Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Launch parties

Barbara here. This blog is all about promotion, including blatant self-promotion, which is shortened to BSP in social media parlance and which can be a tricky line to tread. Inundate Facebook with too much "My book is out! Buy my book! See review of my book!" and you risk people either hiding your posts, unfriending you, or perhaps more kindly, simply scrolling on by. Hit Twitter with too many tweets and retweets and likes about your newly released darling, and people will roll their eyes and label you another desperate, "in-your-face" writer.

All of this hype can backfire, turning off the very readers you are hoping to reach, and yet without social media promotion, many a book sails off the publisher's production line, hits a few bookstore shelves, and sinks like a stone, because no one has heard of it. Professional review sites, publishers' promotion budgets, newspaper book pages, and radio appearances – all these promotional tools are shrinking at a time when the number of published books is exploding. Unless you are an international best selling author, who ironically doesn’t really need the media attention he or she receives, much of the effort to get the word out will fall to you.

With social media and other promotion, the key is moderation. Sometimes less is more, with as much give as take. Connect with people, listen and comment, encourage others, form relationships.

For me, that's where the launch party comes in. A lot has changed since I published my first Inspector Green novel in 2000. Social media like Facebook and Twitter were non-existent. Many of my friends and potential readers didn't even have email (except possibly a work email account). At that time I was so excited to celebrate my first book that I wanted to invite almost everyone I had ever known to my launch. I painstakingly printed out cards and address labels using Word software, licked envelopes and stamps, and mailed out hundreds of invitations. Quite a few people came to the launch, but many more were alerted to the book's existence and went out to buy it.

With subsequent books over the years, I have gradually phased out the printed invitations and I now rely exclusively on email and on social media event invitations. I know other authors have become much more media savvy, using newsletter sign-ups from their website to broadcast their news and using Mail Chimp or other email services to organize their mailings. I love to write, but I don't have a twelve year-old handy to keep me up to date with the latest tech advances.

But I do love a good party. I think it's one of the most enjoyable ways to get the word out and to share my excitement with others. Whether they come or not, they learn about the book. But I am not one of those writers who invites friends from California to my launch in Ottawa. If you do that, the whole thing loses its personal touch. So in addition to social media announcements, I keep track of emails from readers and friends, and individually invite those who live within a reasonable distance to the launch. To others who I know are interested, I send a personal note announcing the book. It's time consuming, but as I said, I love a party.

Which brings me to the crux of this post. My launch parties! FIRE IN THE STARS, the first in my brand new Amanda Doucette series, has been on the shelves a couple of weeks now, and I have lined up two launches. The first is in Ottawa, September 28 at 7 pm, at Mother McGinty's Stage in the Heart and Crown Pub, 67 Clarence Street in the Byward Market. Parking is not as horrendous as you might think; there's a parking garage across the street.

The second is in Toronto, October 13 at 5:30 - 7:30 pm, where else but at Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Drive. Because it's way more fun, I am sharing both these launches with my good friend Linda Wiken, who is launching her first brand new Dinner Club mystery, TOASTING UP TROUBLE. At both launches there will be nibblies, drinks, book talk, and readings. A great opportunity to stock up for those long winter nights, or for early holiday gifts.

For those of you who live within a reasonable drive of Toronto or Ottawa, please come on down and help us celebrate the joy of seeing a book launched on its way. It's all free, and you get to share the night with other book and mystery lovers. Which is one of the unexpected delights of the book launch experience.


Patricia Filteau said...

Barbara, I am undoubtedly one of those authors guilty of too much social media promotion. INDY authors are 'soaring at the box office' An INDY friend's novel just hit the 3000 mark in book sales. He is unabashed at too much social media promotion. Another - award winning author lamented at, despite a well known publisher and awards, he has only sold 300 copies of his latest jewel. Both books have been on the market a comparable length of time. The book promotion landscape is changing so rapidly that it is indeed hard to latch on to an effective approach. A world reknown author in our midst advised he has taken to reading a lot of INDY novels because he is finding them refreshing, different, often defying the conventional ARC's and adventurous. There was unanimous agreement on the efficacy of using good editors and proofreaders. We should revisit this question a few years hence to see what evolution has taken place.

Eileen Goudge said...

For me it's all about balance. With the launch of the first book in my mystery series, I realized I was spending way more time on marketing and promotion than on writing the second book. I had to scale back and get my priorities straight. I'm on Facebook daily & send out email blasts when I have launch news, but other than that, I've cut way back on social media. We all have to find the balance that works best for us.