Have you heard of a book launch party? The author invites everyone she knows to a bookstore or a place that has to do with the theme of the book. All the guests buy an autographed copy while eating, drinking and celebrating a job well done. But these days authors are having launch or release parties online. Why the change of venue and is it worth the time, effort and money to have one?
The most obvious reason to have a launch party online is that it's accessible for anyone with a computer. In How to Publish and Promote Online, co-author MJ Rose discusses why she chose to have a cyber launch party for her e-book Lip Service. Not only was celebrating online the best way to get her e-book in front of potential readers, but Rose also found it a great way to gain local and Internet press coverage.
While many writers and readers are familiar with online chats, an online party has some significant differences. Lucy Monroe had an online launch party for her first Harlequin Presents, The Greek Tycoon's Ultimatum. "We had a real party atmosphere with Ally posting reviews of my books every so often, Marilyn posting the book cover and my photo to the chat board, etc. It was a really different feel…oh, and no chat type protocol. Just me typing really fast."
Another important element is the bookseller working with the event. The event coordinator can post periodic reminders about the books being for sale. If it's an e-book, directing guests to buy from a major online bookseller or e-publisher works well, but if it's a print book, look into working with an independent or local bookseller who can take book orders online. You can supply the bookseller with signed copies or signed bookplates for the launch attendees.
MJ Rose suggests offering prizes related to the book that can be given during the party. Also consider giving door prizes. To do this, have the guest register before the event. They will give their e-mail and mailing addresses and you can mail the door prizes. Try to get it to them by the day of the event! Let them know that you will subscribe them to your e-newsletter and mailing list, which they can opt-out at any time. This way, if the guest can't make it to the launch party, you still have more opportunities to connect with them.
There are some disadvantages in the online launch party. Unlike a traditional launch party, the books available can't be personalized. The lack of face-to-face contact is also a disadvantage. Try posting your picture on the chat board, or offer a personalized bookplate if they e-mail you with a request.
Promoting the event is essential for success, but you also need to find a venue that knows how to advertise and work an online event. MJ Rose suggests finding a site that has chat capabilities and a tie-in to your book, but she also recommends using a site that you haven't received a lot of exposure from.
If writers are considering adding online launch or release parties to their marketing plans, Lucy Monroe advises to have fun. "This is not about making or breaking your career, but about celebrating the joy of launching a new book or as a new author. The psychological benefits are more important in my opinion than the career benefits, although I believe I picked up readers and established the fact that I'm an approachable author."
Here's a list of essentials for a successful online launch party:
Promotion. MJ Rose says to send out email invitations, preferably with advance reviews. "Tell your friends to pass on the invitation. Mention the party on the discussion boards you frequent or the listservs you belong to. You want to over-invite."
The ability to type and think quickly. At Monroe's online launch party, she found herself typing fast and furious for four hours. "I really think if these skills are not an author's strong suit this type of launch party will end up being more daunting than beneficial."
A host or hostess. "You can't brag about your own book, but your host can," MJ Rose says in How to Publish and Promote Online. "Work with the host to make sure he has questions to ask you if the party hits a snag."
Enthusiasm. "Go into it wanting to have fun," Monroe suggests. "Don't try to sell your books. Just be happy to be with the readers. They will respond to that and in the end you'll all have a great time!"