Right. First off, I don't mean 'epic' as in huge, expensive, noisy and filled with explosions and fireworks (although it's totally fine if you want to do that). I mean legendary in the memorable sense. I mean a book launch that will get people talking.
As I say in my video, I have two reasons for holding a launch party on publication day.
Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me get to this stage. We've all got people to thank… not just the professionals (editors, cover designers and so on) but the people who gave up their time and head-space to read through early drafts, comment on book cover concepts and… well, just put up with us being us, throughout the writing process. (I don't know about you, but I'm not the easiest person to live with when I get interrupted mid-chapter.) It's nice to give something back to all those people, whether it's a cup of tea and biscuit or an open bar.
Secondly, you need to make some noise about the fact that your book is out. Hopefully you have various ways of doing this. Perhaps you have a blog, or a big Twitter following, or you do vodcasts on YouTube… or maybe you use traditional press (which you can find out more about in my post on Getting Press Coverage). I recommend using multiple channels to get the word out, including holding some form of event to celebrate publication. An event generates photos, videos, quotes that can be used in the press… and most of all, word of mouth. Even if there are just ten people in attendance, if they each go away clutching a copy of your book and they each ten people about the event… well, you get the idea. Word spreads.
I won't go into the details of hiring a venue, budgeting, guest lists, goody bags, photographers and so on, as these are all covered in my video. But I will say this: you need to do a speech. Sorry. Most writers I know are introverts and not naturally drawn to public speaking, but this is something you have to do! Keep it short. Plan it out, word for word. Practise in front of the mirror or on camera. You might like to read a passage from your book - or, as I did with Feral Youth, get someone else to read it. (But you can't ask them to do the whole speech.)
Make the event your own. If you're a quiet person, hold a cosy launch do in a local café or book shop. It can be daytime or evening, black tie or jeans. Don't feel obligated to hold an event that doesn't suit you or your readers. (I have a feeling that my late-night parties don't represent typical book launches.)
The morning after, the hard work begins. Along with any other post-launch marketing you've got planned, you need to follow up with everyone who came along - friends, family, strangers - and if there were press in attendance, send out a pre-written press release along with photos, to make the job of writing about the launch do really easy.
A book launch isn't the only way of creating a buzz, but it's a start. Whether you're hosting a five-person cuppa or a red carpet event, it should be a lot of fun and it's a great way of saying thank you to those kind people who helped you along the way. Good luck!
Polly Courtney is the author of six novels, both self-published and traditionally published. In 2011, she walked out on her publisher, HarperCollins, in protest at the chick-lit branding of her books. She is currently working on the film adaptation of her latest novel, Feral Youth - the story of the London Riots through the eyes of a 15-year-old girl. She is a firm advocate of self-publishing, but only when it's done well.
If you found this useful, take a look at the rest in the series: