Weeks, months, even years of plotting words on paper or computer screen end at long last. The manuscript is submitted to a publisher and accepted. After a period of intense editing, the proof appears for another round of final editing. Finally, the book becomes a reality, and the author holds a copy of a marvelous book. Now, the time arrives to celebrate and launch that book with a party.
A book launch takes more than a newly released book: It takes planning which begins before the book is released. So, let’s plan that book launch.
First, we set a date. Due to problems which might arise, we will choose a date a month to two months after the supposed release date. If the book is related to a particular season or holiday, the launch celebration close to that time. For example, a book related to Christmas might be released in September or October but may be launched two or three weeks before Christmas.
The second step is to select a crew to work the launch. The author is to be the honored guest during the event and will not have time to worry about serving the food or drinks or cutting the cake, etc. She or he must be involved in the planning, but once the party starts, greeting guests and signing books will the duties of the author. Therefore, we need people who will set up any refreshments and make sure empty dishes are replaced or refilled. Having people also help with those refreshments helps unless catering hasn’t been hired.
Third, we need a place to have the launch. A place should have ample parking and be easy to find. It also needs to be large enough to handle a large number of invited guests, in case they all decide to attend. Facilities are needed for food storage and preparation, even if the location doesn’t have a kitchen. At least access to a sink and water is needed.
Four, set a menu and know who is bringing what, unless the author is able to have the event catered. I have attended launches where almost a full meal was served. Others had finger foods, including little sandwiches, veggie trays, meat trays, desserts, and water, coffee, and punch for drinks. Having a quarter, half, or full sheet cake with the image of the book cover on the top frosting is a special way to honor the author and the book.
Five, begin promotion of the book with notice that a launch celebration will be held (give date, location, and time) at least three months before the event.
At least a month to six weeks before the event, invitations should be sent.
The author and crew/helpers need to arrive at least one and a half hours before the event is scheduled to begin. Everything needs to be in place and decorated at least forty-five minutes before time to start. Be sure a table to set up for book sales (including a money box with change) and one for the author to sit to sign copies of her/his books. The books need to have a removable price tag on the back cover.
Be sure someone helps organize the movement of people to the table to purchase books and to line up to have the author autograph copies. Helpers need to keep the food operation organized, too. Have someone who takes pictures.
A successful launch party takes preparation and effort on the part of the author and any helpers, but a successful launch helps motivate the author to promote that book in other ways. It is a celebration to begin the life of that book.