Traditionally, when the publishing work is done and the book goes live on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, etc., people put together what’s called a book launch event. It’s an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family and neighbors usually in your local community. Some people do book launches online. Some people put together a book signing at libraries or bookstores or coffeehouses. One friend of mine is preparing a book launch at the convenient store in their rural town….the place where everyone meets for coffee and donuts in the morning.
I noticed on Facebook that a friend of mine who is a professor at the local university also finished publishing a book. So the two of us got together and set up a “Local Authors Night” at the popular coffeehouse downtown. We set up a Facebook event online and sent out invites. We arranged for the catering and use of the back area of the coffeehouse. There will be coffee, cake balls, scones, and such pastries plus fruit trays for the guests. We both plan to talk five minutes about the books and we asked a friend from Toastmasters to welcome the guests, make everyone feel comfortable, and to introduce us. Afterwards, we’ll do book signing at two separate tables.
There’s a lot of little details to think about when planning a book signing event. This past Friday, we participated in a local festival downtown on the main road called Broadway. The festival is Artwalk and showcases local musicians, authors, and artists. There are craft activities for kids and plenty of food vendors as well. Here are some pictures from the event on Friday.
It rained a lot earlier that morning and afternoon. We expected a smaller turnout but the turnout was great! It’s fun to join up with a local festival because much of the planning for the event is already coordinated and all you need to provide is your products and your booth. Here is a picture of our booth at the Artwalk. We sold about 30 copies of the book Searching for Fire.
We sold the signed books for retail price plus local sales tax and we took both cash and card via a square reader for our cell phone. Square readers are easy to order for free and if you want one for a book event, plan ahead about two weeks for delivery. Also, pay close attention to the type of square reader you need for your cell phone. At the event, keep very close eye on the square reader to prevent it “wandering off”. If that happens, you need to notify your customers that their personal data has been taken. Not good. Other than that, it is real easy to use a square reader. There are several tutorials to get you started and you just set up your products in your square reader library on the cell phone app.
If you plan a book event, it is a really good idea to have at least one volunteer with you. While you sign books, that person handles the money transactions. Other volunteers can help with other activities such as a refreshments table. Also, be sure to order your books several weeks in advance from your publisher. Some publishers provide a nice quantity of books free with your contract and others offer books at a discount to you. The discount is larger if you buy more in bulk.
Before the event, prepare a detailed list of what you need. The following are some items we brought to the Artwalk:
Bottled water, battery back-up for the cell phone, cell phone, square reader, any additional cords needed, and tablecloth. (We got a custom tablecloth with a picture of the book cover. We ordered this through Vistaprint with one of their online coupons. They also do flyers and tote bags and business cards, etc.) We put the books in a plastic tote with a plastic lid to protect from inclement weather. We also needed a booth tent. We got some nice pens. Don’t use gel pens that smear when you sign books. We bought a sales order book at Dollar General to keep track of all sales. You will also need to fill out a sales tax form for a festival as well. Bring a money box and plenty of coins and small bills for exchanging money.
We did some drawings for the Artwalk as well to bring in customers. We did a free drawing for the community in which we gave away three signed books to three individuals. The other drawing we did was sponsored by a local company. In exchange for buying a book that night, our customers entered into a drawing for gift cards. The local company donated 6 gift cards ( 2 $25 Applebees cards, 2 $25 Buffalo Wild Wings cards, and 2 $50 Wal-mart cards……….and yes, I live in the Midwest lol). At the end of the night, we did the drawings. We announced the winners on Facebook and thanked the local company. The next day, we delivered the gift cards to the winners.
For the drawings, we purchased two dry erase boards from Dollar General and 2 metal stands (use metal to avoid them blowing over in the wind). We used dry erase markers to write our messages about the books and the drawings. We had enclosed boxes for the drawings and individual drawing sheets for the customers to fill out.
Other than that, we did two other things to make our booth stand out at the event. Since it was an Artwalk, I spent about a week beforehand drawing pencil images of the main characters and scenes in the book. The drawings were in a black sketchbook. We displayed this on the table and the kids loved looking at it! We also bought some small wolf statues to place on the table to go with the theme from the Searching for Fire book cover. The kids played with these too while we talked to the parents.
If you do more than three festival events a year, it is also a good idea to apply for a separate checking account for tax purposes later on. Also, you could consider setting up a paypal account as another means of payment.
The final information to add about launching a book at a public event……..marketing is so important! Social media is great for this…….Facebook, Facebook events, Instagram, and even a blog such as this. Make certain you thank the people involved with the event and any sponsors. You can do a Facebook Live of the book signing as well or you could make a YouTube video. Prior to this event, I did use YouTube and create a video excerpt of the book Searching for Fire. Basically, I downloaded blueberry voice recording software for free, I setup the book cover as the video image, and I recorded myself reading one of my favorite parts of the book. It turned out well and I recommend trying this. Here is the link to my YouTube video for Searching for Fire:
Be sure to pick out a nice outfit for the event. We wore some shirts with book themes on them. Fix yourself up to look nice and most important of all, smile! Look like you are having a good time! Celebrate! This book launch party culminates at the end of a very long writing, editing, and publishing process. You did it! Have fun with the party!
So these are some ideas for doing a book launch event. You might want to consider other things like themed refreshments or favor bags or bookmarks with your favorite character on them from the book. You might have a graphic artist friend too that might help you with creating some awesome digital art or a cool video. But most of all, try to stick to a decent budget and don’t overspend. If you can get help from friends and family, do so! Most of the time, they are very happy to assist you with this exciting venture!
I’d be interested in hearing other ideas on book launching. Feel free to comment any tips or suggestions. Thanks and best of luck with your book launch event!