Enjoy your book launch because you’ve earned it

Who let the dog in?

The unexpected will happen during your book launch but here’s a 10-step guide to help you on your journey. And remember, you wrote a book so you’re already pretty amazing at doing things.

What’s your lead in time?

For the launch of Ripple we had a three-week time frame to work with but you’ll probably have longer. The publisher told me not to book a venue. You’re kidding right, I said. Why, I asked. She replied, in case the books are late. Late?! Holy Cow, they can’t be late, we’re like seconds from Christmas!

Thank goodness for family who just threw themselves into the champagne and preparation. I mean they organized the champagne- they threw themselves into a neat little bar afterward.

Find out how much time you have before your book launch and make a schedule including the points below. Promote the heck out of it on the internet by doing a countdown. Use all of your social media and build a frenzy of anticipation. You could do an online launch only, if that’s your preference. Another blog post will examine the details of online launches.

1. Invites?

Do one and make it attractive. Venue, Date, Time, RSVP, Theme or Dress, picture of book, special notes: eg; parking hard to get so be there early, or whatever.

How many?

Invite more knowing you’ll get less on the day. For mine, about 45 responded very early to say they couldn’t come because of prior commitments; utterly understandable during the festive season. What about those who come for the food? Love them anyway, if they’re happy they’ll spread the word!


Essential, I repeat, ESSENTIAL. You need to know how many bottles of champagne to order, obviously! And water, food, napkins, oh and books. For reasons of safety, all venues have a capacity limit so play smart and stay within it.

2. Do you need an MC?

YES! I cried with tears of joy when the person I asked to be MC replied to my, ‘Um, I have a favour to ask,’ with, ‘I’ll be your MC at your book launch.’ He was key to the event’s success. You can’t really MC yourself but don’t let that stop you if you have to. You need to work with your MC to ensure the tone and length is right for your occasion. They want YOU to tell them what they need to include. Avoid long speeches.

3. Is the venue important?

Heck yeah. We had to check the licensing requirements for the serving of alcohol. All good. What about bathrooms? Definitely check these out. We were fortunate to secure a great stone building on a beach, and it’s often used for launches. That’s worth considering- what have other writers or artists used in your area?

4. Who will HELP you?

Everyone! When you ask for help, you will get it! Family, friends and complete strangers mucked in to helped me set up and pack up. This easily takes up an hour each end of the launch. Be unafraid, people love to be invited to support you.

5. Music?

Not everyone needs musicians. I was privileged to have the services of two brilliant musicians. Discuss the choice of music and maybe link it to your theme. Remember not everyone reads but most like music, and if it makes them happy, they’ll connect that feeling to your book. Whatever works!


With great music, exquisite champagne, moreish food, a fabulous venue, a brilliant MC, and outstanding helpers, I hoped they’d forget what they were there for and buy a book out of sheer conviviality! You can do the same.

6. Prepare a speech?

This is your BIG moment. Preparation is key. Authors usually do a short spiel and a reading. Not sure if my friend’s mother was laughing with tears of happiness at my lame humour, or was choking on the sushi. I like to think it was the humour. Make sure you practice both your reading and speech, and actually write your spiel. You will not regret time spent on both and then you can breathe.

7. Uninvited guests?

My rare oratory talent had clearly reached the canine quarter. Not long into the reading, in strolled a self-possessed pooch with a keen interest in contemporary fiction. I could tell because he was the only one listening. Seriously, have someone keep an eye on the door and overall security.

8. Thanks?

An attitude of gratitude is crucial. Have gifts on standby, books to deliver to the right people who’ve helped you on your journey, and other gifts of thanks to helpers, also mention invited guests and so on. Write your thanks clearly on a page and have your gifts labeled because you won’t have time to remember in the busyness of it all.

9.What about the book?

Have a best friend or relative manage the sale of your book and do the money transfers. You should not do that yourself. You should be mingling, clinking glasses, and listening because everyone will want to ask or tell you something. It’s also very important to have a table and chair set aside for book signing; after all, you’re the celebrity on the day!

10. What should you put on the tables?

Depends on your theme as to what you want to spread around the room and place on the tables- white tablecloths make objects pop. You could display the title of your book, business cards, flowers – if appropriate, and some fun or special objects which might relate to the book or the genre. Think about this- people will take photos of it and put it on the net.


Parking and packing the cars; plan this in advance. You’ll need a couple of cars, they’ll be packed full and it will take time. Find out how many tables and chairs you can use at the venue. Primarily it’s a standing event so you don’t need chairs for everyone. Try not to leave things behind, um, like someone I know. Still getting things back.

You could have a door prize! People love doors.

Consider having a back up outfit, (food, drinks and dirty doggy paws will seek you out on this day), and someone to check you over before you speak, especially your teeth. Just saying.


If you’re worried or anxious, meditation could help or you may need to find a few minutes to sit in a calm space with appropriate music and breathe beforehand. Anything that goes wrong –it happens- will actually add to the fun.

With a bit of planning and support from your friends and family, your book launch will be spectacular. Upload photos to celebrate your accomplishment. Not every writer makes it to this point, so well done you!

Have you had some success with your book launch? I’d love to hear about it.


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