Alice Osborn Book LaunchA month ago on January 28th I celebrated my book launch for Unfinished Projects, my book of poems from Main Street Rag Publishing Company. I celebrated with 45+ people, many of whom weren’t poets, but came out at the end of a long work week in the dead of winter to hear me read my poems and sit next to others who enjoy the written word. I also sold books to over half of the crowd. So how did I do it? Many of you also are launching your books and I want to give you a few tips on how to do it right.

Here are Five Ways to Host a Kick-Ass Book Launch!

Plan the Program
Way ahead of time! And it goes without saying that you need to have your books already shipped to you from your publisher before you have a book launch! I wanted to include my poet and writer friends, so I held a featured reading night and open mic night on top of my book launch to draw even more interest in the program and it worked! They brought their friends and also helped me publicize the event. I also set the date and booked my venue (Storytellers Bookstore in Wake Forest) for my launch back in early September.  What can you do differently from any other book launch?

Send Out Soft and Hard Invites
I sent out invites using VistaPrint postcards. I also sent invitations to all of my social media networks including LinkedIn, Facebook and I posted the event on my Meetup groups: Wonderland Book Club and ReadWritePublish and I also publicized the launch starting in October using my e-newsletter from Constant Contact. Send out invitations in all of the markets you live in on a daily basis.

Offer Giveaways
At the event I gave away mugs with my book cover on them, filled with my giveaways (a blue letter opener and pen) plus bookmarks and Godiva chocolate. I also gave away spiral notebooks with my cover on them (using a full page white Avery label and my color printer) and my first book, Right Lane Ends. I announced the giveaways in all of my publicity, too. Be creative with your giveaways!

Write Press Releases
I wrote a press release about my book launch and sent it out about three weeks before the event. The North Raleigh News wanted to interview me (here’s the article) because my launch was newsworthy: my launch was on the same day as the 25th anniversary of the Challenger accident and my book leads off with my poem, “Challenger 7” about the astronauts. Print, radio and TV media want a newsworthy angle—what can you give them that would make their readers care?

Food and Beverage
I stated in my invites that we’d have wine and chocolate and boy, did we! Make sure you have enough beverage and food for everyone and make sure you plan for everything to be set up before the first guests arrive. Also plan for enough chairs—no one really wants to sit on the floor at a book launch. Plan to buy enough food and make sure the portions are bite-sized and non-messy—no BBQ wings!

Sure, I was tired when it was all over, but wow, was it fun and I think folks are still talking about it! I delegated the video and photo-taking, so I could talk to and thank as many people as possible.

Your Turn
If you’ve had a book launch, what would you do or not do over again? What is one piece of advice you’d give a brand-new author hosting his/her very first book launch?