Five top tips for a book launch, by Deborah Jenkins

 On Thursday 30th June, I went to a book launch. It was wonderful - lots of books, wine and nibbles and a party atmosphere. Especially lovely, was that, of the 60 or so people at the launch, I knew everyone. That's because it was mine. 

I had been planning this for a long time and had asked for advice from writers, readers and my Twitter network. It was the culmination of many years' hard work on my book so I wanted to get it right. I will never forget it...

But I did learn some things that I thought other book-launchers might benefit from. So here are my five top tips: -

1. Approach bookshops and start planning early on, ideally around 5 -6 months beforehand, as it may take time to find the right place. Think about things like numbers, how people will travel and park, how you will organise and serve food and drink, amplification. I approached around 5 bookshops before a Waterstones in south west London agreed to host it. This was perfect as it's in an area where I know lots of people; it was close to the train station; there was parking in the shopping centre. I did a Sainsbury's internet shop for prosecco and fruit juice and they kindly provided nibbles. N.B Supermarkets won't deliver to individual units in shopping centres but only to the bay where companies receive regular deliveries. I only realised this the day before the launch, when I had a phone call (at the hairdresser's) saying to meet the delivery guy at Bay 3 in five minutes. We now live in Sussex so that was tricky.

2. Offer proof copies to bookshops. The key factor in the decision to host a book launch, seems to be whether they like the book. This seems obvious to me now, but I hadn't really thought that through. When I rang and the manager said she would consider hosting a launch for me, I put her in touch with my publisher and they sent her a proof copy. Apparently, the manager read it, really liked it and agreed to host a book launch for me.

If you are self-published, you could consider taking a proof copy into shops yourself. I think bookshops really get behind authors when they love what they've written and feel able to recommend it to customers. Obvious really isn't it? (I am very slow sometimes.)

3. Organise a cake It makes a wonderful centrepiece, a talking point, a photo opportunity and social media post. Mine was made by someone I know, a very talented baker, as you can see. My publisher loved it and so did Waterstones. Both tweeted photos the day after the launch. 

4. Flowers add welcome colour and pizzaz . I had three bouquets made up, in the colours of the book cover (blue, green and orange) and this really added to the atmosphere. They weren't cheap but having worked towards publication for so long, I felt it worth doing properly. I also dressed as close to the book cover colours/theme as I could (a bit eclectic but people seemed to appreciate it)

5. Keep the formal input concise and simple. Waterstones could offer me an hour and a half on a Thursday evening and I knew it would go quickly. I wanted plenty of time to sign books and chat with friends while we celebrated with drinks, nibbles and cake. I'm glad I kept the formal part to a minimum, as I wanted a party not a presentation.

At the beginning, I welcomed everyone; there were a few words from my publisher; I did a Q and A with a friend (she Q-ed and I A-ed). Then I read a short piece from the book. The whole of that section was just over 15 minutes.

Someone suggested some kind of themed giveaway. This worked really well as it gave people something else to do. As the book is called Braver, we based it around this. 

Finally, if you can, plan some quiet days after your launch. It was wonderful and I would do it again in a heartbeat, but it was very tiring. As ever, I did not factor this in, and would definitely plan some time off if I'm ever blessed enough to repeat the experience. I will certainly remember it forever, that's for sure...

Braver is published by Fairlight Books
It's available from Waterstones , Blackwell's and Amazon worldwide.

Deborah Jenkins is the author of textbooks,  educational articles and novella, The Evenness of Thingsavailable in both paperback and e-book versions.

Deborah wonders aloud about the crazy, inspiring and inappropriate on her blog 

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