There is some debate whether a launch party is worth all the work. And let me tell you, brother, is it a lot of work! But writing a book is a lot of work too, and whether you sell a ton of books at the party or not, doesn’t that deserve a celebration?
There is so much that I’ve done for my various launch parties I hope I can remember everything. (Scroll down for more pix) For a party in 2002 for my book Party Animals I
- contacted a local bookseller to find out if she could handle the sales after I got an arts center to donate a fabulous space for the party.
- Then I contacted the high school and got volunteer students, earning community service hours, and booked them.
- I called the local pet store to bring in a “petting zoo,” and got to work creating coloring pages, activity sheets and buying crayons on sale whenever I could!
- The day of the party I served Animal Crackers (what else?!) and juice boxes, and set up the “hopping station” for kids who needed to get their ya-yas out. Using masking tape, I marked out varying lengths, and wrote what kind of animal could leap from the starting point to the marker. Kids received a log sheet to mark down how many of their own hops it took to match various animals’ leaps, jumps, or hops (this was my favorite part of the day!)
- I had approached local merchants to donate goods for a drawing (a great way to grow your mailing list, the entry forms being email addresses) and because the book was about a surprise party, wrapped every single one of the $2,500.00 (not a typo) worth of donations in separate boxes, and, boy, did it look festive with all those gifts stacked up!
Thank goodness my editor, Michael Stearns and his then-assistant, Krista Marino came for the day, because I couldn’t have handled it all myself! All in all, I sold over 200 books.
For The Curse of Addy McMahon I had the party at Bank Street in New York City, and served food on trays I made, just like the character did. I served the same food Addy leaves out for the fairies, Oreos, Gummi Bears and cookie dough (I found cookie dough candy!). I bought a new sparkly dress for it, too!
For Little Chicken’s Big Day’s launch party on April 23, 2011, I decided to do it in the town where my author (and husband) Jerry grew up, and where we spend a lot of time in the summer. I approached RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT, and spoke to the fabulous Kaley DeGoursey, and we set a date, the day before Easter.
I talked to the fabulous Arnold Gorlick, owner of Madison Arts Cinema, to see if we could show our book trailer there for the weeks leading up to the party, and put a tag on the end, inviting everyone.
I called the Chamber of Commerce to find out if local merchants want to donate for a drawing at the party (YES! I raised over $650 in goods, gift certificates, and services. All these stores contributed: Anna Mia’s, bellaPerlina, Khaki and Black, OptiCare Eye Health Centers, Maggie’s of Madison, and the Savvy Tea Gourmet!
I created this card to both advertise the party, the merchants, and have a vehicle to collect the email addresses. (RJ’s will be tearing them off when customers hand them in to get their discount on the book, saving the other half for me to collect later).
I bought all kinds of great, non-messy, chicken-related crafts and chick-related snacks. (Nice that Little Chicken’s Big Day debuts right around Easter! We’ll have Peeps for days!)
I’ll go on Good Morning, CT, that morning and invite the entire state of Connecticut, and hopefully not everyone will have soccer practice at the exact moment of our party!
Meet author Ruth Spiro, fellow launch party planner!
Ruth asks, “What’s so hard about planning a book launch? It’s a party, after all.”
And Ruth answers, “The key is to think about your book launch as a party… with an agenda. I’d like to think my first book launch was a success, but I did learn a few things and will definitely make some changes for the next one.
“In planning your book launch, consider:
“Where will you host it?
If you don’t already have a relationship with a local bookseller, start working on that now! (Really. Finish reading this post, then put on your shoes, grab an umbrella if it’s raining, and go to the bookstore. I’m not kidding.) Indies are always my first choice.
“Or, get creative. Pull out the brainstorming and mind-mapping you did a few weeks ago. Is there another store or venue that would make sense for your book? Museums, zoos, or historical sites can be great options, too.
If you hold your launch at a “reporting store,” sales will be submitted to the entities that create the bestseller lists. The week of my launch, Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist appeared on the Chicagoland Indie Bestseller list, ahead of Tale of Despereaux and The Graveyard Book!
“Who will you invite?
I invited everyone in my address book and was surprised that my physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, and my daughter’s softball coach and his kids all showed up. Invite your town’s elected officials, local celebrities, even your former elementary school principal.
“Don’t expect that anyone other than your invited guests will show up. If you want a good turnout, it’s your responsibility to get those bodies through the door.
When you send out your invitation, be sure to include a return address AND sufficient postage. I found out the hard way that a 5 x 7 postcard requires extra postage. Actually, I almost didn’t find out at all, because I forgot to include my return address when I had them printed. Where those hundreds of postcards ended up, I’ll never know. I had to send the entire mailing a second time. Ouch.
“Who do you trust?
I love my husband dearly, but photography isn’t his strongest skill. I made the decision to hire a professional photographer and was thrilled with the results. I got some great shots to use in promo pieces and even a family photo I later used for our holiday cards.
“Goodies and Chotchkies
Create a “Stuffer” the store can insert in bags when customers make purchases. I made a mini-invitation with all the details, printed it four-to-a-page and sent a hundred or so to the store two weeks before my launch.
“Kids love giveaways—bookmarks, temporary tattoos, or another item related to your book will all add to the party atmosphere.
“Food is great, but keep it simple, stain-free and as crumbless as possible. If you’re in a bookstore, avoid beverages that can spill and damage merchandise. Bring a separate box of treats for the staff—they’ll love you for it.
“When the day of your launch party arrives, don’t forget to take it all in. Look around the room at all the people who are there to celebrate their cool friend who wrote and published a book—you!”