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.
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.
Tradies has several important key features:
- Local club – central to guests
- Accessible – drop off area at the main door
- Parking – multi level under cover
- Good functions manager – couldn’t do enough to help
- Welcoming entrance – doorman, reception area, cafe, plants, piano. It all gleams!
- Variety of function rooms – none of which we chose
- A members bar and library area – even better than the function rooms for a smallish book launch by a local author
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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….