Monday, 6 June 2016

Launching Your Book Baby

Image courtesy of digitalart at

CWD/ACW Cross-Post

Christenings, twenty-first birthday parties, weddings, ship launchings, bridge openings, house warmings—all ways to celebrate new beginnings.

Having a book launch provides a great opportunity to celebrate your book, make a splash, spark initial visibility, and it may be the one time people don’t mind if you raving about your book.

So what makes a successful launch?

Be clear about your goals.

What do you hope to achieve with your launch. Is it primarily to celebrate your achievement and/or to bring your book to attention of potential readers and fans and/or to make some initial sales?

 Who is your target audience?

A family history may (or may not) be targeted more at the extended family rather than history buffs or members of the historical society.  An e-launch of a book aimed at techno-challenged seniors may not be the best choice.

Be prepared

  • Make sure your book is properly edited, critiqued, formatted and ready to publish in time for the launch.
  • Talk to your publisher (if traditional published) to work out what they offer & what they expect from you.
  • Start planning well before hand— the type of launch, who you’ll invite, giveaways etc.
  • Have a budget— this might be small or large but you don’t necessarily have to spend big to have a successful launch.
  • Maybe form a ‘street team’ —a group of people who are enthusiastic about your book and who are prepared to review and promote it via word of mouth, sharing links etc. and therefore create a buzz early on.
  • Make sure you have enough books on hand (if physical launch)—allow leeway for delays or mistakes in printing/sending.
  • Reviews—arrange reader reviews (through advanced reader copies) several weeks before the launch.
  • Announce your launch—through social media, your website, email list etc (your platform).

Decide on what kind of launch

Most people, when they think of a launch, think of a physical one—with a physical venue and physical (print) books but you can also have an e-launch (or maybe combine it with another event).

Physical launch

  • You need to arrange a time and date, venue, decorations, suitable refreshments and activities or entertainment.
  • Send out invitations to friends and family, fans and readers, and other interested parties.
  • Advertise—on Facebook (unpaid & paid), announcements of new releases (e.g. ACW), other social media, blogs, among groups that might be interested in your book, local media etc
  • Make sure you have enough books for people to purchase on the day.
  • Have activities, giveways—maybe takeaway items with your brand or book title such as bookmarks, T-shirts or coffee mugs.
  • You could have a launch theme (does your book have pirates, horses or dragons in it; or maybe it’s set in an exotic location or celebrates a certain kind of cuisine.)
  • Unless you are big name author or celeb—it’s probably best not to charge entry. If you do charge, include a signed copy of the book in the price.

Pros of a physical launch— a sense of connection, you have the books there to sell and they can be a lot of fun. Besides, not everyone is on social media.

Cons—not everyone can attend especially if they live at a distance and it can be more expensive and take greater organisation.


It is possible to have a virtual-launch (eg Facebook or Twitter) and these (depending on your target audience) can be quite successful.

While I’ve heard of Twitter-parties, my experience has been with Facebook launches.

  • Set up the event (date and time) on Facebook & invite interested parties to (virtually) attend and suggest inviting friends who may be interested.
  • With an anthology—different authors can have 5 min intro and then each offer giveaways, prizes etc —which can result in a very fast-paced exciting launch with lots of offers and interactions.
  • If you are the only author—you can invite other authors will similar book/readership to participate and/or just do it yourself. Make sure you have a list of questions for competitions or discussion:
    •    About you as author & the writing process
    •    About the book or book series, its characters and or narrative world
    •    Related to the setting, the themes or issues
    •    About the reader—their favourite book or genre, tastes, or opinions
  • Tie in the giveaway into some activity—signing up to email list, liking author page or twitter account, Giveaways can be vouchers, or free books/short stories/illustrations or services (editing, providing a graphic) or inclusion in next book (ie they can name a character)


Have an event on Facebook & with posts leading up to the physical launch.

Tie the launch in with other promotional activities.

A launch works best if you tie it in with other (ongoing) promotional activity.
  • Blog tour— a ‘tour’ of participating blogs in which your new book (and you) are showcased, you can have giveaways for each blog and/or one big one at end of tour. Treasure hunts (with questions or comments on each blog needed to win). You may want to look at ways at keeping the different blogposts fresh and interesting—a different set of questions to answer, an excerpt from the book, or an interview with one of the main characters in the book (if fiction) or some interesting titbits of research about the culture, setting or period.
  • Giveaways— leading up to the launch maybe set up a Rafflecopter giveaway or other giveaways on your blog. You could also do a Goodreads giveway or Amazon promotion.


The launch is just the start. It takes time to build traction in the market, to get visibility— so you should continue to promote your books (without putting everyone off by a constant, annoying ‘buy my book, buy my book’ drone).

Look for opportunities:

Encourage reviews if you can, guest blogs, book signings, visits to groups connected to your target audience (schools, family history groups, women’s groups).

Don’t despair—remember the long-tail of publishing:

In the past books had a definite (and short) shelf-live. Unless a genuine best seller, a book often had a 6 week turnaround in the bookstores. So it was important to make a big splash at the beginning.

These days, with e-books, online buying and print-on-demand (POD), a book effectively never goes out of print. It remains available for purchase long after the launch. So even if your launch rates barely a blimp on the radar and you don’t make any Amazon best-seller lists, if you continue to promote your book/s, it’s possible to build up a visibility over time. This works best if you have more than one book, so keeping writing is also important (and because, after all, that why you are a writer in the first place).

And when all is said and done, while we can plant and water, it is God who 'gives the growth'. (cf 1 Cor 3:5-9)

Have you launched a book or participated in the launch? What things would you recommend as part of a successful launch? 

This post was also published on Australasian Christian Writers on 6 June 2016

Jeanette O’Hagan enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master’s in writing. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .


  1. Thank you for a very comprehensive post Jenny. I have to admit the launch of my one and only book was very exciting. I did plan a lot in advance for it and what fun that was! It was a thrill to go back to Sri Lanka for the launch and to have about 100 of my family and friends celebrate with me. I invited a chief guest who shared with us at the event, a friend who sang a song of thanksgiving to God at the beginning, a lamp that was lit by a few people (part of the Sri Lankan culture), my then 86 year old Mum also speak to us as well as have everyone join in singing a few songs of praise together. I composed a song with the theme of my book and sang it after a brief sharing about nmy book. There was food for everyone (yum)and yes, I did sell lots of books. It was one of those epoch occasions which stand out in my memory like a shining star.

    While e-launches are good to do for the reasons you have mentioned, I do like your idea of having both. There's nothing like meeting face to face I think and celebrating in style. Thank you for all your ideas which I shall keep in mind for my next book launch! :)

    1. Wow Anusha - what a wonderful launch with so many special memories. Some great ideas too.

  2. That's an excellent list to draw from, Jenny. I've attended (and held) several fun physical launches, on-line launches and blog tours. The key seems to be being prepared, and a list of tips like this shows how easy it may be to let several potentially great ideas slip. Thanks for providing them all in the one spot.

    1. Thanks Paula - I'm sure you're a veteran at launches :) Forgetting to include/do something is one thing; running out of time to do everything is another. I think, in the end we do the best we can and leave it in the Lord's hands.

  3. Great ideas here Jenny and I don't know that I could add to them. My publisher organised and paid for my first book launch. We held it in a function room at a hotel in the city and all I had to do was talk about my experience in writing, being edited and of course give a plug for the publisher (New Holland Publishers) who were excellent and made the experience most enjoyable and sign copies of the book and be available to answer any questions. We invited the senior law professor (who wrote an acknowledgment in the book) to launch it and it was attended by the CEO of New Holland Publishers, Sydney as well. We had probably about 80 people altogether - many were from the major bookshops around Adelaide - and we sold 60 books on the night.The second book we launched at my church with probably around 120-130 people, mostly people I knew from the church and the church provided refreshments as a gift to me (such a blessing) as well as the venue at no cost. We had the Commissioner of Victims of Crime in South Australia speak, music, video clips, and one of my favourite pastors, who was an ex ABC radio presenter MC'd the event. I was part of an internship at the church at the time so I asked my mentor to launch the book. Very enjoyable evening with I think from memory around 35+ books sold.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Lesley. Sound like two interesting and successful launches :)

  4. So many clever ideas, Jenny.
    I jumped in for my very first launch by asking the girls who were planning a women's conference, could I launch it there, because the theme was Write Your Story!
    Since then I've had a couple at my own church. And all, besides gaining interest & creating potential future readers, were successful in selling my books.

    1. Thanks Rita. What a great idea to combine your launch with the conference. It's been good to hear different experiences and ideas :)

  5. Thanks Jenny. Lots of great info there. I've helped with a couple of Adele's book launches and we tried to make those fun. One activity that worked well at both of them was a scavenger hunt. For "Integrate" we hid five items that were in the book (e.g. a phone card, a surgical glove, the cone from an ice-cream) and then gave prizes that related to the item (e.g. the person who found the cone got ice-cream vouchers). Having a fun activity like that can break up the formal proceedings. It can be boring if people are just up the front talking for half an hour.

    Another tip is to get a team involved in organising and running the day (e.g. your writing group).

    Thanks for some great ideas.



    1. Thanks Nola - some fantastic ideas :) Love the idea of a scavenger hunt.

  6. Thank you, Jenny. Such a helpful post, I have copied and filed it for later 'eventuation' (hopefully). You are such a great help to this community!