My Experience of Organising A Book Launch

As many of you will be aware, I held a book launch for my recently published collection of poetry, “My Old Clock I Wind” on the evening of 5 July.

I am pleased to report that the evening went well.

There were, however a number of “lessons learned”, which I have set-out below.

I hope this post proves helpful to others considering a physical (as opposed to a virtual) book launch.

Pros:

1. The venue (a pub called the Railway Bell) is within easy reach of Gipsy Hill station, making it simple for those attending the launch (and using public transport) to access it.

2. The venue being a pub, meant that it was easy to arrange for the provision of alcohol (and other drinks) to my guests. I provided wine and orange juice, while my guests had the option to purchase additional refreshments at the bar.

3. The management where extremely obliging and went that extra mile ensuring that things ran smoothly.

4. There was good audience interaction with a number of interesting questions being addressed to me.

5. I sold (and signed) a number of copies of “My Old Clock”.

6. People stayed on afterwards for a drink in the pub garden which was most convivial.

Cons:

1. I advertised the event on my blog and Facebook. In addition a number of bloggers, friends and acquaintences very kindly shared the launch on social media including Twitter, Facebook and reblogs on WordPress.

This was all very much appreciated and I would like to send a big thank you to everyone who took the time to share the event.

However, despite all the publicity (including the news releases sent out by the publisher to local poetry/literary groups), those attending where all known to me either as friends or acquaintences.

It was, of course wonderful to have the support of close friends, however having new faces at the event would have been the iceing on the cake.

WordPress provides an effective platform for building and cementing a following and I greatly appreciate every single person who takes the time to follow, like and comment on my poetry and other posts.

My blog has enabled me to reach out to people all over the world and form valued connections with those with whom I would never otherwise have become connected.

However the vast majority of my followers are not in the UK so (although many of them generously shared the event) they could not (for obvious reasons) attend.

Consequently while WordPress is a wonderful platform it possesses limitations as regards getting “bums on seats”.

Facebook didn’t yield any new faces at the event (despite it having been advertised on local Facebook groups), which appears to further underline the limits of social media as a means of drumming up support for events.

2. I scheduled the event at too early an hour (6:30).

Given the London rush hour and issues with transport, I decided to hold off until approximately 7:20, which meant that most people had then arrived.

In retrospect I should have specified a starting time of 7 pm (with the expectation that most people would arrive between 7 and 7:15) and I will certainly do so the next time I organise such an event.

3. While beer and books are a fantastic combination, beer on books is not!

On entering the pub I enjoyed a quick pint prior to the event starting.

I had hung my bag of books on a hook under the bar (they where in a padded envelope within a carrier bag).

I managed to spill some of my drink into the envelope but luckily (and much to my surprise) none of my Fosters got onto my books.

Next time I shall keep my books well away from alcohol or any other liquids!

4. Any profits made from the sale of books require to be balanced against money expended in the provision of refreshments.

However even where spending on refreshments comes close (or even eats into any profit made), one has to consider the benefits obtained from the publicity generated by the event.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the event was a success.

People enjoyed my reading, there ensued an interesting discussion following the reading and a number of books were signed and sold.

While it was wonderful to see so many old friends there, it would have further enhanced the event where new faces to have appeared alongside them.

As previously stated, I possess a loyal blog following and I’m grateful to all my followers for their ongoing support.

However given that most of my followers are located outside of the UK they can not (for obvious reasons) attend book launches and other similar events.

I will look into streaming events live the next time I launch a book enabling the event to be seen by as broad a range of people as possible.

(“My Old Clock I Wind” is published by Moyhill in paperback and ebook formats and can be found here, http://moyhill.com/clock/

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15 thoughts on “My Experience of Organising A Book Launch

  1. Sharon E. Cathcart

    Glad it went well overall. It’s true that (at least in my experiences) book launches seem to be attended primarily by our friends and family — unless and until we hit the big leagues. Still, it’s worth trying new things and seeing how they go.

    I had my first book launch, for a novel taking place in the 1890s, in the absinthe bar during a Victorian reenactment. I’d advertised for ages, coordinated with the venue … and still it was just my friends and me celebrating. You’re not alone.

    Reply
    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Many thanks for your comment, Sharon. Its interesting to hear from a fellow author regarding how their event went. The venue/setting for your launch sounds fascinating. As you say, its worth trying new things and my experience won’t put me off doing another event. Best, Kevin

      Reply
  2. paulandruss

    This is a really enlightening post Kevin. It sounds to me that you get very nearly everything right (except for the stuff you highlighted obviously) and all credit to you. I am glad it was a success. One of the things that resonated was all the attendees were known to you. There is so much stuff on social media on how to advertise and make a huge success of something like this, that I found you honesty very gratifying. It is hard to attract entirely new readers and I personally believe it is something most authors struggle with…. but on the bright side it is probably like an avalanche. Once you get momentum there is not stopping it.
    At the end of the day talent will out and – it is always recognised. But I also think there is a element of luck and being in the right place at the right time involved too. By doing a function like this you are setting yourself up in a good position. You have done the hardest thing by taking the first step. And you know if each step is incremental, then the only way is up. Congrats on your launch.

    Reply
    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Many thanks for your comment, Paul. I think its important to be honest as it helps others to gain a true picture of the realities of doing a book launch plus, of course honesty is (in and of itself) the right way to proceed.
      As you say, it takes time to build and (hopefully) patient construction leads on to a steady growth in followers, (although an avalanche would be wonderful)! Kevin

      Reply

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