11 Steps for Your On-Site Book Launch

Business AcceleratorA launch party signals your book is available for purchase, and you want to introduce it with as big a splash as possible. To be clear, this is a launch primarily, not a book signing per se. More goes on than at a signing. All book launches include book signing, but not all book signings are launches. Got it?

A couple of weeks ago, I provided steps for planning an on-line, virtual book launch. Today we go the more traditional route. I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Running an online book launch means I can do it in PJs if I want. I don’t HAVE to talk face to face with anyone. In person book launches are scary!”

I was an educator for 39 years. Promoting myself wasn’t part of my make-up or job description. In fact, I was quite adept at dodging self-promotion and deflecting praise by crediting others. Now, I am Promo Woman! (or Promo Woman In-the-Making). I know my new reality is that marketing and promotion are a part of the career I chose. To that end, I may have the writing world’s largest collection of how-to market and promote books.

In this post, I share some of my thinking and learning about how to pull-off a successful launch. These eleven steps should help. Before you do it, you gotta plan it, and here’s how:

1) Set measurable goals for your launch to measure success. A certain number attending? Minimum number of books sold to meet expenses? Specific number of media mentions or attendees? How will you know if the launch is a success relative to your overall business plan?

2) Identify themes, locales, and other salient features in your book so you can find the right launch venue and activities for the event. Is there a connection between a locale and book theme to tie together?

3) Choose several possible venue options. Your first choice may turn you down. Think outside the box. Don’t default to a book store unless you must. You are more likely to attract media attention if your event is more unusual.

4) Contact the launch event venue for permission several months in advance so you know space limitations or special requirements. Make suggestions for joint promotions you and the venue can do.

5) Select your launch event team. You will need an overall manager, someone taking money from book sales, people to help set up/take down, photographer, food providers/servers, and any other areas needing supervision. This team will not only function on the day of the event, but they can help you plan promotions, event activities, and other idea-generating you need.

6) Set a budget for decorations, advertising and other promotions, handout materials, food (if possible to serve), and other expense areas.

7) Create an advertising blitz that includes at least 10-15 friends to send e-mails and post to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Create print promotions like flyers, posters, business cards, etc. One tip: print a card with a special launch day price on your book good until midnight. The genius is if you don’t put a date on it, you can use the leftover cards again and again.

8) Who will you invite and how? On average, half those you invite will attend. A larger percentage of your friends will attend than media folks. You know how many your venue can hold, so double that number to invite. When thinking media, consider local weekly papers as well as local radio and TV and major newspapers. Invite the media a month before the event, then remind them two weeks and one week out.

9) When planning activities: on the day allow 1.5 hours for set up/organizing the site and 1 hour for take down. Make sure your time line is approved by the venue. Adjust if they won’t allow you that much time on each end by reducing the number of activities, decorations, etc.

10) Identify giveaways. I have some kitchen wares, kitchen linens, cookbooks, signed books, and will offer to name a character in the next book after a winner.

11) Plan the minute-by-minute activities for your launch. Most launches last an hour or two depending upon how elaborate the event is. Schedule time to tell about your book and/or read a small exciting part. Allow Q&A time. Sign books at the end. Engage attendees as much as possible with frequent prize winning opportunities and participation activities. Make a floor plan of the set up for food tables, signing table, sign-in table, and other aspects you need to plan for so everyone can help.


Prime Rib and Punishment is set in downtown Glendale, AZ. I created my fictional culinary school in the historic Beet Sugar Factory. I also have scenes in a fictional antique store in the historic Catlin Court area. I am asking those two places first if I can launch Prime Rib and Punishment at their sites.

My back-up venue is my local kitchen supplies store in the mall. The manager is willing to let me use space right outside the store for the launch if I need that site. I would love to demonstrate a simple recipe from my book using some of the store’s gadgets. However, health department rules prohibit me bringing in food and/or preparing it there. My first two choices will allow me to have food.

At my launch, we’ll solve mini-mysteries and eat food from the book, so I’ll need to schedule time for that. I’ll share my detailed plan for the live, on-site book launch for Prime Rib and Punishment (coming out from Oak Tree Press later this fall or early winter) in a post for the Bonus features section at the Write on Sisters site. We’ll be sure to let you know when it is live!

Author: Sharon Arthur Moore

Sharon Arthur Moore is an intrepid cook, who has lived in every region of the country except the Pacific Northwest and loved every single one of them.

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