Planning a Book Launch, Part 3: Know Your Venue, Know Your Crowd

Uxbridge Cosmos

Erin Thomas launched her first Orca title, Boarder Patrol, on Saturday, May 15 at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario. All this week, she is sharing tips for planning a fantastic book launch. Yesterday she described the process of getting the word out. This is Part 3.

Last weekend I celebrated the launch of Boarder Patrol, my first book with Orca. The launch was a success, despite a few twists in the planning process. More than fifty people filled the bookstore and bought or ordered seventy-some books. We had too much food, not enough books, and lots of fun. Here’s what I learned.

Support Local Businesses

Uxbridge, the town where my book launch was held, is about half an hour from where I live. It’s far enough that I hadn’t been there often, and I knew that most of the people attending my book launch wouldn’t be familiar with it, either. To try to make life easier for them, and to convince them that it was worth the drive to Uxbridge, my husband and I put together a “Guide to Uxbridge” and made it downloadable from my web site in PDF form.

The Guide lists a few local attractions and things to do. Shelley at Blue Heron Books offered the names of a few nearby shops and restaurants, and I added some based on my own experience wandering around the town. I like to think that the local businesses appreciated the mention, and I hope that some of my friends and family had the chance to explore Uxbridge a little bit.

Whenever practical, I used Uxbridge-based businesses to supply things for the book launch. After all, who wants to drive for half an hour with helium balloons in the car?

One nice thing about using local merchants is that it gives you chance to meet with them face to face and talk about your book launch. Maybe you can even leave a flyer or some bookmarks. If you’re lucky, they might mention the book launch to their customers. After all, the people who live in the area are the ones most likely to drop by your launch.

I was also fortunate in that a local paper, the Uxbridge Cosmos, was willing to run a story on my book because of its connection to an Uxbridge ski hill. I emailed them the week before the book launch, and the next day, someone phoned me to conduct a telephone interview. Days before my book launch, a story about my book appeared on the first page of the local paper. I know that helped to bring in a few people.

Know Your Crowd

I knew that most of the people coming would be my friends and family. For that reason, I wanted a casual atmosphere—lots of food and congeniality.

I set up a buffet-style finger foods table, and Shelley provided coffee. There was bottled water as well… less sticky than juice, and with lids. Much safer than punch, in a bookstore setting.

Check back tomorrow for How to Plan a Book Launch, Part Four: Be Flexible!

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