Monday 6 June 2016

Launching Your Book Baby

Image courtesy of digitalart at

CWD/ACW Cross-Post

Christenings, twenty-first birthday parties, weddings, ship launchings, bridge openings, house warmings—all ways to celebrate new beginnings.

Having a book launch provides a great opportunity to celebrate your book, make a splash, spark initial visibility, and it may be the one time people don’t mind if you raving about your book.

So what makes a successful launch?

Be clear about your goals.

What do you hope to achieve with your launch. Is it primarily to celebrate your achievement and/or to bring your book to attention of potential readers and fans and/or to make some initial sales?

 Who is your target audience?

A family history may (or may not) be targeted more at the extended family rather than history buffs or members of the historical society.  An e-launch of a book aimed at techno-challenged seniors may not be the best choice.

Be prepared

  • Make sure your book is properly edited, critiqued, formatted and ready to publish in time for the launch.
  • Talk to your publisher (if traditional published) to work out what they offer & what they expect from you.
  • Start planning well before hand— the type of launch, who you’ll invite, giveaways etc.
  • Have a budget— this might be small or large but you don’t necessarily have to spend big to have a successful launch.
  • Maybe form a ‘street team’ —a group of people who are enthusiastic about your book and who are prepared to review and promote it via word of mouth, sharing links etc. and therefore create a buzz early on.
  • Make sure you have enough books on hand (if physical launch)—allow leeway for delays or mistakes in printing/sending.
  • Reviews—arrange reader reviews (through advanced reader copies) several weeks before the launch.
  • Announce your launch—through social media, your website, email list etc (your platform).

Decide on what kind of launch

Most people, when they think of a launch, think of a physical one—with a physical venue and physical (print) books but you can also have an e-launch (or maybe combine it with another event).

Physical launch

  • You need to arrange a time and date, venue, decorations, suitable refreshments and activities or entertainment.
  • Send out invitations to friends and family, fans and readers, and other interested parties.
  • Advertise—on Facebook (unpaid & paid), announcements of new releases (e.g. ACW), other social media, blogs, among groups that might be interested in your book, local media etc
  • Make sure you have enough books for people to purchase on the day.
  • Have activities, giveways—maybe takeaway items with your brand or book title such as bookmarks, T-shirts or coffee mugs.
  • You could have a launch theme (does your book have pirates, horses or dragons in it; or maybe it’s set in an exotic location or celebrates a certain kind of cuisine.)
  • Unless you are big name author or celeb—it’s probably best not to charge entry. If you do charge, include a signed copy of the book in the price.

Pros of a physical launch— a sense of connection, you have the books there to sell and they can be a lot of fun. Besides, not everyone is on social media.

Cons—not everyone can attend especially if they live at a distance and it can be more expensive and take greater organisation.


It is possible to have a virtual-launch (eg Facebook or Twitter) and these (depending on your target audience) can be quite successful.

While I’ve heard of Twitter-parties, my experience has been with Facebook launches.

  • Set up the event (date and time) on Facebook & invite interested parties to (virtually) attend and suggest inviting friends who may be interested.
  • With an anthology—different authors can have 5 min intro and then each offer giveaways, prizes etc —which can result in a very fast-paced exciting launch with lots of offers and interactions.
  • If you are the only author—you can invite other authors will similar book/readership to participate and/or just do it yourself. Make sure you have a list of questions for competitions or discussion:
    •    About you as author & the writing process
    •    About the book or book series, its characters and or narrative world
    •    Related to the setting, the themes or issues
    •    About the reader—their favourite book or genre, tastes, or opinions
  • Tie in the giveaway into some activity—signing up to email list, liking author page or twitter account, Giveaways can be vouchers, or free books/short stories/illustrations or services (editing, providing a graphic) or inclusion in next book (ie they can name a character)


Have an event on Facebook & with posts leading up to the physical launch.

Tie the launch in with other promotional activities.

A launch works best if you tie it in with other (ongoing) promotional activity.
  • Blog tour— a ‘tour’ of participating blogs in which your new book (and you) are showcased, you can have giveaways for each blog and/or one big one at end of tour. Treasure hunts (with questions or comments on each blog needed to win). You may want to look at ways at keeping the different blogposts fresh and interesting—a different set of questions to answer, an excerpt from the book, or an interview with one of the main characters in the book (if fiction) or some interesting titbits of research about the culture, setting or period.
  • Giveaways— leading up to the launch maybe set up a Rafflecopter giveaway or other giveaways on your blog. You could also do a Goodreads giveway or Amazon promotion.


The launch is just the start. It takes time to build traction in the market, to get visibility— so you should continue to promote your books (without putting everyone off by a constant, annoying ‘buy my book, buy my book’ drone).

Look for opportunities:

Encourage reviews if you can, guest blogs, book signings, visits to groups connected to your target audience (schools, family history groups, women’s groups).

Don’t despair—remember the long-tail of publishing:

In the past books had a definite (and short) shelf-live. Unless a genuine best seller, a book often had a 6 week turnaround in the bookstores. So it was important to make a big splash at the beginning.

These days, with e-books, online buying and print-on-demand (POD), a book effectively never goes out of print. It remains available for purchase long after the launch. So even if your launch rates barely a blimp on the radar and you don’t make any Amazon best-seller lists, if you continue to promote your book/s, it’s possible to build up a visibility over time. This works best if you have more than one book, so keeping writing is also important (and because, after all, that why you are a writer in the first place).

And when all is said and done, while we can plant and water, it is God who 'gives the growth'. (cf 1 Cor 3)

Have you launched a book or participated in the launch? What things would you recommend as part of a successful launch? 

This post was also published on Christian Writers Downunder 6 June 2016

Jeanette O’Hagan enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master’s in writing. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .


  1. Fantastic post - thank you! So timely, too. I was lying in bed just minutes ago praying for wisdom as to what kind of book launch I should do when my Regency novel releases at the end of the year, and hello wisdom! Thanks!

    1. Hi Carolyn - that's so cool to be part of the answer to your prayers :)

    2. You could have a lot of fun with that Carolyn. For example, some of the book's characters could be there in period costumes. You could have a high tea or something that might reflect the time. Good luck with it.

  2. Excellent post, Jeanette all the bases and more. Thank you. As I can see from Carolyn's comment it's already been a blessing to one of us planning a launch.

    1. Thanks Ian. Yes cool that it's been of such immediate use :)

  3. Great post Jenny. There certainly is more scope for book launches now with all the online opportunities as well. I'll look forward to seeing what you cook up for the launch of your series :)



    1. Thanks Nola. The pressure is on now. I might add you to my ideas'team' :)

  4. Lots of great advice and ideas here - thanks, Jeanette.

  5. Jeanette, excellent post! It's great that we now have range of options when it comes to planning a book launch. I've only done online book launches, and the Facebook parties for box set launches are a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing your helpful tips with us :)


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