Monday, January 20, 2014

What I've Learned about Successful Book Launch Events


By Pamela S. Meyers


Having had two book-launch events, I’m often asked what I did to make them a success. My first event was for my debut novel, Thyme for Love, and the second was for my historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, which is set in my hometown. 

Here is a summary of what worked for me.

Signing my first book at my debut novel's launch


Location of Event

A book launch event doesn’t have to be held in a bookstore or library. It's fun to tie in the launch venue with the storyline. For example, my historical romance launch event was held in Lake Geneva's historical museum.

If you can’t tie the venue in with the story, choose a place that is centrally located and comfortable. My first event was held at my local Panera Bread in their community room. I even had several of the restaurant’s customers come in and buy a book.

Publicizing the Event

Make use of the mailing services that are available on line such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. Many services like this are free as long as your mailing list stays below a certain number of recipients.

Notify local newspapers of your new release and ask to be interviewed. This probably works better if you are located in a small town. The Lake Geneva weekly gave me a half-page article above the fold, which helped get the word out about the book and the event. Other local media picked up on the story and spread the word. I currently live in a Chicago suburb and I didn't have near the PR from my suburb's local paper for the first book launch.

Leave flyers at local bookstores and libraries in the area. My church library allowed me to post information about my first event which helped get the word out to church members I don’t see every week.


Event Activities

Gift basket offered at my first event.
Gift Basket.  Load a decorative basket or tote bag with books and other goodies related to reading, such as a clip-on reading light, coffee mug, chocolates, and your book. When guests enter the event, have a greeter at the door to inform them of the time of the drawing and give them a ticket. You can buy a large wheel of raffle tickets that come paired together. One ticket goes in the “hat” and the other with the same number is given to the guest. Schedule the drawing halfway through the event. People will wait to see if they win. If they don’t win, then they will hopefully decide to buy your book before they leave.

Decorations. Always check with the owner of the venue to see what types of decorations you are allowed. Mylar balloons from a party store help to make the room festive and items related to your book’s setting or the characters’ occupations are other good things to set about the room.  At your book table, be sure to have plenty of bookmarks featuring the book. I also had color coordinated paper goods, i.e. table cloth, napkins, etc.

Refreshments.  If you schedule the event during the afternoon or after the dinner hour, refreshments can be minimal. A tray of cookies and a jug of fruit juice are almost always sufficient. You can find cookies at stores like Sam’s or Costco that are reasonable in price and quite tasty.

Media.  If you have a book trailer featuring your book, have a loop of the video set up on a large-screen monitor. If you are able, another computer screen could be set up to feature your webpage, blog, etc. for people to look at.

Giving my PowerPoint presentation at the second launch.
Your Role.  People love to hear an author read from their work. I usually do two readings: the opening scene and one that involves one of the other characters.

Before I do the reading, I share a little about my writing journey. People enjoy hearing how you came to write the story, the research, how much time it took to write the book, etc. Tap into your creativity and make the presentation entertaining and fast paced. For the historical romance, I incorporated a PowerPoint slideshow into my remarks, explaining things I learned about the town while doing my research. Anytime you can bring in visuals it keeps the audience’s attention.

At the signing table for my launch at the museum.
Have a table large enough for a display of your books and for you to sign.  Since you are going to be busy signing books and visiting with your guests, it’s imperative that someone assist with cashiering and keeping track sales.

In addition to asking someone to cashier, I also had other friends act as greeters at the entrance and take pictures. As a thank you, you may want to give them a copy of the book or maybe treat them all to a meal after it’s over.



I’d love to hear of unique activities or venues that have worked for you at your book launches.

 
A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago, an hour's drive away from her hometown which she visits often to dig into its historical legacy. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way,  contemporary romantic mysteries and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva,Wisconsin, released in April, 2013. She can often be found speaking at events around Lake Geneva or nosing in microfilms and historical records about Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.

5 comments:

Heather Day Gilbert said...

THANK YOU for this great post, Pamela! I'm coming up on my first signing this weekend, and I hadn't thought of most of this! Thanks for sharing tips!

Pamela S. Meyers said...

That's awesome, Heather. I'm glad the article posted in time to help you out!

Regina Smeltzer said...

Thanks Pam. I had not thought of the number of people you need to help out. And I liked your idea of reading at your launch. I also appreciated some of the questions that people ask about the writing process. Thanks so much!

Pamela S. Meyers said...

Regina, I'm glad the article has helped you. Let me know how it turns out for you!

Brenda Anderson said...

All great ideas, and very timely as I've just begun planning my first launch. Thank you!