Monday 18 June 2018

Running a Physical Book Launch (Non-fiction)

By Christine Dillon @ACWriters

There are many types of book launches. Nowadays and especially in the world of independent publishing (indie) the main kind is the online ‘release’ date of the book.

In contrast, this article is going to focus on the kind of event where people physically turn up.

Purpose of a physical book launch

As the name implies, it is to send your book out into the world with a bit of a bang rather than letting the event happen without anyone knowing.

It allows you to tell the story behind the book and create buzz. Hopefully it also allows you to sell lots of physical copies of your book and gain new fans.

Timing of a book launch

Generally the closer to the actual publication day the better. However, my fiction launch was six weeks after the online book release. This allowed some of the attendees to have already read the book. They came and bought more copies for relatives, friends … obviously this won’t happen if they don’t like the book. They functioned as a group of walking book advertisements.

What do you actually do at a book launch?

The short answer is, it depends on what kind of book you’re launching.

Non-fiction is generally easier, especially if it is on some sort of speciality area. My first two books were traditionally published non-fiction on the ‘how to’ topics of Bible storytelling and discipling others. The problem was that both of them were released overseas - UK and US. Thus, there was no physical ‘launch’. One of the publishers did arrange four radio interviews for me.

It wasn’t until the second one was translated and published into Chinese that I was physically present to launch.

It turned out to be a big series of events. The publisher asked me to prepare a seminar based on the content of the book. We decided two hours was a reasonable length.

I was able to adapt material from the many training seminars I’d done. My launches were interactive seminars but lectures may also be appropriate.

In the end, I did seven ‘official’ (publisher arranged) book tour seminars. On top of that, I arranged a further six in smaller towns. The publisher printed posters to advertise the book launch tour, internet … and did all the booking of venues … all I had to do was turn up. They also paid travel expenses.

The key to seminars is to do enough to make people hungry for more. If you cover everything in your book then they are unlikely to see any reason to buy it!

I’d already been an ‘author’ for six years when I did this first tour. God really stepped in because four days before the first and biggest seminar (220 attendees), I had my appendix removed. By God’s grace and the kindness of the publisher (providing a bar stool for me to sit on rather than having to stand), I made it through.

Two years later, I did another tour of mostly the same places. Many who attended the second one had attended the first. We sold many additional copies of the first book at the second launch even though they were on different topics.

If your book has elements of history, biography or memoir, then you can give ‘teaser’ sections. The key is to always leave the hearers wanting more.

Practical Hints 

  • Have someone else sell the books for you after the launch as this allows you to focus on book signings and talking to those attending.
  • Think hard about where to put your sales and signing table. I place them so that everyone has to pass them. Have an assistant to help you do such small things as open the book to the correct page to sign.
  • Think beforehand about the kind of things you’ll write before signing your name. I find it difficult to merely sign my name and so usually write a short blessing. For my Chinese book launches I prepared a special ink stamp and my assistant did that and then I simply signed.
  • Afternoon tea is a good way to end. It gives a sense of closure, allows people to linger and gives you the possibility of actually getting to talk to people. It can also be a way to thank people for coming.
  • Consider whether hype can be built using radio or newspaper interviews beforehand.
  • If your book is for the general market, consider where to launch and who to work in with. For example, libraries or a business related to the topic of your book. The more involvement with others usually the better because those partners can help you launch the book further.

Things I wish I’d done

Had yet another table with an assistant and a computer to encourage people to sign up on the spot to join my email subscribers. Those attending are already ‘fans’. Helping them to make that ‘official’ while they remember and have someone to assist them with technology is a smart move.

I will be back next week to talk about my experiences with a different kind of book launch: launching my self-published novel, Grace in Strange Disguise.

About Christine Dillon

Christine never intended to become an author. The only kind of writing she wondered if she might do was biography. However, it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now, fiction.

Christine was a physiotherapist but now she writes ‘storyteller’ on any airport forms. She can legitimately claim to be this as she has written a book on storytelling and spends much of her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so from her base in southern Taiwan.

In her spare time Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkeling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.

You can find Christine online at: (for Bible storytelling)


  1. Great information. I am writing my first Christian romance, working on a second story and a non-fiction idea. Thanks for the info. :-)

  2. Christine, great post! The accessibility of a computer for newsletter sign ups is an excellent idea. Thanks for sharing your tips with us. :)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.