77. Lessons from a Successful Book Launch Party

Just like how every child deserves a great welcome into the world so does every great book.

In this episode, I bring you 10 lessons I gathered from attending a successful book launch party.

Before you think this episode doesn’t apply to you, I urge you to not underestimate the value of this event.

While it can and should be lots of fun, it can also play a key role in your book marketing. Listen in closely to find out how.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.

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Episode Transcript

Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.

I hope your week and your writing are going well.           

A few weeks ago, I attended a client’s book launch party, and I was really impressed by the things she did well.

This client, who I’ll call Sandra, poured so much of herself into writing this book. She really showed up on the page for her readers. She was transparent when it mattered most. She took responsibility when it would’ve been easy to play the victim in her story. All in all, she really focused on writing a phenomenal book and providing deep transformative value for her readers.

Honestly, I don’t like to leave my house on a Friday evening. But it was important to me to show up for Sandra in the same way she showed up for coaching and for her book.

As you can imagine, I’ve been to a lot of book launch parties, and it’s hard for me to turn off coaching mode, so I just fully embrace it. I spent most of my time paying attention to the kinds of details I want to share with my clients as they plan their book launches.

Your book launch may seem so far away in the future right now, but the day will come, and here are a few lessons from Sandra’s book launch that can help you have a successful launch party of your own.

And yes, some of these lessons apply to an online book launch as well as an in-person launch party.

Lesson #1. Choose the right venue.

Sandra threw her book launch party in a small theater. The space had a small lobby with plenty of comfortable seating. And the theater itself made it easy for people to social distance and still clearly see and hear everything.

I’ve been to book launch parties in homes, in bookstores, at a NARS cosmetic store, and in other places. Any place can work if it’s comfortable, allows people to mingle and be engaged in the activities of the party. Just make sure there’s room for people to sit down at some point. When folks have to stand all night, they tend to want to leave earlier.

Lesson #2. Feed the people.

Listen. Like it or not, food is important. It can set the tone for your event. It can provide a pleasant distraction if the formal events are late getting started for any reason.

Sandra had a spread of finger foods, some healthy options and some more indulgent, and drinks on offer. I didn’t eat anything but lots of people did, and I appreciated having the option. Trust me. People are always happier when there’s food to eat.

Lesson #3. Hire a host.

From the moment I stepped into the theater, Sandra’s event host made sure I, and all the other guests, knew what the itinerary was, had the opportunity to buy books, and found a comfortable place to sit. When a group of women said they had to leave early and wouldn’t be able to stay for the book signing at the end of the event, she took their books backstage to Sandra and had her autograph them.

The host smoothed over any bumps so Sandra could just show up and shine as the amazing author she is.

Lesson #4. Make it easy to buy books.

In this case, my client used Eventbrite to “sell” tickets to the event. The tickets were free and basically served as an RSVP for the event. But through Eventbrite, she also offered an option to purchase a book with your ticket. Super easy and, of course, when you’ve got a book waiting for you, you’re much more likely to show up even when you don’t feel like getting in the car.

Sandra also had books on sale at the venue, and her host was prepared to take Zelle, CashApp, or cash for books.

Lesson #5. Start on time.

My client wisely created a reception area where her guests could mingle and eat before the official events started. This gave those of us who arrived on time—people like me, who don’t do tardy—something to do while the official events didn’t start for a half an hour or so, leaving time for the late arrivals to straggle in.

Lesson #6. Talk about the book.

I’ve been to book launch parties where the author just signs books and sends you on your way. That’s a mistake. You want the people who showed up for your party to be excited about the book. Read an excerpt, talk about what inspired you to write this book, and what you hope it’ll do in the world.

Sandra read an excerpt from her book, and then she sat down to be interviewed about the book. That really took the pressure off her. She didn’t have to stand onstage and entertain us for an hour. All she had to do was answer questions, which she did very well.

Lesson #7: Invite more people—and invite them personally.

My client had a decent turnout for her party, but I honestly expected to see twice as many people because I know she’s well-connected and well-loved across several communities. Where I think she went wrong on this one aspect of her book launch was in not inviting enough people and not inviting them personally.

It’s easy to use social media to share the information about your book launch party and to tag the people you want to invite. It’s also easy to use social media to create an event and invite people that way. Those options are great, and you can absolutely use them.

At the same time though, they’re not enough. Instead, I suggest you reach out directly to the people you really want to see there. Text them, not in a group text, but individually, and let them know how much you’d love to see them at your book launch party. Send invitations in the mail if it makes sense for your guests. Call people and tell them how much you’re looking forward to seeing them there. Send an email reminder.

Right now, some people who want to support you and RSVP “yes” might not show up because of COVID-19 concerns. People change their minds at the last minute for all kinds of reasons. Invite more people and reach out to them personally to get them in the room.

Lesson #8. Get video and still shots of you.

If you can’t hire a photographer and videographer, that’s okay. You can still get a couple of friends to volunteer to get these shots for you. You’re going to want them for your website and social media and other marketing materials. And honestly, you’ll just want them for yourself. Your book launch is a big deal, and it’s the kind of event that passes by so quickly for you that videos and pictures can really make a difference when you want to go back and remember how it really went.

Lesson #9. Get video testimonials and still shots of guests.

Sandra did this really well. She had a videographer who took quick testimonials from guests. Even if they hadn’t read the book yet, they talked about how much they loved Sandra and how much they were looking forward to reading the book. Her photographer also took photos of Sandra with each person who got their books signed. You’ll want all of these.

And lesson #10. Remember your book launch party is part of your book-marketing plan.

Yes, it’s a celebratory event. It should be fun. It should be entertaining. You should feel like a star for the night. But don’t forget this is part of marketing your book.

That might mean slipping a note in each book, asking each person to review the book on Amazon. It might mean offering bundles and packages so your guests can buy multiple books or buy books bundled with some of your other projects. It definitely should mean guests are, first, added to your email list and, second, can easily connect with you on social media.

When you have a room full of people who showed up to support you, don’t miss the opportunity to make it a part of your overall book-marketing plan.

Even if you have an online book launch party, there’s a lot of value in also hosting an in-person book launch party when it’s safe to do so.

You have to decide, of course, whether you’re willing to do in-person events at this point in the pandemic and you have to know how many people in your community are willing to show up for events. That’s a consideration for all of us these days.

Even if you’re in the early stages of writing your book, you can start to dream about and plan the book launch party you’d love to have.

Keep track of your ideas, and look forward to your big night.

That’s all for this episode, my friends.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.

Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Author Coach, Candice L Davis. And I’ll see you next time.

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