Sunday 19 May 2019

How to handle a book launch

I've been lucky enough to attend lots of book launches, some in honour of established and, occasionally, famous authors, others by first-timers and the self-published. I've done a couple myself, too. Of course, years ago, publishers would splash the cash and hire posh venues and lay on champagne and nibbles; these days, you're lucky if they issue a press release for you. As has been said many times, anyone can write a book, but the trick is to sell the damn thing, and a proper launch can be a good way to get the ball rolling.

If you're planning a launch:
  • Invite everyone. Most people won't come. You're unlikely to run out of books.
  • Pick a venue that's appropriate, accessible and has decent parking. Make it easy for your guests to say yes to the invitation.
  • Unless you're launching a recipe book, don't go overboard with the nibbles. People only have two hands (maximum) and you want them to have one free with which to pick up your book. Don't serve anything greasy.
  • Say 'Thank you for coming,' to everyone.
  • Don't turn the launch into a seminar. By all means, do a little speech about the book, but remember that most folk want to pop in, have a drink, say hello, buy a book (all being well) and then bugger off again.
  • Take a pen so you can sign copies. Take some change. 
  • It's fine to encourage your guests to buy the book, but don't bully them into it. Don't lurk by the exit with your Sharpie, saying, 'Shall I sign your copy?' That's needy and embarrassing for everyone, especially those who were trying to leave without a purchase. 
  • If you don't want a real launch, fake one. Have a cake made with the image of your book cover on top, take picture of it - better still, have some friends or family gather round it with a glass of something raised in a toast - and get it out there.
If you're invited to a launch:
  • Spread the word, whether you intend to go or not. All authors need publicity.
  • Obviously, it's better if you can buy the book, but don't feel obliged. The more people there are in the room, the better the atmosphere and the more likely others are to get out their money. Your presence and support will be appreciated either way.
  • That said, limit your intake of the freebies if you're not planning to buy a copy. Consider the principal of reciprocity. 
  • Afterwards, say something nice on social media.



  1. Two tips I hadn't heard before: Don't serve greasy foods (so smart), and take some change (oh yeah, that makes sense). Thanks.:-)

    1. Thanks, Priscilla. The greasy fingers remark was a little tongue in cheek, but comes from my own experience of eating crisps and then trying to pick up a pristine book!