My husband will tell you there are pros and cons to being married to your publisher.
When he completed a nonfiction manuscript, my husband knew he could trust me to do my best – for free! Buuut he was relegated to nights and weekends, outside of my workday dedicated to clients. Months stretched into years as he waited patiently while I chipped away at his work.
We were grateful when his Bible study book finally crossed the finish line. Endorsed by Dr. Ed Young, scholar Chad Bird, and pastor Brad Goad, Oh God, Why Can’t I Stop? examines God’s response to failure. It looks at eight ways in which His people fail, including depression, judgment, hate, and pride. The study reveals how God’s response overcomes shame and paves our way to victory.
I decided to celebrate the long-awaited milestone with a book launch party. It was a great opportunity to honor my husband and to reflect with satisfaction on his hard work. It was also a fun way to spread the word about the book. What a rewarding day!
Do you want to throw a nonfiction book launch party for yourself or a beloved author? Here are five tips to make the most of your book release.
Consider the best venue for your book event.
A bookstore is a win-win. It’s a great place to welcome guests, attract the public, and leave the hassle of book sales to the store. Print event flyers for the bookstore to slip into bags with customer purchases in the weeks leading up to the event, or ask if you can display posters.
You can also consider your home, your place of business, a friend’s home, or a restaurant. Or get creative and seek a venue related to the theme of your book, like a local business or museum. A playlist or band can set the mood. Find a place with the right vibe for your guests.
For my husband’s party, I settled on our neighborhood clubhouse because it was spacious and convenient for most of our Bible study friends. It also had a playground, which made it a family-friendly event.
Involve endorsers, sponsors, and local media.
You can add buzz to your party in several ways. Invite one of your endorsers to give a speech. You can also solicit local companies to sponsor the event, and hold a drawing for giveaway items related to your book. Or invite your local library and local media to promote the event to the public.
I displayed the bios and books of my husband’s endorsers as a way to honor those who supported his book. The books were given away as prizes after the party, along with items contributed by The Bible Seminary museum.
Consider a brief speech.
My husband planned a short speech midway through the come-and-go event, and we included the time of his speech in the invitation. You can talk about:
- your “why” and/or vision
- the hardest/highest/most surprising moments or takeaways on your publishing journey
- your favorite part of the book
- thank yous
- what your guests can do next to help (depending on their comfort level, invite them to buy a book, leave an online review, and/or tell others on social media)
- any questions they may have
Whatever you decide to include in your speech, aim to keep it brief, no longer than five to fifteen minutes, especially if children are invited.
Prepare for in-person sales.
If your party is not at a bookstore or business, think about how you’ll collect payments. Most of our guests paid by credit card, and we were equipped with Square, a point-of-sale tool that plugs into your cell phone. Some guests paid by cash, which was simplified by pricing the book at a flat $10 and having extra bills on hand for change. A few guests paid by online apps—such as Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal—so we provided QR codes that closed each online sale.
Come armed with several pens to ensure you have enough ink to sign book copies for your guests. We opted for basic pens, not ballpoint pens that smear easily, nor thin Sharpies that still bleed a little through the pages. Also, come with a few phrases in mind that you can add to your signature. One of the greatest joys of a launch party is the chance to enjoy warm, personal exchanges with each of your readers.
Think about how you can promote other materials related to your book or brand to call your readers to action. During the party, a slideshow displayed my husband’s endorsements, suggested scheduling Bible study groups and speaking engagements, and invited guests to visit his author website.
Finally, seize the extra opportunity to ask for reviews. Your book should already contain a call to action, but an in-person sale allows you to tuck a bookmark reminder into each copy. Tell your readers why their reviews matter, and include a QR code that directs them to your Amazon review page. If yours is a public event, have a sheet ready for people to sign up for your email list.
Enlist a launch team.
You’ll be busy signing book copies and mingling, so ask for help to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
For my husband’s party, I relied on my assistant to prepare behind-the-scenes details. Because it was a family event, I asked each of our children if they’d help at a “station”: one greeted our guests at the door with itineraries, one handled book sales and payments, and two monitored the playground. Meanwhile, a caterer whipped up delicious bites in the kitchen, and a photographer captured plenty of images for marketing. They each helped fill the gaps while I talked to guests.
Follow through on post-party details.
After the party, there are a few details to wrap up. Send a thank you to each guest, and follow through on delivering any complimentary copies that were promised to endorsers, beta readers, or anyone else. Draw attendees’ names for your giveaway items, and deliver prizes to your winners.
Be sure to post photos of your event on social media and tag your guests, vendors, winners – anyone who participated. Take the opportunity to spread the word about your book beyond your party. Consider an incentive for party guests who post about your book online, too.
Congratulations! You did it! A book launch party is a perfect way to celebrate your nonfiction book. Afterward, take some time to kick up your heels and rest. Then get back to work – you have more book marketing to do!