Entire books have been written about launching a book. I am adding just a few thoughts to get you thinking about introducing your new book to the world.
Ever since I started jotting down my self-publishing story, I was thinking about the launch and marketing my book. It was in the back of my mind, on and off, for months. I read in several places that on an average you might sell 100 copies, or 200 copies. It sounds dismal. Why would I bother even writing with that diagnosis of failure? Never mind, I did not let it discourage me. Besides, I was happy to write my book, even if it wouldn’t sell any copies. It would be my story, my legacy, and lead me to other things.
Now that we can publish digital e-books, even one copy is more than zero. And why would I get discouraged? After all, I have sold about 300,000 copies of my 15 titles in more than thirty years. On the other hand, I have almost no experience of e-books and the market today is very different from my early years when I started self-publishing accidentally as revenge and thought I had invented self-publishing.
First, write a good book. I mention that often in my book, Sell Your Words. Write a very good book, choose a marketable topic, and write an exceptionally good book, make it different and in demand by the media. It would be hard to successfully launch a lousy book. You are not alone marketing your book, there is a lot of competition. Your marketing will be a whole lot easier if your book is good. You’ll need reviews, comments, and orders. Your topic is important. Believe in yourself and believe in your book.
Webinars and tutorials are available but they can get expensive so let’s assume money is very tight. You must get creative. Read a few recent books about launching a book. Brainstorm. Get your good old notebook on your desktop and doodle anything and everything that might be remotely relevant. Use your intuition by thinking who would need and want your book.
Think of a location for launch, write down all the people you know locally—you might know more than you realize—and think of offbeat ideas to gather the crowd, focus on the genre and who might be interested in your book. Most people don’t go to bookstores regularly anymore but you might consider them anyway without high expectations. Ads in your local paper would be expensive and might not be seen by anyone. How about your local library, university, church basement, local school, big food market, huge mall, intimate little teashop, store or restaurant frequented by children, hospital auditorium, your job, ethnic restaurant or food market? Almost any place can be ideal for launch when you look at it that way. You can have many launches. Who would be our customers and find a place frequented by them. You might even donate 10-20% to the school or church and announce it for all to hear.
You might find the location for free especially if they serve food or drinks so they’ll make some money. You might need to pay a portion of your intake as a rent but that would be reasonable. Your audience might be interested if the price is right for your book, preferably a special preorder price. You could print copies POD (print-on-demand) to also sell print books. You could collect business cards and pull out a few for a free copy every fifteen minutes so everyone has a chance till the end, keeping the rest for your mailing list. Keep your collection bowl of business cards right at front with a big note that a gift copy would be drawn every 15 minutes. Have blank card for those who have no business cards. Or, you could print just a few samples POD and take orders, prepaid by PayPal or Gumroad, either for a print book or e-book. You might be expected to make a speech so keep it short and interesting.
Normally I would discourage you to bother all your friends and family members to buy your book, but there is nothing wrong to invite them for the launch to have a lively crowd, and some might buy a copy. You must serve the audience something, customarily wine and cheese (also some non-alcoholic drink) with some crackers and fruit. If you serve grapes, cut them into clusters of 5-6 beforehand. Finger food like mini sandwiches are always appreciated. If you are launching a cookbook, have a selection of samples on tables and invite the media. Run a video of great food in your book.
Print flyers to announce that your book is now available at amazon, your website etc., and email the guests a note to thank them for coming to your launch, tell some things about it, give a picture and comments, and mention where the book is available, but don’t beg and don’t bug. They’ll see it around and might buy a copy.
Have several helpers to take orders, serve food, make sure all goes smoothly. Arrange some soft background music for ambiance, but keep it low key to allow people talk and laugh freely. Have a few talkative friends around. Greet everyone and thank them for coming. Take lots of pictures, have fun, have a guest book and pen going around or placed at a desk just in case. Smile a lot. Do something, this moment won’t come back.