Tania continues PART 2 of her post on successful book launching. On the day ….
I do offer goodie bags at my launches, but again, they are inexpensive. I pad them with sponsorship stickers, small toys, my publisher’s bookmarks. Sponsor Jennie from Posie Patchwork does these amazing buttons for me from Kieron’s artwork – they are great goodie bag stuffers and the kids love them. For Grumpy Wombat, I have created a really simple, staple-together activity book, printed on A4 paper and folded, for kids to take home. It includes mazes, dot-to-dot, colouring in, word search, etc.
I have helium balloons at my Canberra launch. It costs around $80 to hire a tank and fill them yourself just before the launch, but they are a HUGE drawcard for kids (I say there’ll be balloons on the event poster!) and they are virtually ALL you need for decorating. Easy peasy and worth the cost. I also glam up the food table a bit, and have a lovely book display and any relevant fluffy toys and my real tin plane that Riley flies around in.
Unless you’re Andy Griffiths (hi, Andy!), if you really want to draw in the crowds, give away some prizes. Everyone loves to win a prize and this is a sure fire way to attract guests. I always give away a copy of my own book, a few books from some sponsors, and maybe one or two other items.
I always offer an activity for kids to get into while they wait for all guests to arrive. For Riley and the Curious Koala, I printed off simple koala masks which kids cut out and attached to elastic. For Grumpy Wombat, it will be wombat ears on a headband which the kids staple together – and can wear for the book reading.
After the kids have done their activity, we all settle in for the reading. I start it with a quick intro and thank yous, then I get stuck in. At the end, I ask if anyone has questions.
If you are fortunate to have your illustrator close by, like I do, ask them to perform some live illustration during the launch. You could hear a pin drop every time Kieron draws live for the kids. They LOVE it – and he gives away pictures to the lucky crowd.
Many bookstores don’t want 100 kids running around holding a cup of fizzy orange drink. Consider offering food either outside (I offer it in an outdoor food court next to Dalton’s bookstore) or offer enclosed drinks like juice poppers. I have started offering a candy bar because it a) looks incredible, b) is inexpensive and c) the kids go bananas. Best of all, lollies are NOT messy! and will not spill on precious books. Be sure to offer nut free food and always have something on hand for adults – tea and coffee is lovely.
Once all the formalities are done, I have an entertainer (sponsor Steve from Kelly Sports www.kellysports.com.au is my man of choice) who helps the kids run wild outside with some circus style activities. If you have a limited venue, you could still offer some less boisterous activities. Leave this play time until the very end – you will NOT be able to easily recalibrate children to settle down once they are up and nibbling on food and playing.
Think about the timing of your launch. Saturdays are usually fraught with sporting and extracurricular activities for primary school-aged children, so consider Sunday. I have held events at many different times but have found either 11am or 2pm the best – slightly leaning towards the morning session, as by the afternoon, some people may not be keen to dress up and head out the door.
I find the following schedule works best for younger kids – it’s the perfect formula for keeping their attention and focus.
- Kids arrive – have them do an activity
- Gather kids for reading
- Quick Intro and thank yous
- Book reading
- Illustrator demo
- Prize giveaways
- Hand out goodie bags and let the kids grab a handful of balloons as they leave.
That’s it! My recipe for a truly fabulous launch people will talk about forever. Good luck!
See some of Tania’s book launches here:
Riley and the Curious Koala: A journey around Sydney
Riley and the Dancing Lion: A journey around Hong Kong
Riley and the Sleeping Dragon: A journey around Beijing
Thank you very much for all your great hints, Tania! I can’t wait to use them next time I have a book launch!!