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!