The Five Commandments of Book Launch Parties

unnamedI have a confession. I’m a legendary party-thrower. Seriously. There have been ballads written about my cocktails and canapés. My Christmas parties have been known to make New Year’s Eve completely irrelevant. My Sunday brunches have been known to last six hours. I used to live in a 500 square foot apartment and still managed a cocktail party with a 80-person guest list. I am a party-throwing goddess.

So when it came to my book launch party, expectations were high. My party was in two parts. I had my book launch at Books Inc. in Mountain View, the town where my novel takes place.It was the perfect setting! I also wrote so much of the novel in the cafe at the store, so it was beyond perfect. So the bookstore event was the floorshow part of the evening when I told people about the book and what inspired me. Then I had arranged a party at a local restaurant for after the event at the bookstore and invited everyone to join me there. That was the cocktails and mingle part of the evening. It was great! Even the wait staff at the restaurant came out to have me sign their books! And I did what I always do. I followed these five simple commandments that guarantee the perfect party.

  • Thou shalt not make it all about you. “But it’s my book launch party! Isn’t it all about me?” No. Noppity nope nope. Put down the ego and step away from the Me Me Me. Any good hostess knows the party isn’t about her. It’s about her guests. That means that you should think about what would make the evening fun for them, and I mean think past just an open bar. I’ve got to a lot of author events at bookstores over the years. Many of them can be snoozefests. I didn’t want that. My friends have been hearing about this freaking novel for years! The least I can do is provide a floorshow for them. I made a slide show of the things that inspired me and told funny stories (even one that was really embarrassing). I encouraged them to ask questions along the way to make it more interactive. I read very, very little so that everyone would stay awake. It was fun. Really. I have video proof.
  • Thou shalt serve wine. Nothing gets a crowd going like a little libation. Fill up the wine glasses BEFORE you get behind the microphone. The microphone makes it work, but wine makes it a party!
  • Thou shalt invite everyone you know and everyone you don’t know. I set up a Facebook event and invited everyone I was friends with in the Bay Area. I posted news of my event on ever Facebook group I belong to. LinkedIn! You are my friend. I’ve worked for a lot of different start-ups over the years and EVERYONE knew about my book launch. I took out an ad in the local newsletter. Trust me. It paid off. Around 100 people showed up. I packed the house.
  • Thou shalt set out fewer chairs than you need. This is really on the bookstore, and any bookstore worth anything will know this trick. No one wants to come to a lecture. People sit at a lecture. People stand at a party. And booksellers know that standing room only makes an event feel exclusive. The random people walking by will look inside and say, “Oh, what’s that going on in the bookstore? They have wine!” (See bullet #2.)
  • Thou shalt have as much fun as your guests. The hostess sets the vibe. If you’re having fun, your guests will have fun. So relax and enjoy your big moment!

So that’s it. That’s all it takes. And of all the commandments, I’d say the last one is the most important. Seriously, you worked so hard for so long. Have a great time. You deserve it.

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Shelly is the author of THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING, story of love and books in Silicon Valley. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two big dogs, and a disapproving cat.

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Author: Shelly King

Shelly is the author of THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING, story of love and books in Silicon Valley. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two big dogs, and a disapproving cat.