Question: What's Expected at a Book Release Party?

I’ve never been to a book release party, which is probably why I have no idea what to do concerning the upcoming celebration of the release for my Gnomes book. I don’t know whether to do a nicer, classier event, or something more wild like having my cover band play somewhere and have a garden gnome smashing contest.

So, if you have a moment, tell me: Ever been to a book release party? Did you enjoy it? Why? Any tips?

The book comes out
Sept. 21, 2010!

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18 thoughts on “Question: What's Expected at a Book Release Party?

  1. Allison

    You should absolutely have your garden gnome present at the event. I would suggest a place for people to get their picture taken with at least one of the gnomes. This can also be used on your website etc.
    Another thing is raffle tickets for simple gifts that are related to your book. This is a good way to keep people engaged and well, let’s be honest we all like free stuff. Good luck!

  2. Trisha W.

    I’ve been to several book release parties – it’s the norm at science-fiction/fantasy conventions I frequent, and I’ve had the opportunity to help host two for when BAD-ASS FAERIES 2: JUST PLAIN BAD came out.

    The one thing I’ve seen in all the successful parties is that they match the theme of the books. BAD-ASS FAERIES had prizes related to faeries, bikers, and other dark whimsy, for example, and included readings and appropriate music, and a "Bad-Ass Faerie" costume contest.

    With your book, it sounds like you could have a lot of fun… A lot of people already suggested including appropriate gnome decorations. Maybe even add a gnome pinata (for safe destruction), or a gnome cake that people can destroy – or gnome shaped & decorated cookies. See if you can hook up with a garden shop to give you prizes of plants or statuary. Most release parties do have readings, and plenty of food. (Plenty of food & drink is a given at any party!) Congratulations & good luck!!

  3. Betsy Ashton

    I’ve been to stuffy book launches where everyone stands around wondering why they are here. I’ve been to Hollywood type parties where everyone is into air kisses and white wine. For you, Chuck, go with your personality. You aren’t stuffy and I don’t see you as the air-kiss type. I’d have your cover band play. I’d have plenty of gnome stuff around. I like the idea of a gnome toss. What about a gnome pun contest with signed copies of your book as prizes?

  4. Dee Garretson

    How about a gnome-tossing competition at the launch? And I think it should be outside somewhere with gnomes lurking about. I don’t have any other brilliant ideas, but I love the title of your book and can’t wait for it to come out. As a former landscape designer, I’ve run across some really nasty gnomes in my time. I hope you are sending a gnome on a ‘guess where in the world the gnome is today’ trip pre-launch.

  5. Annette Lyon

    I’ve had a total of ONE launch party for seven novels, but it was a hit. No decorations or themes or anything like that. I planned it to be with two other authors whose books were released at the same time–we all had different genres and readerships, so that probably helped bring in a variety of people.

    A few things that made it a major hit: TONS of social media stuff to get the word out–including a blog contest with prizes for people who helped promote it via FB, Twitter, etc. I had people across the country spreading the word even though they couldn’t be there, all because they wanted a prize.

    The other thing that made it a success was having door prizes and a microphone to announce them. Lots of businesses and writers donated prizes, and every 15 minutes we’d pull names out of a basket and give some out. People stuck around (often buying more books–mine as well as other books in the store) just for another chance for a prize.

    The store was THRILLED and couldn’t believe the turnout or sales. It’s not something that’ll work for every single signing, but it was awesome, and I plan to do it again.

    (Rather fun side note: The store booked a NY Times best-selling author to be there for part of the launch period in hopes of bringing more people in. No one came to see him, and he left early. I must evil, but I did have a bit of a victorious laugh at that.)

  6. Franke James, Author


    Your upcoming book "How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack" looks fun and intriguing. So clearly your book launch party should be too!

    I threw a book launch party last July for my first book, "Bothered By My Green Conscience."

    Here’s the visual essay style invitation I sent out:

    And here’s the blog post about the event after:

    What made it a success? All the usual suspects: fun people, good wine, good food, great location PLUS I asked guests what was bothering their green conscience — and they CONFESSED! It was great fun — and I’m so glad I got over my initial resistance to a party and really embraced the opportunity. (Having a photographer on hand is a must.)

    Look forward to hearing how your book launch party goes!

    Good news on "Bothered By My Green Conscience" — it just won the award for Graphic Novels in the Green Book Festival. I’ll be celebrating in San Francisco!


    Franke James, MFA
    Author, Bothered by My Green Conscience (2009)
    Winner, 2010 Green Book Festival, Graphic Novels
    Author/Inventor: Dear Office-Politics (2009)
    Axiom Business Book Award Winner 2010

  7. etiquettebitch

    Chuck: What a coincidence — your post came through at the same time as an invite for a book release party! And here’s what it said:

    (for Zoe Zolbrod’s "Currency"):

    Please join me at The Hideout on Sunday, May 16 to celebrate the
    release of my novel, CURRENCY. From 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, there will be
    music, Thai snacks, a short reading, and a book signing. The event is
    free and open to the public. Cash bar.

    For more information, see the link below.

    "Currency is an absorbing story of love and betrayal in Southeast
    Asia, a thriller of trafficking bodies—both human and beast–across
    international lines, and a perceptive foray into the dark powers
    beyond our control."
    —Shilpa Agrawal, author of HAUNTING BOMBAY

    Congrats, cheers, and have fun at the "Gnomes" party!

    ps: as someone who teaches writers how to do readings, can I just tell you, read *first*, then party. If you do it the other way around, you lose interested readers and potential buyers.

  8. Leanne

    When I finished my first novel — MAYNELY A MYSTERY – I was so releaved that I decided to throw a big party to celebrate. I celebrated in true Mayne Island fashion — relaxed, casual, fun, and musical. I invited musician friends to perform and between sets I read. I served food and even joined in the singing. Weeks later people were still coming up to me to say what a great time they had. Did I sell books? Yes. Was that the point? No. The goal was to have fun — that goal was met.

  9. Sharon Mayhew

    I’ve been to a few launch parties for my friend Laura Bradford, who I interviewed on my blog today. I think the key is to fill it with people who care about you and your writing. The release parties I’ve been to for Laura’s books were at a local independent book store. It was filled with friends and being on main street all of the excitement caused people to come in off the street. Laura sat at the front of the shop signing books (and putting bookmarks in them) and chatting with everyone. They served cookies and lemonade…nothing too fancy…just a warm caring environment.

    Best wishes with your launch party. I hope you’ll post pictures. 🙂

  10. Delilah S. Dawson

    I’ve only been to one book launch party, for which I was paid to paint the tablecloths to look like aged pirate maps. But your book screams "miniature golf" to me. Rent out a miniature golf place and hide law gnomes everywhere, then perform a demonstration on how to defeat Our Porcelain Adversaries with a putting iron.

  11. Kimmy

    I went to the book release party of both the last Harry Potter and Breaking Dawn at my local Barnes and Noble. The Harry party had all stuff Harry – live owls, people in costume, potions classes, that sort of thing. The Breaking Dawn party highlighted the prom and had everyone dressing up and reading parts of the other Twilight books. I think for you, since your book appears to be humorous, I would go with that – fun stuff. People will remember fun better than boring-sign-my-copy stuff. Use stuff from your book and make it memorable!

  12. lisa

    Never been to one either but looking forward to your invite. Or I can crash – your choice. Honoring the serious tone of your book I recommend either black tie or lederhosen.


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