How (Not) to Have a Successful Book Launch

I have a lot of authors ask me about how to host a successful book launch. They know that Open Door Publications has held a number of highly successful launches for our authors’ books. But I have to confess we’ve also had a few flops. Events where the people just didn’t show up.
So, while I’ve written several articles on how to host a successful book launch, I thought I’d spent a few moments telling you some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years about what NOT to do when launching your book.
1. Hold the launch in your home, or the home of a friend. Yes, a home is the cheapest place to host a book event. You won’t have to spend any money to rent space. But, also, people you do not know well won’t attend. The purpose of a book launch is sell a lot of books. That means you need to attract a lot of people. People you know just casually are less likely to attend an event in a private home, rather than something held in a public forum such a store or library.
2. Hold the Book Away From Your Fan Base. We buy books from people we know – or feel that we know. An author who has a national name and following, such as James Patterson, can probably launch a book anywhere. But if you are a first time writer who doesn’t happen to also be a national celebrity, hold your book launch in a place where your family and friends and acquaintances can easily come to you. Sure, you want to reach out and sell your book to strangers throughout the United States, but a book launch is about getting your book into as many hands as possible as quickly as possible. And that you can most successfully do in your own hometown.
3. Don’t Tell People About Your Event. Don’t be shy. People can’t attend if they don’t know you are hosting it. That means send out invitations. Lots of invitations. Send them out via email and snail mail. Write a press release and send it to your local media – use the newspaper, local online news sources, radio, etc. Tell everyone you know and ask them to tell your friends. I would guess that you will get about one person attending for every five invitations you send. Do the math. That means if you want 100 people, you’d better send out 500 invitations.
4. Don’t Hide the Books. So you’ve gotten 100 people to attend your book launch party. Now, don’t hide the books. Put them on display right up front. You would be amazed at how many people host the party then get shy and hide the books in a back room. If people can’t see it, they won’t buy it.
5. Don’t Make It Easy to Purchase the Books. Ask two responsible people to handle the sales and have them seated prominently next to the main display table. (If you have two people they can take turns and won’t have to miss all of the party.) Make sure they know the cost of the book, sales tax and any volume discounts you are offering. Have change available for cash sales. Plan to accept checks, or better yet, get a mobile charge card devise, such as Square.

The list could continue, but I think you get the idea. The best way to launch a book is to tell your friends and neighbors about it, then make it easy for them to come to you and purchase the book. The more people you tell about your book, the more books you will sell. If you aren’t tooting your own horn, don’t expect other to do it for you.

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