Celebrate with a Launch Party

Photo Credit: Jeff McVay

When my debut novel hit shelves, I wanted to do something special. Too many people in my community had played a part in the journey, and I wanted everyone involved to be publicly acknowledged for their contributions to the book.

The night before the official release date, we held a Launch Party at our local bookstore, Square Books. I didn’t have a big budget, so we served Champagne and Chocolate to keep the event nice but affordable. (We also provided non-alcoholic bubbly so everyone could participate in the toast.) The night was lovely. Beyond lovely. And it will always be a favorite memory of mine.

If you’re thinking of having a launch party, and I strongly encourage you to do so, keep these simple tips in mind when planning your big event.

1. Consider your crowd. Ours is a laid back group from all walks of life, so I wanted everyone to feel comfortable. We kept it very low key and emphasized the “come as you are, bring the kids” aspect of the evening. The public was invited.
2. Consider your space. Our bookstore hosts many author events each month and is prepared for such crowds. It’s always great to support a local bookseller, but if you don’t have access to such a store/gift shop, think of themes that correspond with your book (knitting, outdoors, swimming, cooking, etc.) and tie the launch party into a suitable location.
3. Consider your time. A typical schedule is to have a “soft start.” Allow folks to trickle in and mingle, enjoying the free refreshments while you chat and sign a few copies to get the evening going. Then the bookseller (host) introduces you, and you speak for approximately 20 minutes. Then, you sign again.
4. Consider your speech. It’s best to mix up your presentation with a little reading, telling how the book came to be, thanking folks involved, and…if appropriate…inserting some sort of entertainment. I had two singers perform one song each to give voice to two of my favorite characters. Both gave emotional performances that moved many to tears, and I think it was the best part of the night.
5. Consider your signature. I admit I have AWFUL penmanship, but I do plan ahead and bring a stash of good pens. Always a good idea.

You’ll probably be too busy to think about taking pictures, so ask a friend to capture the night on film. Believe me, it’ll all be a blur. And don’t forget the minor details: wine glasses, champagne flutes, bottle openers, cake knife, napkins, plates, utensils, tablecloth, camera, extra books, bookmarks, etc.

Finally, if you plan to sell books at the launch, I strongly recommend you let someone else handle the sales. The last thing you want to worry about is money. It’s a once in a lifetime moment. Live it up!

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About Julie Cantrell

Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist and public speaker. A TEDx presenter, she is known to inspire others to live a more compassionate and authentic life. Her debut novel, Into the Free, earned a starred review by Publishers Weekly, the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award, and the Christy Award Book of the Year while being named a Best Read of 2012 by USA TODAY. The sequel, When Mountains Move, was named a 2013 Best Read by USA TODAY and won the Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone was selected as an Okra Pick by SIBA and Book of the Year by Pulpwood Queens. It earned a starred review by Library Journal who also named it a Best Book of 2016 was a finalist for three literary awards: INSPYs, Carol Award, and SIBA Southern Book Prize. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship as well as the Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship at Rivendell Writers’ Colony. Her fourth novel, Perennials, will release November 2017. Learn more: Website: www.juliecantrell.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliecantrellauthor Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieCantrell Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/juliecantrell Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/juliecantrell

21 thoughts on “Celebrate with a Launch Party

  1. Ohhh how lovely!! Congrats! What an awesome idea. Champagne and chocolate. When I did book signings for my children’s books, it was so exciting to see familiar faces. It was really nice to see those who came to support me.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    Can’t wait until I have a launch day for my novels.

    • Martha – I can’t wait until your launch day either, and I hope you share all the exciting updates with us! I never really did a launch party with my children’s books, so I’m glad I savored the moment this go around. It really is a once in a lifetime experience, and I encourage everyone to enjoy it as much as possible. Thanks for joining the chat! j

  2. I live in the middle of nowhere, no bookstore besides Walmart. Ugh. I’ll have to think of what to do. Hopefully my first published book will be one of those based on one of the surrounding cities and I can do something connected to that. They love their history/landmarks around here–so that’s good.

    • Oh, Melissa…I know all about living in the middle of nowhere. I’ve done plenty of that over the years. While Walmart probably wouldn’t be an option, I bet the perfect solution will pop up after you have the book complete. Every book has SOME kind of theme or special interest mentioned in it, so you’ll find the ideal opportunity when the time is right. Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress. j

  3. Wonderful advice, Julie – wish I could have been there! Square Books is one of my favorite shops in the world! I visited with 2 of my children several years ago, and again last September. Into the Free sounds outstanding. I just ordered two copies, one a birthday gift for my daughter. Thank you for your excellent work!

    • Oh, Judy…wow! Thank you so very much for ordering Into the Free. I really hope you’ll let me know what you think after you read it. I’m truly honored you gave that to your daughter as a gift. It should really open some wonderful discussions between the two of you, at least that’s my hope. It explores mother-daughter relationships quite a bit, as well as the choices we make as women. I hope you enjoy it. As for Square Books, I really do consider it the heart of our town, and I feel extremely honored to have my books on their shelves. I can’t imagine a better place to have launched the book. The only thing missing was YOU! I’m not sure where you live, but if you ever visit Oxford again, feel free to contact me. Maybe we can meet for lunch or something. Thanks for your support and for joining the chat. j

  4. Thanks Julie!

    You brought back some good memories from my launch celebration. We had a cake decorated with a picture of my book cover, which made for a fun picture memory.

    I shared the party with another author whose book released at the same time, which meant we stretched our audiences.

    Like you, we had a soloist. She sang for free because I allowed her to sell her CDs.

    I totally agree about having someone else do the money part. Phew. So glad we did that.

    We had door prizes during out presentations, and again later, to keep people around longer. I scoured my house and bookshelves and found items and books I didn’t need that still looked new, and presto, I put them on a table people so people could dig in when their name was drawn. Just an idea I thought I’d throw out there for all you future book launch partiers.

    • Cheryl, I LOVE these ideas. I’m all about the more the merrier…so being able to share the joy with a friend sounds wonderful to me. And who doesn’t love door prizes?! Fabulous ideas, and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed a wonderful launch for your book. Thanks for sharing your tips! j

    • Charise…if you could see how hard I’m laughing. I loved everything about my launch party EXCEPT the attention on ME as the “main attraction.” It sounds like you’re much more prepared for that than I’ll ever be. I think I was shaking the entire time 🙂 Keep us posted on your adventures. j

  5. Book launches are so much more effective than book signings. Sounds like yours was a total success, Julie! You can’t go wrong with chocolate.

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  7. Great tips. I absolutely enjoy book launch parties. Movies get them so why not books?

    • Brooklyn – absolutely! If only I had the red carpet, the Hollywood stylist, and the fab clothes (plus Johnny Depp on my arm)…Hmmm…oh well, one can dream right 🙂 ?

  8. Oh, My! I completely forgot I had posted this blog! I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your comments. I’ve been out of town for Spring Break with my family – sans computer (a true treat) – and am trying to catch up. Here I am, skimming through the Cooler and voila! I’m blushing and feeling tons of guilt, so if any of you are still checking for replies, let me try to tackle that now…so sorry! j

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