Planning a Book Launch, Part 1: Find the Right Place

Planning a Book Launch, Part 1: Find the Right Place

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. This is Part 1.

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.

The Right Place

Finding the right place for your book launch is important. Smaller, independent bookstores are often very supportive of local authors and will work with you to help make your launch a success. That was certainly my experience with Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge. Shelley Macbeth, the store owner, met with me early on and offered help and suggestions. After all, she had hosted plenty of book launches. This was my second.

In addition to being a wonderful bookstore, Blue Heron Books offered a link to my novel. The bookstore is located in Uxbridge, Ontario, as is the ski hill where I volunteered as a Ski Patroller for five years—an experience that played a role in the book’s development. That local connection was helpful when it came time to advertise the book launch.

Some writers might want to choose a venue that ties in with a book’s theme. Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars (WestSide Books), is holding her book launch in a Toronto Community Centre. The book deals with abuse and self-harm, and her launch will double as a fundraiser for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape.

Eric Walters will be celebrating the re-launch of his basketball-themed book, Home Team (Orca), at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. More than 10,000 young people will be there for the 10th annual “Rumble in the T-Dot.” The event will feature a half-time basketball game: Eric’s team against a team of high school teachers.

Start Early

For a May book launch, I first emailed Shelley of Blue Heron Books in January or February. The lead time helped when we had to reschedule the book launch just before the invitations were printed. The date moved up by two weeks, due to a conflict with a booksellers’ conference. Luckily there was still time to make that change.


In a way, planning for a successful book launch begins long before the book is even written. Networking is important, not just for a book launch, but for growth as a writer.

Full disclosure: I have a big family. Still, not everyone at the launch was related to me (although they cleaned up on the door prizes). Many were members of various writing groups that I belong to: CANSCAIP, the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region (WCDR), and Critical Ms., my own critique group. There were also writers with whom I’ve taken writing classes and friends with whom I share an interest in writing.

And when the time comes for their book launches, of course I’m going to do everything in my power to be there.

Check back tomorrow for more of Erin’s tips in Planning a Book Launch, Part Two: Get the Word OutYou can see all the photos from Erin’s launch by visiting Orca’s Facebook pageWhile you’re there, become a fan to keep up with Orca’s latest news and events!

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