Last month I attended my first in-person book launch in over two years. My friend who released her fifth novel is a pro. At our local bookstore, we enjoyed wine, cupcakes, and my friend’s presentation on the 2017 wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park, which forms the backdrop to her fictional story.
When my first novel was published in 2011, hosting a book launch was a given. E-books were new on the scene. Print was the sales focus and a launch was the first step toward getting your book known to the world, starting at the local level. Today’s emphasis on digital and online sales and social media promotion jumps you right into the wider market. But I still think an event at a bookstore or other local venue has value.
Let People Know You Have a New Book
Firstly, it’s a subtle way to let people know you have a new book. Your message to them in your emails and on Facebook isn’t “buy my book.” You’re inviting them to a party. For my first launch, I printed invitations or sent emails to everyone I’d encountered in my life, present and past. This included people my husband and I hadn’t seen in years, such as former colleagues, and people we ran into regularly but had barely spoken with. Neighbours, people in our gym classes, and my favourite grocery store cashier were surprised to learn I wrote books.
My opening up about this other side of me led to interesting conversations—a fringe benefit of the launch process. Some of these people became new friends, readers, and fans. They helped spread the word by inviting me to visit their book clubs or speak at events, or by buying my novel for their friends.
The Book Launch Party
A book launch party is a public event. When my first book was due for release, I noticed that my local newspaper, the Calgary Herald, always featured an author in their Saturday Entertainment section. Often these were local writers hosting a launch the following week. I sent a query to the entertainment editor and was thrilled when he called me for an interview. Few strangers who read his feature about me came to the launch, but now many more people knew about my book.
The editor wrote articles for my next two in-person launches, but my Zoom launch last fall lacked sufficient entertainment value. You can approach any media available in your location, such as radio or television. You’ll get their attention best if you have an angle. For instance, my friend can piggyback on the five-year anniversary this September of the Waterton wildfire. For anniversaries, it helps to give the media a few months lead time, and longer for print magazines.
Book Launch Sales
Book launch sales handled by independent bookstores in Calgary have an additional perk—your book invariably gets on the Calgary Herald local bestseller list, which is compiled from sales by two non-chain stores. A well-attended launch at one of those stores will land your book in its top sellers for that week, and possibly the weeks before and afterward.
My recent novel made the local bestseller list even with a Zoom launch. This benefit isn’t unique to Calgary; other cities have similar lists. Newspaper readers really do check them for books to buy or get from the library. Each time my book appeared on the Calgary bestseller list I noticed a boost in library holds.
On top of these promotional benefits, a book launch party is your moment to celebrate your hard work and achievement with family, friends, and fans. Don’t forget the wine and cupcakes.
By SUSAN CALDER
Read more by Susan Calder
Ready For Editing
IMPROVE YOUR WRITING READY TO EDIT At last! After months of work, I sent my novel-in-progress to my substantive editor. This is the editor who will delve into the overall story, characters, plot, and writing. She’ll point out places where I should dig deeper into my characters and flag scenes with ‘talking heads’ that would…Keep reading
Does Your Mystery Novel Series Need an Overall Story Arc?
I write my novels using the Three Act Structure, with aspects of The Hero’s Journey. Since the middle act is twice as long as the others, I treat it as a four-act structure. As I finished Winter’s Rage, it struck me that the first three books in the series echoed the first three acts of…Keep reading
Return to In-Person Writing Events
The fall book promotion season is almost here. Will events be largely online, as they’ve been for the past two and half years of this pandemic? Or are people eager to return to in-person festivals and conventions? My guess is both.Keep reading