Organizing a book launch is not a feat for one person. There’s finding the venue – how large, how accessible is it, how easy to get to and park at are all questions to be considered; there’s the menu – simple and minimal is best as people are there for the book – I chose desserts as the theme as we all need to treat ourselves, especially as my book is on injury and healing, and I offered coffee and tea free with a cash bar; there’s who to invite – the whole world, your email list, family and friends and people interested in the subject matter, or some combination thereof; there’s deciding whether to read an excerpt out loud or not and what that excerpt should be – being the author and too close to the subject matter, I could not choose, so my parents chose for me (some editors may guide their authors on this: I know when I was an editor, I would’ve been thrilled to have been asked); there’s deciding what to offer with the book, if anything – I designed and ordered bookmarks; finally, there’s ensuring one is ready to autograph.
Then there’s the tough part: getting people to RSVP and ensuring they received the invite, that it didn’t slip into their spam folder.
Inviting people through direct email and through Facebook events feature are the best way and pretty much the expected way as snail mail has now been almost entirely replaced by email. But ensure you don’t invite people twice: once through direct email and once through Facebook, as that could annoy them. Also, I could see certain books, for example, historical romance, being conducive to a printed invite. Since almost everyone’s email server can read HTML now, making the email pretty through HTML coding and ensuring they see the invite as soon as they open the message and not requiring them to open an attachment (something many security-conscious people are loathe to do), is essential. Including a link to the book page is, I think, a good idea as most invitees won’t attend, but you still want them to know how to order your book. I was advised not to include a map and directions, but after the fact, I think I should have anyway. Even though requiring people to contact you for directions helps to ensure an RSVP, I should’ve stuck to my guns as it doesn’t really work all that effectively. Most people know how to use Google maps and so still won’t RSVP.
The RSVP is important, otherwise how will you know how many books to order? I winged it and over-ordered because as I thought would happen, so many RSVP’d at the last minute that there was no time to order more books.
Despite all the fretting and stressing, the book launch for Concussion Is Brain Injury was a hit. Friends, family, neighbours, people from the brain injury community, health care workers, mentors all attended. Best of all, they mingled. When my young niece saw the table of books ready to sign and sell, she took on the book sales and did it efficiently. What a relief, as I hadn’t been able to figure out who I knew was good with math and would also be willing to sit at the table with me.
After initial mingling and socializing, I read out loud the introduction from the first chapter of my book. It went over well, thankfully. I cut the book launch cake, red velvet with cream cheese icing, my book’s cover screened on it, made beautifully by Bobbette & Belle and photographed by Margaret Heslin. It was a total hit with everyone. Then the rest of the night I signed books, gave out bookmarks, chatted, and caught up with people I hadn’t seen since my last book launch for Lifeliner back in 2007. The launch was a success. It achieved its aim: put Concussion Is Brain Injury into people’s consciousness and sell books.