Throwing A Book Launch Party 101

The book is written. The editing is finished. The copies are coming from your publisher. You're thrilled. Now, you want to celebrate... with everyone! A book launch party sounds like the perfect way to celebrate and sell books. Yet, you have never thrown a book launch party. So, let’s talk… and plan. First, I’m going to assume you have been building your social media following and you have been working your social media plan to increase your personal and your book’s visibility. If not, fear not and read this article. Budget The biggest question you have to answer. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you have to know how much you are prepared to spend on this party. Theme Next I have to ask, do you want to have a theme to this party —other than it being a book launch party? Does your book take place in a specific location? Pick that place or a place in the world and bring it alive at your party with the food, drinks, and decor. Is there something special that happens in your book, i.e. a wedding, a baseball game, space travel. Deciding the theme first, if there is to be one, helps you make all the other decisions for the party. Location The big question here is how many people are you inviting; more importantly, how many people do you think will show up? This number could influence the place you hold the party. Two other questions when thinking about the location is what is the time of year you will be holding the party and do you want to chance an outdoor event? Event spaces might be available, but most of these cost a pretty penny. Think about alternative spaces. I’ve used a wine bar, a private room in an Irish Bar, a winery’s tasting room, and a 5-star restaurant. Many bars will let you use their space or part of it on a slow night to get the revenue from the alcohol sales. Restaurants might let you use a large private room or their bar area, again on a slow night without charge, as long as they cater the party.I’d suggest you scout out locations that fit your needs. Then I would call on (not make a phone call but actually stop in) and speak to the manager or owner. Explain your needs and let the manager/owner talk. Listen to what they are willing to extend to you and what you will have to do in return. If it is a restaurant, will you have to buy everything from them? Can your friends bring appetizers or a cake? I personally love a themed cake for a book launch. I’m talking a huge, crazy, beautiful, delicious cake… (see pictures). Ask all your questions, decide on the location, and book your date. Invitations Oh my, you have lots of options when it comes to inviting people to the party. If you are on Facebook, I would suggest creating an event. Even if the Facebook event is not your main invitation, it will let you get the word out to everyone you are connected with. Make sure to include the option for people to buy your book (hyperlink to your website or Amazon). I have found this creates online sales from friends, family, and acquaintances who cannot attend the party due to timing or distance. Other options include online invitations such as,, and Sending invitations via email will help keep extra costs down. I would suggest inviting people via multiple avenues. Post weekly about the party on your social networks. Send reminders to those that have RSVPed the week before the event, 48 hours before and then the day of the event. Keep reminders light and friendly such as, “I can’t wait to celebrate with you next Tuesday.” Add the exact date, time, and location to make the reminder informative. The idea of sending invitations and getting R.S.V.P.s is to know the number of people coming. You will never know exactly the number of people, but having an idea will help you plan your food and beverage needs. Food & Beverage Let’s go back to your theme discussion. Are you having one? If so, start googling for pictures and hitting up Pinterest to see what food and drinks will invoke thoughts of your theme. If you are using a restaurant or bar that requires you buy your food from them, then you must plan your food accordingly. One thing nice about this arrangement is you can increase your food order as the number of guests increase. Another is they are set up for this. So you don’t have to lug chaffing dishes and tons of Tupperware to the event. You also can just tip the servers and bartender and go home; they will do the cleanup! If you can cater the party without using the locations services, then let me ask, do you have any friends who caterer? Any friends bake ABFAB cakes? Do you need to keep the budget down? Think about trading or bartering. One word of advice, ask a friend or two (or more) to help you the day of the event. You will have boxes of books, decorations, food, and more to get to the location and get set up. And then you will still need the energy to “meet and greet” all your guests. Help helps! Now let me impart a small, important fact to you on food. Your guests are not there to eat. They are there to cheer you your accomplishment. They will eat, and you need to have appetizers, but you don’t have to feed the world. Another thing, hot appetizers need to stay hot. If you are catering this event yourself you might not have a place to bake or warm appetizers, so plan accordingly. I find finger food is the best, and small desserts work great. I also suggest staging your appetizers. Think about using three tier servers and varying the heights of serving dishes with the old hide the box under the table cloth trick. This will add dimension to your appetizer buffet and visually abundance to the amount of food you are serving. And remember my love of a cake centerpiece? A large round table set with your amazing cake, forks, plates, and napkins can make an impact statement as your guest enter the party! Check this Pinterest Board for ideas… Remember napkins, plates, and silverware. These too can add to the theme of the party. Books Order your books—your new book and any other books you have published. Place your order with enough lead time you aren’t worried about the books arriving. Be prepared to sell. Have change available. If you take credit cards, remember your Paypal reader or make sure your Square app is up to date and check the location’s wifi connection. This is a Book Launch Party. Let’s sell some books! To make sure you sell bunches of books at your party read this article. Remember this party is to celebrate and sell books—be honest, that is why you wrote the book. This party should be fun for not only your guests but for you too. Make sure you get friends and family to help you bring this dream alive. Then pimp the hell out of the party, dress the part, mix and mingle with everyone, take all the compliments with grace, smile and nod at anyone who dares critique your work, and sell, sell, sell. XOXOXO Rachel

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