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330. Alternative ARTICLE: How to Fill a Theater for your First Book Launch ~ Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Adapted from the book THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER, excerpted from “Sharing with Writers” newsletter.


HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON’T
Lessons Learned from My Launch of This is the Place

How to Fill a Theater for your First Book Launch in Ten Tortured Steps

Your first launch will not be easy. The groundwork must be laid. The work you do will be well worth it, for this launch will be the foundation for any publicity you do for your book in the future, or for your next book. This isn’t about sales. It is about good will and making your first step one you and others will remember forever.

Invitation list: Start building e-mail and mail lists early. Early in life,
if possible.

Include people you’ve met on trips, in classes (especially writing classes because they understand what you’re going through and tend to be supportive),teachers, fellow club members. Throw in distant relatives, graduating class lists, business contacts. Collect fax numbers, too. Someday you may be glad you did..

Publicity List: Building a publicity list requires the ability to weed thistle from the bedding plants. Scour e-groups, phone books, websites, reading material, junk mail. Pick up throw-aways at local restaurants. Don’t be tempted to trust your memory. Write ideas down on scratch paper, bring them home and plop them into your database. Record e-mail addresses, fax numbers and the names of contacts and their titles. If you’ve had personal contact with the persona like a photographer who took your picture for the newspaper, or a producer who helped you ready for an interview on your local cable channel, make a note of it. Include anything that might offer even a remote spark of hope. Don’t include anything that is so off-the-wall you’ll be wasting your time and postage stamp.

Celebrity List: This list includes local and state politicians, authors, actors especially those who might sympathize with whatever you are passionateabout. Think about how much cache the attendance of just one of these people canadd to your launch. When the time comes, call them to see if you can count ontheir support and if they agree, ask if you can use their name in mediareleases.

Arrange for a location of interest, one that ties in with the theme of your book if you can. My first launch was at the Gene Autrey Museum of Western Heritage because This is the Place is based on real history, real western history.

Arrange for a tie-in with a charity ~ preferably something that is associated in some way with your book. Mine Autry launch benefited the museum. That, in turn, interested the local press.

Offer Something Free: I gave away thimbles because of the sewing imagery in the book. If I had thought about it, a chapbook of recipes or a chapter edited into a story that would stand by itself would have been a better choice because it might not only be kept but passed along to others. Keepability and viral marketing are both vital considerations in the selection of your favor. Let people know about it (and the refreshments!) when you invite them.

Use Prior Events to Promote: If you teach classes, speak, do book signings or even pay bills before the event, use those contacts to promote the launch. I tucked invitations the size of business cards into anything I could find.

Repetition: Coordinate all your lists. Send your initial media release (preferably your entire kit) one month before the launch. One week after the kit goes out, phone to see if your contacts received the material. Use the occasion to discuss angles that might be useful to the editor, not what you think will sell your book. The next week send faxes and one or two days before, send out e-mail reminders. Try to emphasize something different with each contact. The final e-mail should be personal enough to include an invitation to attend. Your invitation list for personal contacts should be sent by post two weeks in advance with an e-mail reminder just a few days before.

Use the Occasion to Update Lists: Have a drawing for something appealing or rare or personal. You might use a guest book. Ask someone to attend to it so that it includes complete information. If someone forgets their zip, as an example, the caretaker would ask them for it.

Thank yous. Use the information you have gleaned from your drawing or guestbook to send thank you notes. This is another reminder for sales as well as a sincere expression of your appreciation for their support. Send a small gift to those who helped with food, book sales, your guest book, etc.

If you follow these steps for your first launch, your next will be sweet and easy. Lists are like tulip bulbs, they proliferate with hardly any effort once they’ve been planted.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Author,THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR
PUBLISHER WON’T
Winner USA Book News’ “Best Professional Book 2004” and Book Publicists of Southern California’s Irwin Award.
Learn more at: http://carolynhoward-johnson.com/
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