How to Throw a Book Launch Party That Isn’t a Waste of Time

By Chris Robley 
(Originally published on BookBaby Blog here.)

If you’re self-publishing or releasing a book through a small press, being pampered isn’t usually part of the equation; you’ll have to take the lead on planning your own launch party.

But don’t get fever chills; it’s not all that different from throwing a Super Bowl party, only YOU are the main attraction and hopefully overly-enthusiastic fans won’t be screaming at you if you drop a word or don’t enunciate clearly during your reading.

Why should you plan a book launch party?

1. Press coverage. You’ve put months or years of your life into writing your book. That past investment is invisible to the public, BUT the pressure of that time expenditure is pushing towards a single point: the book release. It’s an event worthy of celebration.

It’s also the time to focus your efforts on attracting critics, journalists, agents, and bookstore owners who can help you move your career forward. If you can make your book release truly newsworthy, you’ll have some assistance building a buzz from industry folks and the local media.

2. Spread the word. Sure, you hope your family and friends show up, maybe even a few enemies if it helps make the place look full. But if you can attract media attention for the event, there’s a chance you’ll have the opportunity to earn new readers and fans – fans who will recommend your book to their friends, who will recommend it to their friends, and so on, and so on.

3. Contextualize your writing life.  Have a habit of getting lost in thought during the middle of dinner? Possessive of your time early in the morning before you wake your kids up for school? Irritable and manic for a few days after receiving a rejection letter?

Writing is hard work, both in terms of process and emotional ups and downs. Sometimes your friends and family just don’t understand. Granted, there are few excuses for rudeness or shirking your responsibilities, but… ya know, writers can be weird sometimes, and usually there’s an explanation.

A book launch party is the perfect opportunity to showcase your work, your quirks, and talk about some of the dramatic highlights that happen behind the scenes. Now you can show the people closest to you there’s a method to your madness, but that you also appreciate their patience and faith.

4. Have fun. Let’s not forget the basics here. A book launch is a big achievement. Live a little!

Where should I host my book launch party?

The obvious answers are either a bookstore or your home.

A bookstore (try your local independent bookstores or Barnes & Noble) will lend an air of literary credibility to the event. Local media may be more inclined to cover your book launch if it is tied in with an established bookseller. Plus, you’ll be able to call upon some of that retailer’s promotional resources (event calendars, posters in the store, website, email newsletters, etc.) But, on the flip side, you’re confined to their space, their rules, their timeline.

If you really want to be comfortable, you could host the event in your home, decorate as you see fit, and cuss to your heart’s content. The drawbacks to this approach would be potentially limited space, clean-up, and the fact that some people just feel awkward about promoting themselves in their own home. They end up feeling like what they’re really doing is entertaining guests.

Those aren’t your only options, though. Libraries are always a possibility. Or you could rent an event space. Better yet, find a space that is sympathetic to the theme or topic of your book and cross-promote.

For instance, if you’ve written a nautical adventure, host your party at a yacht club or boating store. Have you written a book about early motherhood? Party down in the local birthing center (maybe not in the delivery room, though). Written the untold history of the Gemini Program? Maybe you should hit up the closest science museum.

You get the point – synergy! (Yes, I hate that word.)

How do I prepare for my book launch party?

1. Approach the desired venue with your idea. Be prepared with a press kit and pitch. Tell them why this book launch is not only good for YOU, but why it will help bring new business to their store or new interest to their cause. They’ll also want to know how many people you can bring out for the party.

2. Work with the event space/venue/store on a promotional plan. Divvy up the responsibilities if possible, or at the very least, have a discussion that outlines all the promotional activities you plan to do. They’ll see you’re serious, and you’ll have a plan to execute on.

3. Enlist help. Will there be food? Costumes? Props? Decorations? A podium? Music? A cage of doves to set free? Parking issues?

Find some folks to help out. And yes, family and friends are always a good place to start. Beyond that, see if caterers, bands, and other local businesses would be interested in sponsoring or assisting somehow.

Also, try to find an author, book critic, or other personality to act as a kind of informal MC. They’ll handle your brief introduction at the beginning of the event. And hey, everyone loves endorsements!

4. Promote the hell out of it! You may go on a book tour or have future readings and signings, but you’re never going to have another book LAUNCH for this book. Do it right. Invite friends, family, and fans via email, by phone, in person, and over social networks. Remind them of the book launch in your email newsletter. Create a Facebook event. Tweet and blog about your preparations and what people can expect. Shoot a video invitation and put it on YouTube. Make it sound fun!

Design fliers and posters. Hang them in coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, and community centers.

Let the press know at least two months in advance (though if you can give them three months, they’ll love you for it) by sending them a succinct (but exciting!) press release and press kit. This includes the regional newspapers, local art papers, weekly rags, literary journals and reviews, colleges and universities, individual professors who may be able to inform students, radio stations (including local NPR affiliates, community radio, and college radio), online events calendars, book bloggers, cable access channels, local news and TV news magazines, and just about anyone else you can think of.

See our article on creating a digital press kit for your book.

5. Follow up. Keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the people and media outlets you’ve contacted, along with their contact info, and the date of first contact. Follow up with them a couple weeks later asking if they’ve received your press release, if they will be covering the event, and if you can do anything to accommodate them (e.g. interviews, free books for giveaways, contributions to their blogs, etc).

Then follow up a second time as the event nears. Sometimes scheduled stories are dropped or miss deadline, and maybe your event is the perfect last-minute addition to fill some dead air or white space.

The party itself

First, it’s good to remember that even hough you’re the star of the evening, peoples’ attention spans are short. No one likes a conceited blowhard, and no one wants to listen to your read your work for an hour. I suggest you keep things punctual, to-the-point, and then allow a little leisure time at the end for those who want to linger. Something like this:

7:30 pm: Doors open. Be there to meet and greet briefly with guests. Put your helpers on snack or drink duty.

7:50 pm: Sneak off to compose yourself, calm the nerves, use the restroom (and yes, you should force yourself to beforehand since public speaking does strange things to your waste-management system.)

8:00 pm: Official start time for event. Guests should have all arrived. Latecomers will suffer evil glares.

If you’re in a bookstore, the store owner, manager, or event coordinator will announce that things are underway, thank folks for coming, talk a little bit about their venue/store, announce upcoming events, and then introduce the person who will be introducing you.

If you’re hosting the party yourself, a spouse, partner, or friend can handle this initial welcome.

8:02 pm: Introductions. You don’t want to have to brag about yourself, so this person takes the bullet for you! They get up and sing your praises for two or three minutes as anticipation builds and the audience makes that strange transition from a group of family, friends, and acquaintances to adoring fans.

8:05 pm: You’re on! If you’re particularly adept at public speaking, and if you’ve scored it out ahead of time, you can use your reading time to weave between actual recitations, readings, annotations, asides, back-stories, personal confessions, and more! If not, I suggest you work the personal details and process part of your story into the first 5-10 minutes. Then you can use the remaining time to read straight from your work.

8:30 pm: Q&A. I know a lot of folks who think, “Oh, I’ll know most of the attendees. A Q&A sounds lame. They’ll feel like they have to ask something to be polite!”

That may be true in some cases, but oftentimes, a reading allows folks who know you quite well to see a different side of you. They get curious, and tend to ask question because they genuinely want to have a discussion with you about these new revelations. And if you tend to get nervous thinking about Q&As, remember that “I don’t know, I’ll have to do some soul searching and put the answer on my blog” is a perfectly good answer.

8:45 pm: Thanks and goodbyes. You or the MC can then thank folks for attending. If you want the party to rage on afterwards, go all night! Folks will appreciate being released from their official responsibilities, and then you can all unwind together.

Keep a positive attitude

You can be in persona if you want, acting mysterious, cool, gregarious, funny, or whatever else, but be kind to your attendees. Show genuine appreciation for THEM and they’ll care about you in return.

Plus, you never know who “they” may be: a critic, a blogger, acquisitions editor in town visiting parents, or your next #1 fan.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard’s Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of “Short Works Poetry.”


52 Responses

  1. I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thanks, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?
  2. I've been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this web site. Thanks, I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?
  3. Are you sick and tired of being bored? You’ll never have a dull moment if you visit It’s by far the most exciting site on the internet. There, you’ll be able to talk to all kinds of hot babes. Don’t be surprised if everyone at work asks why you’re so happy. You don’t need to tell them that you visit this site each and every day. It’ll be your little secret.
  4. There are some of you out there who probably haven’t heard of This is one of those must see sites. It’s full of extremely attractive ladies. You’re going to want to put down your sandwich when visiting this site. It’s impossible to focus on anything but the babes they have to offer.
  5. Sick and tired of being bored? There’s nothing at all good to watch on TV these days. How many cat videos can you watch at YouTube? What you really want is some live adult entertainment. That’s what is all about. It’s 24/7 excitement like you’ve never seen before. Check it out and tell a friend. Something this good needs to be shared.
  6. I just added a new fresh list of links. I hope all of you had a great weekend. Now it's time to get back to work and build some links.
  7. Here's a list of free public proxies. The list is a little smaller than usual. You should still be able to make good use out of it.
  8. Some days you just need to kick back and relax. You can do a whole lot of that by visiting There are plenty of hot babes to keep you occupied. Have yourself a good time and don’t forget to make a friend or two.
  9. You’re not going to be able to take your eyes off of these babes. Each and every one of these girls are super hot. This is the one site where you can have an unlimited amount of fun. That site is and you’re going to want to bookmark it.
  10. I have a new fresh list of proxies available. Download the text file and put them to good use in your SEO tools.
  11. I added a new list today. I'm going to try to find new sites in a slightly different way. Read all about it by clicking the link above.
  12. "I have come to understand that rates for on-line degree authorities tend to be an awesome value. For example a full Bachelor's Degree in Communication with the University of Phoenix Online consists of Sixty credits at $515/credit or $30,900. Also American Intercontinental University Online gives a Bachelors of Business Administration with a whole education course feature of 180 units and a cost of $30,560. Online degree learning has made having your college diploma far less difficult because you can certainly earn your current degree through the comfort in your home and when you finish working. Thanks for all tips I have certainly learned through your web-site."
  13. Here's a new list of free proxies. I hope you all are having a great Monday.
  14. "Good way of describing, and good piece of writing to obtain data concerning my presentation subject, which i am going to present in college."
  15. The week has just begun and that means it’s time to relieve some stress. You’ve got plenty of work ahead of you. You’ll need all the relaxation you can sneak in. No one can melt the stress like a cam girl can. At you’re sure to find a cutie that will make you forget all about whatever was stressing you out.
  16. I've got a fresh new list of free proxies. I hope you all can put them to good use.
  17. I added a new list today. I changed how I scrape to get more results. Read my post for more details.
  18. "It certainly is practically unthinkable to see well-aware people on this matter, then again you come across as like you realize what you're talking about! Bless You"
  19. Right now you could be having a whole lot of fun. All it takes is visiting There’s no site out there more fun than that one. It’s loaded with girls who know how to treat a man right. They’ll make sure your day is a very good one.
  20. Thank you for your post.Thanks Again. Want more.
  21. Simple and easy!! Interesting information over here. It's pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.| I could not refrain from commenting. I 've spent 2 hours searching for such tips. I'll also share it with a couple of friends interested in it. I've just bookmarked this web. Now with the work done, I going to visit some online Webcams. Thank you!! Greetings from Austria!
  22. "I’m not sure why but this weblog is loading incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists."
  23. I truly appreciate this post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.
  24. I just added a brand new list. I hope you all are having a great week. I'm trying new methods to find more links. Check out my site to see the results.
  25. "Its like you learn my mind! You appear to know so much approximately this, such as you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you just could do with a few percent to power the message house a bit, however instead of that, this is excellent blog. A fantastic read. I'll definitely be back."
  26. I really enjoy the blog.Much thanks again. Awesome.
  27. Thanks-a-mundo for the article.Much thanks again. Really Great.
  28. Thanks again for the article post.Thanks Again. Keep writing.
  29. Im grateful for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on...
  30. Really informative blog article. Will read on...
  31. Major thankies for the blog article. Want more.
  32. I hope you all have a great week. I've added a new list. This is the biggest list so far.
  33. Hey, thanks for the blog.Much thanks again. Great.
  34. Looking forward to reading more. Great article post.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.
  35. I hope you all are having a great weekend. I have a new list for you. Read the latest update on how I compiled the list. I'm still surprised by the results.
  36. Hey, thanks for the article.Thanks Again. Want more.
  37. You’re in some serious need of relaxation. That’s where a site like comes in handy. You can do a whole lot of relaxing there. You’ll find plenty of fun girls to talk to. These are the hottest and most wild girls on the internet. Chat with them and have yourself a good time.
  38. Major thankies for the blog article.Really thank you! Cool.
  39. Cool one! Interesting information over this website. It's pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.| I couldn't resist commenting. I 've spent 3 hours searching for such infos. I'll also share it with some friends interested in it. I've just bookmarked this website. Done with the task done, I going to visit some Mundial 2018 Webcams. Thank you!! Regards from WM 2018!
  40. Im grateful for the blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.
  41. You’ve been working hard lately. All that stress has got to be eating at you. Why not take a break and enjoy some cam girls? There’s plenty of them to enjoy at It’s wall to wall babes at this site. You’ll know that right away after your first visit.
  42. Really informative blog article.Thanks Again. Cool.
  43. Im grateful for the blog post.Thanks Again. Great.
  44. Muchos Gracias for your blog article.Really thank you! Fantastic.
  45. I've just added a fresh new list. This is by far the biggest list to date. I hope you all are having a great week. Take care and happy link building.
  46. Carpet Cleaning Springfield IL 1101 Kingshighway Springfield, IL 62702 +1 217-441-2563
  47. Very informative article.Really thank you! Much obliged.
  48. Hello there friend! There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don?t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well Again thanks alot for this!
  49. I hope you all are having a great weekend. I added a new list. This one is smaller, but still useful. I think the next one will be bigger.
  50. I really enjoy the article.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.
  51. This is one awesome blog post.Thanks Again. Really Great.
  52. Very neat blog.Really thank you! Cool.

Leave a comment