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How to Host a Successful Book Launch

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Writing a book and getting it published - whether traditionally or self-published - is no easy feat. It takes years of late nights, early mornings, and many cups, mugs and glasses of tea, coffee, and wine to see it through. Which makes it a journey worth celebrating once you cross the finish line. Unfortunately, many writers are unsure of how to put together an elegant launch that doesn't put them in the financial hole. To help writers get a good start on their next launch, I've put together a few tips that I hope will help you when the time is right.

While your book launch celebrates your accomplishment, it should also be seen as a way of announcing and marketing your book. As such, the attention you put into planning should equal the amount of effort you put into any other life celebration.

  • Have Reader Purchase Books Ahead of Time: The well-planned book launches I have attended, entailed more celebrating and book signings than selling to the audience. A few years ago, I attended the book signing of former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's memoir, This Child Will be Great. The event was a well-attended affair in Washington, D.C. Attendees were encouraged to purchase books prior to the event so that the focus could be placed on asking questions during the Q&A session. Books that were purchased before the event were pre-autographed, so there was more interaction than selling and buying.

  • The Venue Matters: I have attended book launches with big crowds, and I have attended ones with small crowds. Personally, I found the ones with smaller crowds to be more effective because of the intimacy they provided. When deciding on a venue (and the number of people who will attend), it is important to ask yourself how accessible you (the author) want to be at the launch. If you want to be approachable, book an intimate venue. A private home, a bookstore, a library, or a small, inexpensive event space. I once attended a book signing for Marita Golden, held at Busboys and Poets also in Washington, DC, and it was an intimate affair. I was able to get a few minutes to chat with the author - which was a big deal to me because Ms. Golden is one of my favorite authors.

  • Spread the Word Near & Far: I can imagine how it feels to show up to your own book launch to find out that only a handful of people bothered to attend. Get the word out early and as frequently as possible. Make your announcements exciting. People love a good party/event. If you make your announcements exciting, you will have a better outcome. And, if you are following point number one by encouraging the pre-purchasing of books, you will have a better idea of how many people to expect. Don't forget to utilize your local newspaper's announcement space.

  • Ask for Book Reviews Ahead of Time: People are influenced by the buzz created by the opinions of others. So, seek honest book reviews by sending out limited free copies to book reviewers, family, friends, and colleagues. It will help to build excitement around the book and keep you excited and encouraged leading up to launch day.

All in all, plan your book launch as meticulously as you would plan your wedding, birthday party, or any other major life-changing event. And, don't stop talking about it. What we give attention to, grows. After all, you have accomplished something worth celebrating. Be proud. And be sure to take great pictures you can share later - for more publicity! I hope this helps. If you have any nuggets of wisdom to add, please do so in the comments below.

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