After a year of writing and months and months of rewriting and revisions, my book was finally out. I was both elated and relieved. It had all thankfully come to an end … but wait, I still had to do the book launch. Darn it! As is the case for most authors, (except of course the likes of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer) it was up to me to organise and finance my own book launch. Fortunately, I had just written a book on Events Management so to quote my publisher I “knew a thing or two about throwing a party”.

So where do you start?

For a small book launch, an author who is already too busy as it is might be tempted to think “Oh I’ll just throw something together.” Please DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT do that. A book launch is meant to showcase both you and your book. You do not want a sloppy launch to taint what might have been years of arduous work. You and your work deserve better. Like with other events, start by doing some research. Go to book launches. Talk to colleagues who have done one before. And of course, there’s Google. I searched the internet and I found loads of stories about other authors’ experiences with their first book launches.

BEST TIPS:

1. Even if you do everything right, there is the very real and terrifying possibility NO ONE turns up.
2. Treat the guest list almost as seriously as a wedding guest list – categorize guests into groups: will most likely come; will come if there is nothing better do; say they’ll come but it’s anyone guess if they will and will come, hell or high water

I made sure to get at least 20 individuals in the fourth category – I really needed them for a good turnout. It rained like crazy on the day.

Planning

If you’re an author like me who has little time and money to spend on a launch, spend some time looking around for resources. I work for a university and it is part of my job to produce text books, so it was agreed a year in advance that I would have a small budget for a book launch but of course things have changed a lot since then. I did still get a small budget and some help finalizing the guest list and ordering food. My publisher also helped me with a modest amount of money for food and drink. The publisher also had a good relationship with a book seller who did a book stall for me free of charge. I edited the book with a co-editor and had contributions from 25 authors and I found quite a few of them willing to contribute to the programme. My co-editor, though he couldn’t make it, also sent me a video message. They all helped to lighten the load on me.

KEY LESSON LEARNED:

Don’t wait too long to finalize speakers. The night before, I was still waiting to confirm someone to open the launch. Yikes!

On the day

Actually do a production schedule. I know it seems a bit OTT, especially if your book launch has a small audience like mine. There were just 60 people but there were so many little things that cropped up on the day that I needed to remember. Without a schedule something would have been missed. For example, the need to redirect guests to a new entrance to get to the book launch, forks and plates for the cake, markers for the message board, a bell to call guests in for the speeches, the university’s table cloths and signs, briefings for authors and other speakers, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

Table photo with food and cake

However, please don’t turn into a machine. Remember to smile and greet everyone. They have come to the book launch to support you and your book. Your guests deserve your attention and gratitude.

SMILE! SMILE! SMILE!

book signing

Afterwards

Please don’t wait too long to follow-up with press releases and thank-you notes and to get back to people wishing to buy your book. I practised what I preached with this, as exactly one-day after the book launch at 9:30pm, I found myself typing up this blog post.

So I hope Mike and all the readers of Event Juice have found it interesting.

Nicole

Nicole Ferdinand teaches, researches and publishes books and articles in the area of event and festival tourism. She is particularly interested in the Caribbean Carnivals and their art forms - masquerade, steel pan and calypso. Her recently published text Events Management: An International Approach was released on March 23rd 2012.

See Nicole's book here: International Events Management

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