You’ve just spent years researching, writing, editing, and publishing your book. At times it’s been excruciating but you’ve persevered and want to share the joy. So just like having a baby, it’s time to celebrate the birth of your book.
There are a number of reasons to throw a Book Release Party:
- It’s a time to celebrate with the people who supported you: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and people you randomly meet on the street.
- A book release party is a prime opportunity to start your initial book buzz.
- A party with all your supporters is a great way to help get your investment back. Here is an opportunity to sell direct-to-consumer with no middleman (like Amazon) to take a cut.
- It’s a great photo op, providing umpteen photos with a whole room full of people having a great time holding, reading, and partying with your book in hand. You’ll use these photos for the rest of your promotional days.
Book Release Parties have various looks and feels to them: A children’s book release party might be held on a Sunday afternoon with bouncy castles and cupcakes. A historic/fiction/fantasy might encourage a character-costume party! A charity related genre might be geared toward a fundraising event. So while these 21 tips can be used for any book or genre, please tweak these ideas to make them your own to suit your unique brand and story.
Tips for Hosting a Great Book Release Party
1. Hold your party at a centrally located restaurant, bar, or coffee shop that has plenty of parking and some atmosphere. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to get there, so remove the hurdles. If you have to give intricate directions, then it’s not a good venue.
2. Don’t have your book release party at a bookstore. We love bookstores, but they’re hardly a place to party with robust celebration. They also take 40%! A book release party is a prime opportunity to make back a lot of your initial investment to publish your book, so this is not a good time to give someone 40% of your sales.
3. Talk to the restaurant/bar/coffee shop and tell them what you’re doing. They’ll welcome your event with open arms – particularly if you have it on an off night. If they’re already full to the rafters on Thursday/Friday/Saturday, and empty the other nights, offer to bring in your crowd on a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday. They’ll more than likely give you a food and/or drink special. (You could even ask them to put a twist on the name of a drink honoring your book, or a character in the book!)
4. You should buy the finger foods, and everyone can pay for their own drinks. Many people will eat at the restaurant too, which is attractive for the restaurant.
5. Host your book release party on a special day. That could be as simple as your birthday. Or it could be a day that represents the book and its topic. For example, if it’s book about World War II, maybe have it on Dec 7, Pearl Harbor Day, or Veterans Day. If it’s a story about your life with triplets, have it on National Multiples Day. Or it could be a day that means something to you only. For example, if your book is about an accident that changed your life, have it on that day as a show of honoring the fact that you persevered past it.
6. Get the Square or a PayPal charger for your smart phone for taking credit cards. Statistics prove that people will buy 30% more if they can charge it.
7. You could get a 24 x 36 poster board printed of your book cover. These are great to have at the entry of your book party – and to use as a photo op! (You can get these printed at Office Depot or Staples. They’re often on sale for around $10 – $15)
8. Remember your branding. If your book cover is red, white, and black, you should decorate your signing and sales tables in those colors – table cloth, maybe a runner, even props. If you have specific props on your book cover, use those props for your table decoration.
9. You should create a flyer that lists ways that these friends and family can help you market your book. This flyer will be put in every book that is sold. This list could include:
- “Leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads”
- “Ask your book club to read this book”
- “Post on your social media about the book – with a link to Amazon”
- List your hashtags to use with social media posts
- “Invite the author to speak at any club you belong to”
10. DON’T give a discount for your book. These are your people, your tribe, those who want to support you. They don’t expect a discount.
11. It’s great if the venue has some music to pump in to the room. Not too loud, of course, just loud enough to create an energetic mood.
12. Invite your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues via Evite, Facebook events, and direct email. All of them. Do not rely solely on Facebook shares because people do not always see your posts.
13. It’s nice to have an emcee, or someone to introduce you before you address the crowd. It could be your publishing coach, a local media personality, or even your spouse. They would give a short program before you come to the mic, and simply explain what it takes to write and publish a book, then how they can all help you market your book. The emcee would tell the crowd to please spread the word on their social media, use the chosen hashtag, leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads, and if the author is a speaker, to please pass their name on to a committee who might hire speakers, or invite them to visit your book club!
14. The actual selling and signing of your book could look a couple of different ways:
- You could have people entering the party and mingling for ½ hour or so, then give your program. At the end of your program all the attendees would line up to buy the book, then head over to your table to get them signed.
- Or people could buy the book whenever they arrive, and you would sign them while you’re mingling. (It is a great idea to spend at least a bit of the time – during the strongest selling time – sitting at a signing table, for the sake of great photos. It’s a beautiful photo to have you signing books with a line of people in wait.
15. Get a nice pen – preferably in your branding colors – to sign your books. If your book is about your journey through breast cancer, maybe a pink pen is a good idea. If your cover is green and red, those would be great pen colors. A thin-tipped Sharpie is great. A thick Sharpie seeps through the page.
16. Think of a couple of nice ways to sign your book. A catchphrase of sorts. Some signatures will be more personal than others of course, but a standard signature is something you should think about. Do you have a message that you’d like readers to take away from your book? i.e. “Keep on trekkin’!” or “Never forget.” “Enjoy your journey,” etc. At a book release party, people might be more patient, but if you’re selling books in the back of the room after a speaking event, and you have a line of people, you have to keep it short and quick or you’ll lose that sale.
17. Have a friend or two in charge of selling your book. This is your night, enjoy it by mingling and leave the work to others.
18. Hire a photographer. Please don’t have your spouse or good friend take photos, because they should be a part of your celebration. They’ll get to chatting with the attendees and often forget to take photos. (Every. Single. Time.) Your book release party is a great photo op. The photos you get at this event will be used throughout your promotional work forever. Get a photographer with a professional camera – not an iPhone, please. When interviewers ask for photos, you want to look professional by sending them hi-resolution, well-composed photos. They should take photos of people holding your book, reading your book, and buying your book. A headshot of you with your book would be great! Get a photo of a line of people waiting to get their book signed, or a crowd of people all surrounding you with their book waiting to be signed. A great photo is a close up of you signing your book, with a pile of books on standby. And the most fabulous photo op is when you are up giving your program, and have everyone’s undivided attention, get the photographer to take a photo of everyone holding up your book in celebration!
19. About a half-hour to one hour into the start time, you should give a short program. That program could look a couple of different ways:
- After your introduction you would speak for about ten minutes. You would tell a little bit about why you decided to write this book and the process of doing so. You could thank the people involved, and maybe read a short excerpt or two – of about 2 to 3 minutes each.
- Or you could have all attendees sit in chairs arranged in theater style and give a longer program. That might include guest speakers who have something to do with your book or messaging, or longer excerpts.
- Either of these formats could end in a Q&A about writing, publishing, or your topic. This is also an opportunity to ask everyone for help. These are your people, your squad, your team, and they want to help you. Ask them for help. Do you want specific connections that they might have? Tell them specifically what you’re looking for to help you in your goals.
20. Think about having a giveaway. It’s a nice way to build your database so you can share book news and information about new releases down the line. Everyone could put their business card in a fishbowl or fill out a small form with name and email and enter their name in a drawing. The winner gets a prize. The prize could have something to do with your book – or not. It could be a Kindle, it could be a gift card at the local bookstore, or dinner for two at the restaurant you’re partying in.
21. Create a game for the night! A fun thing to do is create a game for the night that encourages attendees to get to know each other, social media engagement, and an energetic room. For example, you could create a Bingo game. Each square has a task, or an answer that requires looking in the book. One square might be “Who is my editor?” Another square might be “Take a selfie with my book and post it on Facebook and Instagram with #MyBookParty. Another square might be “In chapter 3, what is the food mentioned that is known to prevent hair loss?” When someone hits a Bingo they get entered into the contest to win a ______.
While these are tips for hosting a great book release party, they can seamlessly spill over into any book party. Have a second, maybe smaller party in another part of town, or gather other authors and have a joint book party, which is a great opportunity to introduce each other to new markets.
So cheers to you on the birth of your new baby. Congratulations, it’s a book!
Polly Letofsky is a book coach, and owner of My Word Publishing. She has helped shepherd over 200 books, 35 of which were best sellers. Her mission with My Word Publishing is to help save authors from very bad, very expensive mistakes. For more information, please peruse www.MyWordPublishing.com