Event planning? You shudder at the thought of talking to people, organizing everything, and in a haze of repulsion you choose novelist, only to discover you have to have to organize your own book launch parties anyway. Foiled again!
Isn’t it funny how for such an introverted career path, a huge part of being a successful writer requires you getting out there and promoting your book? I mean come on, you chose novelist for a reason! You didn’t sign up for all this extra stuff! In fact, you don’t even have the faintest clue where to start— heck, don’t people go to college for this?
Planning a book launch is not as hard as it seems. I have been there and done it my friend, and I just happened to be the quietest, shyest kid in the class back in school. But I swallowed my anxiety, and I went out and conquered. And now, I’m going to give you three tips to help you plan an amazing launch party too— no qualification necessary!
Tip #1 | Don’t Invite Just Anybody To Your Book Launch
You’ve written your book, edited it, and you’re ready to publish. But before you go out inviting your entire Facebook friends list, take a moment to ask yourself this: Who is your target audience?
If you answered ‘readers’ or ‘young adults’, then stop compiling that list and listen up.
Your event will only be a success if you engage people who actually care about your book. Think about it— if (for example) you’ve written a book about the early stages of motherhood and you’re about to hand it off to every man, woman, and kid you’ve ever met at the local library… well, how many people do you think are actually going to want it? Certainly not the kids. Probably not the men. And maybe a handful of the women— if they’re even at that stage of their lives yet! Suddenly, you’ve paid for 50 books, and 30 of those books are going to sit on someone’s shelves forever, instead of making their way through a line of obsessed mothers who loved your book and can’t stop recommending it to their friends!
You see the difference here?
That’s why it’s so important to identify exactly who is going to enjoy your novel, and actively seek them out.
I’ve written a post on how to do this right here!
…it’s so important to identify exactly who is going to enjoy your novel. – Click to Tweet!
Tip #2 | Treat Your Book Launch Event As An Opportunity to Sell
You invite everyone, you gather them around, and you start off by introducing yourself and your book:
“Hi, I’m Y/N, and this is my book! You can buy it at these retailers!”
You wait for the praise, the questions, all while smiling eagerly, but…
You begin to sweat and look around nervously. This isn’t how you expected things to go. No-one is asking about your book. Do they care? Should you read an excerpt? Oh, if only I’d created a schedule!
That’s right— you need to create a schedule. Do NOT wing it. I repeat: Do. Not. Wing. It!
I mean, this might be a no-brainer, but I’m saying it to be safe: Plan your event in advance.
Just because you don’t have a qualification in event planning does not mean you can get away with ‘hosting a party’ and expecting all to be swell. This is a proper, business event— and yes, it’s going to be heaps of fun, but you still need to treat it as an opportunity to sell your book and connect with as many readers as you can. All successful sales have a marketing strategy behind them. This book launch is a marketing strategy too— utilize it!
There are a few things to keep in mind while planning your schedule, including:
- The date and time.
- The length of your launch party.
- Who is going to be there/who is helping you on the day (e.g. guest authors).
- What you’ll be doing.
Tip #3 | Plan Some Killer Activities For Your Book Launch
Finally, no party is complete without some fun activities, and your audience may be a bunch of bookworms, but I promise you they will still be keen to get down and have some fun! Your launch doesn’t necessarily have to be a Q&A session slash live reading (in fact, this is kind of a snooze fest, and I recommend you don’t do this). Instead, make it about your attendees! Engage them in your party by creating some fun quizzes, for example. You can even craft these quizzes to reveal snippets of info about your book and get them interested in it!
Let me tell you about one of the best author events I went to.
It wasn’t a launch party, but it was a press tour for the release of Marissa Meyer’s fourth book in The Lunar Chronicles series, called Winter— which if you haven’t heard is a series based on fairytale retellings.
Instead of doing a live reading, Marissa actually announced a novella following the fourth book (because it was no secret at that point that book four was based around Snow White), and she engaged her audience by teasing who the main character in the novella was going to be, by telling us the story of The Little Mermaid— who inspired this character.
I thought this was so imaginative and clever, and of course, we were all hooked trying to figure out who the character was! So, there are ways to spice up the typical author event activities and create buzzing interest in your book!
To create a stunningly successful book launch, make sure you follow these three tips: Plan your party list well, create a schedule, and plan awesome activities! Of course, you need to make sure you promote your event well too, which of course is easier if you know your target audience and who to engage… but what if I told you there was an even easier way to plan your book launch?
In fact, you can grab it right here: Our Book Launch Party Planner Worksheet— which is perfect for you if you’re planning an online book launch:
It’s a fifteen-page long worksheet which walks you through all of these tips, and helps you:
- Figure out your target audience.
- Write out your entire launch party schedule.
- It comes jam-packed with examples and suggestions for activities.
- PLUS it helps you create a promotion plan for the event— information which you can then use to sell your book afterwards.
Written by Pagan Malcolm
Pagan is an indie-published, YA fiction author & former marketing assistant intern at Pen Name Publishing, as well as the founder of Paperback Kingdom.