Sunday, June 9, 2013

Five Amazing Book Launches and Five Tips for Creating One

Book launches have changed dramatically in recent years.  Today, there are so many options available from digital books to audiobooks that the days of an author showing up at a bookstore and drawing in crowds to buy their hardback book are over. It takes  an event, something special to draw readers in. This summer, I've been doing research on how to create an amazing book launch/book signing. There are two ways to do research. One is to read about book launches. There are lots of good books and ezines on how to do this. The other way is to attend book launches and observe how they are put together.  Obviously the latter is the most fun and that is what I've been doing!

In the last week alone, I've attended a record, four book launches all put together by Foxtale Book Shopppe in Woodstock Georgia.  They are an Indie bookstore with such imaginative and creative book launches that they should get the prize for taking a theme and running with it. Here are some examples of book launches that I have attended that did a stellar job of creating buzz and packing in people.

Theron Humphrey, author of Maddie on Things had a huge turnout for his book signing.  There were so many people at the book signing, Foxtale sold out of the books! Why was this so popular?  A lot of buzz was created by an article in the local paper which highlighted the fact that the dog, Maddie was adopted at a local shelter. As I waited in line to have my book signed, I talked to the vet and the manager of this shelter who were in line ahead of me.  They were buying several books to offer at an annual fund-raising auction for the shelter.

In addition to the author signing the book, he had an imprint of the dog's paw that he placed on the page.  You can see it on the table in the picture.

Meanwhile, Maddie was greeting customers out in the parking lot. Although she wasn't balancing on anything, anyone could see how her laid back disposition contributed to an amazing book.

Another book launch that I attended at Foxtale Books was for the book, Call Me Zelda,  a fictionalized story of Zelda Fitzgerald told from the point of view of her psychiatric nurse.  It is a great read and captures the flavor of the post-World War I era as well as the toxic and co-dependent relationship of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald.  Author, Erika Robuck has not only done great research on the personality of the characters, but has also woven a secondary story in that is equally engaging.

In keeping with the time period, the bookstore was decorated for a Roaring 20's party. Some attendees dressed the part with flapper style dresses, headbands and long necklaces.  There were butlers passing out glasses of champagne and cupcakes for dessert.

The author gave an account of her research for the book and answered questions from the participants.  Guess what her answer was to the question, "What has been one of the most memorable book signings that you have attended?"  "This one!"

An example of a really BIG book launch was the one put on by Mary Kay Andrews for her newest book, Ladies Night.  It wasn't even held in a bookstore which is a growing trend.  Instead, it was held in Kudzu  a home furnishing store in Sandy Springs Georgia.

Books were sold by Foxtale however and their special touches could be found everywhere from the picture with the author that Gary always takes and posts on their site to goodie bags filled with Ladies Night mementos. Over 400 eager readers bought tickets to this event!

There were drinks and appetizers available.  Many of the food items were from local restaurants and sponsors. A dj played music. There was an opportunity to purchase a raffle ticket to benefit the breast cancer awareness and prevention organization, Bright Pink.

Tickets were drawn for a variety of prizes with the grand prize being the use of an Audi convertible for a week.  I didn't win the Audi but I must of had some winning energy going on because Andi Ward, sitting right next to me did win, big time!!  You can see her in the photo above.

Karen White had a book launch for her newest book, The Time Between at Foxtale Books. The setting for this book is Edisto Island, a small beach town in South Carolina. It has stayed small and uncommercialized, due to the lack of easy access from the mainland. In keeping with the beach theme, Foxtales had cupcakes decorated with crabs and sand dollars and strawberry champagne punch.

Karen talked to eager readers about her inspiration for the book, her method of writing early in the morning before her family gets up, the time period of post World War II and her character development.

Finally, Claire Cook launched her newest book, Time Flies, at Foxtale. Obviously enjoying the interaction with her audience, Claire told stories of her decision to write later in life after a career in teaching, the ins and outs of having a book made into a movie and her personal method of writing and producing a book.

Claire had a drawing for a journal to inspire someone to write, a DVD of the movie, Must Love Dogs and a play list of songs from her newest book. In addition she encouraged everyone to sign up online for a week at a spa with a friend, an online contest sponsored by her publisher and a spa she frequents in Texas. I immediately went home and signed up. Keep your fingers crossed that I win...

Isn't this an amazing series of book launches?  Bet you wish you were there!  You can sign up for Foxtales' newsletter on their website.  There are many more planned for the summer.

Here's a quick review of ways I learned to make a book launch AMAZING:
  • Be generous:  Benefit a cause.  There are a lot of ways to do this.  Selling raffle tickets, selling  promotional items such as tee shirts with proceeds going to the cause is another.  Simply asking for donations.  Give away prizes.  People love a chance to win!
  • Develop relationships. Readers enjoy not only winning things but sharing advice about writing and insights into the author's life as well.
  • Be remarkable.  Most book signings are held in bookstores but the trend nowadays is to create a unique experience that people will come to for more than a book.  Create a book launch that the readers won't soon forget.  Recreate a theme or historical aspect of the  book.  Hold it in an unusual location.  Provide refreshments that tie into the theme of the book.
  • Be real. Readers can buy a book anywhere.  They come to book launches to get to know the author.  Sharing personal experiences and insights makes the book more meaningful.
  • Be grateful.  Thanking booksellers, readers, publishers and agents is an important part of any book launch.  No one creates a book alone and recognizing the importance  and support of others is critical.
There you have a quick recap of what I learned from some amazing book launches at Foxtale Books.  In my next blog post I'll be going into more detail about how each author's unique style and story made for a memorable book launch.

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1 comment:

  1. Great advice, Lynne! Think I need to drop by Foxtale Books really soon, not to mention a bunch of other places. Gotta promote!