Last Thursday, I went to the book launch party of a fellow writer’s group member, Drew Farnsworth. Wow! I have never been to a book launch party like the one Drew and his team of creatives put together. I really wish I had taken more photos!
It’s obvious Drew is well-connected in the Columbus creative scene. Not only does he attend the Wild Goose Creative writer’s group I attend, he’s also a member of the Columbus Creative Cooperative, and a co-worker at The Salt Mines (a place where you can rent a desk with other entrepreneurs). He won The Great Novel Contest from a local printing/publishing group, Columbus Press, and apparently his wife is a graphic designer because his fliers were AWESOME.
I learned a lot from this book launch, and wanted to share my insights with you.
Spread the word
I heard about the book launch through a last minute email to our writer’s group, but when I did a quick Google search, I found the event was posted on the local events forums, Columbus Underground and Columbus Alive. There’s also a giveaway on Goodreads for the print book.
Posting to your local events websites is a great way to spread the word to people you don’t know via friends of friends and family, you know?
Location, Location, Location
Drew was very smart to choose local arts group Wild Goose Creative for his book launch. Known for supporting local artists, Wild Goose Creative is a gallery space available for art shows, poetry readings, even weddings. You can bring your own alcohol (the launch party provided beer bottles and soda options) and food; they provide the chairs and tables and sound equipment per their rental fees. This place is known for hosting a good party for creatives, and with that sort of reputation, Drew et al couldn’t have made a better choice.
Part of the book launch party included a raffle and a game contest, where the winners received free movie tickets to Studio 35, a locally-owned movie theater with a huge beer selection and pretty good food.
How can you connect with your local community to provide prizes related to your book?
It takes a Community
Sounds cliche, but in this case, completely true. First, when writing the novel, Drew attended two writer’s groups to stay accountable to finishing his book. Our writer’s group was well-represented, I think only one or two people were missing from the crowd I usually see.
His wife designed the launch party itself, including the amazing fliers, the craft paper tablecloths labeled with instructions to enter the raffle (which you entered after purchasing a book), and I don’t know what else.
His local publisher, Columbus Press, had a stack of books and two persons manning the table with a tablet to take credit card purchases via Square. This left Drew available to mill the crowd like the mini-celebrity he was.
His parents kept the buffet table stocked, which boasted tiered vegetable trays, fresh hummus, and a candy bar complete with freezer paper bags so you could create your own party favor.
When I had my book launch, I enlisted a local tea owner to make special blends inspired by my characters, and basically the “launch party” was me talking about my writing process. That’s not a party, that’s a seminar! Drew’s party was a party, you guys.
As mentioned above, he had a buffet bar with veggies and candy. It was an all-ages party, so there were kids running around with borrowed devices to play Candy Crush (one of the methods to win the movie tickets), and adults sipping beer while chatting about how they knew Drew.
Drew had local actors enact the opening scene of the book, and read the narrative between dialogue/action segments. He also has a pretty clever trailer, which makes me feel his book would make a great movie if it really picks up a solid audience.
I tried to find a version online, but it doesn’t seem to exist, which is the one miss in this situation. Looks like he did upload the video, but it doesn’t allow embedding. Watch the Graham’s Charlotte book trailer on Vimeo!
In all, this definitely felt like a party more than a book launch, which I really liked. You didn’t feel pressured to buy a book, but if you wanted to win movie tickets, the sale price of $10 was worth the chance, right? Drew signed books if you approached him, but he never sat behind a table stacked high with his books, expecting people to want a signed copy. This was all completely appropriate for a debut author.
You can bet I’ll be stealing a number of these ideas whenever I complete and release my next book. Congratulations, Drew, and much success to your book, Graham’s Charlotte!