Celebrating Your Book: What to Do at a Release Party
It’s celebration time! You’ve put in the time, energy, and effort. You’ve rewritten, rewritten, edited, proofed, and formatted your story, and now it’s published and out there for the world to read. One way many authors celebrate is by throwing a book release party.
Should You Throw a Book Release Party?
Before you dive into party planning, take a moment to consider if you want/need a party. If this is the fourth book in your series, you don’t have the funds, or you’d rather do something else to celebrate, that is absolutely okay and your decision. You could celebrate by taking a copy of your book on a road trip and documenting your book’s “vacation” or you could have a meal with the people who contributed to your book or supported you throughout the writing and publishing process.
If this is your first book, one that’s particularly meaningful to you, or the last book in a thirteen novel series, you should seriously consider throwing a release party to celebrate. You only get one debut novel. It’s a big deal, so don’t minimize it. If you’ve finally published the book you’ve held in your heart for decades, revel in that accomplishment. And completing a long series is something many authors will never do; it’s a feat worthy of a party.
Where to Host a Book Release Party
Book release parties can be as big or small, fancy or casual, expensive or inexpensive as you decide. You’re the author, so you’re in charge. Pick a location that fits your budget and your book.
I’ve been to publication parties at parks, restaurants, historical buildings, and personal residences. Other places you could host a party are community centers, libraries, museums, bowling allies – any event or party space will do.
Many authors try to pick places related to their characters, plot, setting, or genre. J.v.L. Bell hosted the release of her 1800s historical fiction novel in a Colorado historical building. The feel of the space reflected the time period of her cozy murder mystery The Lucky Hat Mine. The release party for Amy Rivers’ All the Broken People was held at a Mexican restaurant, the type of food the main character loves but can’t make for her mother-in-law because it’s too spicy.
Most of the release parties I’ve been to don’t have a lot of decorations. Instead, they focus on promoting their book and having a good time. I hope to do a bit more decorating when I throw a party for my modern fairy tale collection, but I also enjoy making and hanging party decorations. You can decorate however you see fit. Where ever you choose to host, make sure there is a table protected from the elements you can sell and sign your books at.
What to Do at a Book Release Party
After you’ve decided to celebrate your book’s publication with a party and picked a venue, you’ll need to decide what you want to do at your party. Again, you can plan as many activities as you want. That could be one or ten.
Some of the more conventional book release activities you might want to consider are reading from your published book and signing copies. These are staples of any author event. However, like I mentioned in the articles on readings and author events, people are perfectly capable of reading your book themselves, so you might not want to spend a lot of time on this.
And then there’s eating. Food is a must at any party. Be sure you give your guests plenty of time to eat. Your sustenance can be catered, homemade, provided by your venue, or a pot luck. I’ve seen all of these, and they all worked great. Again, it’s your party, so pick what you can afford and will enjoy. This isn’t a fancy wedding to show off your in-law’s social status.
Other fun activities are costume contests, games related to your book or genre, dancing, group writing, and speeches (you thanking your guests and sharing a bit about the journey you took completing your book). At Bell’s party, she had guests come in optional period costumes and invited her audiobook narrator to read. Both were fun and well-received. Any other party games are welcome at book releases.
Why an Editor Recommends a Book Release Party
Book release parties are also an excellent marketing tool. The more excited you are about your book, the more other people will be too, so show your excitement. Invite friends, family, fans, and the people who helped you complete your book. Show them how much you appreciate their support and they will be more likely to champion your book. Word of mouth is the most effective way to sell any product or service, especially books. And take lots of pictures. You can drip pictures for your book release party out, post them all at once, and use them multiple times in your marketing efforts. Take pictures of your books, your supporters, your supporters reading/holding your books, you, your decorations, everything. Your book release is a celebration time, but it’s also an opportunity to share your accomplishment with potential readers.
Tons of people talk and dream about writing a book, but never do. You did it! You achieved the dream! Don’t downplay your accomplishment by letting the euphoria of seeing your words in print slide past without some sort of celebration. You and your book earned this party, so throw your ideal release party to celebrate your writing and Ignite Your Ink.
What activities do you have planned for your book release party? Share your celebrations below. For more tips on celebrating and writing and a free Timeline of a Book, subscribe to Ignite Your Ink.
Ignite Your Ink is written by editor and author Caitlin Berve. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics, actively participates in multiple writers’ organizations, and is dedicated to helping writers produce content that leaves an impression on readers.