Z.R. Southcombe – On organizing a book launch

Today we have a guest post from my friend and fellow writer, Z.R. Southcombe, who recently had a physical book launch for her second release. She’s popped over to share her experiences with us all! Thanks Zee 🙂 

I’d read a lot of advice saying not to have a book launch, because indie publishing is a long term game (which it is) and a launch is not worth it. I decided to have a launch anyway, not just to be a rebel, but for celebratory purposes.

And since I decided I was going to do one, I figured I might as well go all out.

Venue

Most important thing, obviously, is where the book launch will be held! I had the fortune of meeting Helen at The Pt Chev Bookshop in Auckland, who has held events at her shop before. It’s an awesome little shop with a fantastic range of books. My friend Lizzi Tremayne had hers at her local library in Waihi, which was also a success.

One benefit of holding the launch at a bookshop was that they could handle sales for me. They also didn’t charge an upfront fee, just a commission on sales.

While libraries and bookshops are the most obvious places to launch a book, you can also think about themes in your book. For example, I could’ve picked on the theme of chocolate cake & cupcakes to hold it at a café. Lizzi’s book has a strong horse theme (it centres around the Pony Express) so she could have launched at an equine venue.

Catering

It helps to have an idea of numbers, and this is where I fell short. The little bookshop wasn’t quite big enough for the number of people who turned up, so next time we’re going to have to think more creatively about how we’ll house everyone.

For catering, I rounded up a few friends who basically did pot luck for me. There were cupcakes galore, and even a few savouries. The food seemed to last (I didn’t see much of it, so I can’t really say!) and the people I asked were happy to bring a plate for me.

Incentives

I wanted something to draw a crowd – especially children and their parents – other than, you know, ‘buy my book!’.

I went for goodie bags and prizes. As I was pretty much running on a $0 budget, I reached out to others for these on a sponsorship basis. I put their advertising on my site, and for the online giveaways I included their social media profiles in the entry options. I also did a bit of promo for them along the way, and some of them gave branded items.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure. The kids liked having something to stop from being bored while their parents stood in line, but it was a lot of effort. I’m thinking that next time I’ll have some freebies available (postcards, stickers and the like), but not with the hassle of creating individual bags.

Online Component

This is definitely something I’d like to focus on more next time. I had giveaways from the website during launch week, which got a few entries, but I’d really like to have something more interactive on launch day itself. We are marketing to an international audience, of course!

All in all, the book launch was well worth doing, despite the hard work (and stress!). I’m hoping that it’ll get easier each time, and I’m already enjoying the creative challenge of coming up with a different event for each book’s launch. Watch this space.

The book I launched was The Caretaker of Imagination, an adventure fantasy for children ages 7-12 (but sort of for grown-ups as well). You can get it from Amazon, Kobo, or in good ol’ fashioned print.

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5 thoughts on “Z.R. Southcombe – On organizing a book launch

    1. It WAS a lot of work, but I decided it was worth having a go. For me, the results were worth it – we made a lot of sales, got people signed up to my mailing list, and it’s STILL being talked about.

      In fact, I’m doing another one for the next book 🙂

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