17 Steps to Plan a Book Launch Party

Fits, starts, tears, and computer glitches precipitated the arrival of boxes filled with copies of In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer. I tore open the lid, gently lifted a book, and caressed its cover. My book baby. Time to celebrate!

A book launch party is a wonderful way to celebrate with family and friends the release of your little darling.

When I shared my idea of a book launch party, a friend volunteered her help. A veteran at planning church events, she could pull off a celebration without a hitch. One evening she arrived for our brainstorming session, pen and notebook in hand. Four pages of notes later she left, promising to send me a Word document spelling out every party detail.   

1. Books. Part of the fun of a book party is receiving a signed copy of the featured book, so I wanted to be sure to have enough copies for my guests. It could take several weeks to receive the shipment, so I checked dates with my publisher.

2. Guests. Would my guests be friends and relatives or would I make the event open to the public? I planned on family and friends totaling about sixty people.

3. Venue. My guests influenced my venue. If I chose to open the book launch party to the public, I would have chosen a public location. But with the choice of family and friends, I decided on my home. Advantages of a home venue include not having to transport books, decorations and food. I could also decorate in advance. My biggest disadvantage? Cleaning and clearing clutter. For me, clearing clutter proved to be the bigger challenge. With the predicted adverse weather, I needed to clean out my hall closet and purchase hangers for my guests’ coats.

4. Date and Time. Usually a book launch party is scheduled shortly after the release of a new book. To be sure my books would arrive before the party, I planned the book launch several weeks after In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer was released. I picked a date and chose an afternoon open house.

5. Invitations. Email, snail mail, or social media invite? I chose to design invitations featuring my book cover on Vistaprint, including date, time, place, and RSVP. I announced that books would be available for purchase and the price. To make the party more exciting, I added “Food, Fun, and Prizes.”

6. Ideas. We searched Pinterest for book launch ideas. One idea I found on Pinterest was to use a copy of my book as a guest book. It’s fun to flip through my copy and read the well wishes from my family and friends.

7. Decorations. How would I coordinate my decorations to the theme of my book, title and color scheme? Since the title of my book is In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer, I chose shoes as my theme. I borrowed fun shoes and high heels from friends and perused thrift stores for shoes and scarves. A friend gave me miniature shoe collectibles, which I hung on an ornament tree. I draped my table, mantel, piano, and plant stand with scarves and shoes. A friend volunteered to provide flowers.

8. Menu. I made barbeque meatballs and purchased chicken wraps. I asked friends to bring cheese and sausage, fruit, veggies and dip, and desserts. We even offered gluten-free options. 

9. Drinks. I provided coffee, tea, lemon water and small bottles of water. 

10. Paper products and cutlery. My plates, napkins, and signs were turquoise. The color scheme for my book cover is turquoise and lavender. Turquoise/teal is the color for ovarian cancer and lavender the color for all cancers. Not knowing how many hot versus cold cups I needed, I purchased white hot/cold cups and sharpies. Then each person could personalize his or her own cup. 

11. Set-up. Would I need extra tables, chairs, coolers filled with ice, etc.? We stationed the book-signing table adjacent to the entryway and rearranged furniture. We surveyed the kitchen and planned the layout of the food and drink area. 

12. Door Prizes. I chose 4 door prizes—a set of bags, jewelry, an organizer, and a gift card, with drawings about every 30 minutes. 

13. Gifts. I made beaded bookmarks, reflecting my color scheme, as a special gift for each book purchased at the party. A silver shoe charm on one end and a cancer ribbon charm on the other end framed the beaded pattern. 

14. Book Table. On the book table, I displayed books, the beaded bookmarks and a sign stating the price. My writing coach advised me to decide in advance how I would sign the books so I could sign each one quickly, hoping to have many requests. I also found it helpful to have a friend sitting at the table with me to collect the money. I made a trip to the bank ahead of time so I could make change. 

15. Helpers.Since I anticipated about 60 guests, I needed helpers. Some of my helpers included my intercessors group, my writing group, my sisters and friends. I asked them to arrive 30 minutes before the party so everything would be ready.

  • Intercessors—A big project needed big prayers.
  • Greeters—The greeters answered my doorbell practically non-stop. They directed guests where to hang coats and ushered traffic flow.
  • Photographer—My sister had my camera for those photographic moments.
  • Purse—A friend of mine collected money at the book table for me.
  • Food—Decide who would bring what.
  • Kitchen—Volunteers could cut the cake, assist with coffee and tea, and refill the food trays and the water carafe.
  • Clean up—This crew distributed food, packed leftovers away, tore down tables and chairs, and moved furniture back into place. 

16. Fun! I enjoyed mingling with my guests when I was not needed at the book table.

17. Follow-up. I wrote thank you notes to helpers and distributed thank you gifts. Sharing photos on social media helped those unable to come feel as though they were a part of the event and provided a great marketing tool to further promote the book.

I would love to say that all of my preparation came off without a hitch, but Mother Nature had other plans. I was sure that by the end of April we were done with snow. I was so wrong! The forecasted weather pattern blanketed the 200-mile travel area of my guests with snow predictions ranging from a dusting to eight inches. The impact zone shifted every few hours. 

The morning of my party, my brother called, “I suppose you know why I’m calling…”

Yes, I knew. Weather! My brother had planned to bring his daughter and my mom.

I received a text from a high school friend. Her regrets—the weather.

I had awakened that morning devastated. Would anyone come to the party? But I sensed the Lord whisper, “Rejoice!” I felt party anxiety shift to party excitement. 

In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer launch party was a success! About fifty guests filled my home with laughter and merriment, and departed with signed copies of my book. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NIV)