Initially I wasn’t even going to have a book launch, bound as I was by the bonds of self-published shame. If people opened the newspaper and saw me parading around with my POD-published book, wouldn’t they assume I’d lost my mind to self-delusion? Wouldn’t the really published writers raise an eyebrow and snort, in the same way I had in the past when I’d seen other self-publishers talk the traditionally published talk? (Not because I was really published, but because I knew they weren’t.) Wouldn’t the girls I went to school with see the pictures in the paper and think to themselves, Gosh! She’s put on a few pounds!, instead of, She’s done what she always said she would – and she’s only 27! like I wanted them to?
It was the pictures in the paper that did it – the thought of the free publicity. If I had a launch, I could invite people to it, and if people came, the local newspaper could take photos. Soon, the whole city would know I’d (self) published a book.
I could also buy new clothes. Maybe even shoes.
So I decided to have a launch. Last week I guest-posted on Beth Morrissey‘s Hell or High Water Writer blog about my recipe for a perfect book launch. It involves the aforementioned new outfit, fancy pens and an hour from every single person you know. You can read the whole post here.
My launch went really well – much better than I’d expected. This was all down to the lovely people who attended – the people who showed up on time, who bought books, who posed for photos, who took photos and who hung around outside for an hour drawing inquisitive looks from passers-by – and the bookstore that hosted me, Douglas Bookshop.
- Make sure everyone knows you’re having a book launch. Tweet it, e-mail it, set up a Facebook event. Post flyers and posters around the local area and try to get some advance notice of it in the local press.
- A proper book launch can be a lot to handle. I took the easier route and had a kind of book-signing-pretending-to-be-a-book-launch thing. There was no drink or nibbles, no readings or teary-eyed speeches and no one officially ‘launched’ the book. (I’m saving all those for my ‘real’ first book launch, should I ever be lucky enough to get my novel published.) I did get my attendees to hang around for an hour though, which made it look like more of an event, and as a result we all got our pictures in the paper.
- Don’t sell copies of your book to any friends of family prior to the launch. I did (because at first, I wasn’t having a launch) and it was a mistake. You need as many sales as possible on launch day; you need to impress the bookseller who will be wondering whether or not to keep a good stock of your book. Plus signing them gives you something to do with your hands.
- It’s better to have too many books than to run out of them on the day. Count a book for everyone you know whose coming and then add at least 50. You can always take them back and sell them to the bookseller at a later date, or sell them to other bookstores. If your launch gets a lot of press coverage, add even more for passers-by.
- Co-ordinate your outfit with the cover of your book. It’ll look great in photos. Unless it’s florescent green or something.
Another great idea and one I’ll definitely try in the future is a virtual book tour. They’re simply all the rage these days, daahling. The idea is simple: instead of going on a grueling (and expensive) tour of distant bookshops, Travelodges and plastic-wrapped egg salad sandwiches from train station concession stands, you ‘tour’ blogs from the comfort of your own desk. Author Keris Stainton recently did this to accompany the launch of her book, Della Says: OMG! and she kindly agreed to share with me her thoughts on its effectiveness:
“I was keen to do a blog tour for my book, mainly because I wouldn’t be where I am today without blogging. I’m a blogaholic. I write quite a few and I read a lot. I understand The Power of the Blog, in other words. I emailed pretty much everyone whose blog I read and asked them if they wouldn’t mind hosting me. Everyone I asked said yes, which was wonderful. I wasn’t very organised with the details, so there was a lot of back and forth about what I would do and what date I would do it on. If I do another tour, I’ll certainly try to be more disciplined about this. Then it was a matter of writing the guest posts and answering the interview questions, etc. Again, I was quite last minute with it all – obviously you’re doing a blog tour around the time the book comes out, so you’re already busy – if I do it again, I’ll try to get everything done a bit more in advance. I keep saying ‘if’ I do it again, but I almost certainly will do it again for my next book. It was a lot of work, but I’m sure it was worth it. I got lots of lovely comments and it got my name out there and alerted a lot of people to the book. The only downside is that people will get sick of hearing about you if you happen to pop up on a lot of the blogs they read. I hope I avoided this by guesting on a lot of different blogs, rather than just book blogs.”
Keris made a stop here on her virtual book tour and you can visit her own fabulous blog by clicking here. Della Says: OMG! is a great read that took me right back to the horrendous embarrassment of my teenage years (in a good way!), available now from Amazon.co.uk and other retailers.
Well, that’s it folks. That’s everything I did to promote my self-published book. I’ll be back tomorrow with some final thoughts and words (or sentences, even) of warning about what not to do.