Since I'll probably have to host my own book launch, I'm wondering if I could get advice from others who have done their own. First of all, what is the timing of the event? Right after the book hits the streets or the day of? What sort of venues have you tried? Are bookstores the best places for these? And in the long run, is it worth the effort in publicity and sales (besides an ego boost)?

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Well, I'm certainly no expert, having had only two book launches, but I'd say what it works best as, is a party for your friends. If you can get your publisher to pay for it, so much the better. I've had one in a bookstore (Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto) with a few other authors at the same time. It was fun, a nice way to socialize with other people who had books coming out. And, I've had one in a kind of bar/restaurant (The OverJoy Bistro in Toronto). Sometime within a week of the book being available in stores.

There's not much publicity to get out of it, usually, and the best chance of sales are your friends. But it can be an awful lot of fun and you shouldn't under-value that ego boost....
I don't know. If my ego gets any more boosting... :)
Hey, Jeri--

Check out this blog post that I wrote a couple of years ago:

http://murderati.typepad.com/murderati/2006/04/fjfjfjfj.html

In terms of your specific questions:

1) Timing: Usually no earlier than a week after your pub/release date. You want to make sure that your books will be readily available by the book vendor.

2) Venues: I've done a museum and bookstores. I think it's best to use a place that sells books because guests (hopefully) will return to buy more books. (Also some bookstores report sales for newspaper bestselling lists and you don't have to actually sell that many hardcovers to get on those.) But bookstores provide books in nontraditional settings all the time, so you could still have your event at a restaurant, community center, etc.

3) Is it worth it? For the first book--yes, definitely! It's your coming-out party. You need to celebrate with your family and friends. In terms of publicity, you'll get hardly anything, but the launch may stir word of mouth. And, of course, you'll sell some books. If you're coming out in hardcover, it's definitely worth it, because it'll be people who know you who will be the most willing to spend $25 on a book written by a debut author.

Have fun with it. A big book launch is not essential for your book to do well (that will depend on reviews, buzz, etc.), but it's still important for a hardcover writer.

Naomi
Sounds good, Naomi. Does day of the week matter? Weekend better or not?
Really depends on your projected crowd and your area's geography. I tend to have my launches on Saturday afternoons--and most bookstores/community groups I deal with say that is the best time. Of course, I do a bunch of bookstore signings before and after the official launch party on weekday evenings, etc., so if someone can't make it to the Saturday event, they come to another one. My local independent bookstore is starting to have more weekday lunch events for prominent authors. I think that's a great idea and would like to investigate that in the future. Good luck!
Sigh! Never had one. My publisher certainly didn't pay. Neither did anyone else, and I didn't know I needed one. The fact is, nobody really cared.
My publisher isn't paying, but I think it's a good idea. Doesn't hurt to send out a press release to the local papers, and to invite some industry people along with friends. Now all I have to do is find a bookstore (Nothing but a Barnes and Noble in my area of Southern Cal. Los Angeles would be a better location, probably. I live in the bloody desert, and not the good one.)
Well, definitely do all the mystery bookstores in L.A. and San Diego, but have your launch where your peeps live and shop. A Barnes and Noble in the bloody desert is not a bad place. It probably will be more a novelty than the metropolitan areas. And you may get some local newspaper coverage.
I didn't have one for my first book. My book launch for Just North of Luck, my second novel, was at a local restaurant. We picked a Thursday night in order to draw people in who would buy my books and stay for a great steak. The owner served light crudites and most did stay for dinner. He was pleased with the night's business, and I sold quite a few books, too. Ran an ad in the local paper with the cover which showed up well. I haven't tried doing a book launch at a bookstore since I'm in a rural area with not much around.
Definitely have fun with this, Jeri!

I've only had one launch, but I did it locally, in Southern-by-God-Illinois, a couple weeks after the book came out. I picked a winery, which gave folks an extra reason to come out, and did it on a Sunday afternoon. I paid for it myself, but it's all tax-deductible, and I only paid for finger foods--folks bought their own wine, which made it a good deal for the winery. (I think I spent about $200.) My home independent bookstore set up a table to sell books. I had coverage in two local newspapers. Be sure to follow-up on the publicity your publisher sends out in your neighborhood. Smaller papers get inundated with self-published writers looking for publicity and their eyes tend to gloss over the materials. In the end, Sarah Weinman linked to one of my local profiles, which gave me even better coverage later.

I did a local Barnes and Noble signing as well a few weeks later, but I'm glad I did the party first.

Don't think of it as an ego boost. You can't quantify publicity or the good will you'll generate by sharing the fun with folks in your neighborhood! Enjoy!
My first work, Justice is Coming, just hit the street the end of February and I had a party. 30-40 of my friends and associates that commiserated with me over the years while I gave birth showed up (around 75 invited). I broke even on the sale of books and cost to throw the party (beer/wine/sodas/munchies, etc...)(a friend let me use his loft/office near Deep Ellum in Dallas) but to see the book piled in front of me with friends asking for an autograph and then seeing my friends and others interact throughout the night was well worth the aggravation. Some also brought friends which has begun a word of mouth on the work. So as for me, it was well worth it, for ego, publicity and what the hell, I got to drink with friends! Life's short, eat your dessert when you can.

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