Tips for planning a book launch party and signing, based on Dina Colman’s experiences following the Amazon Top 100 launch of her first book, Four Quadrant Living.
After helping her with some of the details, I asked Dina Colman how her book launch party went. She responded:
The party was a 10+. It could not have been more perfect!
In her own words, “It was a packed house, over 80 people. I had a total blast. I felt good about the speech. People interacted. I was passionate and knowledgeable. Signing was fun – a long line.”
Successful book book launch parties don’t just happen by themselves, of course.
They follow a period of intense activity. The following are the questions I asked her about planning and marketing her book launch party and book signing, and her answers:
When did you start planning your event?
I started planning the event about six weeks in advance.
What were your goals for the event?
I had several goals:
- Celebrate my hard work getting the book written, published, and endorsed. Getting my book published took a lot of persistence and dedication, and I felt it deserved a capstone event to kick off the book’s release.
- Thank my friends and family. They had been very supportive all along, especially my husband!
- Gain credibility by having a launch party. This was enhanced by having it at a bookstore.
- Sell books and enhance my visibility in the community.
- Obtain some good marketing photos of me speaking, signing, interacting with the crowd.
How did you promote your event?
Although some people suggested I do a direct mail piece, the payoff didn’t seem worth my time, so I didn’t do it. I think it was definitely the right decision. I don’t think I would have gotten any additional people to attend by doing a direct mail piece versus online.
I sent out an email to everyone in my online address book. I also promoted it on Facebook (my personal and professional pages) as well as Twitter.
I personalized the email, “Hi (insert name),” to make it seem less mass email. I sent out the email a month prior and then the week of the event as a reminder. I also submitted the event to local print and online news sources. The bookstore also featured the event on their website and in their newsletter.
How long did you speak?
I spoke for 15 minutes.
First, I welcomed everyone for coming and introduced my sister, whom the book is dedicated to. Then I told about my story and why I wrote the book.
I then talked about the book. My book is about nourishing the four quadrants of your life – Mind, Body, Relationships, and Environment – to create your new health destiny.
I highlighted each of the four quadrants, pulling out one chapter from each. I didn’t read from the book, but rather just talked about the chapter and gave one tip from that chapter that people could walk away with.
I felt that doing a “reading” would bring the party atmosphere down.
The talk went well. People interacted with it which was great. I think bringing in your story of why you wrote the book is essential.
People don’t just want to know what the book is about, they also want to know why you wrote the book.
Did you have any hand-outs?
I handed out some bookmarks that are designed to go with my book.
The bookmarks were a hit. There were four versions, one for each Quadrant. On the back, each contained a related tip.
We spent a lot of time designing the book marks to match the book cover. They were printed on a heavy, coated card stock. Many commented on how nice they were, showing that design quality is always appreciated!
My advice on creating good bookmarks is to make them about the reader, not about you (the author) or the book. I wanted to create something that could inspire people when they looked at the bookmark but that also tied in with my book.
I also had a book group reading guide that people could take. (You can download a copy of the reading guide.)
How long after your book launch (and Amazon promo?) was the event? How did you come up with the date?
The book’s official publication date was Oct 1. The Amazon promo was the week before on Sep 25. The book launch party was on Oct 12.
The event was held at Rakestraw Books in Danville, CA. I was fortunate that our town has a vibrant independent book store with a strong following. The owner played a big role in the event’s success.
The bookstore owner felt it would be good to do the event a few weeks after the publish date. I think the timing was just right.
How many did you expect to attend? How many actually attended?
I had 55 people confirmed yes RSVP and, as I said, we had over 80 people show up.
Were there any lessons, or things you might do different, at your next event?
Some people in my writer’s club were talking about whether or not it is important/worth it to do a book launch party. I say, “YES!” Recognize the hard work you put into writing this book. My advice – mindfully enjoy the day. I put in a lot of planning into the book launch party, but come event day, I let it all go and I just soaked it all in.
It was incredible to hear the buzz in the room – from my friends, family, and people I didn’t know. I just looked around the room and felt the love. Everyone was there to support me. It was an amazing feeling that I will never, ever forget. It was an event of a lifetime!
We had champagne and light appetizers. I had friends handing out champagne and water. I had a friend at the food table. I had table signs at the food table explaining what the food was and how it was healthy (since my book is about healthy living). My mom and sister were at the door greeting people. Little touches like this really elevate the event.
I would not do anything differently. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. The bookstore owner had told me a few weeks prior to the event that there is only one “first” book launch party. I really took his words to heart to fully be present for the day.
Do you have any advice about signing copies of your book?
I was amazed that people waited in line an hour to get their book signed by me. In return for their patience, I tried to personalize each book I signed.
- Have a few stock phrases that relate to your book.
- Ask a few questions and look for ways you might add something personal to them. This makes your signature more meaningful to the reader and promotes goodwill.
For more book marketing tips
To learn more about Dina Colman’s experiences writing and publishing her book, check out my recent blog post, 7 Examples of Author Book Marketing Best Practices. It describes Dina Colman’s efforts to choose the best possible front and back covers of her book and obtain pre-publication quotes from high visibility experts.
Share your book launch party experiences
Share your experiences with book launch parties and your book launch and book signing questions below, as comments. Did you find them worth the effort? Have you done more than one? How did you invite your friends and followers to your book launch party?