you’ll need some help coordinating this event. Now is the time to get in touch with your friends, family, and biggest fans.

Find an Assistant: Try to find someone to help you transport materials (you don’t want to have to lug all those books yourself!). They could also help replenish books the day of, refill the refreshments table, usher in guests, keep the signing line moving, etc.
Coordinate a Guest Reader: Do you have someone who especially enjoyed your book, or was heavily involved in the book creation process? You might want to have them introduce you, and share a few details about what they love about your book.

Plan your menu: If the venue allows refreshments, start thinking about what you’d like to include. Book launch refreshments can range from a simple basket of candy on the signing table, to appetizers and finger food. You might want to consider theme treats: a cake decorated to look like your book, dishes based on your book theme or named after characters, can be delightful details to bring your event to life.

Practice your speech and reading: Prepare a little speech welcoming your guests, acknowledging anyone who helped with the book and the event and giving a big thank you to your book venue hosts as well. Then, read a favourite excerpt of your book. Try to keep this speech in the 5-10 minute range. Keep the audience engaged by following up with a Q&A segment: ask them questions (who here is also a writer; who is a reader; who is from out of town; has anyone read the book already?) and invite them to ask you questions, too.

Print and send your invitations: Invite friends, family, fellow writers, church members, media, community figures…the more the merrier! Your fliers and posters should be drawing in new faces but there are probably familiar faces you`d love to see celebrate your big day with you. Include the book cover on the invitation, and note a website address where people can learn more about the book (and a link to your trailer if you have one).

1 Week Ahead

The Dry-Run: Go through the entire itinerary and make sure everything`s in order. Check in with anyone who said they’d help out the day of, and make sure they’re still on board to be there. Call the venue and make sure everything is ready to go on their end.

Printed Materials: Print any materials you’ll need the day of—have an opt-in list for anyone who’d like newsletter updates on the book; make sure to have your website, social media, blog, etc. clearly advertised at the event. If you have more elaborate refreshments, cute little menu cards describing the treats may be in order as well.

The Day Of

Arrive at your venue early with:
* plenty of books—more than you think you’ll need (you don’t want to run out!).
* refreshments
* giveaways
* printed materials
* your helping hands (or know when they’ll be arriving)
* a camera—be prepared to take lots of memorable photos of your event. Check with guests to make sure it’s okay if you post them on social media.
* a pen for signing all those books for your guests
* your prepared speech

Bring a card for your venue owners thanking them for hosting, and gift them a copy of your book. If they’ve agreed to carry copies of the book in their store, make sure you’ve arranged how many copies they’ll need; if you haven’t signed a consignment agreement yet, you’ll want to do it today.

Most importantly: have fun! This is a special occasion celebrating an exciting milestone in your life—publishing a book is a big deal, and you`ve worked hard for this. We hope this book launch guide will help make your day enjoyable.

Have a book launch tip or story you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments section!

About this Contributor:

Amy Groening is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She holds an Honours degree in English Literature and is happy to be working in an industry where she can see other writers’ dreams come to life. She enjoys many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cat committing random acts of feline crime.

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