How To Sell More Books With a Memorable Book Launch

Debbie Young, author of "Sell Your Books!", at her book launch

At the launch of my own book

I love attending book launches and sharing the excitement of the author as he or she unveils shiny new books before an appreciative audience. Even better when the author dreams up a quirky way to make the event especially memorable, persuading more of their guests not only to buy more copies, but to keep spreading the word about their book days, weeks and months later.

This summer, two book launch events particularly stood out for me, in completely different genres – and I’ve been telling friends about them ever since. By chance, both were staged in the same venue: the smart upstairs events area in the Bristol branch of Foyles.  Smart, but neutral – and thanks to clever planning by the two authors concerned, the tone was entirely different for each launch, and totally appropriate to each book.

Acquiring a Taste for the Spanish Civil War

A guest eating tapas

A reader acquiring the taste for a Spanish thriller

Cover of The Assassin's Mark by David EbsworthHistorical novelist David Ebsworth transported his audience to 1930s Spain to get us in the mood for the story of his thriller, The Assassin’s Mark.

Spanish music was playing as we arrived, and we felt even more welcome when we spotted a mouth-watering display of genuine tapas, which looked as if it had been personally imported from Spain.

Smiling all the while, and in front of an intriguing display of genuine artefacts from the era, which he occasionally passed around the audience for a bit of hands-on involvement, David talked at length and off the cuff about the historical and political background to his story. The novel takes place in the unlikely but true-to-life setting of a yellow tourist bus visiting the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War. Spanish food and drink feature quite often in the story as the motley array of bus passengers make their fateful journey, and plying his audience with the same was a great way of involving us at a sensory level. David’s enthusiasm was so infectious that by the end of the talk I was almost ready to buy a ticket for the next trip!

Suffragette Rally

Mark Evans, Helen Hart and Sarah Newman join the chorus

Rallying readers to buy the book

Cover of The Bristol Suffragettes by Lucienne BoyceHistorical novelist Lucienne Boyce took a more formal approach at the launch of her non-fiction account of The Bristol Suffragettes.

When we took our seats, we discovered on each chair a songsheet for the lyrics of the Suffragette movement’s anthem – a hearty rallying cry. Before her prepared speech, wearing a purple and green Suffragette rosette on her chest, Lucienne led us all in a rousing chorus of the song, aided and abetted by Foyles’ Events Manager, who had gamely dressed in the Suffragettes’ official colours of green and purple to add to the sense of occasion.

Although Lucienne’s talk was much briefer than David’s, it was powerful. As we sat comfortably in the middle of modern Bristol, her words took us back to the turn of the previous century when normal Bristol citizens might have found their daily business, in just such a shop as Foyles, disrupted by protesting Suffragettes, hurling missives and making their voices heard. Apparently not even Winston Churchill was safe from their protests when he arrived at the nearby Bristol Temple Meads railway station.

Within moments, Lucienne had completely changed the way we looked at our surroundings, and with the innovative walk map of the Suffragettes’ Bristol provided inside each book, she equipped us to continue the tour after the launch event was over and the singing had stopped!

Inspiring Other Authors

Each author’s creative approach to their book launch, ably assisted by the very helpful Foyles’ team, helped ensure a long queue for book purchase and signing after the event was over. Both events set a great example to other authors in the audience who had their own launches to plan.

Both of these authors’ books were published by SilverWood Books of Bristol. Many thanks to SilverWood Books for the use of their photos here.

What’s the most interesting and creative book launch you’ve ever attended? Please share your experience via the comments form below, and if you’d like to email me any pictures, I’ll add them at the foot of this post. 

For more ideas about how to plan an effective book launch, see Chapter 9 of Sell Your Books!

PS Lucienne Boyce will be putting in another appearance at Off The Shelf on Saturday, as part of a blog tour of her historical novel, To The Fair Land. She’ll be talking about creating atmosphere not only at book launches, but within the pages of her novel too.

4 thoughts on “How To Sell More Books With a Memorable Book Launch

  1. Hello Debbie,
    I’m always intrigued by these promos at, in this case, Foyles, as in the good old days when you were just a young girl I started writing for the IWM and we had ceremonies at aerodromes then in the 60s B.T. Batsford always laid on a ‘do’ in a decent hostelry. Since then none of the four publishers have made any attempt at any special treatment – although I’m up to my 38th non-fiction book! I think one problem is that publishers and myself alike are growing old: the last series of eight text books had 1.4 million words and 2000 illustrations but took 11 years…..
    Perhaps fiction at least really is a young persons game. I found when I was a lecturer at a University I could sell books easily, especially when (without my even knowing it) one Uni ‘adopted’ a book and had a special print run of 2,000.
    Either way, keep up the good work please.
    David G.

    • My goodness, 38 books! That is very impressive and surely worth celebrating! A launch in aerodrome sounds great fun. The most unusual venue I’ve been to for a book launch is an old boat-house, near historic caves in Bristol docks, for a book about local legends – very atmospheric.
      I think choosing a quirky and appropriate venue relevant to the book is a great idea, especially if the event is by invitation only. When Lucienne Boyce returns to Off The Shelf on Saturday, she’ll be telling us a bit about the launch of her historical novel in a historic hall.
      Thanks for adding to the discussion, David, much appreciated!

  2. What wonderful book launches! I particularly love the Spanish themed one, very clever having music and tapas to bring that authentic ‘Espana’ flavour. My book launch didn’t have a theme, but was a thoroughly lovely event in an independent children’s bookshop. One thing I made sure I had plenty of, was visual aids, so I had lots of posters and a book of my illustrations for people to look at and flick through, which gave a flavour of the book. I also did a lot of pre-publicity for it, so it was listed in The Cotswold Life magazine, local newspapers and lots of free listing magazines. The end result was a huge success, we sold out of books in just over an hour and took orders for many more. It was great fun and just such a wonderful experience! 😀

  3. Pingback: How to Use a Blog Tour To Raise Your Author Profile & Sell More Books | Off The Shelf Book Promotions

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