Over two hundred readers crowd the room, some already lined up for an autograph. Phones flash, click, snap or whatever camera apps do. Books quickly disappear from a pile on the table, and your hand cramps up from signing. Obviously you’re Lawrence Hill.
But if you’re not Larry, then if you’re lucky (and I am) most everyone from your writers’ group shows up, some people from your gym class, a neighbour or two, a couple of bookshop devotees. You get 50 happy people, many of whom already own the book and/or have read several drafts. You sell 20 books. Congratulations, you’ve hosted the near perfect launch.
Since I have been so lucky several times, I have over 35 books published, I want to share with you the secrets of my success.
- Find a good place to celebrate. My goto is A Different Drummer Books. Ian Elliot’s store is cosy and he creates beautiful displays. In this store setting my attendees can buy other people’s books too (each others’.) Set your phone calendar alarms, November 5, I will launch The Artsy Mistake Mystery at the Art Gallery of Burlington.
- Ask your publisher for a budget. Shock of shock, they may have funds set aside for this.We didn’t serve this at the launch. But for a few moments there were Hollywood cupcakes.
- Plan for the best refreshments you can afford. Link or theme them to your novel, if you can. Make sure they’re a treat for you (in case you end up alone.)
- Let whomever’s left of the press in your area know. Email the editors everything you would like the public to read about the book and the event. I sent a long note to my community paper and they published it verbatim.
- Invite everyone with whom you associate, the mechanic, your hairdresser, preferably by a printed card. Usually not possible so resort to E-invite, Facebook event and individual emails. Individual is key. Each person should feel as though they are wanted. And they are! Your friends from Weight Watchers, your aqua fit crowd. They may not come but they may buy books at another time.
- Plan to talk for a few minutes about the story. Bring a prop associated with it, a cap, a box of secret letters. Think about the questions people usually ask and answer those–where did the idea come from,( not how much money you aren’t making these days, please, please buy the book) Read a short excerpt. Do it with energy and a smile–unless the dog dies in that scene.
- Have your friends take lots of photos and post them all over social media. My writer friends are naturals at this.
- Enjoy yourself. No matter what the sales numbers end up to be, or whether your book ends up on awards list–this is a huge achievement and this book launch is for you.