Readers love to interact with authors. The best platform for them to do that is at an in-person book launch. Not only will you satisfy readers who attend, but they will spread the word about your book.
Word of mouth is powerful. After all, it provides your book social proof because people recommend it to their friends and family. Although effective, word-of-mouth is also free.
I found out the value of word-of-mouth after my first book launch.
Days after, the book store where I held the launch had sold more copies than the launch night. That’s because the readers who attended the launch told their friends about the evening they shared with me. I know that’s the case because I didn’t do any book marketing for some time after the launch. And the book wasn’t available where customers could see it if they entered the store. They had to request it or look for it on the shelf.
What is a book launch?
A book launch is an event for the author to announce the release of his book. It is an opportunity for him to tell the world that his book is now available for sale. It is typically attended by family, friends, and people from the author’s mailing list and social media connections.
What happens at a book launch?
The format of the book launch can vary from event to event. No matter what you do, ensure that your attendees are having fun. Some authors read excerpts from their books, answer questions from attendees, and do giveaways.
What to wear at a book launch?
The first instinct would be to wear formals, including a suit and a tie. However, it depends on your personality, the audience, the venue, and the topic of your book. If your book will appeal to an informal audience and you choose the beach side in Hawai for the book launch followed by snacks and cocktails, then a suit and a tie may not be appropriate. However, business formals might be more suitable if your book is about business and you are doing your book launch at a banquet in a business hotel. In short, use your common sense to decide what to wear to a book launch.
A few aspects of a book launch are crucial to ensure its success:
Advertise the event
A book launch isn’t a case of you build it, and they will come. You have to build it, market the heck out of it and then hope you’ve done a good job to convince people to get dressed and drive to your event.
I recommend that you explore all advertising options, not only some. Most of the options I will mention are free, but it’s important that your advertising targets your audience. For example, it’s better to appear on a business podcast to advertise your business book than to be on a general book podcast, even if it has a higher listenership than your niche podcast.
People who can’t attend the launch still have the option to buy your book. They might not have found out about it had you not advertised your book launch.
Submit a press release to TV stations, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Most outlets are interested in the latest book about trending topics. If your book fits what they’re looking for, they may invite you for an interview. That’s free advertising.
A few distributors guarantee to publish your press release in a major online outlet. That costs, but it’s a sure way to get the word out about your launch. The benefit is that the online outlets keep press releases live for several months. So international readers who didn’t attend your launch may find out about your book.
If you’re hosting the launch at a book store, ask management to send out emails about the event. A book store has a customer database to which it can advertise your launch. The book store where I held my launch made a poster of the event and put it outside the store where foot traffic was high.
Social media is a great way to get the word out about your launch. Besides posting to your friends/followers, I’d recommend boosting posts. That also costs, but you can reach thousands of people. Social media advertising is much cheaper than an ad in a newspaper. Consider making a book trailer for social media marketing. Most people prefer visuals over text.
Email everybody you know. You’ll be surprised as to who will be interested in attending. People you haven’t seen in some time will be impressed that you’ve published a book and may want to attend.
The Book Launch Venue
The most convenient place to host a book launch is at a book store. They have chairs and audio equipment, staff that will handle the sales and credit card machines to process purchases. You have to organize all of that if you rent a room from a conference center.
It’s not unusual for a book store to offer a free venue and services. The reason is that you’re bringing customers to their shop, and they will get a percentage of the sales. Your book is consignment stock, so they don’t buy it from you. New customers get acquainted with their store and make money from your book. If your book sells well, they’ll stock it.
The downside of hosting the launch at a book store is that most want fifty percent of the sales price. That’s a big chunk of your profits.
An alternative venue could be a coffee shop or a garden cafe. Most of those places won’t expect a sales commission, but they will need your readers to buy coffee. You may consider covering that cost as an incentive for readers to attend the event. Almost everyone loves free coffee.
The downside of a coffee shop or a garden cafe is that they might not make their resources available. You have to organize the credit card machines and staff to process purchases.
It would help if you secured a venue before advertising the launch. People need to know where it will be held.
Format of the launch
Most authors are introverts, so public speaking isn’t their strength. My first book launch was a self-help book, so I gave a speech about overcoming the fear of public speaking. That was after doing a lot of public speaking.
Another option is to feature a guest to interview you. That’s less intimidating than standing up in front of people and speaking. You could also read parts of your book. That’s a way to talk to your audience without looking at them. If you’re a confident speaker, you may combine all of these formats.
A benefit of hosting a launch is recording it. You can upload the video to social media and other video platforms where it will remain for years.
Make sure to take questions from the audience, as they love interacting with authors. Also, take pictures with them after the presentation and sign their books. They’ll post those pictures on their social media, which is more word-of-mouth advertising for you.
An in-person book launch is a great opportunity to network and meet your readers in flesh and blood. Whether the event goes well or not, remember to have fun.