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Tips for holding a book launch

Firstly, welcome to my brand new author blog. I created an author blog in February 2011 when I received my first publishing contract with Etopia Press because an author needs a profile, then I didn't post on it because I didn't quite have anything to post. I felt as if I was repeating the same thing on each of the different social media channels so what was the point? I turned that blog into an e-zine for teens called InterestTeen where I post articles that my target audience might find helpful and informative. Anyway, I decided to create this author blog because I really should have one, even if it is only for posterity's sake.

So today, I held my first book launch in a local book store for my first novel The Bird With The Broken Wing which, although was released as an ebook in September 2011, was only released to print in October 2012 .

Book launches are nerve wracking to say the least. Will anyone show up? That's my biggest fear. I'm a grin-for-now-and-cry-later kind of gal. Put on a good show and if I need to afterward I'll go sit in the corner at home and have a good cry. I really shouldn't feel the need to do this considering I write young adult fiction to send a positive message to teens - which is, nothing is the end of the world. Yet I'm no different to anyone else, I fear things too, and for me, an end-of-the-world moment is holding a book launch where nobody shows up. Or I show up wearing slippers. Hey, it happens in my dreams ALL THE TIME. 

Here are the steps I took for the promotion of my first book launch:

1. visited local book store in December and asked them if I could hold my launch in their book shop. They agreed but couldn't do it prior to Christmas so the date was set for mid January
2. sent media kit to local local radio and newspaper and secured interviews with both.
3. invited local schools and librarians (January is in the middle of school break so the invite was sent for early notification) and as a bonus I secured the opportunity to talk to students at one school in the new year
4. posted flyers in surrounding shops
5. sent media releases to local newspapers - one newspaper kindly printed details of the launch and offered to do a follow up feature, and a second newspaper asked for a copy of the book to do a feature and giveaway
6. invited everyone I know (The rule of thumb when it comes to people telling you they're coming is to add up everyone who says they're coming then halve that number, unless you do a thorough follow up as detailed below)
7. sent invite to bookstores in surrounding areas to generate interest in holding book signings in their store. I secured the opportunity to contact in a few weeks to organise a book signing once the holiday period is over.

invitation sent to friends, media, and psoted in store windows

2.00pm came and it was time to pack the car. Without knowing exactly how many people were going to show up I piled eveything in to the car and dragged everything into the bookstore. A little table was set up for champagne and a few chairs set up for people to sit while I talked. 3.00pm came and we waited a few minutes for any stragglers and then at 3.15pm I talked to the small gathering. The good news is that a few books were sold, I chatted with another author, and the book store took more copies for general stock and my book got promoted to the YA section where before it had sat just in the Local Author section. The book store also offered to hold another launch when Feedback is out in print.

Was it a success? Of course it was, although my nerves are a little frayed because public speaking is not my forte. I have to work hard at it so it leaves me emotionally drained (one reason I sit behind a desk and write novels). But to me it was a success because of these reasons:

1. the book store asked me back
2. more than one person showed up
3. I got the anticipated number of sales though millions would have been simply wonderful (dreaming)
4. and it was a success because this was my first book launch and I did it.

You can never fail if you attempt something, you can only fail if you don't attempt anything at all. 

What did I learn from this experience?

1. maybe I won't hold a launch during the holiday period. I'd hoped to attract people from outside the local area, and I did attract one author who was here on holidays, but a great number of people including teachers and students were away on holidays
2. follow up with every single person I sent an invite to! Email them, text them, facebook them, drop a flyer in their mail box via email, go around and pick them up if I have to because everyone is busy and this follow up can be the difference between your friends forgetting or showing up to be there as moral support
3. authors who talk about their books with honesty and sincerity attract readers. When I told the group that my aim as a teen writer is to inspire, excite and delight - which is my mission statement - and spoke about some of the honesty behind writing The Bird With The Broken Wing, they responded well

Photo: Book launch Sat 19 Jan. Author chats to small group about YA novel The Bird With The Broken Wing, as well as past, present, and future as an author. Thank you Bay Bookshop for hosting this event.
D L Richardson talking about writing and book launch held at Bay Bookshop Sat 19 Jan 2013

Despite the smaller than hoped for number of people and sales, I'm very happy with the result. And as I mentioned, this is only my first launch. Plus the book has only been in print for two months. Every bit of promotion helps me reach my goal of becoming a full time writer. Each time I visit a school or talk to a writer's group or hold a launch, I'm engaging with people, and to this date, word of mouth is still the number one tool an author has to assist with the promotion of their books. Nicole Murphy (she writes fantasy novels and organises Conflux conventions in Canberra) once said, "It is better to have six people love your book, than to have a hundred people shrug their shoulders and say, "Ner, it's all right". So, as I told myself on the drive home, even if only one person showed up and that one person loved my book, then I've done my job as a writer.

Photos of the book launch can be found on my website, twitter, pinterest, and facebook pages.

D L Richardson


  1. It sounds like a fantastic first! That's an important note up there about where your book is shelved. Mine was previously stuck in the back of a store with the local author section. I asked that it be moved to the teen books as well. I didn't want to be shelved in the middle of the state history and biography books!

    1. Thanks Brinda. I should add that while I was packing up they moved my book straigh to the YA section and asked for 10 more copies to keep in stock. Also, one of the customers was the local librarian so my book is also now in 3 local libraries!!

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience and advice. You're absolutely right regarding the jitters and expectations. When it's all said and done, the hardest part was deciding to do it! Once the experience is that, experience, it's easier to draw, shape, and decide the next step. Good luck on your new release.

    1. Chalking it up to experience is one of my mantras. I learn nothing from doing nothing. Thank you for your wishes on the next release. I'll be sure to let everyone know if my improvements worked or not.


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