A great book launch requires planning.
There is no magic formula for any product launch but there are some simple steps which can remove some of the agony of launching without a template. Without a master plan for your book launch, you will be frantic and in a tailspin on the day of your launch. You will be in a better position with the benefit of a simplified, tested outline for a book launch.
A previously used plan will remove the need to redefine the wheel – what has worked for someone else could bring even greater rewards for you. You will have the advantage of someone else’s experience. You will reduce the possibility of oversight due to a lack of planning. A template for a launch will save you time as you meet stumbling blocks which you may not have anticipated without a plan.
Planning a book launch is not a daunting task. In this post, I will share twelve simple steps that will eliminate uncertainties about what is needed to host a launch. These twelve steps can be used for any type of launch, for any genre of book.
Using my own book launch as a template, I will show you how to create a sensational launch for your own book, regardless of the genre of your book. I have even included a slideshow of my book launch to help you generate your own ideas!
1 Research different types of launches
Congratulations! You are already checking off the list as you have started doing the research just by reading this.
The format for my launch was easy to determine. My book is based on my story and is classified as Christian and inspirational. For me this naturally dictated a formal, faith-based and structured setting.
Research helps even if you have a specific genre. It substantiates and supplements your ideas. It provides ideas for unique approaches. It guides you if you are not sure of what you want; you will be able to eliminate what you do not want. Research provides data for budget limitations and time consideration.
In doing research you will discover that launches may be formal, semi-formal or informal, depending on the genre of your book and your personality. What appeals to a traditionalist will be different to what appeals to an eclectic.
2. Select an appropriate venue
So you did the research. You know what you do not want. You are excited about getting to the specifics. Having decided on the type of launch that will do the magic for you, it is time to select the most appropriate venue for your sensational launch.
Any or all books may be launched at a bookstore, naturally. Most bookstores are willing to stand the cost of the launch. They will have maximum gains by attracting many guests. The bookstores will have the personnel and equipment for sales of your book. Also very little extra decorations will be needed in a bookstore to make it festive or inviting to readers.
On the flip side, the space may be limited in a bookstore, especially smaller ones. For me the biggest drawback to having my launch at a bookstore was the loss of control over the evening’s proceedings.
Alternate venues such as a school’s auditorium or hall, a library, a church or a community center may be considered. The major consideration will be your budget.
Beware of the temptation to host the book launch at your home or any residential venue. This screams unprofessional. It is also less accessible to the public.
Of course, apart from your budget, the nature of your book and the tone and setting in keeping with the theme of your book will also impact on the final decision for your venue.
In my case, I wanted a spacious venue, with a classic, uplifting ambience. I did not want to be associated with a particular denomination but as faith would have it, I got a church, the First Church of the Open Bible in San Fernando, South Trinidad. The original plan was to use another room, a hall, which was smaller. There was a mix-up in the scheduling and I was re-assigned to the larger Church area. Turned out most inspiring.
3. Determine your target audience
This audience will be the people who read your genre of book. Is it a children’s book or a mystery? Is it fiction or non-fiction? All these and other such questions help to determine your target audience. Of course your friends and family will also be included.
I focused on family, friends and supporters. In retrospect, I ought to have cast a wider net. At the launch, you get your first big sale. The larger the crowd, the greater will be the sales of your book.
On a side note, self-published authors will have greater profit if they launch independently rather than to partner with a bookstore, although the reach of the bookstore will be greater. This is overcome by more aggressive marketing after the launch. This brings in another dimension – having a marketing plan, pre- and post- launch.
4. Decorating Ideas.
Budgetary considerations, your book genre, your author profile and your target audience will determine your choice of decorations.
If you are a writer of a children’s book, then balloons, toys, stuffed animals and bright colours are possible options, in an informal setting. For a fictional piece about an athlete let’s say, consider using appropriate gear or even consider the venue as part of the decor: use a gymnasium or stadium for your launch if possible.
The key is to be creative within your budget.
5. The Programme Outline
A basic outline for a programme is given below:
Opening prayer (you may choose to leave this out. My preference is to start everything with prayer.)
National Anthem (more appropriate for formal programmes. Remember these are suggestions. Feel free to leave out what you wish. Research, remember!)
Welcome and Introduction of Chairperson (Optional)
Background of the Book ( by someone who worked closely with you)
Background of the Author ( by someone else not you!)
From Writing to Publishing ( by you, the author)
One or two readings from the book ( by someone else or by the author)
Vote of thanks.
At least one item of entertainment should be included in the programme. You will decided if you want more than one item. Entertainment could include a song, a dance, an instrumental or a poem. This could be spliced in after the author’s background and another could be added between the two readings. Readings should be long enough to generate interest but not long enough to give away too much and will be guided by the length of the book.
The programme could be modified to suit a less formal event. A less formal programme could involve readings by the author and be more of a celebration or party-like atmosphere.
For a formal launch, like mine was, I recommend setting up some tables. A less formal setting may need fewer tables but more servers to move between the guests.
- a table for the main attraction, your book
- a table for you to sit and sign the books as required.
- a nearby table for collecting payments for the books, including a swipe machine for credit or debit cards. I caution you, please allocate someone trusted to collect payments. Do not try to do it for yourself. It is impractical and not too classy.
- A table or area allocated for refreshments.
- Media section or table.
This is optional but strongly recommended. It is a great aid for socialising. Make people happy, they will linger and this will translate into more sales. Work within your budget. The day is also one of celebration and what better way to celebrate than to eat and be merry?
Plates may be distributed or refreshments may be served. Again it depends on your budget or on how many volunteers you have. Great snacks are sandwiches! I had ribbon sandwiches and cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches. Pastries, savoury and sweet, are good too. Cakes are traditional but cookies, and danish are good alternatives.
Less formal events could use chips and dip, peanuts, mixed nuts and other finger foods.
I have heard of food being served on occasion.
Keep the drinks alcohol free.
8. Promotional Items
You want your book to sell so you need to promote it. Items with the book cover or book title and your name printed on it are great, relatively inexpensive ways to advertise. They also promote satisfaction for your purchasers. They get value for their money.
Promotional items include pens, bookmarks, business cards, t-shirts, cups, tote bags, note pads, key rings… The limiting factor will be your budget.
Balloons with your book cover could be promotional as well as decorative.
Giving a discount on the day of the launch is good if you can afford to do so. Or partnering with a local bookstore or any affiliated business or a friend with a business place is another idea. You could offer a door prize or a seat prize or both perhaps! Again be creative.
Organise the printing of your invitations so that you can send them out early enough – about one month before the event. Invite as many persons as you can afford and even more. Many persons will not turn up so invite more than you actually want.
Invite the media but send their invitations twice. Once to inform and a second time nearer to the date to remind them.
Before the event, during the pre-launch phase of your marketing plan, you will arrange to have media exposure. It may not be in sync with your personality but one has to do what one has to do.
10. Have a Photographer
Don’t leave this to chance. Arrange with a professional or a friend depending on your budget. This is an important day. It provides resources for your profile and for promotions.
11. Have a Great P.A. system.
I have attended too many functions with poor audio. It totally wrecks the function. Do not be too frugal in this area. Get a professional system. People need to hear your words.
12. Have a clean-up crew.
Do not leave the venue without cleaning up. Preferably have a different set of helpers to clean up because those who would have assisted otherwise may be tired.
A clean-up crew is vital. Without it you risk leaving a mess behind and messing up your classy reputation.
Remember that this is your day. You spent many hours, days, weeks, months, perhaps even years to get to this event. You need to socialize with your guests. Be friendly. Be happy, you have every right to be!
Show up at least two hours before the start of the programme to ensure everything is in place. Thank everyone and remember to remind them to buy your book. Let them know where they can buy it after the launch day and whether it is available online.
Finally your hard work is finally paying off. Relax, enjoy the moment. Be warm, welcoming and charming.
This template is simple to follow. Let me know what you think. Please leave a comment. There are more things that can be added. Perhaps you can share some of your ideas with me.