Monday, May 31, 2010

How to Throw an Awesome Book Launch

Hey Moonrat. Any tips for throwing your own book launch?

Uh, YEAH. I've seen some really excellent book launches in my time, so let me throw down a couple of ideas I've stolen from innovative authors.

1. Expect zero support from your publisher. I mean financial support as well as every other kind of support--a lot of publishers have a zero collaboration policy on book launches. Don't hold too much of a grudge--it's hard to justify spending marketing dollars on a party when they could be spent on retail co-op placement or ad initiatives. So just be pleasantly surprised if your publisher does send materials or people or money (hey! Sometimes it happens!), but be prepared to do it all on your own.

2. Put together an invite list.
Do this before you try to take any other steps, because knowing the names of the people (and how many) you expect is really key to securing a venue.

Don't fudge this--sit down and make an actual list. The reason I say this is because if you go the route of approaching a bookstore to host you, they might actually ask for a guest list to decide if they can break even on accommodating your party. But just practically speaking, knowing how many people might come will help you choose a good spot and make sure you have enough supplies. Pretend you're planning a wedding here--take it that seriously. Put the guests in tiers: Definitely will show up come hell or high water; Can probably count on him/her as long as s/he is in town; Might come; There's some chance s/he will show up. I do this pretty frequently, and always use Facebook and LinkedIn as well as my email address book to cross-reference who will be in the area. Remember to include local business people you've patronized--many of them will be tickled pink to see your project, and some of them may offer sponsorship (for example, donating door prizes) in exchange for the advertising opportunity (although I'd say don't ask people for this kind of thing unless you know them pretty well and are sure they won't take offense).

Then, prep yourself emotionally to only expect the "Definitely" people, but to be able to host the "Some chance" people if they happen to show up. Just like any party. Only take this one a little more seriously--the more the merrier at your book's big coming-out party. You want all the attention around launch time you can get, and your friends are a good place to start.

3. Venue: to bookstore or not to bookstore? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. A bookstore party is harder to score and more responsibility for you. You have to be careful of the property, the time frame, and the owner's interests, which include making money while they close down the store for you. On the other hand, if your party is a great success and lots of people buy books, you have an opportunity to create a beautiful relationship with your local bookstore.

Conversely, a non-bookstore venue is often easier because you don't have to worry about the above pressures. I've seen some very creative and successful venues: bowling alleys, hair salons, living rooms, back yards, clothing stores after-hours, liquor stores, ballrooms. In my opinion, the best venue is one you don't have to pay for. But other than that, there are really no rules to where you can throw a book party.

The downside about not having a bookstore party is you're going to have to arrange your own book copies and sales. Sometimes, your local bookstore will be able/willing to send a bookseller to staff and sell at your party, even if they can't afford to actually host the party. If you can't set that up (and it's often tricky, but it's worth a shot), you can always just order your own copies. (See below.)

4. Arrange food and beverages. Trust me--you can't have too much. And also trust me--if you've got stuff to nosh, you'll get a higher turnout commitment. What can I say? People like food. Heck, if you have a party with food, just tell me where and when and I'LL come.

If you're worried about cost, there are lots of ways to do this cheaply. One of my authors held a truly GORGEOUS book launch for herself--I thought the whole thing was catered and must have cost her thousands of dollars. I found out later that in fact several of her thrifty friends each pitched in potluck style. It was a seriously classy party for not very much money.

If you're doing the whole thing yourself, remember it's quantity, not quality. Piles of Doritos are just as munchable as fancy canapes. You don't need to spend lots of money; this party is about your book, so you're not going to be judged for what snacks you serve.

5. Creative add-ons make people happy! I've seen some authors have themes that relate to their books. For example, Alaya Johnson had an excellent 1920s-themed party for Moonshine, which is set during the 1920s. She was smart, though, in that she didn't make the theme a prerequisite of the party, just a fun add-on--you don't want to make your party work for the people attending.

If themes aren't for you, consider a raffle! Maybe guests can fill out a cue card with something cute related to the book, and you can draw a winner or two. Then you can advertise "door prizes" on your invite, which looks nice. If you're energetic, you might make gift bags or little giveaways. These don't have to be expensive, but something to take home is a nice thank-you to your guests for coming out. You can get things like tote bags for $3 or $5 a pop if you're feeling fancy, or you can make things like personalized bookmarks or pens for a lot less.

Obviously, none of these things are necessary to making a good party. Really the only necessary thing is food.

6. Uh, make sure there are copies of your book at the party. If you scored a bookstore venue, the store owner will have to work this out with your publishing company. Your guest list will DEFINITELY come in handy then. You really, really want to guess about the right number of copies. Over-ordering will be a great trauma for your kind host, but under-ordering will cause both you and them to lose business. In my humble opinion, it's always better to over-order slightly. Sometimes the host, if they are generous, will invite you to sign the remaining stock. So be nice to the host.

But yeah, if someone else is providing the books, follow up. A lot. I mean, be nice about it. But don't underestimate the ability of other people to be disorganized. It would be really sad if you had a party with no books.

If you're at a non-bookstore venue and aren't partnering with a bookstore to sell your book, you have some extra bonus options. I would recommend buying copies for yourself and selling them for cash. As a courtesy to your guests, you might sell them at a discount if you got the copies at an author discount (an advantage over working with a bookstore, who will probably charge cover price). Now here's the most unorthodox suggestion I'm going to make in this post. If you're buying the copies yourself, do so from a retailer who will give you a bulk discount (I have no preference among accounts, but there are certain retailers that pretty much always give discounts, such as Powells and Amazon). If you buy copies from an account like this instead of from your publisher, the books you buy will a) count toward your national sales numbers, which is always a good thing, and b) pay you royalties. And yeah, a lot of times you can get a discount from these accounts that's almost as high as your contractual author discount. So, as Michael Scott would say, it's a win-win-win situation.


7. Remember to thank everyone profusely all the time.
Just in general, when you're an author, make this your policy in all things. But especially be gracious at your book launch. Be unflappable! Expect the least from your guests/customers, and appreciate everything as much as possible. It's easy to let your nerves get the best of you, but just be nice no matter what. (Those who have been around these parts for a while might remember my story of watching an author event go down the tubes because the author let their nerves make them snappish.)

There are my thoughts! Hope they help.

**ETA** Authors! If you have good/bad/ugly book launch stories to share, please do!

53 comments:

Jane Steen said...

I am either completely pathetic or the most optimistic person in the world. I clipped that to save for later use WHEN my currently-in-first-draft Very First Novel is launched. You can laugh now. But it was a very helpful post, Moonie. Thanks.

M Clement Hall said...

I've never done this, but I've seen some sad ones. If you've a thousand real friends it would be great, but since most writers (I think) are rather private people, I think not many have so many persons they'd call on for support.
I'll be most interested to read some real life experiences.
And, unquestionably, the advice was most sound.

moonrat said...

M Clement--that's a great idea. I'm going to annotate the post to add an invitation to share.

David said...

8. Be aware that no matter what you do, it's possible that no one will show up.

I was once part of a mass book signing (not a launch, admittedly) at a local bookstore. Writers involved included some humongous names, plus me. No one showed up. We had a nice social time, but it was disappointing, especially for the store owners, who had publicized the event madly and prepared lots of food and drink.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

That's good advice about buying your own books. As a guest speaker I could do that and carry the books with me! (if I had a book)

I do have food. If it's a back yard bash then then let's go hunting and chuck a pig in a hangi. I used to hunt, now I stroll at the bulk butchers.

I've nothing helpful to add really, but thanks for the post.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Thank you so much Moonrat!
I am presently organising some book store events in Melbourne and this has appeared at precisely the right time.

I feel like I'm doing the right things, which is excellent, and you've given me extra ideas - bonus!

It's hard not to let the nerves get to me, for sure!

J. L. Bell said...

Quote from my first boss in publishing on the publication of his novel: "If I can't ask my friends and family to buy my book at full price, then who can I ask?"

Julie Jordan a.k.a. @Writers_Cafe said...

Great post!
Like Ms. Steen, I am as yet an unpublished writer, but I am looking forward to the day . . .
I live in a rural area with just one big-box book store nearby, so maybe I'll just do my own thing at my house, or, I may get brave and see what the local store has to say.
Great idea about buying the books via Amazon - win-win!!!
Julie

Anita said...

This post is print worthy! And if I ever sell my book and have a launch with food, you will be invited!

Redleg said...

Moonrat, I'm having a party. With food.

Rosanne Parry said...

My neighborhood library helped me with a wonderful party for my debut novel Heart of a Shepherd. We had chickens and a sheepdog and cake and pin the hat on the cowboy and crafts in addition to the usual reading out loud.

All afternoon on a Saturday kids wandered into the library between their soccer games and ballet classes wearing muddy cleats or tutus depending. My local indy bookstore sent a box of books to sell. The local schools and businesses let me put up a book party flyer.

It wasn't an especially fancy event or expensive to host, but it was fun and suited the audience for my book just fine.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great ideas and guidelines. Thanks.

Pamala Knight said...

You give the BEST advice. One of these days I hope to have some bound pages with my name on the coverplate and this post will certainly come in handy.

Thanks!

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm afraid that what M Clement Hall said does seem to apply for many new authors: we don't know anyone to beg favors from. However, it cannot hurt to try!

Dana King said...

Moonrat,
Excellent and informative post, but it prompts me to ask one more question: Is a launch worth having in the first place? Aside from being a (potential) boost to the author's ego, does it sell books beyond what the attendees take home with them? Are there collateral benefits?

moonrat said...

Redleg: WHERE AND WHEN.

moonrat said...

Rosanne--yes! Thanks for the story. It's true, suiting your "audience" is most important.

moonrat said...

Dana--usually, no. You should only think of a book launch as a party you're throwing yourself to celebrate your accomplishment.

However, if that's your attitude going in (low expectations), you might actually be surprised by incidental upsides--reconnecting with old friends, creating relationships with local businesses, selling books. But do remember all outcomes will likely be modest.

Sherri said...

Bookmarking this one, and sharing it on my reader. Thanks, Moonrat.

Christopher J. Holcroft said...

2 june 10

I have had two book launches so far with reasnable success both in sales and numbers of people turning up.

I organised the local church hall which is situated next to a Primary School so there was plenty of parking.

Some time was spent labouring on the invitation itself and then drawing up the invite list. When this was sorted I organised food and drink; table cloths a number of posters about me, the books,book prices.

On the outside of the hall I placed some posters and glow sticks so people knew exactly where to come... my launches have been at night.

Inside the hall I had made a colour poster of the book and placed this on the lectern I used so photos of me launching the book had a large image of the book in it too.

Before the launch I put some images together of the sorts of themes covered in the book and added some free mp3 music. I showed the images and played the music through a projector using my laptop.

In the hall near the entrance I placed the book selling table with copies of the book to be launched and my first book or just the book. My third launch is coming up shortly so I will have copies of all three books on the table and a friend acting as bookseller/cashier as you can't do this yourself on the night.

When it came to me launching the books I thanked all for coming and explained the background to the book, the themes and characters. I then read some selected passages from the book.

Now the book was launched I mingled with guests while my family assisted with serving nibblies and drinks.

Keep two good flowing pens with you so you can sign books without problems. Also, listen very carefully to how people want their books signed so you don't make mistakes and waste a book.

Lastly, after the launch, thank the hall owners and share some photos of the night with invitees by e-mail.

You can also theme the night. My third book has themes of bikers, scuba diving and teens and I will dress up the hall accordingly.

Best advice - plan to have fun with your friends and family, but you must plan.

Christopher

My books: Only The Brave Dare, CANYON and A Rite Of Passage.

Barb said...

Great post, thank you!

By the way, Moonie - how far will you travel for food?

moonrat said...

Barb--uh, pretty far. Pretty darn far.

Aileen Stewart said...

Thanks for the article. I plan to host a book launch at my local library when my book gets to the publication point of my contract. I was glad to see my idea of throwing a party with food wasn't unusual. Since my children's book has a segment about a birthday party, I thought I would celebrate birthday style with balloons, and games and such.

Karen L. Simpson said...

This is so helpful, My publisher just asked me what I would like to have and I been wondering how to go about selecting places. I'm lucky and grateful because they are paying. My whole book is rich with the theme of food so I'm excited about the possibilities. The suggestions in the comments are wonderful as well.

Empress Awesome said...

I definitely need to bookmark this post for the possible future...

Amity said...

Frankly, if you are anywhere near a college campus and you put up a flier mentioning food, you WILL get people coming. Embarrassing as it is, my grad-student hubby and I go to all sorts of bizarre things if there's food advertised. Put something up in the English department or whatever department you think will draw in readers that will enjoy your book.

If they buy the book or not...that's the question. In the least, though, you've created a positive association in their minds, and if they like what they see they may tell people who have money to get them the book as a gift. And, someday, they'll be out of school and have an income.

Lisa_Gibson said...

I hope that I need this terrific advice someday...soon. :)

Jon Sprunk said...

Great advice. I'm holding a launch party for my debut novel this month, so your timing is perfect.

WritingNut said...

Thank you for this Moonrat!

I hope I get there one day to have all these dilemmas.

But I don't know, I tend to remember people by the food they serve... Kidding ;)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Thanks, Moonie! I sent out this link to our Southern CA SCBWI members.

Orodemniades said...

I work in an independent bookstore (one of 5, 3 new, 2 used/pre-owned/delicately read by someone else) and, uh, we pretty much provide the space and the books. If we know the author, we may provide snacks from the Middle Eastern deli (lots of vegetarians in our town. Also, yum). We never ask how many people might show up. We do list the event on our website and will put up a flyer or three, but other than that it's up to the author to do the work. In fact, we're having an author on Friday, should be a good evening as the book is gorgeous and the author is local.

Jeannie Lin said...

Wow, I didn't even think of having an actual launch party until reading this article. But now what I have...I think I'm going to do it!

Great, great advice. Best thought was from Christopher: "Best advice - plan to have fun with your friends and family, but you must plan."

Because of this, I think I'm going to plan for a book launch in Los Angeles even though I currently live in the Midwest.

Kate Sullivan said...

Aaaand I'm going to keep this around in order to work on throwing a party for my publishing company's first title - heck with being uninvolved, I want to celebrate my author's great work!

Jody Hedlund said...

Timely post for me since my book is releasing in Sept/Oct. I need to start thinking though all of these issues. Thanks for the tips!

Jacqui said...

Good advice. I'd add: If you write for kids (or for any very specific audience, I suppose), think about whether your party is for kids or adults, and then plan accordingly. Is it a celebration of the book being published for you and your grown up friends/supporters? Or are you planning fun activities (like Rosanne talked about, and which is my personal favorite way to go), in which case you want to make sure actual children come.

Richard Mabry said...

Great post, with some excellent advice, not the least of which is to hustle like crazy but lower your expectations. I had my book launch for my first novel at a bookseller, the 800-pound gorilla of indie bookstores in this area, and 30 people showed up. But the anxiety and stress associated with the event cemented my decision not to do a formal launch for subsequent novels.
One of my colleagues now does her book launches as an online "party" at her Facebook fan page, with chats and prizes.

Kathy Maughan said...

I self-pubbed my first novel and got it placed at one Barnes and Noble. They said they'd have a reading for me, but the problem was it was an hour away from home. A few friends made it--mostly those who lived close. But they did have to bring out more chairs, which is much, much better than having 20 empties. The problem was that I hadn't planned it very well--and yes, YOU have to plan it. I sent invitations to people that said "come to B&N from 1 - 3 pm." So the reading was at 1:30 but most of my friends showed up around 2:30.

I also got it placed in a local bookstore, and they agreed to do a reading for me as well. This time I planned better: on the invitation, I said, "Book signing from 1 - 2:30; reading at 2:30. Desserts at 3:30 at my home." And a LOT of people came, and a lot of them bought my book and some others, so the bookstore was happy. The B&N quickly forgot I exist, I'm sure. All good experiences for when I publish my first book with a real place...

Alex said...

This is incredibly useful, and comes at the perfect time for me: just as I'm starting to freak out about how to plan the launch for my book, coming out this fall. Now, I wonder what the best venue would be to go along with Knifepoint's kidnapping theme?

cindy said...

awesome helpful post as always moonie!

Rachel H. Evans said...

Bumped into this right when I was sitting down to make my guest list for a launch party in July. GREAT tips! Thank you so, so much! (Practicing my thanking profusely.)

Anonymous said...

Wait, so book launches aren't all like the one Carrie had in Sex and the City? Meaning elaborate, sumptuous, black-tie affairs that cost five figures and are footed entirely by the publisher??

*spinning with disillusionment*

;)

ggwritespoetry said...

FANTASTIC post Moonrat! WIll definitely keep all this in mind!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Wow, super helpful post! Thank you so much. I've been thinking and contemplating these very topics since I'm now in the throes of planning book launch parties in July/August for THE HEALING SPELL. My publicist at Scholastic has been super helpful to set up the bookstores locally and out of state, I'm really blessed to have someone to work with, but I'm doing a personal *book birthday bash* for all my friends/family/neighbors/church friends locally. Even though I'm nervous about it, it's fun to plan the food and music and door prizes.

Need to go work on my book talks now . . . I do believe that writing a novel is easier than speaking in front of a crowd!

Jeff Carlson said...

I’m coming to this very late but love the post and think I have a tidbit or two worth sharing. Not that I’m a giant expert. I only have three titles under my belt, but I’m lucky in that I received full support from my publisher (Ace/Penguin USA) for launch parties for all three — coordinating with my local chains, poster costs, and invites mailed at their expense. Of course the snacks were on my dime, but Moonrat’s right that people are happy with cookies, grapes, and sodas. As a f/t writer, I’m always conscious of spending my own money because I’m not exactly rolling in cash. My books are in mmpb in North America, which is great for sales but makes it hard to eke out a f/t salary. The old saying “You have to spend money to make money” only makes sense in industries with larger profit margins. More on that in a minute.

The best of our three launches saw a crowd of 55. They bought 80 books. This was for my second novel, and the party was at Borders after the first had been at B&N. The store managers were new to me. They thought I was a rock star. The truth is my wife and I had done a good job of getting our family, friends, and neighbors excited about the event, and those people did a good job of bringing *their* neighbors and co-workers. Your friends should be excited for you. Tap that enthusiasm. Especially when you’re starting out, that’s where you’re going to create the majority of your crowd. No one else has ever heard of you.

So here’s the tough question: Is it worthwhile to bother with a party (or book signings)? Aren’t most of your friends and family going to buy your book anyway?

Yes and no. From a purely mercenary standpoint, 80 books are nothing. Your publisher expects to move tens of thousands of copies. Eighty isn’t even a drop in the bucket. You could throw a launch party every day of the week selling 80 books each time and New York won’t bat an eye. Then you could follow up the party with 10 book signings, selling 10 or 15 books at each one… and who cares?

Having said that, every molecule in the bucket counts. Ideally, all of those neighbors and co-workers will love you, love your novel, and go on to tell 100 more people. Word of mouth is key. I just want to forward the idea that it’s important to make sure you’re writing your next book instead of getting caught up in playing the rock star, because as gratifying as it may be to have an awesome launch or a few successful book signings, the only writers who really make out at these events are those who don’t need to be shilling their work in the first place — i.e., the “name” writers who’ll draw 125 people lined up out the door but whose titles are already in Target, CostCo, and WalMart. Also, their tours are paid for by NY. Me, I’d have to pick up my own airfare/taxi/hotel/meals/etc., so a nationwide tour would be insane.

Do the work. That’s always my message to people who tell me they want to be a writer. Stay home and do the work. If your book is good enough, it will find its audience and catch on. You can hit nationwide audience via radio and the net in your spare minutes, but spending all of your time and money flogging a handful of copies here and there is counter-productive except in those rare cases wherein you’re a home-schooled wunderkind from a family of independent-minded geniuses who will sell their home in order to support you in a relentless and years-long national tour until New York and Hollywood come knocking. Ha. We should all be so gifted!

Now I'm babbling on too long as usual... ;)

Jeff Carlson said...

Me again.

Be smart and careful with Rule #5. I’ve seen too many self-funded launch parties that put friends in a hole. There seems to be a myth that you need to have freebie tie-ins to give to attendees like t-shirts, dog tags, postcards, posters, and so forth, not to mention the teriyaki chicken spears. What did I do with my free t-shirt? Nothing. It was ugly. And I couldn’t help doing the math. Too often I’ve realized my friend spend $500 and took in perhaps $100, and that was with a self-published book in which my friend earned $4 per title, not a measly 8% of mmpb. $100 on 25 copies sold is great. But you’re still $400 in debt.

In my book (aha ha, that’s writer humor), Rule #7 is the most important one. Anyone who’s willing to come to your book signing instead of staying at home with their TV is your friend and ally. And those store managers? They’re not getting paid enough, most of them are bookworms or they’d working somewhere else, and they can be your most powerful supporters of all.

Those 80 books we sold? Penguin had shipped three cases. That’s 144 in mmpb. So what happened to the remain 64? Normally about forty would have been stripped and returned, thus negating most of the gain we’d created with All Mighty Bookscan.

Instead, the manager said, “Do you want to sign the rest so we can put up a big display by the entrance?”

Do pre-teen girls like vampires? Heck YES I’ll sign the rest. So now we hadn’t just sold 80, we’d created three full eye-grabbing shelves of books right by the door where shoppers couldn’t help but notice them, which, in theory, meant we continued to sell books long after the party — and, even better, those sales were to strangers, not friends and family.

For Rule #3, my vote’s for a book store. You’re doing double-duty with your party, not just making your little splash but also schmoozing the staff.

Stealing from Kimberley Griffiths Little, Rule #8 should be that you definitely want to practice your public speaking beforehand. If you’re going to read an excerpt, rehearse it (and keep it under 10 minutes). Maybe work out a little introduction about yourself to begin with. Also, people are always curious about the nuts-and-bolts of publishing. Your average reader has a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about NY. Let them peek behind the curtain. A fun anecdote or three is great. Hopefully your audience wants to ask questions, too, so don’t just sermonize at 'em, open up the floor for some interaction. And relax!

Hope that helps. A lot of it’s discouraging, I know, but writing is a crazy and difficult business. In my experience, ultimately the job keeps coming back to that one simple mantra. Do the work.

Richard Armitt said...

Great post.

A a self published author I found the party to be the icing on the cake after refusing to be listened to by the big boys.

Hired a great venure, scored some reasonable nibbles and bubbles, then worked on the guests.

Admittedly mostly family and friends, but I managed to get a couple of publishers through the door out of curiosity and being a cancer related book I was well supported by the local medical/support groups.

I would recommend a bit of star power, I managed to get an appearance by one of the stars of a local soap, because her character was undergoing cancer treatment at the same time.

All in all, get those steps right and enjoy yourself.

...and of course being my own publisher means that cash sales in a non-bookstore venue pays off the printer that much quicker.

Mad Fashionista said...

Dahling, earlier this year I went to a successful book launch and an unsuccessful book launch. The successful book launch (admittedly, for a book with a forward I wrote) was set in an art gallery. The book was "Vintage Accessories," so not only were there quantities of food, wine and books, the author was also selling vintage accessories! There was a cashier and plenty of books, and the gallery did an amazing display of the book's photography, as well as "portrait boxes" with rare antique pendants and silver 20s bags inside.

The unsuccessful launch was for a book by a fairly famous designer from "Project Runway." The launch was held at a gay club, and it was highly publicized in all the wrong ways. No guest list, just show up! 90% of the people I met had never met the author! There was no book display or cashier, only the very shy author sitting in the corner with several large cartons of books behind him. The music was too loud to talk, and there was no indication that you could buy a book! Imagine having to ask a famous person to give you change and then he has to fish the book out of the box. Not quite the right impression to make!

Both of those launches taught me a great deal.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

I had a dream book launch for my book, Bastard Husband: A Love Story. A fellow stand-up comic in Las Vegas offered his showroom to me and after about 40 minutes of signing books, I read a few excerpts on stage to about 50 people. I felt like I was at my own wake, only I didn't have to die. Afterward, my friend suggested I turn my readings into a one-woman show, which ran for 22 performances earlier this year. I'm taking a break now, but will resurrect the show again, I'm sure.

P.S. The owners of the bookstore where I had my first signing let me bring in alcohol. Arrogant Bastard beer and Fat Bastard wine, of course!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the read about throwing a book party. I am having one at my hosue this weekend and wonder if anyone has suggestions for what to write when I sign the book please?
Best Wishes, Happy Reading, Hope you enjoy the book are some I thought of but wouold love to hear about others.
Thanks a million.
Shirley Smith

Jeff Carlson said...

Shirley, I try to come up with at least two different taglines for autographing each book. That way I can vary my autographs a bit while making sure to write something fun and unusual in addition to my name.

As a fan, I'm always a little disappointed when a writer inscribes a book with "Best Wishes, Joe Smith." It seems half-hearted and, worse, boring.

I got the idea of unique taglines from a horror writer who wrote "My first romantic comedy" above his name on the fly leaf -- a small joke, but a good one. Then I met a literary author who quoted a peppy line of dialogue from her own book along with her autograph.

My first three novels are tech thrillers about a nanobot prototype that gets loose and kills everything below 10,000 feet elevation, so I use taglines such as "Run for the hills!" and "Hold your breath!" in addition to scribbling my name.

It's also hard to go wrong with phrases like "Great to meet you at Such-And-Such bookstore" or "Thank you for coming to my signing at So-and-So." This takes a minute more than just scrawling your autograph, but most fans will treasure their copy all the more because of it.

Hope that helps! :)

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Late commenter, regular reader: Thanks for a helpful post that I will forward to friends who are LUCKY* enough to be facing a book launch soon! Love the practical tips, Moonrat. Hope you're having a good summer!

(* but of course, "LUCK" is not the right word -- it's earned luck, which is not luck at all but hard work, courage, endurance. Let's hear it for the writers and editors who are surviving this recession!)

Carol Newman Cronin said...

One other thought: consider linking your book launch to a non-profit. We recently had a very successful launch party for my newest young adult fiction, "Cape Cod Surprise." A large part of the reason it was so successful is we promoted it as a fundraiser for a community sailing program; raffle ticket proceeds and half the book proceeds went to support Piers Park Sailing Center. I stole the idea from some author friends who sent their proceeds to other equally appropriate (and deserving) non-profits; it gives people a good feeling about buying your book, and also gives the author some extra staff to help with the party.

Diane Dettmann said...

Thanks, Moonie! My memoir, "Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal," will be released in a few weeks. Your timely suggestions inspired ideas in my head. In spite of the rather sad content of my book, I'm trying to think of an uplifting focus for my launch. Many thanks for getting my wheels spinning! Diane