[Podcast] Virginia Frischkorn on Hosting Successful Book Launch EventsFeb 10, 2024
An author’s book launch is a significant—and memorable—step in the writing and publishing journey.
The book launch event is an opportunity for the author to introduce their work to the public, connect with readers, and generate excitement about their book. And without a doubt, it’s also an opportunity for the author to celebrate their success.
However, the book launch event is more than a celebration. It’s an opportunity for the author to market their book.
Leading up to the book launch, authors have likely created buzz about their book via their social networks and email communication. A book launch event, though, officially heralds the book’s release into the world. It’s a significant event that demands meticulous planning. And strategizing. Virginia Frisckhorn, the founder and CEO of Partytrick, shares her expertise on hosting successful book launch events.
All Book Launch Events Need a Program
Virginia’s number one tip when hosting a book launch event: keep it tight and succinct.
Lengthy events can bore guests, or make them restless. Keeping your event concise ensures that attendees are comfortable and engaged throughout. And it ensures guests will leave your event in good spirits. (They’re more likely to talk about your book if they associate it with something positive!)
When planning your book launch event, Virginia recommends providing a program for guests. Guests feel more comfortable, Virginia says, when they have a structure to follow. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated with a minute-by-minute agenda. But it’s important to keep your program simple and clear. A basic outline with general times allows your guests to plan for your event without feeling overwhelmed.
For example, your program might read: Cocktails at 6, Q&A at 6:30, Author Photoshoot at 7, Closing Remarks at 7:30. This highlights the major points in your event without being overkill.
A final tip for your program: Include a start and end time. When you list an end time on your program, guests are more likely to show up near the start so they don’t miss anything. An end time also ensures the event doesn’t drag on. If your event feels never-ending, guests will be annoyed—especially if they have another engagement.
A Breakdown of Online Events
Keep in mind, the shape of your event depends upon what type of event you’re going to host. In-person events will flow a bit differently than online events. They each have their pros and cons.
The main benefit to online events is their short duration. According to Virginia, people tend to have shorter attention spans when they’re engaging with content on screens. So, if you’re pressed for time, or simply don’t like speaking for multiple hours, then online is your best bet.
To make the most of an online book launch event, careful planning is essential. Here are two things to consider:
- Promotion: Because online events take place, well, online, they slip off people’s radar. Because of this, it’s important to spend more time promoting your event.
Virginia recommends sending calendar notifications to your audience. Send a reminder a week prior to the event. Also follow up three days before, the day before, and then the day of the event.
Similar to the calendar reminders, post on social media in the days leading up to the event. You want to maintain an active presence on social media to keep the event at the forefront of your audience’s mind.
- Pre-Planning: Virginia also emphasizes the need to pre-plan your event.
Again, people’s attention span is short when it comes to online engagement. Prepare engaging content, visuals, and a clear agenda to keep your audience captivated throughout the event. Even though it’s not in person, you can still engage your audience in fun ways.
For instance, introduce game elements into your event. Trivia games, scavenger hunts, polling, or challenges with prizes will incentivize engagement and make your event more enjoyable.
Another way to engage your audience is through interactive presentations. Incorporate clickable links, embedded videos, or interactive slides to encourage active participation. And use eye-catching visuals, such as infographics, animations, or dynamic presentations, to enhance the visual appeal of your content.
It all comes down to creativity and making your event interactive for guests.
A Breakdown of IRL Events
If you prefer meeting face-to-face and networking or enjoying throwing parties, then an IRL event is probably a good fit. But don’t underestimate the planning that is involved in making the event worthwhile for your guests.
Because guests physically leave their homes to attend your event and meet with you, IRL events should be special—worth the time your friends are sacrificing to be with you.
Unlike online events, IRL events must be well-researched. The venue you choose to host your book launch event determines the atmosphere of your event, and guest comfort should be the top of your concern.
Size. As you plan your IRL book launch event, pay attention to the size of the space.
Virginia recommends smaller venues to create a more intimate gathering. Venues that are too spacious can feel empty (which is why she says to shy away from big bookstores). A smaller-sized venue can improve the atmosphere and allows for more intermingling.
Tone. Something else to keep in mind when planning your IRL book launch event is the tone of your venue. Choosing a venue that resonates with your target audience can enhance the success of your book launch.
For example, if you’ve written a lighthearted, family-oriented book, a cozy bookstore or community center might be suitable. A formal, upscale venue may be better for more serious or academic work.
Amenities. According to Virginia, there are three key hosting amenities: food, beverage and comfort.
Similar to a house party, food and beverage keeps the mood festive. And if guests are present for more than an hour, they might get hungry or thirsty. (A tip: lots of events forget to include non-alcoholic beverages. To be inclusive, have non-alcoholic beverages, too!)
The venue should have easy access to bathrooms and comfortable seating arrangements. Your program will likely stretch beyond an hour, which can make standing uncomfortable. Accessible seating arrangements create a more intimate atmosphere.
One final thought: For both online and IRL events, Virginia highly encourages authors prepare for the Q&A section. Q&As can be awkward if no one asks questions immediately. To avoid this awkwardness, plant questions among your friends/family who attend the event. This will get the ball rolling.
Increase Touchpoints with Your Guests
A combination of IRL and online events can create a powerful synergy. Attendees from one type of event may be interested in participating in the other. This provides you with multiple touchpoints to engage with your audience.
Let’s consider an example. Say someone attends your IRL event but they don’t buy your book. Virginia encourages inviting this person to an online event afterwards. This will allow you to remain in contact with your potential consumer—and create another opportunity for them to get excited about your book.
The success of your book launch event is contingent on the follow up. If people attend your book launch event but don’t share your book afterwards, it won’t spread. People need to share it. People need to recommend it. That’s why it’s critical after each event—whether online or IRL—you keep people engaged. It’s a lot of work. But it’s worth it.
Remember: it takes an average of 15 touchpoints for someone to make a consumer decision. Diversifying your approach can lead to more significant impact.
It’s also important to try both IRL and online events because you never know which will be more successful. Host both events and determine where your audience is finding you. Successful book launches—like most things in life—require testing and pivoting. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Even if your event “fails,” you can try again. And again. Book launch events aren’t make-you-or-break-you events. You always have the ability to do more. Learn more. And try something new.
For more tips on hosting successful book launch events, listen to the rest of the podcast episode here!