Your book’s written and nearly ready to publish, so what now? Many authors choose to have a book launch party to celebrate the happy occasion and let people know that their book is available for purchase. However, for indie authors, book launch parties can be quite costly. Many independent authors decide to skip their book launch parties all together because of the sheer cost it. This is a mistake, mainly because book launch parties are a great promotional tool for any author.
I’m here to tell you that anyone can have an amazing and unforgettable book launch party without breaking the bank. With a little time and effort, you can throw an awesome party that your guests will be talking about for months to come—and if they remember the party, they’ll remember your book.
The first step to throwing a book launch party is choosing a venue—you should probably decide this a few months prior to the party in order to better prepare. Community club houses, indie bookstores, and libraries, are great places to host your party if you plan on inviting the general public to your book launch.
However, if you only intend on extending invitations to family, friends, and friends of friends, I recommend saving yourself a little extra cash and hosting it at your house/family member’s house/friend’s house. A house is ideal if your guest list is between 20-50 people—this is the route I took when I hosted my first book launch party for The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined.
You’ve got two choices here: 1.) strictly appetizers, or 2.) dinner. I’ve learned from personal experience that although offering dinner is a great way to get people to your party, it takes the attention away from you and your book. Once everyone’s sat down for dinner, you’ve lost your audience to food. It’s sad, but true. Full bellies make people sleepy, and when people are sleepy they leave early. Save yourself some grief and stick to appetizers (preferably relating to your book) to keep your guests minds on what’s important: your newly published novel.
If, however, you do decide to serve dinner at your party and you’ve got some extra money and not a lot of time, hiring a food truck is a great way to keep your guests fed and is often cheaper than getting your party catered. If, on the other hand, you’ve got a lot of time and want to save some money, make dinner yourself! Make dishes that can easily and inexpensively be made in bulk and, if you can, have the food you serve relate to your book (for instance, my book, The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined, takes place in Germany so I served German food at my launch party).
If most of your invitees are 21 and over, novelty cocktails are a fun way to engage your guests. For my book launch party I had three novelty cocktails: Wilhelm’s Poisoned Watermelon (midori sour), Finn’s Bravery in a Cup (rum and vanilla coke), and Isole’s Kiss of Ice (non-alcoholic mint julep). The specialty drinks were a huge hit, and got people asking about the characters they were named after.
I know it might be tempting to go out and buy lots of decorations to impress your guests with; however, the costs of snazzy decorations adds up quickly. To save your money for the things that matter (like buying books and merchandise to sell/give away at your party), gather some creative friends and make the decorations yourselves.
I, for instance, employed one of my artist friends to draw a few of my characters. I printed those characters out and stuck them on the gift bags, the center pieces for the tables, and the labels for the appetizers. Since my book pays homage to The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, I also cut out some snowflakes and strung them up beside a poster of my book (which I had printed at Staples).
Bottom line: be creative and employ all free resources at your disposal—you probably have more of those than you realize.
Everyone likes free stuff! Handing out gift bags with things relating to your book is a great way promote your new novel.
For my book launch party I bought laminated bookmarks, customized pens (99 Cent store pens which I wrapped with stickers of my book’s cover), and German candy to put in the gift bags. If you’ve got a bit more money on hand, buy customizable tote bags in bulk and put your book cover on them or your publishing logo (if you have one).
Sticking your business card in the gift bags is another great way for your guests to remember you and your book. When you order business cards from places like vistaprint.com they offer the option of putting tipping percentages and other useful charts on the back of your business card. If you do this, the chances of your guests keeping your business card are much higher.
Make sure most of the favors you hand out are useful things that your guests can utilize every day such as: pens, bookmarks, tote bags, USB drives, notepads, can coolers, bottle openers, letter openers, keychain flashlights, mouse pads, shirts, etc.
Keeping your guests interested and engaged is a major part of orchestrating a memorable book launch party. Have games ready for your guests to play, and encourage participation with prizes like merchandise, candy, or even the chance to win a free copy of your book.
At my book launch party we played a couple games. The first was a fairy tale themed “Who Am I?” game (my book has to do with fairy tales, so it made sense) in which I wrote a bunch of fairy tale names on sticky labels and stuck them on my guests’ backs. My guests then had to ask each other yes or no questions in regards to which fairy tale character they were. The first person to correctly guess who they were received a German chocolate bar.
I also set up a fairy tale trivia game, in which the winner won a German chocolate bar, a keychain of my main character (Destan), and a free paperback copy of the second book in the series (The Prince of Prophecy Vol. II: Cursed, launching this December). Finally, I raffled off a copy of Destined—if you’re going to do this, I recommend drawing a winner before your guests arrive.
It really doesn’t matter what games or activities you have at your party, just so long as you make it fun and engaging for your guests. The more fun they have, the more interested they’ll be in purchasing your book!
What is the most important thing to have at your book launch party? Your books, of course! Order as many copies as you can to sell at your launch party—trust me, if they’re available to your guests, your guests will buy them. If you don’t have a lot of money to purchase physical copies of your books, you can also set up a laptop pay station, where your launch party attendees can purchase your book online. As an added incentive to buy your book at the launch party, give your guests a discounted price on your novel and offer to sign it for them.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have at least some physical copies of your book at the launch party. Never assume someone is going to buy your book at a later date, even if they said they will—that’s like counting your chickens before they hatch. If you’re able, buy enough copies for everyone at the party—your guests are more likely to buy the book if it’s physically available to them.
Buying your own books will probably be one of the more expensive parts of your party no matter what you decide to do; however, they are crucial to your party’s success. Cut back where you can in the other areas mentioned above so you can have physical copies of your books on hand—I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Well, there you have it, a basic overview of a book launch party on the cheap. Start your planning in advance—the sooner you do, the less stress you’ll have to deal with when you get closer to the big day. Happy planning!