Fellow author Andrew Blackman was kind enough to share the experience of his recent book launch with me, and as I am planning one of these for my new novel ‘Creatures of Dust‘ I thought it would be helpful to share Andrew’s experiences with you. After all, we all need a good launch, don’t we?
Here’s what Andrew had to say:
‘It was a cordoned-off area of a nice, modern, well-decorated pub, which worked well in that it was friendly and informal, and people could stay as long as they wanted and order drinks at the bar (my publisher set up a tab with a set limit – I’m not sure how much it was, but it ran out after about the first hour). You probably wouldn’t want to do that because it could get quite expensive, but what they did for my first novel was to bring along bottles of wine so that people started with those, and then everyone could order at the bar when the wine ran out.
The downside of the pub was that there was quite a bit of background noise while I was speaking and doing my reading. If I was doing it again, I’d make sure it was actually a separate room with a door that could be closed to block out the noise of regular customers chatting.
The event started at 6:30, and for the first 45 minutes or so people just chatted and mingled. Then my publisher gave a brief introduction, and I spoke for about ten minutes – thanking people for coming, and talking a bit about the book, the process of writing it and the key themes I was exploring. Then I read a short extract (just a few pages, maybe five or ten minutes), and then my publisher announced that people could buy signed copies, and I sat at a table while people came up and bought copies and had them signed. After that it was just informal – some people left, and others stayed and chatted until closing time!
I invited lots of people – the idea was that even if people couldn’t make it to the event, they’d be aware that I had a book out, and might buy it later. So I invited maybe 100 or so, and my publisher also invited people from their own lists. In the end about 70 people came, something like that. I didn’t do postal invites – I sent out a pdf. I also set up a Facebook event and invited people through that, and the same on Goodreads, but didn’t get a high response rate – there are just so many events on those sites that people don’t pay much attention to them (I know I don’t!).
In several cases I emailed people separately, and they said they hadn’t seen the Facebook invite. So I’d only recommend doing that as a last resort for people whose email addresses you don’t have. Apart from the direct invites, I didn’t do any other publicity, and I don’t think my publisher did either. I think it works better when people think it’s an exclusive event that they’ve been invited to personally, rather than a general thing that you tell the whole world about.
In terms of venue, I think the pub worked well, with the benefits and one downside I mentioned earlier. A central, easy location is important. I think a bookshop would be great, because it’s a nice venue and also there’s a good chance of them stocking the book and publicising it for you. Or just a standard meeting room for hire, or a cafe or hotel as you mentioned. The downside is that other venues might be more reluctant, or might want you to pay to hire the space – I think pubs or bars are happier to let you have an area for little or nothing, on the basis that they’ll get extra business from people ordering drinks after the free ones run out.’
I’m very grateful to Andrew for sharing this information and I will certainly take note of his tips and experiences when planning my own launch, which I’m scheduling for early summer 2013 in Berkshire, UK.
I should mention that Andrew was launching his new novel, ‘A Virtual Love’.
Andrew, many thanks!