Features, Life of an Event Manager
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What Authors Need to Know About Hosting a Book Launch

Writing a book takes months to years of preparation, research, editing, design and layout until it is ready for publishing. Once that is done, you have in your hands, your priced creation, your baby really. And that’s when the real work starts. So far, you have focussed on conceiving and giving birth. Now it is time to get your baby ready for the world outside. It is time to get your book onto the bookshelves of avid readers and into the aisles of libraries.

The best way to market your book is to launch it. Book launches are nifty techniques to create a personal brand for the author and generate awareness in the publishing industry about your work while establishing a connection with the readers and media. It is an excellent way to amplify sales and interest in your book. Of course, such a promotional event can serve as an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family while also garnering the attention necessary to market your book.

Planning a book launch might sound daunting but with the right steps and by following a few essentials you can have a successful book launch that gets you the buzz your book needs and give you that much-desired headstart towards stellar sales.

Remember that Location is Everything

Complement the nature of your book to the location to let your readers connect to the story. A bookstore or a library is a safer bet for a book launch. Alternatives to these can be a local café, a hired function room or private open spaces. The idea is to create an engaging atmosphere for the readers that not only focuses on socializing but also serves the purpose of marketing the book. Think of how you can incorporate aesthetic elements to make the launch special.

For example, if your book has fictional characters, ask yourself whether it might be in your interest to work with a costume company to provide funky costumes or accessories with which the readers can click photographs or if you should hire a mascot. If your book is for children, a more appropriate venue could be a park, a zoo or even a school. If you are not a fan of extravagant parties, you can also consider organizing the launch at your home (although this will restrict the number of eyeballs). Some of the places popular for book launches in Mumbai are Crossword stores located in Kemps Corner, Bandra, and Oberoi Mall; St. Regis Hotel in Lower Parel; KittySu at The Lalit Hotel in Andheri; The Marriott Hotel in Juhu; and Title Waves, a large format bookstore in Bandra. A variety of book clubs where launches can be organized can be found here – https://notionpress.com/blog/mumbai-book-clubs/

Plan What You Will Do With the Space

Do you want sitting or standing arrangements for your guests? What will the décor be like? Will refreshments be served? Will you be giving out freebies? What about bookmarks or posters? What should be the table arrangement? These little details matter, they are what will keep the event rolling smoothly. It is always advisable to have a professional event manager set up the event and help out with the sales of the book while you engage in informal conversations with the readers and sign copies for them. Some form of refreshment like finger-foods (which are not messy), is a good way to keep the crowd engaged and hanging around for longer. Drinks may or may not be a part of your event, depending on the age group you’re hoping to attract and your budget.

It is advisable to have a guest list ready prior to the event to ensure you have enough supplies at hand and to avoid gatecrashers (although, nothing like unexpected sales!). Consider having a space optimized for having a reading session, a place to interact with the guests, signing and selling of books and also a creative space in accordance with the theme of your book where your guests can click pictures.

Get Creative With the Invitations

Attractive invitations with catchy lines and a hint of a surprise will draw a larger crowd. You can build the guest list by inviting your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others who have helped you through the writing process. Writers or editors from your genre of interest or inviting established authors can lend more publicity. The choice is subjective, whether to keep the launch a private affair or to leave it open to the public.

Make sure that the guest RSVPs your invite or set up an online registration system so that you can get a fair idea of the total number of guests attending. You can also arrange for a press release and create a page on social media to maximize the reach. Assistance can be sought from bloggers who can also promote the event on their pages or book blogs.

Set Up an Engaging Atmosphere During the Event

Book launches should be creative and fun. For the course of 3-4 hours of the event, the guests should be offered an entertaining arrangement instead of organizing long, tiresome reading sessions. Appropriate music and visuals or small excerpts can be displayed on the screen that is in line with your story. You can have a few contests which involve free giveaways and prizes. A few light-hearted competitions will maintain the fun element for the evening. Having a reading session isn’t necessary but advisable.

20-30 minutes of reading can be a nice accompaniment to your speech. A section of the book that the readers would be interested in should be chosen or even the first few pages of the book can be read out loud. The reading should be a teaser for the audience to want to know more about the book. Have an interactive discussion and answer any questions related to the book (but don’t give away too much!)

Don’t Forget to Keep your Books Well Stocked

You don’t want to face the embarrassments of not having enough copies of your book on the day of the launch. Order the publishing company well in advance for a sufficient number of copies, to avoid last minute glitches. Boosting sales on the day of the launch creates word of mouth and obviously, is an important part of the launch. Although it is nice for you (the author) to engage in sales, it is advisable to have someone from the bookstore or a family member/friend to help you out with the selling instead, leaving you free to either sign the books at the time of purchase with a personalised message or keep the books pre-signed while you engage in conversations with the guests.

Be prepared to handle various modes of accepting payment and keep ample cash in hand for change.  You don’t want to lose out on sales just because you didn’t have a credit card machine with you. Discounts can also be a part of the launch that can serve as an attractive marketing strategy.

Involve Social Media to Get Extra Eyeballs

Promotion of any event is incomplete without involving media platforms. In an age of tech-savvy people, social media is the most effective and widely accepted medium of receiving and promoting news. You can create individual pages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and keep posting active content to gain followers. Using unique hashtags is another way of creating a thread for people who are interested in the event and can connect like-minded people together to attend the launch.

You can also create fun videos and posts for social media that can generate a buzz and get the crowd talking. It is essential to be active on all the platforms and engage in conversations in the comments section which will keep the people following your feed regularly. Live stories, social media contests, adding social sharing options are other ways to let everyone recognize the event and carry forward the momentum you’ve begun to build.

Keep an Eye On the Budget!

All the aspects and essentials of an event boil down to the amount you are ready to invest. Book launches are not expected to be pompous or expensive but rather an event that focuses on establishing a brand for the author and giving recognition to their work. Have a checklist handy (or better yet, get assistance from a professional event manager).

While allocating the budget, priority should be given to hiring a good location, arranging decoration, aesthetics and, food and beverages, printing of the books, and banners or posters required for the launch. Be firm and stick to your budget and let the launch be a successful celebration for you and the guests as well.

Got any more ideas on what makes a book launch successful? Let our readers know by sharing your views in the comments section below.

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