How to Organise Your Book Launch

Worrying about organising your debut book launch? Worry no more. Debut author, Kathryn Evans gives tips on how to make it perfect.

Nearly ever member of SCBWI British Isles, knows Kathryn Evans. So I'm pretty sure, the majority of you know the long journey she has taken to publication. This month saw the publication of her debut YA novel, More of Me. Kathy was lucky enough to have not just one but TWO book launches. After attending the Chichester one, I overheard another author mention that they were attending to get an idea of what to do at a book launch, so with the help of Louise Cliffe-Minns, we came up with the idea of Kathy running us through the best way to run one. So here are Kathy's tips on organising your launch. 
Kathy Evans and myself at the More of Me Book Launch.
Book a bookshop!  
Check what they actually let you do. Waterstones were very strict on numbers - no less than 30 no more than 100. Daunts wanted more than 100 people but also had lots of rules about what I could do in the shop - no cake that required cutting ( hence tiny cakes!)

Google is your friend - even if you’re in an unfamiliar area, you will be able to find local companies to help – and ask the bookshop for advice, they do this all the time.

 One you have your venue booked, plan your essentials: 
  • Nibbles are the most suitable choice. Food that can be picked up and eaten in a bite (messy dips  are not welcome in book shops). I discovered that Waitrose Entertaining will deliver to your venue!   
  • Try and use a local cake supplier, I googled to find someone who'd make and deliver my tiny cakes in London - it was Crumbs and Doilies and they did a fab job! In Chichester I wanted a cake making friend to do the cake, unfortunately she was poorly so I used another local cake maker. 
  • Find a local wine merchant.  They will often supply bar staff if you want them, and glasses.  You  need to be sure they won't expect you to wash glasses before they pick them up. They'll deliver to store and quite likely will do use or return on the wine. If you aren't sure, ask the bookshop. Daunts suggested Vagabond wines to me. 
  • I planned things that we didn't  actually end up doing because it was so busy on the night - you will be signing books for the majority of the evening, so don't think you can manage tattooing people too!!! 
  • If you want something special to happen,organise someone else to do it before hand. I did manage to organise for someone to take photos using a polaroid camera and display them on the night. I also did a small giveaway just for fun. At other launches I've been to, they have raffled off 1 to 1's with their editors/agents!  So be creative. 
  • Plan at least 15-20 minutes for your agent/editor and yourself to speak plus a reading from the book. It's expected and it defines your evening - it is about the book after all. 
  • Get someone to take photos that you can post online afterwards - you won't have time. 

  • You do need to think about what you’re going to wear.  You don’t have to make fancy shoes,  but wear something that will co-ordinate with your book or reflect it some how – even if it’s just a badge ( actually badges make a good giveaway!) and that will show up in photographs. I chose light coloured dresses that were plain but matched my cover and made me easy to spot in pictures!

Kathy's personalised More of Me Shoes
Candy Gourlay  also wrote an excellent piece on Notes From A Slushpile about organising a book launch party, so do check out her advice too.And last of all - have fun! 
The SCBWI Chichester Group
Thank you Kathy for sharing your knowledge with us. I hope it will help anyone that is stressing over their forthcoming book launch. 

I totally agree with Kathy's last point. Your book launch is your chance to shine. It's your night to show the world, how hard you have worked, so make sure you take a few minutes to stand back and savour it. 

I would also add that if you can get someone to live tweet from the event, that will help promote your book online. 
Also invite some book bloggers. They love a good book launch and will happily tweet and post about it on the internet. 

Kathy Evans is an all round star volunteer for SCBWI. She created the W&P celebrations editor role, for the last year has been managing the British Isles' chapter's finance and is again organising this year's conference badge competition. She is also South East Network Coordinator with Mariam Vossough and is represented by Sophie Hicks.


  1. Great tips. Thanks. Especially love the cover-coordinated outfit idea. You looked fab in yours.

  2. Brilliant! Fantastic tips for all those out there planning their own launch. Huge congratulations!


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