Really Useful Links: Celebrating Your Book by Paul Anthony Shortt

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Paul Anthony Shortt

So you’ve had a book published. It’s out there, in the world. Now it’s time for more hard work and promotion, (and let’s not forget you need to get that follow-up written, right?)

Well, there’s a time for that, sure. But I find most authors don’t do enough to congratulate and reward themselves for their own efforts. I know, because I am exactly the same. I need help and encouragement to celebrate each new release. We need to let our hair down, enjoy our success. And make no mistake, publishing a book is a great success, no matter how you do it.

The iconic image of book celebration is the launch party. We see them in movies and on TV; lavish affairs with hors d’oeuvres and champagne. Everyone dressed to the nines. I’ve been to launches that run the whole scale, from publisher-organised events in packed-out bookshops to a couple of dozen people having a few drinks in a reserved area of a bar. There are a lot of options, and a lot of things to plan – click here for a really useful list of 18 essential pre launch tips.

Something to keep in mind is that your publisher may not be able to provide much help, financial or otherwise, with your launch. Depending on your publisher’s size, you may end up having to do a lot of the planning yourself. Even the larger publishers have limited budgets, and if you’re not a big name, it can sometimes feel like you’re on your own. But there’s plenty of help available from across the world wide web. Tamar Hela wrote an excellent article for Jami Gold’s blog with advice on both online and offline book launches. It’s well worth a read as a primer for your plans.

Before you start, you need to decide what kind of event you want.  Authors work so hard, often for so little in return, that we need to step back at times and say “I did it,” and enjoy launch night, but at the same time, promotion and sales may be an important factor for you. Understanding what you want out of the launch is essential before you start as it will be a key issue in what you plan.

Do you want a big venue and lots of guests? Would you rather reserve space at a restaurant for something more intimate? Or are you more comfortable with on online event? Most launches will feature a special guest, whose role is to officially launch the book and a master of ceremonies to introduce everyone. This can be anyone you like, from a favourite school teacher or college lecturer, to a fellow author. If you’re happy with a celebration among friends and family, inviting someone with a closer personal connection to launch the book can give a nice sense of intimacy to those who’ve supported you. If the goal is sales and promotion, then an industry professional is ideal, particularly if you can get an author whose presence will attract additional guests or media attention.

Having a press release ready to go in advance is always a good idea. Writing.ie have a great article on how to write a press release here, with information on how to get it out to the press via www.mediacontact.ie. The media have demands on their time, so the easier you can make it for them to talk about your launch, the better. Local newspapers and radio stations are often more likely to feature new homegrown talent than the larger outlets, and you never know if your launch is just the thing a particular outlet is looking to cover.

Here are some guidelines for planning your event, taking into account your budget, spreading the word, and what to do while you’re there. You might also look into having goodie bags or other giveaways for your launch. These can be arranged to suit most budgets, and are a very personal touch which your guests will remember and talk about afterwards. Word of mouth is still your greatest promotional tool, so never discount even the smallest touches that might leave a good impression. I used home-made bookmarks myself, at the launch of my first novel, and found people asking for more to give to their friends.

Depending on the subject of your book, you may be able to look into having the event sponsored – this post gives lots of ideas. This will not only alleviate some of the cost, but often comes with bonus awareness and marketing clout.

On venues, I spoke last time about independent bookshops and their willingness to stock your work, and this advice holds true for launches. If a bookshop can stock your book, odds are good that they’ll be happy to host your launch. Depending on the shop, they may need to restrict numbers. Some provide limited catering services for fairly reasonable rates, too. If you’re self-published, or you want to plan your launch before your book is available through distributors, you’ll need to check that the shop can take stock from you, or if they’re required to order only through their distributor. I’ve had more than one launch disrupted by stock issues, so get this cleared up well in advance. It always makes sense to save all your promotional activity until the book is available in as many locations – including online – as possible.

Launching in a bookshop that is on the Neilsen Bookscan register means your sales will count towards the bestseller lists. This is something to consider if you decide to look into other venues – ask a bookseller to provide sales for you on the night and they can put them through their till – then you get the best of both worlds.

Finding a statement venue for your launch party can be of huge benefit on social media and with the press – a stunning location that your guests will enjoy will make them more likely to turn up and support you! This list of Christmas party venues in London gives you an idea of the type of places that are available (this is a great site if you want to organise any sort of party in London!) you can see the difference in mood and atmosphere different venues offer – if you’ve written a crime novel, a basement venue could be perfect, if it’s women’s fiction, a light airy roof top could be fun. Use your imagination in choosing the venue and it will create its own story around your launch.

Pubs and restaurants can work well as a venue, and can add a lot to the atmosphere. Many won’t even charge you for space rental, and will have special catering menus for large events. Publin.ie has a great directory of Dublin venues, and they’ll even help out on social media trying to find a venue for you.

Conventions, such as Octocon, will often make a room available for a book launch, if you contact them well in advance. This has the added benefit of presenting your new book to a new audience.

Lastly, you can organise an online launch. These can involve more preparation and detailed planning than a party, but there’s the advantage of reduced costs and a potentially wider reach than an offline event.

And remember to spread the word. Facebook event invites, Twitter hashtags, mailing lists, are all useful tools. There are also phone apps that give you options outside of the expected social media options, and websites offering a range of free and paid invitation services. The more unique and engaging you can make your invitations, the more they’ll stick in people’s memories. And keeping your book in their minds is more important than whether or not they attend the launch.

Finally, make the event fun for others to share and take an interest in. Talk about it before, during, and after. Tumblr and Instagram can be great for sharing preparation updates and liveblogging right from the event. What can you do to make your event stand out? Everyone expects a reading, a little speech by the author, and some wine, but would a singer or band suit your book? What about dancers? Perhaps a close-up magician, or some friends dressed in costume appropriate to your book’s setting?

Let your imagination run wild, and above all, have a good time. Because if you’re not enjoying yourself, you can bet your guests won’t.

(c) Paul Anthony Shortt

About the author

Paul Anthony Shortt believes in magic and monsters; in ghosts and fairies, the creatures that lurk under the bed and inside the closet. The things that live in the dark, and the heroes who stand against them. Above all, he believes that stories have the power to change the world, and the most important stories are the ones which show that monsters can be beaten.
Paul’s work includes the Memory Wars Trilogy and the Lady Raven Series. His short fiction has appeared in the Amazon #1 bestselling anthology, Sojourn Volume 2.

Website: http://www.paulanthonyshortt.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pashortt

Twitter: @PAShortt

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