DIY Book Launch
Pursuing the dream of publication requires much more than writing. Marketing also is a key aspect, and one where we often balk. Here are a few ideas that have helped me navigate the business side of books:
Ask God for clarity in purpose. Though we all may hope for a bestseller, the reality is books are costly investments with no guarantee of profitability. We won’t be able to sustain the months—and years—of diligent effort unless we are certain God has a ministry in mind behind the work. For example, my devotional Arranged with Love features floral landscapes and reflections about God’s affection for us. I want to focus on His word and comfort others with the beauty of His creation.
Entrepreneurial ventures require investment up front, and profit may be years down the road. Count the cost of what you can afford to sow without disrupting household needs. Many experts say to allow at least $500 to launch your book. I printed color flyers at the local office supply store to hand out, and the cost of that alone was $113.96! (Note how increased paper cost impacts the whole industry.)
I invested another $15 to purchase information handouts about monarch butterflies from the Florida Wildflower Foundation as gifts for attendees, so everyone would feel like they left with something whether or not they purchased a book.
Perfect your manuscript.
While you stockpile savings to fund the event, be sure to perfect the writing. Invest in a professional editor to finetune the manuscript. Resist the temptation to rush production. Delayed gratification ensures no typos or ramblings will undermine readers’ enjoyment of the book for years.
Participate in a writers’ group to gauge audience response and elicit feedback how to improve the work. Making ourselves vulnerable isn’t easy, but better to catch potentially offensive paragraphs early. Seek feedback from folks who share common interests, such as gardening.
Gwen Carter, a member of the Clermont Garden Club, read an initial draft of the devotional. Not only did she give terrific insights that encouraged me, but she also added her endorsement and hosted the book launch at the club’s lovely venue without charge.
The day after the flower party, I traveled 50 minutes north to Mount Dora for a book signing at Crissy Stiles' Barrel of Books and Games, a local independent bookstore. Seven people from my Word Weavers critique group showed up to help carry boxes and keep me company. Their loving support drew onlookers to see what was going on and helped with sales. The club members surrounded me with love when I felt uncertain.
Brainstorm an activity or guest speaker to add an educational interest to the launch. Invite participation. On the day of the launch, my garden club friend taught a brief flower-arranging demonstration. I provided vases found at thrift stores and fresh flowers from a local florist. Attendees enjoyed learning how to make beautiful arrangements from simple materials. We scheduled the event the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Guests could take home the free arrangements as gifts for someone who may need cheering up.
Thank God for the opportunity to create. He is the source of new ideas and inspiration. Watch how He ministers through your obedience. At my flower party, I sold 20 books. That night, I wondered if I could really make the numbers work as a viable business.
But the next morning walking my dog at 6:30 a.m., I passed a lady on the sidewalk. She said another neighbor who attended the event had given her 90-year-old mother with dementia one of the arrangements. She also reported that the person next door going through a divorce received flowers from the book launch too.
A woman took a box of arrangements the others contributed and delivered them to a local nursing home. She texted how much the surprise meant to the elderly. She said there were enough full vases to share with the staff too. She added that on an “impulse,” she stopped and gave one floral design to her neighbor, only to realize hospice workers would visit there that afternoon.
God was gracious to confirm that efforts to share His love connected. The work He puts on your heart will too.
Resources for launching a book:
NY Book Editors’ 8-step plan
Scribe Media’s checklist
Writers Digest 10 tips for success