Congratulations! You will have a published book soon—now begins the fun challenge of getting folks to buy your book and perhaps make it a best-seller! How do you go about doing this?
First of all, take a look at your author brand. Who is your target audience? What does your book offer your audience? You’ll need to have a handle on this information going forward with how you market your book to different venues and bookstores and how you appear on and off line. If I wrote a tag that defines my author brand it would be, “I’m a storytelling poet who loves pop culture and history who isn’t afraid to speak my mind through authenticity and humor.” Note that if you are writing across genres or have multiple books you’ll want to curate your author brand statement into one sentence—I guarantee you that you will find the common brand denominator in all of your books.
Why is all of this branding prep important? Because you want to get more folks who are not just your friends and family to your book launches and you want to position your author brand in social media. For instance, I want to reach non-poets who are interested in Star Wars, pop culture, and identify as Generation X. This branding will also help you garner media interest, which is one of your tickets into bookstores (please see my post Get More When You Ask More about leveraging your media exposure for bookstore placement)
Before you even approach a bookstore, make sure that the bookstore will accept your book. If your book has an Amazon imprint and it’s an independent bookstore that might be a challenge since Amazon is a direct competitor of independents. My publisher is Main Street Rag, a small literary press based out of Charlotte. It does help to show the bookstore you have a built-in community of followers either in-person or online. The bookstore can only do so much to promote your book launch—you have to do much of the heavy lifting yourself. Also be prepared to split your book 40/60 (40 goes to the bookstore) on consignment.
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. To provide extra motivation to get Heroes without Capes done, I scheduled my book launch for late October 2015 in April 2015 BEFORE I had the book even ready to send to my publisher—by working backwards you can provide yourself extra stress while ensuring you’re properly planning your launch. Turns out, Main Street Rag was ready to publish my book a month earlier in September 2015 and that worked to my advantage since I had more selling time before the holidays. My official Heroes without Capes book launch was at So & So Books (704 N Person St. Raleigh, NC 27604) on Sunday, September 20, 2015 from 5-6:30 p.m.
Don’ts When Planning a Book Launch
Never have a book launch during the NC State Fair
or Good Friday, Easter, Super Bowl Sunday
Hurricane season is also tricky (Labor Day through Halloween)
Send Out Invites
I sent out invitations to all of my social media networks including LinkedIn, Twitter Facebook. I posted the events on my Meetup groups: Wonderland Book Club and ReadWritePublish and I also publicized the launch starting in August using my e-newsletter from Constant Contact. I created a flier with all of my book tour dates on it and included the launch parties at the bottom of my email signature.
Pick a Photographer, Local Musician and Volunteers to Help You Sell
Who is going to shoot your book launch and have it recorded for all posterity? I was lucky to have two photographers shoot my launches for free books–and the shots were gorgeous! If you don’t post your pics to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter your much-planned event didn’t really happen.
Music makes your book launch fun and gets folks instantly relaxed. If you’re not a musician, find one in your local area–here in the Triangle get in touch with the NC Songwriters Co-op to find brilliant musicians for your event. See you can barter or negotiate a good rate for books or social media cross-posts!
And lastly, consider having several friends on hand at the launch to help you sell your books if you get busy talking to your client-friends.
Get to the Venue Early
Arrive an hour early so you can set up the food, books, giveaways and chairs. If you can leave some stuff at the venue earlier in the day, then that’s even better. In addition to my books, I also traveled with sound equipment (microphone, microphone stand and 50 lb. amp, plus cords because I was planning on playing my guitar as well). I know I feel rushed and scattered when I’m pressed for time, and who needs to start out your launch in the negative?
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. I also gave away a Star Wars: The Force Awakens lunchbox/purse and corkboard journal, along with copies of my older poetry books and the anthology, Tattoos.
Food and Beverage
We had plenty of wine and nibbles. Make sure you have enough beverages (including water for non-drinkers) and food for everyone and make sure you plan for everything to be set up before the first guests arrive (see Get to the Venue Early). 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!
Here’s a listing of my favorite bookstores in the Triangle area that are very cool to new authors launching their book. I’ve sent many of my editing clients to these bookstores as I’m sending you to them! Good luck on your book launch and don’t forget to send me an invitation!
Listing of Alice’s Favorite Bookstores for Book Launches
So & So Books (no website, Facebook page only)
704 N Person St. Raleigh, NC 27604
Chris Tonelli and Charles Wilkes, co-owners firstname.lastname@example.org
Page 158 Books (Facebook Page and website) http://page158books.com
158 S White St, Wake Forest, NC 27587
Co-owners: Suzanne and Dave Lucey
The Book Bar of Raleigh http://www.raleighbookbar.com/
10511 Shadowlawn Dr., Suite 115, Raleigh, NC 27615 in Falls River Town Center
Owner: James McEntegart
James features local authors in his store and will sell your books full price—all sales go back to the author!
The Joyful Jewel
44-A Hillsboro Street, Pittsboro, NC 27312
Owner: Mariah Wheeler