Sunday, June 16, 2013

Five Ways to Make Your Book Launch Successful

Last week I wrote about a series of book launches that I attended at Foxtale Book Shoppe.  Four launches in about seven days to be exact!  This week I promised to go into more detail about how different authors made their launch memorable. 

Be Generous

Many authors have a cause that they are benefiting through sales of their books or the launch.  Mary Kay Andrews sold raffle tickets for amazing prizes and gave the proceeds to Bright Pink a breast cancer awareness and research organization.  Claire Cook at the movie premier for  her book, Must Love Dogs, had dogs available for adoption walk the red carpet. 

Besides benefitting a cause, many authors have special giveaways that generate interest in upcoming books.  Typically the sweepstakes is related to the theme of the book.  For instance, Wendy Wax gave away a trip to England in conjunction with her book, While We Were Watching Downtown Abbey and Claire Cook gave away a trip to an elegant spa in Texas, in conjunction with Time Flies.  Not every author can of course afford such lavish prizes.  But anyone can put together a chic bag filled with books and related items to give away. People love a chance to win!

Develop Relationships

Readers not only enjoy winning things but also learning about the author's life, their writing habits and research.  Book events that provide a time for the author to talk and answer questions are popular.  Erika Robuck engaged her readers with stories about her research on Zelda Fitzgerald and how she connected through personal aspects of her own life.  For instance she has a relative who was a psychiatric nurse so she had insight into this profession when she decided to make a psychiatric nurse the main character in her book, Call Me Zelda.  Claire Cook talked with her audience about having a book made into a movie and what it was like to walk the red carpet.  Another way to develop relationships is to have an active online presence where the author is communicating with readers about their lives.  Authors like Claire Cook are a master at this as they not only share their activities related to launching a book but take an interest in their readers' lives and comment on it when the reader attends a book launch.

Be Remarkable

In the past book signings were always held in bookstores but the new trend is to hold a book event in a unique venue that is somehow related to the book.  Mary Kay Andrew's most recent book, Ladies Night is about home decor blogger so she held her book launch at Kudzu, a home decor store in Sandy Springs, Georgia.  The goal is to create a unique and memorable experience that people will come to for more than a book. 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.  Encourage readers to dress the part of characters in the book.  Use music, decor, goodie bags, events to continue the theme.  Mystery books could involve a mystery to solve as part of the event.  Books about dogs could be held at a pet store in conjunction with dogs for adoption.  The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Be Real

Readers can buy a book easier and cheaper online.  They come to book launches to experience something unique and to get to know the author.  Sharing personal experiences and insights makes the book more meaningful. Getting to know the author as someone who is real with a family, a history, and their own personal quirks not only brings people to the book launch but encourages them to buy books.  Karen White, at the launch for her book, The Time Between, for instance talked about her compulsion to organize things and how she has used that trait in her characters.  She also talked about the difficulty of naming characters and how she used the name of one of the owners of Foxtale Books in her newest book as a character.  Claire Cook, at her book launch, talked about the theme of women reinventing their lives and how that has been her own story. She said that she knew that she just had to get over her own fear and do it, so she wrote her first book at the the age of forty-five while sitting in her minivan waiting for her daughter to finish swim practice.  

Be grateful

Every author is aware of the important role others have played in their success.  Thanking family, editors, agents is standard but still heartfelt.  Authors who express gratitude to their readers and who follow that up with real interest and concern in their lives recognize the gift they share.  The connection between an author and her readers is more than that of customer to seller.  It is best described as a large extended family made up of the author, the reader and the imaginary characters in the book who often seem more real than imaginary.  Authors who can nurture this relationship while thanking their readers for the gift of their participation understand the true nature of the book launch.  

Want to read more about marketing books and creating a unique book launch?  Here's some great books:  Stress Free Marketing, by Renea Winchester and Sell More Books by J. Steve Miller.  I highly recommend both! 

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