How to Plan a Launch Party That Won’t Make You Craz(ier)

After I signed my book deal it didn’t take long before I started hearing about something called a “launch party.” Most of the authors I met seemed to agree that a book’s arrival in the marketplace warrants a shindig of some sort. Big or small, they said, a launch party is a great way to celebrate your achievement and promote your book at the same time. Being a fan of parties in general and of promoting my book in particular, I nodded and wrote “plan your launch party” on my to-do list.

Now that my book is about to be born, though, I’m feeling a bit differently about the whole thing. I’m a walking bundle of fried nerve endings, convinced my book will sell exactly 67 copies, so naturally the launch party is swaddled in “what if I threw a party and no one came”-level anxiety. Because seriously — what if I threw a launch party and no one came? There’s also the fact that my mind is a bowl of glass shards right now. I can barely remember to fill the car with gas, much less call the bakery and order a Launch Cake. (Debut authors take note: planning a party in the month before your book is launched is like trying to plan your own baby shower in the ninth month of your pregnancy. Mistakes will be made.)

All of which makes me very glad that, back in March when I started planning my launch party, I decided to keep it simple. I’m doing a reading at my favorite local bookstore, which conveniently has a restaurant right next door. I rented the private room in the back of the restaurant, sent an evite to my friends, and invited them to come to the reading and, if they wanted, to wander next door for “a glass of something celebratory” after.

It’s all very casual. All on the down-low. No balloons or dancing. No speeches or toasts. I’ll provide the wine and a Launch Cake; the restaurant (which is pretty divey and smells like a fraternity house on Monday morning) will provide dubious platters of unidentifiable, meat-based appetizers. People can stop in, have a drink, and go home. It is a Tuesday, after all. People have to work the next day. But anyone who can stomach the smell and the appetizers is welcome to hang with me until they close the place down, because you can be damned sure I won’t be leaving until they kick me out and my husband drives me home, a stupid smile on my face, my stomach gently sloshing with a healthy amount of something celebratory.

There are a lot of things I might do differently if I had this year to do over. Thankfully, my launch party is not one of them. It’s exactly right for me and my current case of low-level insanity. It’s a party, but not a show. It’s a celebration, but not a parade. It will be perfect, even if no one comes.

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After a decade practicing law and another decade raising kids, Heather decided to finally write the novel she'd always talked about writing. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and the Tin House Writers Workshop, all of which helped her stop writing like a lawyer. She lives in Mill Valley, California, with her husband and two teenaged children. When she's not writing she's biking, hiking, neglecting potted plants, and reading books by other people that she wishes she'd written.

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This article has 3 Comments

  1. Oh boy!! A party!! Wish I could be there. I’ve often wondered what they do at the book signings. Cake and champagne punch would be a good “come on in”.

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