Tag Archives: launch party

The Horrible, No-good Launch Party, Part 2

scary popcornSo, today’s post was supposed to be about the terrors of planning the second launch party. Will people show up again? Will the hype of “I finally got a book out” turn into the flop of “been there, done that, who cares” from my friends and fans? But it turns out there are other concerns that take precedent, like where the %&+@# do I have my launch party and can I even make it happen?

I started out wondering if I should have the launch at the same place as last time, even though it’s on the very outskirts of the city in which I live or if I should choose a more central location. I’m giving out candy, maybe I should have the launch near a candy store in the mall. Or maybe I should find an independent bookstore and coerce them into letting me in with a table for a couple of hours. Between making that choice and getting managers to return my calls, I still don’t have a location. And then I start to wonder if I’m going to be able to make it happen at all.

These kinds of dilemmas relate to the fears that can really get to me as an author; do I even have the slightest clue what I’m doing? We post on social media, enjoy engaging with people at conventions, do some launches and book signings, win awards, but when it comes down to it, is any of this resulting in greater awareness and sales? And that’s the real fear that often gnaws at my insides. Am I destined to go down in the silent flames of obscurity? This is the question we have to put behind us so we can find courage and move on.

So what if I don’t have a launch party; my first book in the Mankind’s Redemption series just won the Howey award. So what if sales aren’t high; I’m  just getting started. So what if my fans are few; they’re giving my book five-star reviews. We look at the bright side so the scary parts don’t overwhelm us.  Making writing into a career can take a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a fair amount of time going unnoticed. But if we keep working, Kevin J. Anderson’s popcorn method of success is bound to happen. The more kernels in the pan, the more opportunity for something to POP. So good luck to all and enjoy the popcorn.

The Horrible, No-good, Launch Party part 1

IMG_0158I had the books in hand. They looked great. I even had a couple of reviews already. It was time for the launch party. Eager for success I started looking into bookstores, but nothing close to my budding community readership would allow new authors, especially self-published ones. After a ton of online research I decided to hold the launch at the local Paradise Bakery, close to my community and a place I’d often had get-togethers with fellow authors and artists. I screwed up my courage and asked the manager. That part went easier than I’d expected, and we set up a date, earlier than I’d originally intended. That’s when the gut-wrenching fear hit me.

What if I did a lousy job of advertising? What if I didn’t have enough of PB’s yummy little cookies for everyone? What if I had way too many? What if I spent too much money? What if I couldn’t get anyone to help me and I had to talk to people, do sales, and everything else all by myself? What if nobody came and it ended up a waste of time, money, and nerves?

Those are the kinds of questions that can keep a person up at night. When I found out we were talking about author fears this month, this was what came to mind. I was terrified for that launch party. It turned out that I did have too many cookies, but not so many that my family didn’t finish them off by the end of the next day. My community advertising didn’t do a whole lot, but my online fb invites, emails, and community word-of-mouth made up for it. People came, my family helped with sales, friends donated pens when mine came up missing, and I ended up with a non-stop crowd.

No matter what we fear, and even if it might completely flop, the only way to succeed is to face our fears. We may have to face them over and over again, we may stumble and fall a few times, but as long as we keep getting up and moving forward then we’re still taking steps toward success. Will my next launch go as well? I don’t know, but I’ll never know unless I go. More on that in part 2.


Planning a Book Launch Party

A guest post by Marie Bilodeau.

Your new book is about to be released – yay! Give yourself a pat on the back, drink your celebratory drink of choice, eat some chocolate and then start thinking about next steps: promotion. Part of that promotional package includes a book launch, and planning could make all the difference. Here are a few things to think about (I like lists):

What else is coming out or happening in your launch city? For example, Karen Dudley, who writes funny as all get out historical fantasy set in Greece is planning her next launch in Ottawa during the same week as a full retelling of The Iliad at the National Arts Centre. Weather can play havoc with a launch, too. Not much you can control on that end, but something to keep in mind for outdoor and/or winter launches.

What you want attendees to say: My, that was a lovely, perfectly timed book release at which I purchased ten copies in celebration of the perfect timing.
What you DON’T want attendees to say: I don’t know why they released their Book of Love during the Annual Ninjas Attack Day. Dude, is that a throwing star sticking out of your head?

A restaurant, bar or coffee shop can be great venues so people can get their own drinks and food (keep your budget in mind!). All the better if you can get a private room or area – reading in an active spot can be tough. Independent bookstores also make great venues. I usually go for a bar, but my books lend themselves well to that atmosphere. Don’t get a venue that’s much bigger than your lowest anticipated turnout, or it’ll feel empty.

What you want attendees to say: Wow, that author is really popular. That venue was full/bursting at the seams/Godzilla-destroyed worthy (avoid that last one when at all possible).
What you DON’T want attendees to say: I heard crickets and joined their song of despair.

If you do get a venue where you can buy/bring food, try to bring something appropriately themed. Mystery author Peggy Blair invited friends to bring a Cuban-inspired dish to go with her latest release of her Cuban-inspired mystery, The Poisoned Pawn. It definitely added flair to the event.

What you want attendees to say: That was a perfect seasoned drumstick to go with the release of When Good Chickens Attack.
What you DON’T want attendees to say: That cyanide wasn’t real, right? (Tempting for mystery authors, I know. This is why I put this example in.)

Promotional Items
At my first book launch, a friend made me these awesome coasters since it took place in a bar, and attendees loved them. Make sure to at least have bookmarks. Bookmarks are cheap and easy to share, and hopefully generate more book sales.

What you want attendees to say: Ninja stars are a wonderful accompaniment to my Book of Ninja Love.
What you DON’T want attendees to say (to their therapists): It was a book on the history of arachnophobia, and they handed us live tarantulas. TARANTULAS!! WHY!!!!

Spread the word!
Facebook Events are popular. Post the event in relevant, interested groups, as well (with permission from the moderator). Don’t forget to blog about it if you blog, and update your website (if you don’t have a website, read this post by Alice Black right now). Posters in the venue sometimes generate extra sales, and send out a well-crafted press release to local media.

What you want attendees to say: I believe I’ll attend this book launch.
What you DON’T want everyone else to say: Book launch?

You’ve found the perfect venue, timed your event, invited everyone. Now, turn toward the flow of the event. Usually there’s a reading. Get a microphone if you need one. Select a great portion of your story – you don’t have to read the first chapter. Pick a scene you love to read and that works as a hook. Practice reading before the launch. Remember to speak up, to pace yourself and to look up at your audience once in a while.

What you want attendees to say: I’m moved. I shall purchase every copy of this book, for I must share it with the world.
What you DON’T want attendees to say: WTF? Was that the end?

Get help
The worse thing that can happen at a book launch is not the lack of food or drink, it’s not the imperfect venue, nor the accidentally double-booked room. Rather, it’s a frazzled author. People can forgive things going wrong (to a certain extent). But if you’re a crappy host, they won’t forget that. Remember, these people are there to support you. So get the help you need with the details in order to ensure you can focus on what’s most important: your readers.

What you want attendees to say: The author was so charming I shall name my first child after him/her.
What you DON’T want attendees to say: I shall never again speak their name, no matter that my child is named the same. From now on, you shall be known as Child-of-Mine.

I kept the most important for last. Keep your expectations realistic. How many people do you think you can get out in your hometown? Think of the max, and then halve that number. Keep your expectations low and be surprised if numbers surpass them. Launches in other towns are tough. How well known are you? How well do your books sell there? Can a bookstore or a group of friends help with promotion? If you’re not sure, don’t overstretch. A good hometown launch will go a long way and save you monies, especially if your publisher can’t afford to send you around the country. Keep it real and adapt for the next book, since you’ll have many in your fine career.

What you want to say: I had fun. This was great. I’d do it again.
What you DON’T want attendees to say: I’m never writing another word ever again because nobody cares or eats my cheese balls.

Marie2Guest Writer Bio:
Marie Bilodeau’s space opera series, Destiny, was a two-time finalist in the Aurora Awards and won the Bronze Medal for Science-Fiction in the Foreword Book Awards. She is also the author of the Heirs of a Broken Land, a fantasy trilogy described as “fresh and exciting” by Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo award-winning author of WAKE. Her short stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies and have also been nominated twice for the Aurora Awards. Marie is also a professional storyteller, telling adaptations of fairy tales and myths, as well as original stories of her own creation. She’s a passionate advocate for paper airplane contests, peach desserts and caffeine consumption.