Taipei Writers’ Group recently launched the paperback of Taiwan Tales, along with a preview of the forthcoming Night Market, and I thought I would share some book launch ideas, tips and advice based on our experience.
A good venue for a book launch is:
- Central in your city/region and easily accessible by car and public transport
- Large enough to accommodate the expected attendance, but not too large – if your turnout is smaller than expected, the place will seem uncomfortably empty
- Two-roomed if possible. People need a place to step out of the hubbub, and a separate room for drinks and snacks helps keep noisy conversations separate from the main action
- Bare-walled, so you can add your own posters and displays
- Comfortable and well-appointed. Toilets for your guests are a must, but are there also seats, rugs, floor cushions for people who want to rest their feet? Are there tables for food, a sink, a refrigerator?
- Accessible to the disabled
C.K. Hugo Chung had the use of a great venue for the Taiwan Tales and Night Market launch. Based in central Taipei, ColorWolfStudio is an international artists’ cooperative, and Hugo made our book launch part of the group’s monthly zapper. With a covered outdoor area and two rooms the TWG was easily able to be good hosts to the attendees. A small drawback was that the studio was at the top of a building and so a little difficult for one group member to get to due to his disability.
Displays are the first things your guests will see as they arrive. Copies of your book, banners, posters, bookmarks and other book-related promotional materials and paraphernalia can all be displayed, and if your book’s cover contains distinctive colours, you can echo them with cloths or flower displays around the room. Another option is to project an image of the book cover on a wall or screen for guests to see as they arrive.
We were very lucky to have two gorgeous posters of Night Market, designed by Hannah Charlton, and Hugo made sure Taiwan Tales copies were beautifully set off by a red cloth.
Schedule of Events
While it’s tempting to be relaxed and laid back and imagine everything will gel on the night, a safer approach is to plan a schedule of events. Your audience needs to know what they can expect, and it’s easy to forget where people should be and what they should be doing in the nervous excitement during the launch.
Some ideas for events include:
- A presentation on the process behind creating the book, such as images, places, events or experiences that inspired, and the steps taken to reach publication.
- Short readings from the book or works that were significant in its creation
- Question and answer sessions
- Networking time. You need to give your guests time to mingle and discuss how awesome your book is!
Writers are often introverted types, but the TWG Taiwan Tales and Night Market book launch was cosy and friendly, and the writers enjoyed sharing their work with the audience.
As your book launch draws to a close, don’t forget to play the good host until the last guest is out the door. Each person you invited is a link to many others who may hear about how great your book launch was and how they must buy your book.
We had many interesting conversations with guests as they were leaving, especially with the more inebriated ones. Everyone seemed to have had a great time, and we sold plenty of books.
What’s been your experience of book launches? Have you any tips to pass on?