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Launch your book with a bang! (by Hava Zuidema)

14 March 2016

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USA based writer Hava Zuidema held an awesome launch party to kick-start her book sales and is continuing her success online since. Hava's tips on launching your book 

Author Hava Zuidema tells us how a social gathering kick-started her book sales

It can be awkward asking friends and family to buy your book. Even those who actually intend to often forget to order it. And after the costs of self-publishing, making a solid chunk of change doesn't hurt. So how can an author get word out about their book without being pegged as an annoyance?

My solution was a launch party, during which I sold discounted copies of my book. This ended up being a great success, so I'm sharing my process for anyone who might be interested in doing something similar.

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I'd come up with this idea while I was still editing my book, and started spreading hype right away. First, just mentioning it to friends. As soon as the school year started I began building conversations around my upcoming launch with lines such as, "There's like, a ninety percent chance Fallout Boy will be there." This was obviously a lie, but it caught people's attention and led to ongoing jokes about my party. I also organized a few attention-catching features that made the party sound exciting; the special effects lighting and fog machines I'd borrowed, a mixtape by the renowned Sophie Awad, and amazing catering provided by my cousin. People are more likely to be interested in attending something they've been hearing about for a few months than something I they heard the weekend before. As for actually organizing the party, I managed to host over seventy guests for almost nothing by focusing on DIY decorations and calling in favors from family and friends to find a venue and good food. 

Streamers are fun for elementary school birthday parties, but if you want to be taken seriously you'll have to find decorations that fit both the mood of your book and scream sophistication. There are a few easy, affordable ways to transform your venue into something that fits your ideal aesthetic. One big way to do this is with the lighting; I covered all the lights with a translucent, purple tinted wrapping paper I found at Hobby Lobby. I also bought a purple strobe light at Party City for somewhere around twelve dollars (£8). After finding these essentials, I sent out a call to all my friends for any strobe lights or fog machines they had to offer, and managed to find purple fairy lights and a fog machine for free. Once I had the lighting down, I bought a DIY kit for two gold paper chandeliers and a few large flowers for the walls at Michael's, all of which had a professional yet crafty and fun look that fit the mood I was going for.

"I Sold sixty-five copies of the one hundred books I ordered"

Having an amazing party is obviously the goal, but it won't matter if no one attends. For invitations, I wanted something that people would feel guilty about throwing away. I cut watercolor paper into four by four squares and painted succulents (a major motif of my book) on one side and hand wrote the party details on the other side. Hoping for fifty guests, I made and distributed about two hundred invitations. I gave them to friends, friends of friends, coworkers, teachers, parents friends, and anyone who may have had some form of interest in my work. In the end, I sold sixty-five copies of the one-hundred books I ordered at the party, and managed to sell the rest to those who either weren't able to attend or heard about my book from someone who had. Basically, the key to a successful launch party is holding something that distinctively fits your book and your personality. People who otherwise wouldn't have heard or bought my book were happy to at the launch. It most certainly helped me get my book off the ground. I wish you great success in your publication journey!


NGP Says

Great excuse for a party! Even if you didn't sell as many as you did, social gatherings are always a perfect opportunity to talk to people about your passion and get them to invest in your work through the conversations you strike up! It's a much less in-your-face approach at marketing. Taking away the 'big sell' element breaks down those barriers we all put up when we feel we're being delivered a sales pitch The relaxed atmosphere of a party is a great playground to test your networking skills!

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