WLT November 3rd Thursday 2012 The Book Launch and Beyond
Do you remember, the Third Thursday in November? (Sung to the tune of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September.”) If not, this post will refresh your memory.
It seems like a long time ago, especially with the holiday activities happening since then. Good for us that the information shared about “The Book Launch and Beyond” at November’s Third Thursday meeting has an extended shelf life.
The evening’s panelists were author Greg Leitich Smith, former editor and current children’s and teen’s book buyer at Book People Meghan Goel, author and The Writing Barn owner Bethany Hegedus, and author Cory Putnam Oaks. WLT Programming Director Jennifer Ziegler poked and prodded the collective wisdom of the panel, helping us learn the about book launches.
A book launch is not what happens to a manuscript when the writer is frustrated. Quite the contrary. A book launch is like a party for your book. As Cory said, “Think of it as a victory lap.”
What if you’re not a party person? You don’t like attending parties, much less planning and hosting them. That’s okay. Don’t think of it as a party, think of it simply as a gathering of your support team. If that doesn’t help, you probably have a friend who loves planning events and would jump at the chance to help you.
A book launch is also a way to thank the people who helped you and support the local writing community at the same time, helping bring people together in a public way.
So, how do you go about planning your party (or your gathering of friends)? Regardless of what you call it, you need to plan ahead. Meghan said that Book People events have a lead time of 3-6 months. Generally you want to schedule it within a month of the book’s publication date, depending on the book. (If it’s connected with a season or event, you would launch around that time.) Try to avoid November and December when people are really busy. Also, keep an eye on when competing books may launch.
Where can you host a book launch? A bookstore is a natural place to launch a book, but there may be other venues that fit your book well. The Leitich Smith’s hosted two launches for a children’s book, a child-centric one at a bookstore with an after party at their home for the adults. Think of organizations that connect to the topic or theme of your book. Bethany’s place, The Writing Barn, is a beautiful venue for a book launch.
What do you do at a book launch? There are no book launch laws, but successful launches do have some things in common.
- Snacks. (And wine if you’re at Book people and the audience is over 21.)
- Simple structure of something to listen to (a brief excerpt read by you), followed by time for questions and answers.
- Theme and guests related to your book. (Examples mentioned: miniature ponies, an MLK-era civil rights marcher, middle school cheerleaders, and a Dachshund rescue group.)
- Tone suited to your book and your personality.
Once your fabulous event is planned, who should you invite? First on the list are the people who put up with your while during the book birthing process. You can also invite personal friends and writing fans and watch your words collide beyond their existing overlap. If you’ve been making an email list and checking it twice, now’s the time to use it. Also invite your feeps (Facebook people) and tweeps (Twitter people).
Finally, embrace the fun of your book launch. Enjoy running your victory lap with your book jacket draped around your shoulders, if that’s your style.
Beyond (after the launch)
So, you made it through the planning and partaking of your book launch, but there’s more.
Greg said the best publicity for your book is to write another book. Cory said that by the time you launch one book you’re already deep in the next book (Of course, your mileage may vary on that.)
Staying active on social media and in writing guilds and organizations is helpful, but don’t let it detract from your writing time.
Another aspect of an author’s life is appearances. Depending on your book, find related places to go talk about your book with potential readers. This requires some research and creativity on your part, but it can be rewarding in terms of book sales and marketing.
Finally, if your book is stocked in a local bookstore, go in and sign your book.
Regardless of where you are in the publishing process, you can benefit from joining us at Book People our next Thursday Third in January 2013.
Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.com, BloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.