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Friday, April 3, 2009

Killer Campaigns: Launch Parties

Launch parties are like tarot cards. They work best if they're given to (for) you by someone else.

I have never had a launch party, but I have offered to host one for a friend of mine. She declined, not wanting her friends to go through so much trouble, but now I'm sorry I didn't insist.

My launch parties would be just like a regular party, only I would create a concentrated guest list of readers.

Since I didn't get a chance to give my friend her launch party, I'll at least run through the steps on how I would have gone about it.

While it's possible to have an internet launch party and invite a bunch of people to visit on a blog or chatroom, it's FAR more effective to hold a live launch party with real human bodies (and real food). *g*

Like other product parties (think Tupperware or cosmetic parties) you want to focus on the product. In this case, it's not just the book, but the author. A good launch party should introduce the author as the most interesting person on the planet. A book is a book, but an author is a commodity. Publicize the commodity and you stoke a career. Book sales will follow.

Here are some tips for good hosting.

• Location is important. Many launch parties are held in homes or offices. This way you can hand sell the book. You can also serve alcoholic beverages if you like. If you decide not to sell immediately and won't offer liquor, you could inquire about using a public facility like a library or school assembly room. Contact book stores too and see if they'd be willing to accommodate you. It never hurts to ask.

• The guest list is perhaps the most important aspect of a launch party. If the party is in a public place, like a bookstore, you already have walk-in traffic. But if your party is private, the guest list is entirely in your hands. Pay close attention to how many people your home can accommodate. Always invite at least a third more than that number because chances are you'll have plenty of no-shows.

Invite actual book readers. There's no point in inviting the neighbors and your sister's babysitter if they don't read--or don't read that particular genre. This is a networking party, not a coffee klatch.

• Food. Simple appetizers like meat roll-ups and veggies are crowd pleasers and not too messy.

• Beverages. I'll be honest. I don't care for liquor at a networking party. The wine is usually cheap and tasteless and you always run the risk of exposing a closet drunk. It's usually the expected beverage of choice, but I much prefer soft drinks and water. Use your discretion.

• Make sure the author has a speech or excerpt prepared. S/he is the guest of honor. You want him to always be "on" because he'll be the center of attention all night.

• Be sure you have promotional collateral flowing freely on the floor. Have ample bookmarks, brochures, business cards and swag to give away.

• A drawing is a nice feature. If the author can afford it, give something away.

• If possible, have enough books on hand or at least order online. You want people to buy there and then.

• Make the author as comfortable as possible. S/he is already stressed out--especially if it's a first book. Do all you can to make the author's life as uncomplicated as possible. All you want him to do is shine. It's up to you and your team to do the work and keep the spotlight on him.

• Do have a team. You don't want to collapse prematurely. A team divvies up all the chores evenly.

• The bills. Decide ahead of time who is paying for what. A good party is one with no surprises.

If you are friends with a local author, offer to host a launch party for him. Not only is it good networking for the author, it is a goldmine of future prospects for you too. Sometimes karma repays a lot sooner than later.

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Shelley Munro said...

I think launch parties can be really good if they have a theme that's tied in with the book.

We don't get many launch parties down this way. I've never been to one. :)

Allie Boniface said...

Great post - I'm bookmarking it!

Maria Zannini said...

A theme is an excellent idea!

My only reservation would be if the genre was erotica. If it's an invited group with all adults, there's probably no problem. But a host would have to show some discretion if a mixed group was in attendence.

Maria Zannini said...

Glad it was helpful, Allie!