BOOK LAUNCH: Tips on Throwing a Publication Party

When my dog memoir, KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL was published, Hachette Book Group, my dog-loving agent Jan Miller, our book publicist and I spent nearly a year planning that launch event.

Legendary Host Calvin Klein

It was a military operation, that included pinpointing the right New York City venue, MacKenzie-Childs, procuring our celebrity host,  Calvin Klein,  and creating a guest list that included everyone from NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Judge Judy to bestselling authors Mary Higgins Clark and Barbara Taylor Bradford. Not to mention 350 guests and 15 photographers. It was indeed a night to remember.

The purpose of such an event is to create advance buzz for your book radiating out from your home base to media reporters and online influencers, all in an effort to get sales at B&N and Amazon booming!

So, for first-time authors who want to raise their profile and celebrate their book’s publication, here are 12 launch tips:

(1) Choose a THEME for the event (in my case everything dog-related) that can carry through in the food, decor, invitations, and gift bags

(2) Have a graphic artist design your invitation (printed and/or elite) and make it a keepsake, in full color with an image of the book on it, advance testimonials, and an online RSVP.

Gift Bag Line-Up

(3)Provide Gift Bags: Every book party must provide takeaway gift bag for its guests, with a complimentary copy of the book and other little goodies (in my case the bags contained a chocolate dog bone, a hand-painted Christmas ornament also in the shape of a dog bone, a medical kit for dogs, and a cuddly stuffed cocker spaniel doll, you name it! Be creative.)

(4)Pick the right day and time: The typical book party should be a cocktail Reception from 6-8. Avoid Friday, Saturday or Sunday: Weekdays ideal so people can come after work

(5) Create the perfect MENU: A full bar is not needed and too expensive. Instead, serve wine or Champagne and  possibly beer. Only serve easy to pick up finger food (one bite treats) preferably passed by waiters, or alternately displayed on tables on trays. (You must have at least one vegetarian choice, one meat, one fish, one cheese.)

(6) Compile Your Invite List: Invite 3 times the number of people you actually want to appear. That’s typically the response ratio. Compile of list of family, friends, colleagues, former schoolmates,  press, local celebrities, politicians (try to get the Mayor to come), anybody you can think of. This is the ultimate NETWORKING event to spread the word about your book.

(7) Hire a photographer and videographer to capture the event, media that can be loaded onto your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

(8) Procure Appropriate Sponsors:  Find charitable or corporate organizations that match the theme and mission of your book. This is essential. Placing their logo on your invitation adds prestige and glamor to the evening. To motivate a sponsor, give them something they want–publicity, potential profits from book sales, whatever might enhance your public profile. (PS: Get THEIR list of party guests and merge it with yours)

(9)Order a customized step-and-repeata free standing blow-up of the book,  a centerpiece that can be used at other events, such as book readings, conferences, and media appearances

(10) Liaison with the Press: Invite radio, tv, magazine, newspaper personalities and social media influencers in your home town. You’ll be amazed how many of them will want to attend a book launch. This will pay off in subsequent interviews and mentions.

(11) Invite Adults Only: Much as everyone loves kids, this is a grown-up cocktail party, not a wedding, so hire a babysitter.

Mom and Me

(12)Plan a Post-Party Dinner:  Invite a small circle of close friends and family to join you for an elegant fun dinner after the reception. You’ll be starved by then and ready for a full meal!