Lots of authors ask us whether they should have, or whether they need, an actual book launch as well as launching the book online or through social media.
For most authors, and most books, the answer is yes – it’s a great way to celebrate your hard work in getting your book written and published, to thank those who helped you along the way, and to invite people who could buy, promote and sell your book.
For entrepreneurs who have written a self-help or business book to attract income, interest and influence to their brand and business, a book launch is a great opportunity to contact other key people of influence and media people in your market, prospects, clients and potential partners.
Bear in mind that even though a book launch doesn’t have to be a complex or expensive event, the better planned it is, the more effective and enjoyable it will be.
Normally a book launch is a free event, but those who attend will expect to be able to buy a copy of the book – preferably sell them at a discount from the retail price on this occasion. If you’re feeling very generous, or think this is the best way to promote your book, you can give away signed copies (include your card or other marketing brochure in each one to make it even more worthwhile).
Choose an attractive and appropriate venue – it could be anything from a pub to a bookshop; hotel to a museum – that is easy for people to get to, and provide drinks and nibbles. I’ve been to book launches where musicians are playing and there’s a full buffet on offer, as well as those where you buy your own drink after an initial freebie, so take your pick as to what you want to offer and what your budget can run to.
An after-work, evening event starting at 6pm or 7pm and runs for a couple of hours works well. You then have the option of taking friends, family or useful attendees out to dinner afterwards (or they might take you!).
Give people half an hour to an hour to arrive and socialise. Stand near the entrance and greet everyone personally as they are offered a drink by your waiting staff (who may be family or friends). You might want to outline the timing for the event on the invitation, so people do arrive in time for…
The speeches. Ask one or two people with some influence in the area of your book (it could be your publisher, a KPI in your business area, a more experienced author) to say something introductory, congratulatory and above all brief, about you and your book. If you have more than one speaker, make sure they are briefed to cover different topics – and to speak for no more than five minutes each.
Your own speech should be the last one: in essence it should be a pitch for your book (and your business or brand), your reasons for writing, who should read it and your aspirations for it – with loads of thanks thrown in (again, five minutes max). Have a photographer, professional or amateur, taking photos throughout the event (people love to see pix of themselves on social media), but especially of the speeches. And make sure another supporter is videoing all the speeches. Upload the videos, especially yours about the book, to YouTube and link to it from your Author Page on Amazon, as well as your website and other social media. End your talk (leaving a pause after the applause, so this can be edited out – or get someone else to say this) by saying you will now be signing books and they are on sale at a great discount this evening.
You should have prepared in advance a table and a system – with at least two helpers – where people can queue to buy copies of the book (the helpers need to be in charge of this, and should have a float for giving change); then they move along the table to get their purchased books signed by you. Make sure you ask who each person would like the book dedicated to (some will be buying as a gift); have a standard format “To Xxxxxx, best wishes, Author Name” – to keep it simple, and plenty of good pens! Make sure, too, that you’ve ordered in a good supply of books in good time.
This may take you through to the end of the event – after which you can relax and bask in the glow of your celebration. Don’t forget to follow up any leads and introductions the next day; book launches are always a great networking opportunity, including for the author.