Whether you write fiction or nonfiction marketing is a necessity if you want to sell books. But many authors are shying away from spending heavily on advertising and choosing to focus on content marketing instead. In this week’s #AskALLi Ultimate Guide, the AskALLi team have pulled together everything you need to know to supercharge your fiction content marketing. We hear from Lucinda Brant, Australian based historical fiction author, Dan Willcocks, U.K. based dark fiction writer and Clare Lydon, UK based lesbian romance fiction author.
British novelist Sandy Osborne, author of the highly acclaimed Girl Cop series, offers an encouraging perspective on in-store book launches, based on her experience of running two very successful book launch events at one of her local bookshops. (ALLi’s new #Authors4Bookstores campaign will include advice on how to emulate her success – more campaign news to follow shortly.)
Not long before the release of my first self published novel Girl Cop – The Life and Loves of an Officer on the Beat in November 2012, I brazenly walked into the Bath branch of Waterstones and asked if they would host a launch for me. The Events Organiser was a bit cool with me at first, saying that they were going to be busy in the run up to Christmas, but when I said I was looking at January, she seemed to warm to me and sent me away to organise it.
Like Organising a Wedding
Well, organising a launch isn’t dissimilar to planning a wedding. Invitations, wine, glasses hire, helium balloons (colour coded to match the cover), photographer, and flowers for a special guest.
I even managed to persuade Waterstones to let me have a window display – positioning a full-sized model of me in uniform just metres from the Big Issue pitch just outside the shop along, with numerous posters/copies of the cove,r and a small table with a few books displayed on it.
I sent out invites to everyone I know. As the launch was going to be after Christmas, every Christmas card I sent included an invite! I recruited four friends to ‘meet and greet’ and run the bar. I handed out fliers to everyone I thought looked within my readership, from the checkout ladies in the supermarket to those queuing behind me! I looked out my old Dr Marten boots from the attic and organised my table display for the night.
I texted and emailed everyone in my contacts lists both before Christmas and again shortly before the event. I didn’t ask for RSVP’s – I just crossed my fingers! I also managed to get a piece in the local paper.
On Launch Day
The day itself dawned, and the people just kept coming! “The most well attended local author launch in my 25 years as a bookseller,” said the senior bookseller from Waterstones. I’d been bleating on for years to all my friends that I was writing a book, and over 180 people turned out to help me celebrate its final release on a cold January evening – and I sold over 100 books!
I am writing this post fresh from my second launch. The changes I made for this event were few.
- Having spent almost the whole evening of my first launch sat at a table signing books (I’m not complaining – I was extremely flattered by the queue of people who patiently waited to have their books signed – but I wasn’t able to mingle and the evening passed in a bit of a blur), this time I prepared a stock of pre-signed books which I left clearly marked by the till and invited personal dedications prior to the event in an attempt to reduce the queue.
- I didn’t want to deter those who wanted their books signed on the night so I also had a pile of unsigned books next to the till, and an obvious signing table was set up adjacent to the counter. The plan worked, and as a result I enjoyed the evening far more than the first launch, having more opportunity to mingle with my guests.
- In the months running up to the event, I kept a lookout for any wine deals and managed to get a respectable wine at a very reasonable price. This is one of the biggest outlays for a launch, so worth shopping around for.
- Also, to make this launch different in some way to the first, I hired a professional graphologist who provided free handwriting analysis throughout the event.
- I also invited a young singer song-writer to provide some music. This was background music and not a performance and was perfectly balanced.
“To Launch or not to Launch?”
It’s a no brainer for me. A celebration of all that hard work! Though I’m sure JK Rowling doesn’t have to wheel her hired wine glasses back to Waitrose in a shopping trolley the day after her launches!Inspiring case study of a successful indie book launch by @GirlCop Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU
Please feel free to share your book launch tips via the comments box!