When my first book, Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost, released in May 2020, we were in lockdown. I signed a few books outside at local parks, and delivered a few more, while masked up, to garages and through car windows. Not my idea of a party. A friend of mine did bring snacks and balloons to Bible study. We did the best we could. So this time around, for Shaky Ground: What to Do After the Bottom Drops Out, I wanted to celebrate. Since I write often about Church, it seemed fitting to have the party at my local church. Here are ten things I learned about a launch party along the way:
1. Recruit help.
I knew my main role would be greeting, reading, and signing. So I asked my mother-in-law to help plan the event. She took on the snacks and decorations, which she's very good at it. The place looked great, and we had more than enough food. Huge thanks to her!
2. Develop a theme & a color scheme.
It's been fun to see the ways Shaky Ground has played out among readers. One friend shared a blurry photo of the book cover on socials, because shaky. We took the colors from the book cover and added some rustic metal trays and buckets to the decor. Guests received a teal pen with my two book titles and blog site address on it.
It was my pleasure to wear a flannel shirt that was actually a gift from a reader and friend on social media. He sent me a message saying his daughter had opened an online clothing store, and he'd like me to shop for complimentary piece of clothing. I picked out the flannel, and it arrived in my mailbox, no charge to me, with a nice note from his daughter. What a gift! Here's the link to Shop With True so you can do a little shopping of your own.
3. Decide on a dream or two.
I've seen a lot of pictures from launch parties over the years. I liked the balloon cascade from Emily P. Freeman's launch, and the cookies from Laura Tremaine's party. Between my mother-in-law and I, we didn't know how to make either of these things happen, but we collaborated with our friends Emily and Nicki, and they helped make my dreams come true!
4. Find a time frame that works for your readers.
It was summer, so several people messaged me they were on vacation. You're never going to catch everyone. We did a two-hour open house, so a lot of people dropped by right after work. I did two readings and two sessions of q&a. It felt great timing-wise.
5. Give thought to the right location.
As I mentioned, I write about church, so I wanted to host my first launch party there. My church graciously bought twenty books to have on hand that night as giveaways too. I've seen successful parties in local restaurant rooms, outdoors, and in bookstores. It's the most fun when you can tie it to your book somehow. My pastor was still at work while we were setting up, so he took a moment to pray over me before the event as well. That helped!
6. Have the right pens on hand.
When I began autographing books, pens became a big deal. The ink needs to be smooth, and dry quickly. My friend Phoebe recommended these, and they work well. Bonus, they're refillable.
7. Serve punch.
Every party needs punch. I really can't think of a single exception. I recruited my dear friend Margaret for this one, because her punch recipe (similar to this one) is a dessert all by itself.
8. Record a book reading.
A lot of my readers don't live nearby, so someone suggested I record one of my readings. Thanks to my teenage daughter (how do they know how to do all this technology so well) for taking care of this for me. You can find the reading on FB or IG.
9. Take lots of photos for social media friends.
I want you to feel like you were there! Maybe I'll come to your city someday and you can be for real. Until then, if you're throwing a launch party, take lots of photos. I'm already thinking of pics we forgot to snap.
10. Soak up the moments.
The day before my party, a priest friend sent me a private message:
Before time gets away from me, I hope you have a fantastic and joy-filled day tomorrow! Enjoy every moment, just as I know everyone will enjoy the inspired writing you've shared with us all!
It was a needed reminder as the nerves settled in, feeling awkward about being the center of attention and wondering if we'd have enough food and drink and books. It all went great, and the memories will last a lifetime.