On Saturday 19 May 2018 at 6:30 pm, a feeling of utmost relief took over my whole body.
“Thank you!” was all I seemed to be able to articulate as I smiled and hugged all the lovely people around me. They came… They listened… They laughed… Some even cheered.
The day I’d be dreaming about for months and working so hard towards came and went in a blur leaving behind unforgettable memories.
Just like that, my book Where to Next? had been officially launched into the world.
To put things in perspective, it took:
- 29 years for me to live all the stories in Where to Next?
- 2 and a ½ months to summarise them into a manuscript.
- 4 and a ½ to months to edit, typeset and publish them into a book.
- 2 hours ONLY to officially launch it…
Having told you before how international the making of Where to Next? actually was in the article Book Beyond Borders, I thought I’d now take you behind the scenes of a unique book launch and share with you plenty of tips and tricks based on this incredible experience.
Organising a launch event for your newly published book is by no means mandatory but I’d highly recommend it! Here is why:
1. It will give you a chance to raise awareness: The success of your book (which at this stage probably feels like your baby!) depends on the number of people who hear about it, read it and then recommend it. What better way for them to first hear about it than from you directly face-to-face?
2. You will be able to engage with your readers: Have you ever heard the phrase “People buy people not products”? Well, that statement is very true for books. With so many books and authors out there, people are more likely to buy yours if they know (and like!) you.
3. You will be able to start selling books: This is important (of course!) but it shouldn’t be your primary focus, as if you’re too ‘salesy‘ people will switch off. Plus, some of them may not buy a book on the day but further down the line, so make sure to keep the door open.
These three elements were the reasons behind the launch of my book Where to Next? and I can happily say that they were all fulfilled.
Book launches aren’t ‘one size fits all’ events so focus on organising one that is unique and closely linked to both you and to your story.
To start with, you need to consider either having your own gig or launching your book at someone else’s event. There are pros and cons to both – see below – so it’s entirely up to you.
– Full creative control
– 100% profits made
-Less preparation required
– Shared responsibility for attendance
– Need to do everything
– Fully responsible for attendance
– Lack of creative control
– Profits might be shared (depending on the venue – For example, bookstores tend to take a rather significant percentage)
You will also have to make a choice between a free or a paying event as well as between open or guest list only. Personally, I opted for FREE and OPEN as that gave me a chance to reach a maximum number of people and thus achieve the three reasons listed above.
A lot of people out there think book launches are extremely boring… Make sure yours isn’t! Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Make it about more than just your book by talking about you, your personal story and what inspired you to write your book.
- Bring in other elements by partnering with people or brand(s) who are complementary to your book and offering them an opportunity to cooperate, promote their brand(s) and sell their product(s) or service(s) on the day.
- Offer something to your attendees whether it is a complimentary drink, a small gift or an opportunity to win door prizes. To maximise the effect of such perks, tell them what you have planned prior to the event in order to build up excitement.
- Create a two-way conversation during your event so that your attendees truly feel involved and part of your special day. One way of doing this is to host a Q&A session.
To give you an example, for the launch of Where to Next? I partnered with a jewellery designer who made gorgeous necklaces that matched with my book cover. Her awesome brand Tekenes is all about combining elegant and quirky! She launched them at the event and also invited her friends and family to attend. Following the same idea, I also had tote bags produced by a local Australian company with the book cover design printed on them.
Regarding door prizes, I provided a couple myself and partnered with small businesses for another three:
It worked really well and kept people in the room until the last prize was drawn.
The Q&A session ended up being one of the best moments of the event. I asked people to put questions into a box and read them out loud before answering them. The anonymity meant people weren’t shy and having the questions written down meant I could choose which ones to answer in the allocated timeframe.
For your reference and potential inspiration, here is the detailed agenda I put together for the launch of Where to Next?
16:00 Launch Starts
16:10 Welcome Speech
16:30 Book Reading
16:50 Door Prizes (3)
17:10 Q&A Session
17:30 Door Prizes (2)
17:50 Parting Words
18:00 Launch Ends
Choosing a venue for your launch is absolutely critical and will mainly depend on three elements:
1. Your theme:
- If your book is for children, a family-friendly venue would work best.
- If your book is horror, then somewhere dark and a bit freaky.
- If your book is about business, then perhaps a university or a shared office space.
- If your book is about sports then a sports club or even a bar would be worth considering.
2. Your budget: Many venues will ask for a hire fee or a minimum spend, though some might be open to hosting your launch for free during their ‘downtime’.
3. Your number of attendees: Make sure that the size of the venue is suitable for the number of people who are likely to come. If it’s too big, attendees will feel awkward. If it’s too small, they will feel uncomfortable. Either way, there is a risk that they would leave early and miss out on all you’ll have planned for them.
Based on the above, here are the steps I would recommend following in order to choose a venue for your launch:
- Establish your theme, budget, and number of attendees.
- Approach about 10 places that match your requirements via email or phone call.
- Organise a site visit with your top 3 or 5 and ask them plenty of questions.
- Choose one and enter into a simple signed agreement with them.
- Agree with the chosen venue on the setup and timings for the day.
If you choose a venue that has a lot of experience with events, they might have tips or suggestions you could consider. Other people around you may have ideas too, make a list of them and decide which ones you’d like to take on-board to make your launch as unique and memorable as it can possibly be!
For the launch of Where to Next? I chose a lovely literary café tucked under the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne for its symbolic location, cosy décor as well as a delicious choice of food and beverages.
Before settling on a date, make sure you will have received the first copies of your book by then and that your book will also be available for purchase (i.e. on your own website, on Amazon, in bookstores etc.) from that day onwards at the latest. It would be embarrassing and most definitely ineffective to try and launch a book without making it possible for people to buy it…
So, organising your launch not long after you’ve received the first printed copies of your book would be ideal. That way your excitement and enthusiasm will naturally shine through!
If you have media contacts and would like to maximise the chances of them being there, host your event on a weekday during office hours.
If not, think about who you will invite and when they are most likely to be available and arrange it then so you can maximise the number of attendees.
Once you have decided on a date, send an invitation one month before. From then on, start a countdown on your social media channels to create a bit of a buzz around your event. Prior to this, you will need to create an author’s website and associated social media pages.
To maximise attendance, I decided to host my launch on a Saturday from 4 – 6 pm. It worked really well and brought together a relaxed and enthusiastic crowd.
Literally E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. you know…
To have an idea of numbers – which will help you choose an appropriate venue – make a list of all the people you plan on inviting including:
- Media contacts: Send them a media release together with your author’s bio, author’s photo and book cover photo in advance.
- Family members
- Anyone you meet and connect with between the moment you pick a date and your actual launch
Note that if your launch is a free event, usually about 50 to 60% of people who register will actually attend.
For the launch of Where to Next? I posted the invitation on three different sites: Eventbrite, Facebook, and Meetup. I invited everyone I’d met since moving to Australia not long ago.
There are a few things you need to prepare in order for your event to be successful. Below is an initial checklist. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or wish to receive corresponding templates:
- Event Plan: Detailed list of actions that you’ll need to implement before your launch.
- Event Rundown: List of everything that will happen on the day from preparation to post-launch event.
- Checklist: All items you will need to gather and bring to the venue.
- Team: Determine who will be there to support you prior, during and after the event and assign clear roles and responsibilities to each of them (even if they are friends and family!) A few important roles to consider filling whilst you focus on speaking, book signing and mingling:
- Speeches: Prepare everything you will be saying on the day. Make sure to make it as inspiring and engaging as possible, bring some humour into it and rehearse it beforehand.
- Energy: Sleep in, eat well and look after yourself so you are well rested and full of energy on the day of the launch.
The more preparation goes into your event beforehand, the less stressful it will be on the day and the more you will be able to actually enjoy it!
Finally, take some time at the end to thank all of the people who helped you: start with the ones who were instrumental in bringing your book to life and end with those who you couldn’t have put together such a unique event without including the venue, your team and every single person who attended.
One last thing… Be aware and mindful of the post-launch blues. Once all the effort and enthusiasm that will have gone into your launch wear off, you may feel empty and lost. Take the time to breathe, reflect, and slowly prepare for the long road of sales and marketing ahead.
Oh and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back– you’ve launched a book and that’s pretty damn cool, isn’t it?!
Now all I hope is that, with YOUR help, Where to Next? will travel to more countries that I have… It’s off to a promising start as so far it has been read in Australia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and the United States. That’s eight down, 39 to go!
Get YOUR very own copy of Where to Next? TODAY here or on Amazon worldwide!
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