HOW TO HOLD A CHILDREN’S BOOK LAUNCH
I’d never had a book launch. But for my 2011 book How Not To Make Bad Children Good, I did have a book signing at Waterstones in Leeds. As it turned out, lots of people came along, the store sold out of the book, and there was a real “buzz” in store. So when Wolfie came out, I decided to take the next step and have an official launch party.
Was it a wise decision? A few hours before, with my voice a mere croak from a bad cold, no idea of how many people were turning up, no posters in store, no idea where to park (without taking out a second mortgage), and my nearest and dearest stuck on trains across the country, it felt like a very bad idea indeed.
But then... my sister designed a poster and the local print shop printed it in minutes. My baking pal produced lovely eats – and she knew where to park, too. Suddenly there were crowds of little wolves running about the aisles, their parents were happily quaffing, my voice held out...just about...as I did my reading. People were queuing to buy the books and get them signed. I met some fans of my previous books. It was actually fun!
So should you have a book launch for your book? Maybe. Here are some things to consider.
1) It’s a great way to tell people about your book. You can invite not only friends and family, but also schools where you have visited, librarians, reading groups, book festival organisers, bookshop owners, journalists and so forth. Whether or not they come, you are still reminding them about you and your book. And when children turn up because they have loved your previous books, that is very special.
2) Media Coverage. A launch event is more interesting to journalists than simply “local author writes book”. I got coverage in the local newspaper, on various blogs, and local radio.
3) Social Media. Again, a launch is something to shout about on Facebook and Twitter, and is especially good for FB as you can post lots of photos. (So make sure there are photos!)
4) Book sales – I suppose this is the big question. Does it have an impact? All I can say is that Waterstones were delighted with sales on the day, and the Amazon rating was right up in the following weeks.
5) Above all, though, it’s FUN, and celebrates the fact that your book is finally, after so much hard work, in print!
1) It’s a LOT of work. Unless you are in the cushy position of having an event organiser, then you are going to be sending invites (and personal ones are best), writing press releases, organising food, liaising with the bookshop etc. It’s time that could be spent writing.
2) Don’t even think about it unless you know lots of people to invite. Remember, many you invite won’t be able to come. Few people will walk in off the street – unless you are a “name”. And if it’s a kids’ book, then you need to know people in the right age group. If you don’t, it may be better to do a school or other group-based event instead.
1) For a children’s event, you need children, and they like to have things to do. My book is about a wolf, so I had wolf-themed Word Searches, Colouring Sheets, Quizzes and Dressing-Up and a competition to Guess How Many Hamburgers A Wolf Can Eat in One Setting (its ninety, amazingly). For a kids’ event (probably any event) keep readings – and any speeches – SHORT.
3) Exploit your friends! You may not be able to make wonderful refreshments, design great posters, take publishable photos etc, but you probably know people who can. So ask them. And then thank them and pay them, if it is appropriate, or give them a lovely present.
4) Cake. You can now order cakes with your book’s cover from supermarkets or online companies. Easy, inexpensive and delicious!
6) Think About Stock. If your launch is at a bookshop, bear in mind that they will not want to be left with lots of unsold copies, and will order cautiously. On the other hand, you don’t want people who are keen to buy being unable to do so. So it’s a good idea for you or your publisher to bring along extra stock, which the bookshop can sell (and then replace later) if its own stock runs out.
7) For press coverage you need to get your timing right, and you need to write a snappy press release. Don’t assume that journalists will have time to interview you or write insightful pieces about your work – instead write good copy yourself and provide strong images. Send out press releases in the week before and tweet local media. I found one good tactic was to put the press release on my web-site and tweet the link. Send out photos as soon after the event as possible. And finally:
8) RELAX. You can’t completely control your book launch. So long as you are not collapsing drunkenly in the aisles (this is not the publicity you are looking for) you might as well enjoy it!
Check out Emma Barnes's web-site
Wolfie is available from Amazon and other booksellers