Hot tips from my first Book Launch Party

Me (in the hat and dark blue jacket) and my fantastic emcee talking to the audience Photo by Cassandra Capacchione, all rights reserved by E. Jurus as event host.

My launch party was a mixture of greatness and controlled chaos. I’ll explain that.

I’ve done a lot of event planning in my time, and had every detail worked out, on a substantial spreadsheet — or so I thought. Actually, all my planning went…well, as planned 😉 Where I lost some control was in the enthusiasm of my helpers. Couldn’t have done it without them, but for the next launch I’ll have to come up with a system — maybe lists of tasks for each of them.

Running a book launch is impossible without a great crew of helpers. I should have allotted more time for the set up and take down, though, even though it would have added to the venue rental price. More time = less chaos, though.

This was the late Sydney Burciul’s favourite view. Photo by E. Jurus, all rights reserved.

My venue was ideal for the occasion: the event wing at Heartland Forest Nature Preserve. Since much of Book 1 takes place in forested areas, the setting was perfect. The back story of the Preserve was important to my hubby and I, and touched a lot of attendees as well, and since my protagonist has a disability, the creation of the Preserve for a disabled girl added even greater resonance. In addition, a few people did enjoy walking around the property after the event (since the mosquitoes were out, I offered complimentary insect repellent, gentle enough for children as well).

The room was great — plenty of light, lots of plugs for all my equipment (lighting for the photo booth; electricity for the slide show that contained the travel trivia contest I ran to win a gift basket, for my Square reader and receipt printer, for my laptop with my music playlist, and for the coffee-maker and hot-water urn on the refreshment table), plenty of tables and chairs to use (we set them all up ourselves). I had enough light over my left shoulder to be able to sign books.

I bought myself a beautiful feather pen to use for signing — it fit the theme of the books and a lot of people thought it was cool. Did make a bit of a mess on my hands from dipping the nib into the bottle of ink, but it was great fun to use. Photo by Cassandra Capacchione, all rights reserved by E. Jurus as event host.

Here’s how the event proceeded:

  • I allowed attendees 10 minutes to arrive before we began the official program. That also gave me time to greet a few of them, but my hubby was on hand as my greeter.
  • My emcee, Charmaine, welcomed everyone and introduce me officially, then conducted an interview with me based on some pre-arranged questions I’d provided her beforehand.
  • After the interview, the audience was invited to ask questions.
  • Following that, I gave a short address to the audience as well as a roughly 10-minute reading from the book.
  • After that, I moved to my author table to sign books that attendees purchased. I had 2 great helpers (and friends), Patti and Debbie, to hand out swag bags and process the payments. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my Square reader to connect, so it was cash only, but I made that as easy as possible by selling copies for $20, which is the denomination that all our ATMs invariably dispense.
  • While that was going on, people could have their photo taken at the photo booth, enjoy refreshments (trays of small sandwiches, charcuterie and pastries), and participate in the travel photo contest if they chose.
  • At 10 minutes before wrap-up, which worked out well because all the signings were done by then, I went through the contest ballots and marked the winner, which I announced to close out the proceedings along with thanks and an invitation to walk the forest.
I had some fun with my signing table display, including a custom book rack that my hubby made for me, an atmospheric lantern, and a beautiful flower arrangement. Photo by Cassandra Capacchione, all rights reserved by E. Jurus as event host.
Decorations on the refreshment table came from the book (actual or in spirit): the letter that protagonist Romy receives from the president of a remote college offering her a job; a lighted gargoyle (gargoyle figures all over Tempus College campus); a globe to symbolize both Romy’s travels in as she tries to figure out what’s going on, and also representing the adventure theme of the event. Photo by Cassandra Capacchione, all rights reserved by E. Jurus as event host.

Best things I did:

  • Invite a friend who’s a professional speaker to be my emcee. We met while we were both members of Toastmasters International, and I knew she’d do a great job. Attendees all commented on how smoothly everything ran, a testament to both Charmaine’s skill and the meticulous planning notes I shared with her in advance.
  • Hire a pro photographer to take pix at the event I brought my own very good camera, but had absolutely no time time to take any photos myself, and of course I needed her to take photos throughout the event and of me doing my stuff.
  • Recruit friends, and some family, to help. There’s a fair amount of work in setting up a successful book launch, and you’re going to need a team. It was especially critical at the signing table — the line-up to buy a book formed fast and furiously, and the whole thing wouldn’t have gone nearly as well without my helpers.

Things I’d do differently next time:

  • Definitely build in more time before the event start to get things set up without running around madly and after the wrap-up for a more controlled dismantling.
  • Make sure I had my Square reader running smoothly. Everything was set up in terms of the banking and software aspects, but for whatever reason I couldn’t get it to connect at the event. Luckily everyone who bought a book had cash or gave me a cheque.
  • Leave more time to get my books printed and shipped. Amazon made a hash of the printing (incorrect formatting and typesetting), and the delivery driver dumped the shipping boxes on our driveway in such a way that some of the books were actually damaged. I relayed that information to Amazon, and they said they couldn’t do anything unless I returned all the copies. This would have left me without any copies to sell at the Launch, and as the books were still readable, I chose to go ahead and use them, with a disclaimer and a special price (below my cost). Getting good printed copies from Amazon takes several weeks, so for anyone holding a book launch in the future, leave yourself plenty of time to make sure the uploaded files are error-free (Amazon printed the older, uncorrected file), and to have at least 2 weeks for printing and shipping.

That’s all I’m including in this post, as WordPress is giving me so many headaches I’m very close to changing platforms. More to come in a future post. All in all the Launch Party was a success, and I owe much to everyone who helped out, and everyone who so generously bought one or more books (for themselves and others they wanted to give one to).

Photo by Cassandra Capacchione, all rights reserved by E. Jurus as event host.

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