Sunday, December 7, 2014

Launch Parties: DIY Success Part 1

By Jodie Cain Smith 
Three months ago I attended Kim Boykin’s book launch party for Palmetto Moon, her second with Berkley Books out of Manhattan. (Berkley Books falls under Penguin. That’s big time.) From the crab cakes and shrimp and grits to the signature cocktail to the elegant decor, the party was perfect. Standing in the midst of excited readers all waiting for their moment with the author, I wondered, “What of this can my small press with a small budget achieve?”

Launch Principle #1: Launch parties create buzz.

Then I spoke with Kim’s husband. “This was all Kim,” he said and gestured toward the lavish spread. “She did it all herself.”

I deflated. I knew I wanted a launch party for The Woods at Barlow Bend. And I wanted it to be special. I needed to get people talking about my book the way that crowd was excited for the newly released Kim Boykin, but what of that party could I achieve on little to no budget? If Kim Boykin with her Manhattan publisher was on her own, I began to panic over what my small press publisher could possibly afford.

Launch Principal #2: Be prepared to do it yourself!

Before going it alone, I asked Aurelia Sands of Deer Hawk Publications, my publisher, what she could do for the launch parties. She responded with press releases for both, marketing materials, and cookies and sweet tea for the one she would be able to attend. I leapt at her offer.

Now that I knew what my publisher could provide, I had to get organized. Launch parties, like any event that lacks thoughtful planning, can spiral out of control until you wind up flat broke in a burning building with no guests and crates of unsold books waiting to become kindling. I had to stretch my pennies, negotiate like a Wall Street tycoon, and exploit every possible benefactor in my life. I begged, borrowed, and stopped just short of stealing in the three months leading up to the launch of The Woods at Barlow Bend. And I don’t regret a thing.

Launch Principle #3: Success is in the details.

For my list of critical elements that every launch party must have, come back next Sunday. You’ll be glad you did!

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