Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Guest Blogger ~ Anita HIgman

Anita Higman is the award-winning author of 24 books, including her latest, Love Finds You in Humble Texas. (Summerside Press). To view the book trailer visit her website.

Several months ago I held a book launch party to celebrate the release of my latest novel, Love Finds You in Humble Texas. This was the first time I’d ever hosted one of these events, so I was a little nervous about the cost, the workload, and about getting it right. After much planning and a lot of help, I was greatly relieved when the party turned out to be a success. Here’s how I did it.

My dream of a book launch party

For many years I have participated in book signings at conferences, bookstores, and speaking engagements, but I decided my latest novel needed something special. This time I wanted to have a party, not a sales event. But big parties can be time-consuming and expensive to host, especially if you rent a space. Having sponsors to help with the work and expense seemed ideal.

In my novel, Love Finds You in Humble Texas, one of my main characters is a financial advisor and another character is an image coach. Since I had friends in those professions—Pat Durham and Brenda Jackson—I asked them if they would like to help sponsor my book launch party. Amazingly, both of my friends said yes! I would get assistance with the party, and in return, they would have a venue for entertaining their current clients as well as a way to attract new customers.

The overall plan

The three of us had a planning meeting at a local café to work out all the details. We each agreed to pay for a third of the cost of the event and each of us would take on a portion of the workload. One of my jobs was to prepare the invitations; and then later we would send the invitations to our own individual mailing lists. The party was now more affordable, but it was bigger since there were three mailing lists feeding into the event. I saw this as a benefit, not a drawback.

I purchased some simple but elegant invitations at a local party supply store and printed them at home. We invited around 450 people, knowing many of them would not be able to attend. We had about 60 to 70 guests, which was a good number for the size of our space.

In the end the total cost for the party was around $1000, but once again, that cost was divided three ways. One sponsor donated the use of her office suite for the evening, and that helped to keep the overall costs down. It also was a great place for the event, since her suite looked much more like a model home than an office.

Details can make or break an event

1. Adding an RSVP to the invitation turned out to be very helpful, since we really had
no idea what the response would be. We then had a ballpark figure to gauge the purchase of food, beverages, and gifts.

2. I wanted to give each guest a small gift, but I wanted it to be something that would remind them of the book after the party. So, instead of handing out a fresh rose I gave each female guest a tiny frame that featured a picture of the book cover. (I bought these tiny frames at the dollar store and then wrapped them each in tulle and flowers and ribbons.)

3. Another way we created a festive atmosphere was to have door prizes. The main gift was a pretty basket, which featured my books as well as a teapot. Also, when people signed up for the drawing we were able to gather their names and email addresses, which we could use later as a more refined customer list, or in my case, women who might be interested in signing up for a newsletter.

4. My daughter, who is a talented guitarist, was hired for the evening to play soft acoustic music. This added a nice ambiance to the evening, which the guests really enjoyed.

5. We set out an array of gourmet sandwiches, a fruit platter, a selection of cheeses, desserts, punch, wine, champagne, and chocolate truffles. All of the food and drink was a big hit.

6. One of the office supply houses created a huge color blow-up of my book, which they glued to a foam board. This giant hardback poster made a lovely centerpiece around the books. To coordinate with the yellow and blue colors of the cover, we set out yellow candles in hurricane lamps as well as chiffon table runners, bouquets of fresh yellow roses, and blue and yellow silk petals, which were strewn across the tables like fallen leaves. All of this enhanced the presentation of the book.

7. I wanted to make my novel easy to purchase, so I lowered the publisher’s price from $12.99 to $10. Also, I asked a friend from church to take care of the book sales. Looking back, it would have been hard for me to autograph books, visit with people, and also make change, so that extra help with sales was necessary and greatly appreciated.

What were the benefits of my launch party?

1. Invitations were sent to hundreds of people, and even though many were not able to attend, those same people did see my book announcement as well as the cover.

2. The Chamber of Commerce was there from two difference cities, so I counted that as good publicity.

3. The local media was invited to the party. They did not attend, but there was some buzz generated in two of the local papers.

4. I sold over thirty books, and I believe I gained some new readers.

5. People had a great time, and they were so generous. I was given flowers, a book, and a large framed portrait, which was created by a local artist. I was flabbergasted at the generosity of the guests who attended!

6. And then there were the not so tangible benefits of the book launch party. I don’t think you can put a price on sharing the celebration of one’s artistic endeavors with people who are excited about what you’re doing and want to cheer you on. It was a wonderfully memorable evening for me.

7. I was able to write about my book launch party on the publisher’s blog. In case you want to see some photos of my party, I’m the 7th blog down from the top.

Would I do it all over again?

Even with the generous sponsorship and all the help, the book launch party was still a lot of work. It turned out so well, though, and everyone had so much fun, I’m seriously considering another party for the next book.

It’s a wrap

If you do choose to have an event like this one, just remember to start the planning early, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and then relax and enjoy the ride. People have parties for every kind of life event imaginable, so it’s only natural that authors would want to include a book launch party in that list. Also, don’t forget that this kind of event can be scaled back to a less expensive and more intimate soirée.

I’d love to hear about your unique celebrations! You may email me.

Love Finds You in Humble Texas

Trudie Abernathy is a little inelegant, and she’s never had much luck in love. To makes matters worse, her thirtieth birthday is fast approaching and her sister, Lane, has decided to “treat” her to a makeover and a blind date. Trudie is about to protest, but then she meets the kind and devastatingly handsome Mason Wimberley. In spite of Trudie’s humble manner, Mason finds her attractive, funny, and smart. But there’s one obstacle in the way of the budding romance: Lane suddenly decides that she’s in love with Mason! Trudie has never been one to compete with her glamorous sister, even when it means giving up the things she wants. Will she be able to stay true to her humble self and find her heart’s desire in the process?


lynnrush said...

Wow, this was great. These were helpful hints about a book launch party...Now, I'm unpubbed as of yet, but I'll tuck this one away.

I'm glad it was a success for you!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn!

So glad you stopped by and glad my words were helpful. When you get published please let me know how your launch party goes.I'd love to hear about it!

Blessings on your writing!
Anita Higman

Jenny B. Jones said...

Great, detailed information, Anita. Love it! So glad your party was a success.

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

Great info, Anita. Thank you so much!

BTW...I read Love Finds You in Humble, Texas, and loved it!

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds wonderful. Still dreaming, but what a dream.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny B. Jones!

You're one of my favorite people. Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment.
It's funny about parties like this. When you're neck deep in all the work, you think, "Never again!" But if the party goes well, it's easy for that to turn into, "Can't wait to do this again!" :)

Anita Higman

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa Ludwig!

I'm pleased you enjoyed my book launch info.

And you loved my book! Yea! Thanks for dropping by to make me happy!

Anita Higman

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheila!

Dreaming is how it all began, so that's a good place to start.

Thanks for leaving a comment.

God's blessings on you and your writing!
Anita Higman