Friday, June 17, 2005

Booklaunch Party June 18

BLOODY MARY is now available, along with the paperback version of WHISKEY SOUR, and I'm celebrating by buying beer and eats for family, friends, and fans.

It's happening from 11:30am-2:00pm, at Damon's Grill on 1140 East Higgins Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173 Phone: 847-995-0064.

Many authors worry about their booklaunch, or have unrealistic expectations, or don't know what to expect. Here's my take on what makes a successful launch party:

1. Food and liquor. This means the party can't be held in a bookstore, which is OK---a bookstore wouldn't comfortably hold 200 people anyway. Can you have a booklaunch without alcohol? Sure... but don't expect as big a turnout.

2. Books. Well, duh, no brainer there. But you don't want to get the books from your publisher and sell them, because those don't count toward your sales numbers and royalty figures. I suggest getting a bookstore to come to your event and handle the sales. That should be easy--it's basically free money. Who wouldn't want free money?

3. Publicity. You could contact local radio and newspapers, but that would mean feeding people you don't know, which could cost a fortune. I stick to a newsletter announcement, a website announcement, some messages on newsgroups, and some flyers to pass out a few days before the event.

4. Working the room. Once the party starts, make sure you circulate. Sitting in a corner, signing books, is anti-social. Your booklaunch party is for your biggest fans, and you need to be lively and fun and gracious and appreciative and schmoozing like crazy.

5. Location. I usually begin at a restaurant and do most of the signing and selling there, then take people back to my house for more beer and food. Restaurants will usually cut you a good deal because you're bringing in a lot of people, and a book signing is good publicity. Stick to appetizers and finger food.

A friend just had his launch party at a house, and had it catered. That also worked well (though parking was tough to find.) He also had a pianist there, which made me extremely jealous---I have pianist envy.

6. Sponsorship. I didn't even consider this for my first booklaunch, but for this one it fell into my lap. Goose Island, which is a local brewery, is helping to publicize the event and they're giving me a deal on the beer. Their flyers say "Enjoy Chicago's beer with a Chicago author." Pretty cool. Next year, I'll see if maybe I can get the Mrs. Paul's Fishstix folks involved. Mmmmm... processed and pre-formed fried scrod.

7. Merchandise. A party costs big bucks, and the bookseller is making all the $$$. I like to take some of the sting out of this by selling other stuff, like magazines and anthologies I've appeared in, and T-shirts.

Last year I sold T-shirts. I printed the iron-on transfers on my computer (of my book cover), bought some white Hanes for cheap, and sold them for $6 each. I had 30 of them, and sold out in five minutes. People paid me to be walking advertisements of my products. How cool is that? Bring a marker to sign the T-shirts.

When you appear in a magazine or an anthology, you can buy contributor's copies at a discount. I've been in a bunch, and these always sell well at a booklaunch.

My bookseller is happy to do the selling of this stuff for me, even though she doesn't get a cut of it---it's a mutually beneficial relationship.

8. Have fun. This will probably be your best-attended event of the year. All the people who knew you before you became an author will be there, heaping on the praise, buying multiple copies to give away as holiday gifts. Everyone will want a picture. You're the king for a day.

Enjoy it... the rest of your scheduled yearly events won't be as big, as smooth, or as satisfying. In fact, many of the events ahead of you will be poorly attended, stressful, nerve-wracking, and depressing. But don't dwell on that now---today is your day.

Savor every second.