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Book Launch Day: Ideas and Tips

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

What should you do on the day your self published book launches? Insights and ideas.

What should you do on the day your self published book launches? Insights and ideas.

An author I follow on social media was launching her first self published book, which was also the first in a series. She invested a great deal in making sure she did it right. As the book launch day approached, she asked her followers about what to do on book launch day. Was it a regular day? Should there be some celebration or events?

I’ve never had a book launch party or event. This is partly due to the type of books I write. They’re business nonfiction. I just want to make them available on Amazon. It’s just another day at the office for me. But for many authors, book launch days are a much bigger deal. Nothing wrong with that at all. Celebrate your accomplishment!

Here are some insights and ideas for the day your self published book goes live.

Is Your Book Launch Party a Celebration or “Sell-A-Bration?"

In-person book launch events can get awkward when authors are unclear about what their book launch event is. Is it an actual party? A sale of the book with a book signing? A meet-the-author open house? It could be any of these. However, your invited guests may not know exactly what a book launch event or party is and what to do.

Authors may send out cryptic invitations like this:

Come celebrate the launch of my new book!

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Refreshments will be provided

Here’s the meta translation that’s going on in the invited guests’ heads:

Ugh! I don’t even read that type of book. I want to support her. But what the heck are we going to do there? Are we going to spend two excruciating hours telling her how great her work is? Will we have to listen to her reading the book? Who else will be there? Will I have to buy the book? Refreshments? Well, since it’s after dinner, I’m guessing there probably won’t be a lot to eat. So I'll have dinner before I go. Do I really want to go?

You have to be very clear with yourself and your invited guests about what the purpose and agenda of this event will be. Give them a reason to attend that adds value to their lives. I have a story that explains why.

That Super Awkward Book Launch Event

An author was going to host a book launch event for her new book. I usually don’t attend these things, but I was curious about this one.

I overestimated the time to get to the venue for the event, and arrived before it was set up. I was kind of glad I did because it gave me an opportunity to watch it unfold in real time.

The venue was a cute, but nondescript, independent bookstore. Lots of children’s books, some featured best-selling fiction and nonfiction, zero depth in any genre. I was able to look through the entire store in less than five minutes.

The author had arrived just before me. She was toting in boxes of her books. Uh oh. The bookstore isn’t carrying her book? Why did she choose to host her event here? It didn’t carry a wide selection of her type of book. Did she want attendees to think that her self-published book is in bookstores? Bookstores, even independent ones, aren’t in the habit of carrying self published books.

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I overheard the author chatting with the bookstore owner about how book sales would be handled. Apparently, the owner didn’t want to register them as regular sales through the cash register. Well, that confirmed what I suspected. This book would only be on consignment sale for the store.

A few (very few) refreshments and wine were put on the counter by the store owner, who also served as bartender.

Stacks of the author’s books were placed around the counter, apparently for sale. There wasn’t a real book signing area, except for a chair by the counter. I had purchased a copy of the book on Amazon in advance, before the launch party was announced. So I brought it with me to have it signed. Looked like a lot of attendees did the same thing. Or did they just steal a copy from the stacks on the counter?

There was no real agenda in the invitation. Because I had gotten there early, after about the first 30 to 45 minutes of the official event, I was getting worn out trying to make conversation with the 25 or so random friends and family of the author.

Then it was announced that we would all gather in some sitting area where the author would be introduced and speak. It went on for what seemed like forever. Unfortunately, the author was positioned right by the door to this area. So if I got up to leave it would be pretty obvious to the author and the entire group. All I could think was, “Oh God, please make this end!”

Is that how you’d like to have your guests remember you and your book?

Virtual Book Launches, Tours, and Trailers

Virtual book launches are being held on Zoom and Facebook Live after the coronavirus pandemic, and they have gained more acceptance. This is a good thing since it now offers opportunities for more people to get involved and interact with authors. I’m surprised that publishers and authors didn’t more enthusiastically embrace this cost-effective and effective model even before the pandemic.

Whether you consider this a book launch party or a virtual book tour, usually it’s an interview with the author, plus Q&A and chat during or after the interview. You could have someone interview you on a Zoom type call, or go live on Facebook or Instagram.

Maybe recruit an interviewer who is a fellow author in your genre, or someone who has recognition or influence for your ideal reader audience. Have the interviewer ask you questions about how the book came to be and what it will offer to readers. But have an agenda of questions and topics prepared in advance to keep the conversation from going too long and off-topic.

Realize, though, that people are overwhelmed with live online video sessions for work, school, and social. So don’t be disappointed if a lot of people don’t attend live. Record the interview and offer it as a replay on social media and YouTube. You’ll be creating a shiny new piece of content to showcase your new book. Don’t forget to post links of where to buy the book in the video description.

Some podcast hosts may also be interested in having you as a podcast guest. You can share the episode on your social media. Plus, the host will usually post it on theirs. A win-win.

Additionally or alternatively, you can create is a video book trailer, even if it's just a minute or two of video to get readers interested in your book. It’s something to post on social on launch day, as well on your Amazon author page.

The Book Launch Break

Celebrating your accomplishment doesn’t have to mean a celebration. Maybe enjoy a special treat to mark the moment. Get some rest. Buy dinner to thank close family and friends who supported you in your journey. Take this break because here’s what’s coming next.

What Book Launch Day Really Is

Whether you have an official celebration or not, your book launch day is really your first day on the job of being a self-published author. Yes, the job. You may write more books over time. But the writing isn’t the main focus anymore. You are now in the author and publisher business.

You’ll be spending your days looking for ways to get your books and content into the hands, hearts, and minds of readers. That means time on social media channels recruiting new fans and engaging with existing ones. You’ll be creating fresh non-book content such as videos, podcasts, blogs, and social media posts to share with your fans.

And, of course, you’ll be tracking your sales, and making adjustments to your advertising, marketing, and social media tactics as needed.

If you find this unsettling, you can go back to writing for your own personal satisfaction. Nothing wrong with that. But if you’re hoping to make some money or make an impact on the world with your books, this is now your job.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 23, 2020:

Mary, I think if you attend these events, you also may have some fodder for blog posts. :) They're just so awkward if not done right.

Thanks for chiming in and have a great day!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 23, 2020:

I admit I seldom go to these book launches. I should start going just to have the experience. Thanks again for the tips here.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 18, 2020:

Hi Bill! Honestly, I think a lot of us have the same reaction to a book launch event. But, yes, we'd be more likely to attend if it's someone close to us. I also really like the virtual launch option.

Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a great weekend!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 18, 2020:

I have never been to a book launch or signing. I think my reaction would be similar to your experience. If a family member or good friend was holding one I would probably attend just to support them but they sound terribly boring. This is great information for anyone planning to launch a book and I do like the idea of a virtual launch. Great job Heidi.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 17, 2020:

Flourish, I actually just wrote down my own personal thoughts about book launch events for how people react. Hey, if I, as an author and author advocate, am thinking these things, I can imagine what's going on in attendees' heads. :)

Yes, a lot of authors just bumble along, making it up along the way. They'll see this or that author doing something for a book launch and just add that to their To Do list, overwhelming themselves and their audience.

I really do like the Zoom interview option. It kind of makes the author into a star, but with less fanfare. And the replay can be a very handy marketing tool.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing! Have a terrific day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 17, 2020:

Hi Liz! Thank you for your kind comments. It was my hope to give authors some food for thought before they spend too much energy and maybe money on it. Appreciate you reading and commenting! Have a beautiful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 17, 2020:

Peggy, that event was so annoying! And you make a good point that if it was a very good friend, you'd probably attend. But then that might be a very different event that's just for close family and friends. Where authors get all mixed up is that they treat it like a worldwide premiere with them as the star! :)

Thanks so much for reading and chiming in! Have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 17, 2020:

Thanks, Miebakagh, for reading! Glad you found it helpful. Have a wonderful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 17, 2020:

Pamela, you cannot imagine what that bookstore event was like. It was a "don't let this happen to you" event for sure. :)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Have a wonderful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 17, 2020:

Linda, you and me both! I didn't even host a launch event for my first book. It was less of a thing back then. Now it's just overdone.

I really think the virtual option is the way to go, even if the pandemic ends and live events are possible. It's too much of an investment for both authors and attendees. And the replay aspect of a virtual launch is a bonus.

Thank you for reading and your support, as always! Have a beautiful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on September 17, 2020:

Bill, I can't even look at yet another daily book launch post! Ugh!

I've never, ever done an official book launch extravaganza for my books. Not even the first one. Like you, I post about on social at the beginning. Then I'll mention this or that book in a podcast or video if it's relevant. I run a few ads on Amazon (and don't get me started on that topic). That's it. It's too overwhelming for both me and my readers otherwise.

Hoping you West Coast folks get some rain soon! Oh my, it's heartbreaking to see the news photos and videos. We've even had some haze which the weather people tell us is from your way. Take care!

Liz Westwood from UK on September 16, 2020:

You give an interesting, realistic and well-balanced insight into book launch day. The information you give here, based on experience, is extremely useful for authors approaching their first book launch to read.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 16, 2020:

Your description of what a person is actually thinking is funny but on target. This is super advice you provide. I like your suggestions about the interview, Zoom book launch party, etc. Seems like some folks just make it up as they go along rather than planning ahead.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 15, 2020:

The book launching celebration you attended sounded agonizing. Unless it was a very good friend of mine having one, I think that I would avoid it at all costs.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 14, 2020:

I have noted these useful information. Thanks.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 14, 2020:

That book launch day you attended at the book store sounds terribly boring. I guess if it was a good friend or maybe an author I really enjoyed I might attend. I like your suggestions, Heidi.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 14, 2020:

I've never thought about holding a book launch event. I like the idea of the virtual one that you've described because as you say you can replay it later. Thanks again for sharing helpful information for writers.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2020:

I can't even begin to guess how many of these book launches I have ignored. I swear there seems to be one per day . . . at least!

I won't do it! I make mention on various sites for one week that a new book has been published. That's it. On to the next project. I may never be a best-selling author, but I will also die knowing I didn't annoy people with my self-promotions. :)

Happy Monday my friend! The smoke remains here; wishing for rain in Olympia.

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