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  • Hannah Reed

How to plan your first book launch event

It can be daunting planning your first book launch event. Not many people may even know you're publishing a book, you don’t have any fans that you know of yet and in general it's very stressful putting you and your work out there. Fortunately, hosting a book launch does not need to be a scary thing! Follow my guide below which details how I went about planning the book launch for Tenebrasco.

Three most important things for a book launch:

  • Guests

  • The book

  • You

Pre-event planning


1. Choosing a date

The first step is to select the date you want to host your book launch. Think about who you are inviting and when they are most likely to be free. Also think about other events in your area and what day/times work for them.


I chose a Thursday evening at 7pm. It doesn’t clash with weekend activities and gives people time to go home after work before coming back out. (Disclaimer: This worked for me, it won’t work for everyone)


2. Create a guest list

Write down a list of people you think will almost definitely turn up to support you. Start with your family, close friends, family friends etc. (This list can be as long or as short as you like)


3. Send out a save the date

To ensure people turn up they need to be able to make your event. I sent round a message to all the people on my original guest list. This can be short.


I’m planning a book launch party/gathering for XXX. It’s going to be on Thursday XX XXXX. I’ll send more details over later - at the moment I’m just trying to get an idea of numbers. Let me know if you can make it!


This way if the date you have chosen is a busy date you can still change it to make sure you have more people turning up.


Keep track of who you have messaged/spoke to about the event and their response. This can be as simple as taking notes on your phone or you could whip up a quick spreadsheet.



4. Venue

Choosing a venue is the hard part. But we can narrow down your options quite quickly.


Must:

· Be easy to get to/find

· Accessible i.e close to a car park or public transport

· Big enough to accommodate your guests

· Not too big it feels uncomfortable


Likely options:

· Coffee shops

· Independent bookstores

· Library

· Community space


Start contacting the venues to see if they are available on the date and time you want to host your book launch and find out if there are any costs associated.


Venues charge in different ways:

· Some will charge a room hire fee and charge you for food and drink on top

· Others give you the room for free but may have a minimum spend on food and drink

· Some just charge room hire

· The dream – find somewhere that will give you the venue for free and will let you bring your own food and drink. (This will significantly lower your costs)


I held my book launch at a local café, Cooper & Co. They actively support local talent and where happy for me to host my book launch free of charge. They close at 5pm so I used their space after hours. I could then bring in my own food and drink which significantly reduced the cost of the event.


5. Invites and advertising

Now that the venue is locked down for your chosen date it is time to start telling people about the event.


I recommend creating a small ‘invite graphic’ which contains the key details. You can then send this to everyone you invited in the 'save the date' phase. You can also encourage your friends and family to send this onto people they know who might be interested.


Next you need to post this on all your social media channels. Even if you don’t think anyone will come off the back of it do it anyway. You never know!


6. BOOKS

This one is very important. If you are hosting a book launch this is your chance to sell your books to a willing and supportive audience. Make sure you have ordered copies of your book down so you can sell them at the launch.


I published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). With KDP you have to publish your book before you can order your author copies. (This didn’t fit in with my timeline of events – but I made it work)


Choosing how many to order is difficult. Go back to your invite list and try to count how many you think you will sell. (I ordered 50 for my event!)


7. Food and drink

Keep it simple. For my event, I was originally planning on ordering canapés and having Prosecco on arrival…. In the end, I bought lots of crisps and popcorn and a load of Pimm's and lemonade. It was perfect (and a lot cheaper!).

The one thing I really wanted was mermaid cupcakes… (My book is about mermaids so this does make sense!). The cupcakes turned into an excellent way to have a subtle theme at the launch.


If you are ordering food from the venue you can usually confirm catering numbers a couple of days before the event.


For drink, if you are having drinks from the venue make sure you give clear instructions to the venue to ensure you don’t accidentally wrack up a huge bill. I recommend asking them to contact you when they reach certain cost intervals.


8. Reminders

This is very important. Do not forget to remind people about your launch. People are busy so remind then a week before the launch and then again a day before. You don’t want them not turning up just because they forgot to put it in their diaries.

9. Speech

Q: Do you want to give a speech?

A: No I don’t want to give a speech.

- Don’t give a speech then, it’s not worth it.

A: Yes, I want to give a speech.

- Do it!


I quite like public speaking so for me it was an easy decision. I wrote the speech the night before, practised a few times and then was ready to go.


I gave my speech without cue cards or any prompts. (As I said I do quite like public speaking) But, you can make yourself cue cards with prompts if that would make you feel more confident.


I also asked my boyfriend to do an introductory speech to my speech. He got everyone’s attention for me, thanked them for coming and passed everyone over to me. Having someone introduce you makes the speech and the event feel more official.


10. Assigning roles for the event

You are going to be nervous. You are going to be in demand. Your number one duty for the event is to enjoy yourself and answer your guest’s questions about the book. Your second duty is to sign the books.


Roles:

- Greeting guests

- Selling books

- Monitoring/managing drinks and snacks


If you are hiring a venue that is looking after the drinks and food you can cross that one off your list. Otherwise assign these tasks to responsible friends/family members and make sure they know what they are doing.


11. Selling your book

Choose a price. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the price you are selling it normally.

You could reduce the price as a book launch special OR you could increase the price seeing as you are signing it.


12. Decoration

My venue was very nicely decorated and of course I had my mermaid cupcakes so I didn’t need much. I printed off some A3 posters to put on the doors of the venue and to put up around the venue. I also bought a helium balloon to go on the book sales table!



On the day

  • Plan your day so you know exactly how you’re getting to the launch, ensuring you get there early

  • Ensure all the food and drink are ready to go to the venue

  • Have a good pen ready to sign your books

  • Relax and enjoy!

At the venue set-up your bookselling area and designate an area to sign your book as well. I was unprepared for how many people would want me to sign Tenebrasco and was shocked to find a line waiting for me!


The hard work was writing and publishing the book. Try to enjoy the launch and talk to as many people as possible. They are all here to support you.


If you have any questions feel free to message me on Instagram, on HannahReads.co.uk or email me :) If you have any suggestions for blog posts let me know!



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