ACW

ACW

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

To launch or not to launch


I am currently planning the launch of my book The Jazz Files. Most publishers these days will not pay for launches, so if a launch is desired by the author, then it’s up to you to organise it.
       This will be my eighth book launch, but the first for a ‘non-self-published’ book.  For my self-published books it was an opportunity to gather people together who might want to buy them. As my books were primarily sold through bookshops – who required a 40% retail discount, or Amazon (who took considerably more!) – it was a chance to sell a substantial number at full price. This was essential to give me a chance to break even on the title.
       It’s significant that the one and only launch I held in a bookshop for a self-published book is the only book that is (or was) running at a loss, despite it selling more volume than any other. That’s because books were bought from the shop directly and I only received 60% back. I learned from that, and future book launches for my self-published titles were not held in bookshops (although subsequent ‘readings’ were).

Fiona Veitch Smith and illustrator Amy Barnes Warmington at the launch
of their first children's book, David and the Hairy Beast in 2011
The Jazz Files is not self-published and I do not have to recoup printing costs myself. So I am holding the launch in Newcastle Waterstones and profits will be split between the publisher and the bookshop. I will have to wait for my share – if there’s any – to come to me in royalties in 12 months time.
      So why am I doing it? Well firstly, it’s to celebrate the fruition of a long-held dream. This is a big deal for me, and I want to share my excitement about the book with other people.
     Secondly, it’s for marketing purposes. Although I will not earn money directly from it, the publicity that the launch generates in the build up will be very useful for promotional purposes. It gives me something to tweet, Facebook and blog about. This is what’s known as a publicity ‘hook’. Just telling people about your book can seem a little forced, but telling people about an event makes it ‘news’.
       And speaking of news, the launch is giving me an opportunity to send off press releases to the media. Even if no one from the press comes, it’s a chance for me to tell them about my book.

Here are some top tips for book launches:
  • If you want to maximise sales revenue, don’t hold in a bookshop. If it’s important to associate your book with a ‘proper’ bookshop, and you’re prepared to earn less on the night, then do.
  • Don’t over-cater. A free glass of wine and nibbles will be fine. You can always go out to a pub / restaurant afterwards if people want to continue socialising.
  • Recruit someone to take photographs. Use the photographs as post-launch publicity and ‘tag’ people on FB and Twitter who are in the pics. They may then re-post or re-tweet.
  • Invite everyone and anyone – and ask them to tell their friends.

Fiona Veitch Smith is a writer and writing lecturer, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She writes across all media, for children and adults. Her formerly self-published children’s books The Young David Series, are now available from SPCK. Her mystery novel The Jazz Files, the first in the Poppy Denby Investigates Series (Lion Fiction), is due out on 17 September 2015. http://fiona.veitchsmith.com 
Twitter: @FionaVeitchSmit Facebook: Fiona Veitch Smith

10 comments:

  1. I fully intend to have my book launch in the biggest Waterstones in London on Oxford Street, serving champagne and canapes, and giving a reading attended by many famous writers who will marvel at my .... OH! Is it morning?

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    1. I fully intend to come to your launch and eat your canapes and drink your champagne - particularly if Johnny Depp is there!

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  2. Thanks, Fiona. I learnt a lot with my last book but I really want to do better with the next one so this post is very timely!

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  3. Very interesting and helpful. I will change all the details in my "Drifting-off-to-sleep-imaginary-book-launch" :) Thanks Fiona.

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  4. Thank you, Fiona. I have just received my first copies of my first book and am about to embark on the whole new adventure of book launches, signings and marketing. The question of royalties and profits has to be considered. I was surprised to learn that I don't get 50% royalties unless one buys direct from the publisher. It is all a sharp learning curve, but I am trying to be as proactive as possible and learn from people such as yourself. I have a little more planning to do before organising a launch, but your post has given me more ideas about questions I need to ask in advance. Thank you for that. Dawn

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    1. Hello Dawn. I'm glad this has helped. Yes bookshops buy the book from the publisher at a discounted rate - usually around 40% - and depending on your contract with them that will affect your royalties. These days most publishers offer a net receipts royalty deal. In other words you get 10% (or whatever your deal is) of the price the publisher has actually received for the book, not the price on the cover as it was in the old days.

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  5. Good tips. I'm currently wondering whether/how to launch my most recently published book, which is really a Lent book despite being published in August. I think I may have to go for a delayed launch after Christmas - I hope it will still count then!

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    1. If I were you I would do your launch at the end of January or February. Lent is early this year. Launches at the end of the month are better too as people will have received their monthly salary by then and will be more likely to buy. Unfortunately I have had to break that rule and have my next one on the 25th as it was the only day Waterstones could do it.

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  6. Some useful information here, Fiona - I hadn't realised how much difference the choice of launch venue could make.

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  7. Thank you for some very useful information. I didn't hold a launch for my first two self published books, but I did briefly think about it. I am seriously thinking about having a launch for my current WIP. I may even have the courage to approach a publisher with it. I didn't even have the courage to do that last time and self published immediately without even trying the traditional route. Thank you again.

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