Since doing my first Launch Party, or Opening Night Party, almost a year ago, I’ve been asked on several occasions just how I put it together. First, let me explain the objective of the night.
1) In order to create a buzz about anything, there has to be a reason. The Opening Night party becomes the reason to promote the book.
2) Sales. Promoting the event is promoting sales, and the more books you sell that night the better for everyone.
3) Ego. Orchestrating an event where people go out of their way to come is very satisfying and a big confidence boost.
So, we’re all clear on the objectives? Great. Here’s the secret recipe
Josi’s Launch Party
1 newspaper (or more)
1 Radio interview (optional—more if wanted)
1 Website mention (or more)
300 half page fliers
2 e-mail campaigns
8 Door prizes
1 Grand Prize Drawing
200 Postcard Stamps
Step 1—Order postcards be sure to get full color, with a few sentences on the back but space for a VHS sized label you can print up. You can do this as soon as you have a jpg of your cover. Compile your address list as well—anyone that would be interested in knowing about your book.
Step 2—Contact you publisher. Your publisher may be willing to help with posters, paying for newspaper ads, getting you a radio interview and helping you find a bookstore for the event.
Step 3—Bookstore. Explain that you’ll be doing a lot of the work and driving business directly to them. Determine a date and time that works for all of you within the FIRST WEEK of your books release. Ask if they will distribute half page fliers for 2 weeks before the event.
Step 4—Newspaper and Radio. Query them via e-mail if possible, telling them about the event—not necessarily the book—offer the newspaper a pre-written article, Ask about Advertising prices and who you should contact with help to design an ad that you will be paying for (this encourages them to support you since you’re a paying client).
Step 5—Donations. Ask for a $15-$20 value of a donation, either tangeable or gift certificate. Tell the donors that they will get advertising through your postcards, posters and newspaper ads.
Step 6—Find Grand Prize Drawing. A gift certificate to a local restaurant is a great option, or an overnight stay at a hotel or resort. Something BIG.
Three Weeks Before
Step 7—Write it up. Write up your article, the labels you’ll be putting on the postcards, design the posters and fliers, help design the ad for the newspaper Come up with lead questions for the radio interview Once things are written up, get them printed.
Step 8—Follow up. If you haven’t heard back from the Radio or Newspapers, try again and again and again. Be sure your donations are in line, you know when your picking up the donations. If you have a website (which you really should have) make sure this is mentioned on it. Design an e-mail announcement and send it out to your mailing list.
Step 9—Mail the postcards. Affix the VHS label description, affix the address labels, be sure you include an online ordering option for out of towners, include your e-mail address, and stick those things in the mail.
Two Weeks Before
Step 9—Pass it out. Put posters on community bulletin boards and in store windows. Take the original for the flier to the bookstore and remind them that they were going to put them in bags.
Step 10—In Print? The article about the event should run this week or next week, depending on the paper and the arrangements. Keep your eyes open for it.
Step 11—Radio. Be sure to mention the event, be upbeat, go into the studio if you can, be prepared to talk a lot. Dead air is dead radio, so if you pause, the hosts will start talking.
Step 12—Gather Donations. Pick them all up, be gracious. Make tags to put in front of the donations with the name of the donor, once the prizes are gone you still want to show who donated.
Step 13--Reminder. Send your second e-mail, reminding your e-mail list of the event.
Doorprize drawings—I allow all attendees to enter the doorprize drawing, but they have to be present to win. This keeps the evening moving and it keeps people in the store longer. Display the prizes on a separate table.
Grand Prize Drawing--One entry per purchase and you don’t have to be present to win. You won’t draw this name until everything is all over and done. It’s nice to have the item on display.
Refreshments—Make sure you discuss with the bookstore what they are okay with. It’s nice to have the refreshments at the back of the store, it encourages customers to browse and keeps things from getting congested at the front of the store.
Mailing list—Be sure you have somewhere for people to sign up for your mailing list. Then the next time you do this, you have their contact information.
Thank you Cards—Happiness is a grateful heart. Take an hour and write thank you cards to the donors of prizes, the bookstore, publisher, newspaper and radio stations that helped you with the event. Not only is it good for your soul to realize how many people helped you out, but it insures that next time you contact them they have felt appreciated.
Report Back—Be sure to get a number from the bookstore on how many books they sold, and relay this info to your publisher so they see the success of this event and know what you’ve done to pull it off. Thank them for anything they did to help.
I realize this sounds like a lot to do, well . . . it is. It’s a major event, it’s your opportunity to celebrate your accomplishment and get the word out. You don’t have to do everything I have listed here, feel free to put your own spin on it. The point is to make a BIG deal out of it, cause it is a big deal. Your book was just PUBLISHED!! That’s definitely worth celebrating.
(If you would like a more detailed description, please e-mail me Kilpack@gmail.com)