Hosting a Book LaunchLike I have said before, I'm no expert, these are simply my experiences, and if you, like me, are venturing into the wonderful world of self-publishing, maybe some of my experiences can be of help to you. I certainly hope so! My book launch is scheduled for Sunday, 22 November 2015 so watch this space to see how it turns out, better still, come along and see for yourself!
As self-publishers, we are also self-marketers, so it's important that we put in just as much effort towards this endeavour as towards our physical books. Here are some things to think regarding book launches.
Set a Date and Select/Book a VenueI set the date and venue for my book launch before I even started working on the illustrations for my picture book, Rabbit's Big Idea. This was because I felt that if I had set a date and actually booked a venue then I absolutely HAD to carry through with my plan to produce a book. Otherwise, my resolve could have easily dissolved and turned into a project that never quite got off the ground. I also chose a date that gave me plenty of time to produce my book, with room to spare. I wasn't sure how long it would take, so I gave myself a good buffer. I was doing everything from scratch, so my learning curve was quite steep. I probably won't have to book a launch so far out next time. I picked Sunday, 22 November because it was nice and close to Christmas (picture books make great gifts, don't they?) and also, choosing a Sunday means that most people should be free to attend.
I had some choices to make when selecting an appropriate venue. The most important factor for me was the location. I wanted the facility to be in my local area and to be close to shops so that people walking by could drop in. The public having access to ATM machines in case they did not have cash was also important to me (as I would be selling books for cash only.) Other important factors were the size of venue - not too big, not too small. I decided to go with my local library because I have an on going relationship with them, and my main contact there was more than happy to lend me a room for free. The library also has the added benefit of being situated inside a mall, with a glass wall visible to the public. I'm sure I will get plenty of walk ins! The library also has its own Facebook page so they can promote the event for me on there as well.
You can just as easily do a launch at your local bookstore or even at your house. It all depends on what you would like to get out of your launch, your audience, and your budget. Remember, you don't want to spend more on your launch than you will make in sales! Like most things, keep it simple.
Promoting Your Book LaunchI set a very small budget to have 50 good quality invitations made. I keep a stash in my bag so that I can hand them out as the opportunity presents itself. Having access to Facebook means that invitations can be sent this way, but having an actual, printed invitation makes a bigger impact and greatly increases your chance of people actually showing up, I believe. Below is a photograph of my invitation.
To make my launch more enticing I have promised people a door prize and cake! What could be better? My door prize, or should I say, buy a book prize, will be a basket with a soft toy version of my main character, a library book bag with a print from my book on the outside of it, and copy of my book. I made the soft toy myself, and I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the result.
Contact your local newspaper and radio station and let them know about your book launch - they may run a piece on it. Free advertising! I called my local newspaper and they will be doing a piece on my launch. I just rang up the Editor and let them know what I was up to. It was nerve wracking, but sometimes we have to do things out of our comfort zones and do some shameless self-promotion. If you don't, no-one else will!
Contact other bloggers about your launch and send them copies of your book to review. I have yet to tap into this resource. I'm actually not sure who or what is out there, but I've heard it's a valuable tool so I will definitely be looking into it. Having your book reviewed is scary, but very worthwhile.
Benefits of Hosting a Book Launch
- Hosting a book launch builds excitement about your book and allows you to sell a big chunk of books at one time.
- It helps to build your brand and let people know who you are.
- Hosting a book launch opens up other avenues of marketing and distribution. For instance, when I contacted my local bookshop about stocking my book, the first question they asked was, "Are you doing any marketing of your book?" When I told them I was hosting a book launch at the local library they were very excited and more than happy to stock my book. Maybe they might not have been so enthusiastic if I was doing nothing.
- Friends, family and the general public get to celebrate what an amazing thing you have done by producing a book! It's a big, and sometimes lonely venture, so having a time to say, 'Good on you,' is very worthwhile. You've done well, my son.
- It gives you an opportunity to say 'thank you' to anyone that has helped you with your project.
- It gives you an opportunity to do further networking and book yourself to do author talks at schools, pre-schools and other appropriate locations.
- It gives you an opportunity to blog about it on your blog! Ha ha...