So, last night a friend of mine hit me up, we used to be quite cool back in UNIBEN and he had just written a book. I was still gushing with my praise, congratulations and “You know say my own signed copy na free na heehaw heehaw” when he added that he was having a book launch party planned. Naturally, my excitement tripled. I was seeing very visual visions of chatting, dinner and ehm…movies with the brunette sapiosexuals, when he brought me down to earth with: “Chris, can you help me out with the program. Like, what’s supposed to happen?”
That was when I realized, in typical Nigerian mien, Oga was planning a book launch party, and did not even know what it was going to be all about. So, I decided to write this post for those of you out there who are planning book launches and don’t know how to go about them.
First off, before you get to the program, you need to:
Get a Suitable Venue
“Location, location…” you know the drill. Getting the best location for your book is really important to the outcome of the launch. The launch is the first time your book goes out to the world, and you want to make a great first impression. Great ideas for book launch venues are libraries or book stores. But when those can’t work, look for venues that correlate or correspond either with details from your book or the overall theme. If you are writing a book about cooking recipes, don’t go and use the Diamond Hall at the Hotel Presidential or someplace like, the dining room of your neighbourhood Mr. Biggs or Jevinik is a way better bet. People will associate your book with food; all the better for your sales and reader retention, don’t you think? NB: while doing all of this, do not forget to go for an accessible location. You don’t want your visitors to los’!
Get a Good DJ and MC
See ehn, no event can work without a good DJ and MC or presenter. And for a book launch which, pardonez moi, is already about stuffy, boring stuff, you need an MC that can keep the crowd entertained during the lulls, and of course the right kind of music to keep the atmosphere awesome. In this case, the music played should correlate with the theme of the book. If your book is about the “Traditional ways of the Izon people of the Niger Delta” it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be playing Bieber and Michael Jackson.
Invite the right people
Stop inviting only family and friends for book launches! Family and friends rarely buy your books at high prices and don’t make as much noise as you would like about your stuff. Invite bloggers, journalists and radio and TV presenters and hosts, influencers in the field (prize winners, art competition judges, professors, renowned personalities), your pastor or imam. This is Nigeria people, invite those who will make your book sell. Invite people that have money!
Once you have taken care of the venue and co, the next thing to concern yourself about is the program:
Start with the MC
The MC should by rote, begin the ceremony. Recognize people, assign roles, explain the program of events and of course, relax the audience. This should not take too long however.
First of all, you should have a really good interviewer, someone who knows about the book (a beta reader or writer friend will be awesome), and can ask intelligent questions. The interview should begin with the writer describing himself/herself, giving a summary of the book and generally explaining the process. You slept on the Mount. Cameroon for three weeks to get the story details for chapter three? This is where people need to hear that. At this point the audience wants to be a part of the story, to connect with the writer. NB: This is sure to boost sales.
Immediately after this, the interviewer should kick in with a few pointed questions about the process, the purpose of the book, what the writer seeks to achieve, etc. The questions should be interesting, and targeted to helping the writer connect even more with
the wallets of the audience.
If there is going to be a break in the formal book launch activities, this is where it happens. Give the writer time to rest up and drink some swallows of water and give the MC some time to earn his pay. Musical interludes, quizzes, etc. come in at this point.
A book launch cannot be complete without the author reading from their book. Here’s a useful tidbit: “select the portion you will read and practice reading it days and weeks before the event”. Delivery of the reading is a huge factor in determining the success of the launch. The snippet should be an interesting part of the book that is sure to whet the appetite and incite
the wallet the listeners. Also, it shouldn’t be too long, about 5 minutes worth is okay.
The audience has been sitting in (relative) quiet for about an hour, in this session you give them opportunity to interact with the author, ask questions etc. The MC or interviewer works overtime here, to field the questions and deflect those that will prove too contradictory. State how many questions you will take from the very beginning and stick to that number. NB: during this time, most of the questions will be from fans looking to act smart in front of their idol, or detractors looking to kill your vibe. Be prepared.
“What we have all been waiting for!” Start off with the chairman’s remarks, and maybe his own launch sum. And then, set the MC loose. Attack the wallets my man, attack them! And the credit cards too. NB: it is especially awesome to host your book launch on a weekday so you can run the checks down ASAP or work with a POS device. I mean, it’s Nigeria.
The book signing
This is the last official part of the launch. People have bought the book and for Rekvewe’s sake, they attended the launch, they deserve autographs. Make sure you have practiced your signing days before the event, we don’t want your kindergarten scrawl, sir/ma. Your autograph should be beautiful, you want the books owners to be proud of it. Practice phrases like “Warmest regards”, “keep writing” etc. The book signing should go on for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Oh, and your fingers will likely ache in the end.
Close the event with appreciations
Thank everyone for coming, network with as many as you can, collect contact details (you will need them to send ebooks, pictures of the events, invite them to like your book’s page or handle on social media, etc.)
In case you need more help figuring out the basics, hit me up in the comments or shoot me an email. I’ll help. Cheers
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- All photos are stolen from Google Images. Sue me, bxxch!
- LOL…I kid. Do not sue me.