Your book is coming out soon and you want to mark its entry into the world. You don’t want it to just slide out unnoticed amongst the serried ranks of ‘New Releases’ in the bookshops. You want it properly launched. But your publisher isn’t keen to do a launch. Too much time and effort for too little return, they imply. Unless you’re a celebrity, or a highly publicized first-time author with a dedicated, free-spending, large family and friends network, book launches aren’t a big part of many publishers’ promotional strategy these days. But—surprise, surprise—we authors still love them! And so it’s become more and more common for authors to put together their own book launch.
But launches are not as easy as they might sound to someone who is new to the process—that time and effort cited by reluctant publishers as reasons not to have one are very real things. As a veteran of many launches—both those I’ve attended and those I organized for my own books as an author–I can vouch for that! I’ve also recently organized other people’s book launches as a small-press publisher–generally small publishers are warmer to the idea of book launches than big ones. So I’ve accumulated some knowledge of what can help to make your launch a hit and not a miss!
First of all, it’s about planning. Planning well ahead of time, months ahead of time. Ask yourself:
What kind of launch do I want? Big, small, straightforward, themed–that is, not just themed around your book, but with a certain look? You will not be surprised to learn that a big, themed launch is the most time-consuming and expensive to pull off. However, don’t let it stop you if that’s what you want. With our small press, we’ve run a couple of themed kids’ Christmas book launches with a cast of thousands. Well, not exactly thousands but you know what I mean. Readings, music, party gifts and prizes have worked really well, but have also been a large amount of work to get right, with many panicky pre-launch moments.
The smaller, more straightforward launch, where someone launches the book with a short speech, the author says a few words, then everyone toasts the book baby with the sparkling stuff before hopefully lining up to buy signed books whilst trying to graze on the last remaining nibbles, might not be as glamorous but they can still work really well, especially if this is your first book, you’re celebrating it locally amongst your family and friends, and everyone’s excited to see you in print. When you’ve had several books out, it’s better to space out your launches—don’t have one for each book, because people, even your nearest and dearest, get launch fatigue. And small, standard launches are much, much easier to get right, aren’t nearly as much work, and booksellers know exactly what to expect and don’t get jumpy about unusual activities happening too close to those neat shelves. [Read more…]