This is something we don't always get involved in. We are dealing with over 200 writers in our various imprints. We do hold two special celebration events each year to which all of our authors are invited. More details about that later.
Where and how
A launch may put you out of pocket. You're going to have to sell an awful lot of copies if you're going to cover a hire of venue fee and pay for refreshments for your guests.
There are ways of making it cheaper, though. Consider the following:
- Look out for bar or café that will give you a free space because you are bringing in a fair number of guests. Note, some venues will expect a minimum spend. Make sure you can cover that. If you get this right, the venue will be free and guests will pay for their own drinks and nibbles.
- Host the launch in your own home. Yes, only a few will fit in but you can often sell just as many books at these as at bigger events. Extend this idea by getting friends to host you. This could also be up and down the country.
- Consider some of the more quirky examples mentioned on the previous page.
Who to invite
Everyone you can think of! Do you want to open it to the general public? This might affect how you advertise it. Remember we all know about 250 people. Invite them all even if they're too far away to come. Invite your Facebook and Twitter friends but don't rely just on this group of people.
Then think of other people you know who might be interested in the book. Think locally and a little further afield. Will the theme appeal to certain people? Are there geographical locations that might be of interest? Is a certain period in history portrayed? Will your book appeal to certain experts or certain categories of workers? Is it of use to schools and teachers?
How to invite
Certainly use a Facebook Event invite. If you have a limit on numbers, use something like Eventbrite as well as they can ticket even for free places. You can also handily email all of your attendees from your Event.
However, the personal invitation is by far the best. Design an appealing invite and email, snailmail or hand-out them out. You should also start building up an email list of fans who will be happy to hear about your work. So your invite should include the RSVP via the Eventbrite Event and an invite to join the mailing list.
Help on the day
You certainly can't do it all especially if you are providing the catering and especially if you're expecting more than twenty guests.
You'll need people to help in the following ways:
- Setting everything up
- Book sales
- Marshalling guests
- Serving refreshments
- Introducing you
- Tidying up afterwards
On the day
Don't be tempted to read too much from the book. Much as your guests will love the book later, listening to someone read for a long time can be quite tiring. Your total "performance" should be no more than half an hour – the launch maybe lasting a maximum of two hours.
In that half hour:
- Let your "host" Introduce you.
- Tell your audience a little about how you came to write the book.
- Read a few short passages from the book
- Take questions and answers. If your launch is a little more formal, you can have a set of questions and answers set up with your host and then take a few more from the floor.
A typical timetable for the two hours would be:
First half hour: mingle. Refreshments could be offered and books should be on sale.
Second half hour: author spotlight as described above.
Third half hour: selling and signing books
Final half hour: more mingling
Remember when you book your venue to allow enough time for setting up and clearing up.
Do be aware that you may have to regard your launch as a loss leader. However, in the following two posts I'm going to suggest two other types of launches that are virtually free.