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6 Keys to a Successful Book Launch Party!

Colleen Hannegan

Planning a book launch party is a grand event and one that takes 3-6 months to plan and prepare AND to make it a success. You'll need a party planner, (yourself most likely), a great venue, (I chose my local country club), delicious appetizers and drinks. I had a full wine bar and chilled water and there wasn't a drop of vino left at the end of a very successful evening.

Here are a SIX things I did to make it top-notch and memorable. After all, a book launch party is often times the culmination of YEARS of work (seven for me), and you feel like even if this book never makes it to the best seller list (but I do hold that vision), even if all this incredibly hard work falls short of finding a big audience ( I'm working on it), the love affair you've had with conceiving and birthing this story to the World deserves the caliber of debut party that is deserving of a beautiful love affair. Because you DO love this story. You've chaperoned it into being and hold full responsiblity for getting it out there to share with others. You believe 200% that every moment you stayed glued to the writing chair was a sincere commitment to the gift, the story, the healing, the wonder, the enchanted forest that dwells within from The Beginning to The End.

There are no mistakes in creating a good story, only in not giving it every opportunity to be great. And that includes a great editor, a great proofreader, a great co-book designer, a great book coach, and you yourself a great writer. And you are, are you not? Because a great book launch party can only become your reality if you believe you've truly written a great story and hired great caretakers to assist you in it's birthing. You stand in front of your crowd, and behind you are the many who've held your hand and helped you make your dream come true.

1. Plan a budget of $1000+ for the party, at least. (Mine cost $1200).Depending on venue, food and beverages, size of crowd, a first class book launch will provide a great opportunity to debut your book. Don't skimp. Choose a great venue. Planning far enough in advance can help with budget matters. I saved money by having my evening reserved a week before more expensive dates during the holidays. You can always negotiate the terms. You never know what you may get at no charge if you don't ask and work with the event planner.  I was able to negotiate using their projector and screen for my slideshow for no extra charge. And I brought my own wine, paid a corkage fee per bottle (saved $5 a bottle for better wine), and was given bar service at no additional charge (usually $150). Plan far enough ahead and you'll save lots of worry, stress and money.

2. Seek corporate sponsors. I had guest speakers/sponsors who were able to invite their clients to the party and share their products with new people in the crowd. Win/Win. They shared in the expense of food and wine. Their message paired well with my book subject and kept the audience interested, entertained and warmed up before I took the stage. Each sponsor spoke for 10-15 minutes only. My talk was 45+ minutes.

3. I had an MC for the evening, like any well planned event. He kept things flowing and timely. HIs ease and humor held us all together throughout the evening.

4. I chose to make it a free event. I was confident enough in my event, in my guest speakers and in my own talk, that I would sell books at the end of the evening. I thought to myself, if I was invited to a book launch party, would I attend if I had to pay? Maybe. But I'd feel alot more welcome if it was free and I was allowed to decide to buy or not to buy. Some authors charge $20-$40 and it includes a book and food. That is a valid idea. Others invite a donation to attend their book launch; say $25 and it includes a book! Good idea, too. No matter what you decide, it's your party and from start to finish, you have to be your own rockstar and have the party you've dreamed about, the one that will keep you smiling for a long time after because you did it your way and it was successful.

5. I hired 3 girlfriends and 1 sister and my daughter to act as 'hostesses" for the evening. They welcomed guests at the front door, at the guest book signing table, acted as timers in the back of the room for speakers, made sure guests found their way to the food and bar, and helped at the book signing table with payments and thank you's. This made a HUGE difference in my being relaxed knowing I didn't have to watch over EVERYTHING. They were friendly faces in a crowd and worked the room and made sure things went smoothly. I also hired a videographer and photographer and let them roam free. 

6. I wore a fabulous outfit I felt totally comfortable and beautiful wearing. I'd made my hair appointment earlier in the day so I'd feel all bright and shiny new. Presentation is KEY when you've invited 100 people to your show. Because it IS a grand event. You want your guests to feel as special attending as you do presenting.

Go 1st class. It's the only way to step onto your new stage as author and to compete in this great big world of writing. Trust me, it was SO worth it, every step of the way!