Although my team and I have launched over 50 books, I’ve attended very few book launch parties. This is partly because we serve busy people all around the country, and very few take the time to plan and enjoy a party for their books.
I recently had the pleasure of attending Dan Olsen’s launch for his new book, The Lean Product Playbook. A perfect San Francisco night, a flat full of exuberant friends, beautiful food: Dan and his friends know how to throw a party.
Here are a few ideas from Dan (and others) to make your book launch party —and your book— unforgettable.
Invite a photographer. Everyone will want a photo with you, and you’ll want to remember this special night. Rather than relying on friends to take photos or risk hitting someone with your selfie stick, invite a photographer to capture your special evening. Perhaps even more important than the photographer is a fast turnaround and sharing your photos online. Consider talking with your photographer in advance about timing so you can amplify the fun by sharing your party pics with your online audiences. Or snap a few photos on your phone to share in the moment and extend the excitement of the event.
Get your signing hand ready and be sure to have plenty of books on hand. I’ve seen a mixture of people selling/signing books and giving books away. Whichever you choose, be prepared to sign books personally for your guests. Dan set up a table of books and greeted guests individually, then took a photo with each guest and their signed book.
Brand your party. Alexandra Watkins’ book launch party included a cake featuring the cover of her book, cupcakes branded with the cover, and colorful name tags. She also served ice cream from one of the companies mentioned in her book, a company she named. Everything about the party, from the location in her business office/loft to pictures by her famous pink fridge, served to cement Alexandra’s fun, edgy brand.
Consider a cause. Joanie Connell’s launch party for her book, Flying Without a Helicopter, benefited a local charity. Putting the focus on a cause, especially one that connects to your book and its message, is a great way to create additional excitement and buy-in for your work while doing good in the world.
Give the gift of connections. At her party, Alexandra Watkins introduced me to her friend Charlene Li. I’ll admit, I felt a bit starstruck. Then I posed for a picture. Who at your party could benefit from an introduction to another? During a brief speech at his party, Dan encouraged people to meet one another. Your book launch party could signal the start of a great opportunity for others to connect in ways that could make a big difference for them long-term. Take a moment to consider those connections in advance, then make sure the introductions happen by taking the time to help people connect.
Remind people of how they can help. Your friends and colleagues are poised to become advocates for your book and its message. Use your party as a chance to remind people of the key ways they can help propel you to success as an author. Remind them to buy, review, and share your book with others. Dan spent a few minutes sharing the message of his book, talking about his success so far, and asking for reviews. Some of your friends may need helpful reminders. Read this post for tips on ways to effectively mobilize friends to write Amazon reviews.
Say thank you. Your book launch party is a great place to express appreciation to the tribe that’s contributed to your success. Dan thanked many people, including his wife Vanessa, by name. He recounted the specific ways people helped him along the journey. You can also use social media or the old fashioned mail to follow up on your expression of gratitude by sending a newsletter highlighting pictures from your event and putting those powerful words of thanks in writing. Bonus points for hand-written notes of thanks,
If you can’t throw an all-out party for your book launch, please consider a smaller occasion like a dinner out with friends, to celebrate your book launch. Every book you publish represents a significant investment of time, energy, and effort. You and your book deserve a celebration!