My book launch for The Magna Carta Story is arranged, so I thought I would pass on my experience. If you are producing a printed book, you can have a book launch. It would be difficult to launch a book without a hard copy, but you might find a way.
A book launch has two phases: publicity and performance. It’s no good arranging a book launch if nobody comes, and your event will not be very successful unless the audience are entertained and encouraged to buy.
You need to pull in as many favours as possible. Your friends and family may buy your book anyway, because they love you, but if they come to the launch and buy, it makes for a bigger audience and a better buzz on the night.
I designed some A5 flyers and a poster and printed them at home. Then I put them up everywhere I could (do ask permission first) and handed them out to people at every opportunity. Make sure there’s a good display of your posters at the venue itself.
If you can think of any groups or organisations that are relevant, let them know too. Because I write history, I am contacting local history groups, local museums, and the local branch of the Historical Association. I have started giving talks, so I will be contacting the groups I have spoken to, and asking them to spread the word to their members.
Then there is the press. My contacts with the press have been more by luck than judgement, but this time I have a properly laid out press release. I have been learning! Local papers, magazines, radio stations, anywhere you can think of.
What are you going to do at your book launch? You can’t just stand up and say, “Buy my book!” Public speaking is not so difficult, if you remember how excited you are about your book.
Prepare a script for what you want to say, but try not to read it all. Try to look up and share from your heart. Talk about why you wrote the book, what inspired you. Introduce some of your characters, even give a summary of the plot – though you might not want to give away the ending. The Magna Carta Story is history, so I can tell the story, but add in little interesting tidbits I have found in my research.
If you can find anyone else to speak – I had my illustrator speak in the past and sell prints of her illustrations – that will add to the programme. Then take questions. Tell them why they should buy the book. Make sure you have refreshments, nothing elaborate, and then leave them to eat, drink and buy!