This entire marketing process has been a bit of a learning process for me, to say the least. It has been overwhelming at times and finding ideas that don't break the bank can be time consuming. So here's what I learned about having a launch party.
The first question for me was wether or not to have a launch in the first place! I mean, lots of writers aren't especially comfortable in crowds. I never even liked being the centre of attention on my birthday or at my own wedding! I finally decided I should do a party, not only to celebrate but to share my work with people who were excited for me and wanted to come out in support of the book (It's easy to forget to buy the book on amazon even if someone meant to. It's a sure thing to get one from the author at the party!). It was a great afternoon.
Now, how to do it on a shoestring.
First, finding a venue. I decided to have the party at a local independent coffee shop. The shop was happy to let me use their location for free (yay!) because I would be bringing in business during the afternoon which was their slower time. Free is good.
Second, decorations. Here it is easy to spent too much, a little goes a long way. I got a few balloons from the local dollar store to have on the signing table. I also got two 16x24 posters printed at Fedex, $1.50 each, to hang behind the table and a table topper for $4.00. (Lamination is an extra $4.00 and is not necessary but good if you want to reuse the items). The table topper looked great next to a stack of the books with the spines out. Decorations done!
Third, I wanted to have some type of treat to offer my guests so I had a cake made. Here is another place that you can go overboard going to fancy bakeries. I went to my local grocery store and they were able to print my cover on sugar paper and put it on a sheet cake. The cake was tasty and I only spent $35.00 on a half sheet, which is enough to feed 50 people. Everyone loved how the cake turned out and it was also a decoration! Don't forget to bring some forks, napkins and plates! This does make you need a rough estimate of how many people will come. I had quite a few people who wanted to come but ended up not being able to and several that surprised me by coming. It evened out and we had some cake left over but that wasn't a problem :) If you want to cut down cost even more here would be a place to do it. Making cupcakes at home would be cheaper, I just didn't have the time.
Lastly, I wanted to have prizes and giveaways. I decided not to give away copies of the book but instead made necklaces (with parts from my local Hobby Lobby). These cost me about $4.00 each, not much. But the thing to remember here is presentation goes a long way. I got gift boxes ($1.00 each) and put them in bags with nice chocolates and tons of curly ribbon to make it look exciting. They went over great and we did a drawing every half hour. The necklaces tied in with the climax scene of my book and so the meaning of the gift went a long way. There are a ton of custom print ideas you can do, mugs, bags, t-shirts. Just be careful not to spend too much. People really are happy with something small especially when it is packaged well.
Everyone seemed to have a great time and having it in a coffee shop made it easy. Everyone was happy to buy a coffee and the atmosphere was relaxed (Except for when my critique partners forced me to do a Q&A and reading, I may have had a heart attack at that point but it was good and I appreciated them pushing me out of my comfort zone!).
In the end I spent well under my $100 budget on the entire party and I was happy with that. It was amazing to have friends come out to celebrate with me. I would highly recommend having a launch event. They don't have to be expensive!