So you want to launch your debut novel? Tips on planning your big event.

I recently launched my debut novel, The Ouroboros Key, and while one novel doesn’t make me an expert on book launches, ten years as an event manager certainly helps.

You can find some quick tips on public speaking on my previous post, Book Launch Wrap Up. This post is going to look at planning your event.

1. Venue

So important. Even though my launch was relatively small I wanted to choose a venue that had a good atmosphere and wouldn’t break the bank. I employed my event manager (dragged along my buddy from work) to view a few locations and research a few others. Our original venue idea proved to be too expensive for my meagre budget so we went to venue no. 2 on the list, Tradies Club at Gymea.

easily accessible entrance to venue

easily accessible entrance to venue


Tradies has several important key features:

  1. Local club – central to guests
  2. Accessible – drop off area at the main door
  3. Parking – multi level under cover
  4. Good functions manager – couldn’t do enough to help
  5. Welcoming entrance – doorman, reception area, cafe, plants, piano. It all gleams!
  6. Variety of function rooms – none of which we chose
  7. A members bar and library area – even better than the function rooms for a smallish book launch by a local author
  8. I’m a member

To keep costs to a minimum, we decided to provide hot finger food (the launch started at 6pm), tea and coffee, and invite guests to purchase cold drinks at the Members Bar.

The Library Room (they call it the “Member’s Lounge”) contains over-stuffed lounges (sooo comfortable) and cosy decor with a library of free books in one corner. We were allowed to move some of the smaller chairs to make way for people and set up the book tables in front of the library corner. The room was contained while still being open to the rest of the Member’s Bar area. Even though we were in a club, we did not feel like it. A great room for this kind of function!

The Library (one end of The Members Bar at Tradies Club Gymea)

The Library (Member’s Lounge at Tradies Club Gymea)

2. Promotion

I designed and produced postcard invitations, which were given out to all the people I wanted to come. We kept the guest list to friends and family with a few extras thrown in and most of those invited came. The postcard had my book cover on one side and the invite on the reverse.

On the night, we handed out a second postcard with book information and contact details (like my Facebook and Twitter accounts) on the reverse. I talked about these in my speech and asked everyone to help create buzz by talking about the novel with friends, on their social networks, and invited them to ask for The Ouroboros Key at book shops.

promotional postcard

promotional postcard

I employed a photographer (dragged another event buddy in to do photos) and gave them a brief to snap pictures of me speaking, my MC, guests, books and set up, and me (again) autographing books.

Patricia Leslie with a nervous microphone

3. Book sales and signing

My publisher, Michelle, set the book sales table up in front of the corner library and sat me at the end to sign books. I purchased some flowers in a small vase, had plenty of pens, and provided a guest book for my friends to write notes in as well. I also had extra postcards, which I gave to those who were keen to spread them around.

A few days previously, I made a list of quotes I could use (other than “best wishes” etc) that referred either to succeeding with your dreams or the theme of my novel. It was a great time to have a quick word with my guests on a one-to-one basis. I definitely recommend allowing plenty of time for this part of the night.

partners in crime

Book sales & signing table

4. End of the night

Another good reason for having the launch at a club; we stayed for dinner at the brasserie upstairs. A small group of friends joined us for a meal and we were able to celebrate the success of the event and the end of a long day with some great food and another glass of wine.


5. After the launch

I recommend a few phone calls, conversations, and thank you notes if you can manage them.

Talk about the event on social media and on your blog

Post a few photos here and there

Get in touch with the local newspaper (if you haven’t done that prior to the launch)

And make the most of new found abilities such as the ability not to be completely tongue-tied when faced with an audience listening to your every word….








The Ouroboros Key: book launch wrap up & tips

My daughters holding me up after my speech.

My daughters holding me up after my speech. Kalin, Toni, Patricia, Cheyne


After weeks of nervous anticipation, The Ouroboros Key Launch was held on Thursday night 24th April at the Tradies Club, Gymea.

And I survived!

The speaking had me worried the most, but in the end, I was fine and even remembered the key public speaking tips:

1. Always look up at your audience

2. Occasionally make eye contact

3. Be humorous if you can

4. Try to remember some of what you wanted to say

5. Do not imbibe alcohol before you start

The second thing I was worried about was having to mingle (even though I knew almost everyone in the room). Here’s a great tip if you’re not a natural mingler or networker – you’ll be so excited and upbeat that it won’t be a problem!

Public speaking and mingling (intelligently) are two of my biggest fears, which I have now conquered (well, almost), and if I can do it anyone else can too.

Other than preparing to speak, other things you need to put some thought about are the venue, the room layout, what to provide in the way of refreshments, selling books, and signing books. I’m going to do a whole post on those items separately in the next few days. In the meantime, back to me!

My daughter, Cheyne, was keen to act as MC and she did a great job. The public speaking fear did certainly not pass down to her. She did a great job and was so proud to be up there introducing me as an author that I nearly starting tearing up.

MC Cheyne did a great job!

I did feel the tears though as soon as I started talking. Before I finished the first sentence everyone in the room could tell I was getting emotional. I later found out that most of my audience started to feel the tears themselves (the room was packed with empathetic friends)!

I said something funny, along the lines of “oh, shit I’m going to cry!”, took a deep breath and moved on quickly. The tears came under control and I managed to reach the end without mishap. We kept the official proceedings brief and went straight into having a snack and a drink. I went over to my signing table and my guests hovered between the refreshments, the bar, and the queue to purchase The Ouroboros Key.

I had been a little worried about what to write in each person’s copy of the book, but that too went smoothly, and I made sure everyone signed my guest book as well. Someone provided a plate of food and a glass of wine, and I enjoyed the rest of the evening immensely.

The Ouroboros Key

The Ouroboros Key

My publicist, Lyn, on my right and my event manager, Lynne, on my left.

My publicist, Lyn, on my right and my event manager, Lynne, on my left.










You might also like to read:

The next step on a debut author’s journey

My first interview

Chaco Canyon


Purchase The Ouroboros Key