So the question was asked yesterday, "What are you planning for a launch party?"

My response was, "I have no idea."

My novel comes out Nov. 4 this year. What are the dos and don'ts of these parties?

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Easelbacks for accounts? Do I take it that "accounts" are book stores? Who's to say they actually put those things up? They take up valuable space and are dubious promotional material. Book stores like to sell space. Any cash infusion works quite well when you want them to push a new title. They like national advertising. And they like Oprah. All out of the average author's league. And what do book stores do with ARCs? Sell them? Now ARCs might be good for book clubs.
Instead of all that stuff, I want an ad on Daily Kos. I want my publicist on the horn with Stephen Colbert (except I don't think he does fiction, really). That's my audience.
It depends on who you are and how many people you can bring to the party. I know a southern CEO who sold over 800 copies of his first mystery novel. One night, one party.

I managed to bring over 90 people to a party (free booze and hookers, Jon) but my publisher failed to deliver the books as promised. Dinner, open bar, and a band. Zero sales.

I made many mistakes.
Chasing Shadows was launched at a book festival. I gave a talk followed by a signing. Any event where book buyers are plentiful is a must. Family and friends will turn up to see you but other won’t. There are independent book shops that host launch parties but pick the right one.

DO: Pre-launch marketing is a must for any book and you can use local radio interviews/newspaper articles to mention your launch.

DO: Make sure that your books arrive in time. Sounds obvious but delays happen. Receiving books early also means that copies can be sent out to all the local reviewers together with details of your launch.
Change the launch/lunch to a lecture. Advertise that a lecture from a new and exciting author is going to take place; the subject for the lecture? The creation of a descpicable villan. . . or something like that.
Can you bring hookers to a lecture, though? Maybe if you dress them up in plaid skirts and school ties...

But seriously--I didn't do book parties for my first two novels because I just didn't have time to plan them. For the next one I might invite twenty or thirty friends and do a catered thing in a rented space, so I don't have to wash the damn dishes, but then it's a considerable expense. What Neil confirms is that bottom-line publishing has effectively killed the traditional launch party as it used to exist, which seems a bit sad, really. One doesn't expect Gatsby-style excess, but I'd never met my editor's boss or my publicist until last year's Bouchercon, two novels in and negotiating like mad for a third. I picked up some useful information during those conversations--it would have been nice to have had those contacts earlier on.

Really the old-school launch party was a celebration of the author--some recognition by the publisher of the hard work we do and the importance of keeping us happy. I don't know that such parties were ever the norm in genre, but they were pretty commonplace in the literary world, back in the day. It's a small thing that publishers now prefer to spend that little bit of money elsewhere, but it's symbolically meaningful to some of us writer types.
Honestly I didn't know authors still had launch parties. I never had one and found it unnecessary after I'd heard what authors told me, who'd had them in the past. The main reason writers say they don't is because they are a waste of time because folks don't come. Is this a launch party for people to know about your book or something you're having for friends and family? I think it's great to have a book party to celebrate with friends and family but a launch party to me is a waste of time if you expect strangers to go. They've gone the way of booksignings, no one goes. Like I.J. said, "What's the point?"

If you're dishing out money on this, put it to better use like for promotion or something. It's fine if you wanna do this, but I think there are other things you can do. No one cares about launch parties anymore for books. That's sad but it's the truth. Rarely do people go, especially if the author is a first author.

Matter of fact, most authors these days are having launch parties online and virtual signings. Now that might be fun, at least online you can have folks to join in. I've known some writers who've had online launch parties, had tons of fun, people participated and they weren't out a single penny.

Nowadays, most launch parties end up with a sad-looking author at some empty Barnes and Noble or wherever with a table of books and nothing else. If you just wanna have a signing, that would be okay, though that's not worth much these days either, but I wouldn't make it some huge event if I were you. Believe me, unless you personally can drum up people to come, it's not worth it. Folks aren't just gonna "stop" by a launch party.

Seriously, Jon's ideas were pretty good. You'd need some hookers or something to get folks to come, LOL. Don't take it personally, Ben. It's not the fact of who someone is as an author, it's getting folks to come to the darn thing. If you can do that, then all power to you. But these days, people just aren't going to book events like they used to. They're not even going to concerts like they were!

Things have changed, along with the economy and if you wanna have one at a bookstore, well, we know what's happening to bookstores right now. To me, a book launch was never really very popular. The only authors who did them were the ones getting the big push from the pub, not the others. And if you wanna have it at a bookstore then I'd rethink that. They can't get people in to buy books let alone to see an author.

Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net
I have a launch party for each of my books a couple of weeks after the release date (to make sure the store can order copies of my books in time). I work with the store's events manager to plan the event. I bring balloons to draw attention, cookies (asking permission first), and a plastic tablecloth and napkins that match the colors in my book's cover art. I hold the event in my hometown (Colorado Springs) and personally invite everyone I know at least 2-3 weeks prior to the event. If possible, I arrange an interview with the local radio DJ who likes to promote local authors during the week before the event.

The purpose is to bring all your local fans, friends and relatives together in one place to celebrate your release with you and to give them the opportunity to buy their own autographed copies of the books. My husband comes along to take photos of me with fans/relatives/friends, some of which get posted to my author blog later.
Hmmm... Balloons and cookies, eh? I get it--sort of a thematic thing. So in my case I'd need to bring in a bunch of drag queens and crystal meth. And, since the new one's about arson, maybe stack up a couple of dozen copies of the book and set them on fire. I wonder if the local Borders would go for that...
From what I've heard, I need the following things to have an effective launch party:

Copious amounts of intoxicants of varying strengths and origins served discreetly carried inside balloons tied to the wrist of a clown named Cookie, who also happens to be an attorney specializing in wrongful deaths with an emphasis in hooker-related incidents.

In other words, if B.R. shows up, we'll have all our bases covered.
I 'launched' BLEEDER at a trade show that lasted a week, so it wasn't a 'party' but part of a larger event. My local Barnes & Noble CRM liked the book so much she has offered to manage a 'launch party' for the sequel soon after its release. She'll handle all the publicity, including notifying local media. I'll do my part, with other invitations and press releases to places she wouldn't think of, announcements in social media and chat rooms. Part of the benefit, besides celebrating with local family, friends and fans is getting your name and book title in the local media and maybe a review or two, and something to talk about on your blogs.
John Desjarlais
http://www.johndesjarlais.com

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