Come Join the Fun*

launchpartyLaunching a book doesn’t end when the book goes on sale. There’s also the matter of getting the word out, and that often means a launch party. It’s a fun way to get the word out about a new book, and it lets the author connect with the nearby community. Oh, and there’s the food, too.

I had a launch party yesterday for my new book, Past Tense, and it was a great experience. My sincere thanks to Mattucci Winery for providing the lovely setting. It’s just the right size: large enough to accommodate guests, but small and intimate enough so that you don’t mattuccifeel lost. And did I mention the delicious wine? The people are knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful, too.

In case you’ve ever wondered what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of a launch party, here are some things I had to keep in mind. Those of you who are less interested in what the writing life is like, my apologies. Please come back tomorrow for one of my regular (if there is such a thing!) posts. If you’re a writer, I’d love to know what your experiences have been like.

 

Planning

  • I had to order copies of the book ahead of time. Every publisher’s different of course, but I found that allowing about 4 weeks gave me the time I needed to be sure I’d have those books. And, surprise, surprise, I found that having some copies of one of my earlier novels was helpful too. A few people wanted them.

  • I found that it was worth it to put the word out about the launch party on social media. Flyers are useful, too. I left them in several of the places I haunt (I even left several at my hair stylist’s salon).

  • Swag is fun! For a very reasonable price, I had some classy-looking bookmarks made, and they made very nice giveaways. I needed a couple of weeks of lead time, so I was glad these were ordered ahead of time.

  • One thing that worked for me was to choose ahead of time two passages to read at the launch party, and mark them with adhesive notes. Going over them a few times meant I didn’t stumble (as much) over the words as I read them.

  • I confirmed things ahead of time, and I was glad I did. As it turned out, my launch cake order didn’t go through originally, so I had to put it in again. If I hadn’t checked into it, I wouldn’t have known until too late.

 

Food and Drink

  • No launch party is complete without good food and drinks, too. For me, that was a real advantage of having my party at a winery. But I was also glad we had some non-alcoholic beverages, too.

  • Finger food is your friend.

  • So is food that can stay at room temperature for a while.

  • So is food that isn’t greasy or otherwise messy.

 

The Setup launchpary1

  • I found it was really helpful to get to the winery an hour before the actual party, so we could put everything out. Again, that sounds blatantly obvious, but it did give us the time we needed.

  • It was also helpful to put out a sign indicating the price of the book, next to some copies of it. It takes away the awkwardness of people having to ask how much the book costs.

 

The Actual Event

  • I was ‘on duty’ for the entire time. Mix and mingle. Even when I wasn’t actually reading, people wanted to talk to me. I know, fellow introverts, but that’s the way that it is.

  • That made me doubly glad I wore comfortable clothes and shoes.

  • It really worked for me to let people know a few minutes before I was going to read, so they could gather and listen if they wanted, or excuse themselves if they didn’t.

  • One thing I found was that people wanted to know a little about how I got into writing, how I research, how I go about planning my stories, and so on. Fortunately, I’d thought about those things, so I could answer questions without having to stumble (too much).

 

And Now, the Awkward Part….

Yes, I mean getting people interested in buying the book. Not an easy thing. I found that a few things made it less awkward.

  • I have a Square that lets me take credit card payments. A quick swipe, a smile and a thank you, and it was all good.

  • Having smaller bills ready let me quickly and easily make change for people who had cash. Again, a quick payment, a smile and a thank you, and it was done.

  • Remember that sign I mentioned before? It meant I didn’t have to have that difficult moment of actually asking people to buy a book. They knew. And they could decide to purchase or not without any awkwardness.

 

See? And you thought the work’s done when the book goes on sale… 😉

Writers, what has your experience with book launches been like?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this song is a line from Becky Hobbs’ and Mark Sherrill’s All Night Long.

 

42 Comments

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42 responses to “Come Join the Fun*

  1. a good complex of details…

  2. Sounds like a good time was had by all – congratulations, well done! I’ve just finished reading it and it was a nice contrast and calming down sort of book after the emotion of You Will Not Have My Hate.

    • Thank you, Marina Sofia – on all counts! I’m so glad you thought it worth the read. And I know what you mean about wanting a more calming book after one that really rattles.

  3. Howard

    I would think it a good idea to have a few copies of each of your older books (not just one title) available. I think it likely that you will run into impulse buyers who will buy several or all of your titles.

    Musicians that I’ve seen in live venues do this sort of thing, with success.

    • Exactly, Howard. People who are interested in one’s work may very well be interested in more than one book if those books are available right there. It’s less likely if they have to go digging for them.

  4. First of all, congratulations on such a successful launch, and also on writing such a good book!
    Secondly, that was fascinating – I wouldn’t have thought of half those things. Perhaps you could be a specialized party planner as well as everything else you do!

    • Thanks, Moira – on all counts 🙂 . And I’m glad you found the post interesting. It’s amazing how many little details really do end up being important, or at least making a difference. But as far as my own career path goes? Erm – I have enough trouble getting my own events together…

  5. I love a launch party, Margot – my own and others’. To your excellent list, I’d add make sure you have a good pen for signing and a good friend who can keep an eye on things to make sure one or two people don’t monopolise you in the signing queue.

    And wine, always!

    • Yes, indeed, Angela! Nothing like it, is there? And you’re right about the pen. I was lucky that mine worked fine the whole time, but you never know… And it’s interesting about those one or two people. My husband was kind enough to keep an eye on everything, and I was glad he did. It left me free to meet more people, sign books, and so on. That’s one of those details you don’t necessarily think about until you’re in that situation. It’s awkward, so best to prevent it.

  6. Sounds like it was a great night Margot and all your preparation and planning paid off! Of course you already know my secrets Margot 🙂 I also have a brother-in-law who’s a jolly good sport and creates a wordsearch for each of my books. For the launch of the next book I’m thinking of creating of few games one being ‘Mushroom Roulette’, not with real mushrooms of course, I think that might get me arrested, although hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? 😀

    • Well, that would certainly get you attention, D.S.! 😉 – I really like the idea of a wordsearch – that’s clever and it sounds fun. And it keeps your major themes and plot points in people’s minds. That’s awfully nice of your brother-in-law. It’s an interesting way to get people involved and active.

      I do think you bring up the most important thing – or perhaps this is just me. Planning really does pay off. Things just go more smoothly that way. For me, it meant that I could focus on the people at the party and on the book, rather than running around distracted by everything. And I think people who come to launches have a better time, and are more interested in what they hear, if they’re not put off by that distraction.

  7. tracybham

    I love that cake, Margot. How do they do that? And it all looks so good and I know it was fun.

    • It was, Tracy – thanks. I can’t take credit for the cake (other than that I placed the order). I was really, really happy with the way they did it, though. And it did taste good. The rest of the food worked out, too, and the wine went well with it all. I felt quite lucky that the food and drink aspect went really smoothly.

  8. Congratulations Margot. It looks like a perfect party for book lovers. I wish I could have been there.

  9. Congratulations on what sounds like a successful and well-thought out launch party Margot – the winery as a setting sounds perfect 😉

  10. That looks like so much fun! Congratulations on your release, Margot!

  11. Congratulations on the release and your launch party, Margot. It sounds like it was a blast. You have some great tips here for those planning any type of party.

  12. Margot, congratulations on the release of PAST TENSE and the celebratory launch party. A winery sounds like a wonderful setting, and quite unusual too. Good luck!

  13. Congratulations on what looks like a wonderful event! I’m sure they loved hearing you read excerpts from your book: you have a wonderful speaking voice! Best of luck with the “awkward” part! At least now, Amazon is doing the heavy lifting, making suggestions and so on. ❤

    • That’s true, they are, Kathy. That does make things easier, too. And thanks for the kind words. It really did go fairly smoothly, ‘though I say it myself. The winery people couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, which made such a big difference.

  14. kathyd

    Another congratulations for a successful book launch. Wish I’d be there to enjoy the fun, readings, food and wine.
    And, that cake — amazing! A cake designed like the cover of “Past Tense.” Love that. What a creative cake maker.
    I can’t wait to read the book, need calm after last week (and the recent) storm over here.

    • Thanks, Kathy – on all counts. I really hope you’ll enjoy the book. As for the cake, I can take no credit for that; the bakery did an amazing job! And the event really did go smoothly. I wish you couldn’t been there, too.

  15. Congratulations on what sounds like a successful launch! The cake looks fab! They’ve done an amazing job to get the colours just right…

    • Thank you, FictionFan! ‘Though I say it myself, it really did go all right, I think. And I couldn’t agree more about the cake: the baker did an exceptional job with it. And it tasted as good as it looked.

  16. Excellent suggestions, and much congratulations on the launch of your book! I never had a launch for either of my books because I’m too shy… However, I have talked to book clubs about my books and I liked that because they buy the book ahead of time and I don’t have to worry about taking their money upfront. However, the Saturday after Thanksgiving I’m going to a book fair at a local library and sell my books there. I have the bookmarks done, and I’ll bring both my books, and I just got a square. I’ll also get plenty of cash and great idea on making a poster with the price of the books.
    I will admit, writing the book is much more fun. 🤓

    • Thanks for the kind words, Roughwriting, and I love the idea of talking to book clubs. I’d like very much to do that, myself, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to soon. I hope you have a successful trip to the library. 🙂 – I’ll bet your Square will be very useful. And about the poster? I just felt it’d be much easier than having to do the whole ‘Please buy my book’ thing. I hope it’ll be helpful to you. Best of luck!

  17. What a great insight, Margot! Loved the post and the cake looks great! 🙂 Congratulations again on the launch of your book! 🙂

  18. Oh, I’m so happy that it went well. Congratulations. I’m sure you were the hostess with the mostess. 😉 Great idea about the Square.

    I’ve never had a book launch party. Always wanted to, but something always seems to come up. I do, however, do signings/readings, and they’re so much fun (and nerve-wracking).

    • Thanks for the kind words, Sue 🙂 – It really did go smoothly, ‘though I say it myself. I agree with you about readings/signings. They are nerve-wracking, but they’re fun, too. And they are important ways to connect with readers.

  19. Great tips, Margot, and congratulations on a fun evening. All the best to you!

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