Book Launches

When I worked for a small literary publisher several years ago, I used to help organize book launches and readings for our writers in celebration of our new releases. In cases where the author was established and had a fairly large following, we could justify a solo event knowing we’d recoup our costs in book sales. For the newer authors, we would often celebrate with a group event. This was not only a cost-saving measure for us; it also helped relieve fledgling performance anxiety by allowing them to share the spotlight with someone else.

As a self-publisher, you are charged with organizing your own celebrations just as a traditional publisher does for its authors. If you’re confident you’ll be able to sell enough books to cover the full cost of an event, then you’re in an enviable position. If not, I recommend selling tickets to your reading and advertising it with as many display ads, community listings, bulletin boards, and websites as you possibly can in addition to inviting your friends and family members.

When you envision a book reading, do you see an early evening “wine and cheese” affair in a quaint little bistro? Can you imagine yourself relaxing with a drink in hand, going from table to table to greet each of your guests until it’s time to take centre stage and read from the first chapter of your book? This is one common option that comes to mind for many artists. Depending on whether or not you choose a cash bar to fund all the drinks, it may be a fairly costly option.

How about a breakfast launch? Many restaurants have private dining areas that are ideal for events like this. Buffets are a great way to satisfy all your guests’ tastes in an economical way. And once everyone is satisfied, relaxed, and enjoying their morning coffees after a fine meal; you can take your chair to the front of the room, sit down in front of your guests, and begin reading from your book. This type of setting is particularly suitable for authors of children’s books who may have underage guests attending the launch party.

Next to the venue, your only investment for a book launch is: your books (which, presumably, you already purchased beforehand); your time (time to sell tickets and organize the event, plus three or four hours for the event itself); your presentation (anything from a simple table cloth to display stands to a cash box); and your cash float (so you have change available for paying customers). There is a fair amount of work involved in organizing an event like this, so you may want to enlist the help of volunteers to sell tickets and books on your behalf.

Can anyone think of another great setting for a book launch? Share it with others by commenting on this blog entry.

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