Your Local Book Launch Party, Part 2: Example of a Successful Event

“A launch party gives an author the chance to be surrounded by her village as a book makes its debut.” —Holly Robinson

Volunteers. By Lahtis
Volunteers. By Lahtis

Recently I posted Part 1 with a checklist of tasks to consider for a local book launch party. For an example, here’s mine with some tips.

 Local Book Launch Party for Calculated Risk

My Purposes: Celebrate with my community, get the word out about Calculated Risk, and sell enough books to defray the cost of the party.

Book Selling and Signing by Lahtis
Book Selling and Signing by Lahtis

I expected between 25 and 50 people. Forty attended. My husband sold 42 copies of Calculated Risk. And orders are beginning to come in from those who didn’t attend. We celebrated. All my purposes were met.



Budget and Expenses:                                                

Budget = $300;  Expenses = $245


•  Rescue Squad Bldg.
•  Food & Paper Products
•  Prizes
•  Newspaper ad
•  Gifts for helpers 

Three truck bays in the Rescue Squad Building by Lahtis
Celebrating people warmed the rescue squad building. By Lahtis.

Date, Time, and Place:

Saturday in the Christmas-shopping season from 2PM to 4PM at the community’s place for events, the rescue squad building. The marquee featured the party.                                                


My Planners: the two Nancys. By Lathis.
My Planners: the two Nancys by Lathis

Planners. Two women volunteers did 80% of the tasks, including suggesting what worked best in the area, phone calls, and distribution. Perfect for this new-to-the-community introvert.



Promotion. The best promotion was getting the invitations to the immediate community. In the future, I won’t do the ad in the newspaper of a nearby town.


Cake 1

No worse for having a bear in her kitchen. By Lahtis.
No worse for having a bear in her kitchen. By Lahtis.

Refreshments. A book cake made by a local woman. (This’s the woman whose home a black bear entered through the kitchen window while she was sleeping. The bear carried off one of her icing funnels and a casserole dish.)


Extra sheet cakes. By Lahtis.
Extra sheet cakes. By Lahtis.

My planners made 4 extra sheet cakes so I could use the book cake for a family visit. They served dips and chips and punch.


John hung my banner behind the signing table. By Lahtis.
By Lahtis.


Balloons. By Lahtis.
Balloons. By Lahtis.

Decorations. Planners supplied silk and fresh flowers. All tables received tablecloths. My husband hung my banner. We displayed posters in the welcome room and in the bay. Helpers added festive balloons. I made signs for tables.

Table signs and teens. By Lahtis.
Table signs and teens. By Lahtis.


Welcome Table. By Lahtis
Welcome Table. By Lahtis


The Welcoming Team greeted guests at the door, had them sign the guest book, and gave out tickets to win prizes.


My friend and neighbor provide lovely music. By Lahtis.
My friend and neighbor provide lovely music. By Lahtis.



My neighbor played background 70s music on her keyboard. We paused in conversations while she played and sang “If” by Bread. Hero Nick in Calculated Risk listens to 70’s music.




Zoe talking with guests
By Lahtis


A five-minute talk about the story behind Calculated Risk. By Lahtis.
A five-minute talk about the story behind Calculated Risk. By Lahtis.

I gave three 5-minutes talks:

•  A welcome and how John and I came to the community.

•  The story behind Calculated Risk.

•  How items in my giveaway basket related to the story.



Drawing of a copy of Calculated Risk. By Lahtis.
Drawing of a copy of Calculated Risk. By Lahtis.

We interspersed five drawings during the party.

•  Christmas ornaments for the two who’d driven the farthest

•  Two copies of Calculated Risk

•  One Basket of book-related goodies, including a book


Napkin Folding
Napkin folding. By Lahtis


Folding a bird-of-paradise napkin. By Lahtis.
Folding a bird-of-paradise napkin. By Lahtis.

Teens gave lessons in folding book-related birds-of-paradise napkins and gift-wrapped books.


My husband sold and I signed copies of Calculated Risk.


Sisters. By Scott Lahti.
Sisters. By Scott Lahti.

My sister and brother-in-law took lots of photos.


Freebees. By Lahtis.
Freebees. By Lahtis.




From the freebee table, guests took home Calculated Risk bookmarks and adhesive note pads, and bookmarks and pens of fellow authors.


Gift bags for helpers. By Lahtis.
Gift bags for helpers. By Lahtis.



I thanked each helper with a small gift bag.


A live example and tips for your local book launch party. Click to tweet.


by Scott Lahti
by Scott Lahti


By Lahtis.
By Lahtis.










By Lahtis.
By Lahtis.

What other things did, or would you plan to do, at your book launch party?

Your Local Book Launch Party, Part 1: A Checklist of Tasks & Options

“Wear the old coat and buy the new book.” —Austin Phelps 

Book Launch

The purposes of a physical book launch party:

  • Celebrate and thank others
  • Get the word out about your book
  • Sell books

Here’s a checklist of items to consider for a local, non-bookstore party like I’ve done for Calculated Risk.

  1. Set a Budget. Consider:                                              
  • Room Rental Fee
  • Food
  • Decorations
  • Flowers
  • Postage for invitations
  • Prizes and helper gifts
  • Promotions
    • Ad: an expense, but will be published
    • Press Release:
      • Free, but published if newsworthy & space is available
      • May be edited
    • Flyers
  1. Set Date, Time, and Place. Consider: 
by Ladyheart
by Ladyheart

•  Scheduling before holidays like Christmas and Valentines Day may encourage gift sales, especially if the holiday is in your story.

•  Scheduling after mealtimes, 2PM to 4PM on a Saturday or Sunday or after 7PM on a weekday, lowers food costs. Cake, and possibly snacks, are sufficient.

•  Reserving a place other than someone’s home is best for security reasons. Options:

º Church

º Community center

º Rescue squad building

   If a marquee is available, ask to have your event featured.                                                

  1. Enlist Planners. At least two motivated friends to help in planning and completing tasks. Consider whether they:
  • know your area and are involved in it
  • wanted to be party planners since they were 6
  1. Promote. Consider:
  • People reached.
    • Public options:
      • Churches
      • Beauty Salons
      • Local Stores
      • Libraries
      • Book Clubs

  •   Individuals:
      •  Notify or deliver/send invitations.
      •  Option: hand out stamped invitations to avid readers to send to their reader friends.

  • photoMaterials.
    • Invitations. Option:
      •  Use your promotional postcards exhibiting book cover, blurb, and website.
      • Add party invitation information (printed adhesive labels work well).
    • Flyers – include your cover photo.
    • Bookmarks – add to promotional materials you leave at libraries
  • Distributors. With your planners:
    • Brainstorm people willing to help distribute materials 
    • Enlist distributors and deliver packets to them
    • Assemble packets in advance with cover sheets giving: distributor, venue, and number of materials in packet
  • Ads & Press Releases. Options:
    • Local newspapers.
    • Online flyers, for organizations willing to email them to their members

5.  Offer Refreshments. Consider

by Vie Herlocker

  • A book cake. Option: Machine-iced with your exact cover.
  • Extra homemade sheet cakes. Use these before cutting the book cake.
  1. Decorate. Consider:
  • Book-related items, flowers, and balloons
  • Tablecloths
  • Your banner and poster
  • Tables:
    • Welcome. Guest book, tickets for prizes.
    • Food
    • Book Signing & Sales
    • Fun Activities. Option: Free gift-wrapping
    • Giveaways. Options:
      • Your and other authors’ bookmarks.
      • Your book-related promotional goodies.
  1. Add Events. Consider:
  • Background music. Option: book-related songs
  • Short talks (5 minutes) from you. Options:
    • Welcome
    • Author-related. Your writing journey.
    • Book-related. Story behind the story. Excerpts.
  • Drawings for prizes. Options:
  1. Recruit Helpers. Consider:
    • Welcoming team
    • Kitchen help
    • Punch servers
    • Activities leaders (option: teens)
    • Photographer
    • Book sellers.
    • Clean-up team

   Provide small gift or thank-you notes for helpers.

Make sure you schedule all tasks for a local book launch party. Click to tweet.

What would you add to this checklist?