Monday, July 9, 2012

Host a Virtual Book Launch Party

You've written your book, you've edited it, you've even gotten it published.  You've promoted like there's no tomorrow, but you keep feeling like you should do something to celebrate.  Well, yeah!  You should!  This is one of the biggest accomplishments of your life!  Spending money on a fancy hall and champagne, however, seems like a real waste of effort and time.  And let's face it, at the end of the day, it's just a party for your friends and local media--how is any of that going to reach your real readers?

You want to host a virtual book launch party.  It's permanent, being that it's hosted online, and you'll get nationwide party guests.  The process isn't fool proof by a long shot, but if you start planning early, there's no reason you can't pull of a smashingly awesome party--and maybe even sell some books, too!

First, you've got to have a website.  I don't care if it's just a free blog on Blogger or Wordpress.  Preferably, your site has been up for awhile as you promoted and anticipated the launch of your book.  That way, you've already started building a fan base long before the book is set to release.  Typically, you want your launch party to be pretty close to the date of the release; more often than not it's the day of.  When I did mine though, I hosted a Launch Week to cover the whole first five or six days of my debut novel's release.

Two, you want to plan a theme.  To find one, think about the main ideas in your book.  Is it set on a deserted island?  Is it a how-to for finances?  Is it romance?  Sci-fi?  Once you've got some solid main ideas, you can start planning your activities for your party around them.  The Grim, for instance, is about a convicted murderer sentenced to imprisonment in a psych ward.  As an activity on my party page, I put together a psycho thriller movie quiz with movies that had something to do with mental illness or were set in psych hospitals.  Try to stick to one major idea though.  While it's okay to veer off (for example, one of my main characters has a fetish for chocolate chip cookies so I included my own recipe), you don't want to stray too far away from your theme.  It gives the impression you're all over the place, which makes it hard to really relate to your work.

Think interactivelyIn this technological age, you've got to keep your audience's attention.  These days, internet visitors want media they can interact with, and it's up to you as a new age author to provide them with it.  With this in mind, think of activities that engage your audience.  Instead of your typical question and answer with the author, do a video blog about your journey through the writing process.  Post some Facebook quizzes, maybe introduce your audience to your characters.  Use these activities to really set the stage.  Your launch party is going to be anyone's first look at your book; it has to be an incredible presentation.

This is also a good place to advertise your blog tour, interviews, book trailer or any other promotional stuff you've been doing in the months prior to the release, or even in the months that will follow.  (You can see my guest blog on coordinating a virtual blog tour on author Marita Fowler's website.)  Giveaways are always a good idea, too.  Be prepared to offer a copy of your book to a lucky winner.
There have been really great examples of well-executed launch parties all over the internet.  You can Google them and see what ideas others used that you love.  Or, since you're here, you can check out my launch party page.  Be sure to let me know what you think!

Congratulations on your release and good luck!

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