WRITING How to Ace Your First Book Launch in 6 Easy Steps


If you're planning a book launch, look no further for advice. Book launch veteran Eva Wong Nava covers everything you need to know.


Planning a book launch party is not an easy feat. I know this because I've had to plan a few. So far, I’ve had a launch party for the following books:


  • Mina’s Magic Malong 
  • Exploring Southeast Asia With (series) 
  • East Asian Folktales, Myths and Legends


I also took part in the following joint launches at the SCWBI Manchester Conference 2022 and 2023, which were planned by the Conference organisers: 

  • The House Of Little Sisters 
  • I Love Chinese New Year


Mina’s Magic Malong was my debut picture book with Penguin Random House SEA (PRH SEA), and it was their first picture book that met this PRH subsidiary’s remit, which is to publish books with Southeast Asian content by authors with SEA heritage. This picture book kickstarted their inaugural catalogue, so a party for it was only necessary. The book launch was held at a bookshop in Singapore that only stocks books by authors from Singapore and Southeast Asia. Have you noticed the party theme?

Exploring Southeast Asia With were four books I’d co-authored with a friend and fellow art historian, Jeffrey Say. We worked with award-winning Singaporean illustrator Quek Hong Shin. The series was published by PRH SEA, the first in their catalogue of nonfiction children’s books. The launch was held at LaSalle College of the Arts where the MA in Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Histories is taught. I flew back to Singapore for the launch, timing it with a family visit and an author visit at an international school there to introduce the students to Southeast Asian artists and art history. Did you see how I joined the dots here?


There was no cake for either of the launches, which is what a launch party should really have. The launches were also rather formal in that the publisher had organised panel talks. "I want a cake and a party for my next launch!", I told myself.


The joint launches had plenty of cake and lots of panel talks that I didn't have to give! YAY!!! At last, I was having a real book launch party!


Now, let’s talk about the legendary launch of  East Asian Folktales, Myths and Legends. To me, this is an important book for middle-graders, especially for those who identify as East and Southeast Asian (ESEA). This book contains lots of familiar East Asian stories that are not always easy to find in English, and is part of Scholastic UK’s Classic Collection, alongside other collections of folktales, myths, and legends. As an advocate for diversity and representation, Folktales is symbolic to me. It adds meaning to the hashtag 'representation matters'; a hashtag that I use often when tagging my books. There’s only one thing to do: have a party that celebrates the book, the stories within it, and not only that but one that particularly celebrates folktales from East Asia. #representationmatters


I’ll share 6 easy steps to help you plan your debut launch party. To plan a party, one must always seek assistance. So I engaged the help of several people:


1. An efficient and experienced publicist. The first thing to do is get your publisher involved: I emailed my editor and publicist to let them know that I’m organising a book launch and that I’d love them to attend. I asked my editor to make a small speech. Include your agent in this email announcement and invitation. Agents can’t make it to all their clients’ book launches, but if they can, they will. 

2. A super duper party planner. Mine was Gordon Chong, my mate from the British Chinese Society, who understands event planning. He helped by suggesting that I get a legendary cake and then went to collect it on the day of the launch.

3. A Chinese cake maker. I went to a bakery in Chinatown that knows what sort of icing and cake most East Asians like: one with light and airy butter-cream icing and pandan chiffon. 

4. A face-painting expert. Preferably one who knows how to paint on skin. Kuku Robinson was just the right person because she’s a face painter and works with non-toxic paints. She also knows Chinese characters and the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals.

5. An exquisite venue. A place that knows about events and services. I contacted several places, like bookshops and pubs, and found one that didn’t charge me for rental, only for food and drinks, and they also provided staff to serve the nibbles, drinks and cake. 

6. An award-winning bookseller. One who champions diverse and representational books.


  • The venue: The English Restaurant, Spitalfields 
  • Guest list: British Chinese Society, ESEA Writing Community, BubbleT Writers Network, SCBWI British Isles, Friends and Family 
  • Attendance: 55 people 
  • Bookseller: Sanchita Basu De Sarkar of The Children’s Bookshop on Muswell Hill 
  • My cost: £410 with funding of £150 from the publisher, Scholastic UK. Total spent: £260

The only disadvantage of this venue was its lack of mobility access. Their event venue was upstairs and they didn't have a lift.

A book launch party doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg, but if you want to throw a party, throw a memorable one!


Suggested places you can have a great launch: 

  • CLPE 
  • Waterstones Piccadilly 
  • Battersea Bookshop 
  • Daunt Books 
  • Pickled Pepper Books 
  • The Children’s Bookshop on Muswell Hill


Things to remember:


  • Check with these places if they’ll provide catering, i.e. glasses and plates for drinks and food. 
  • Ask them how many people the venue can take. 
  • Is there disability access?

And most of all — Let them eat CAKE and have FUN!

                                                                                                             *All images courtesy of Eva Wong Nava
                                                                                                                                                  *Header illustration: Ell Rose


Eva Wong Nava writes for children across the age range. She is passionate about reading for pleasure and she writes stories to entertain, enthral, and enliven children's imaginations, always filling each story with love and magic, even when these stories are nonfiction. She loves embedded stories as they remind her of how stories were passed down orally before they were ever written down. When not writing, she teaches the art of creative writing to teens and adults. You can read more about her here


 Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures.

Find their work at https://fourfooteleven.com
Follow them on Instagram and Twitter
Contact them at illustrators@britishscbwi.org


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