Here are five things you should do before your next author event to help ensure its success:

Decide on the Size

You need to know exactly how big you want it to be before you start planning your next event. Will it be large and in charge, or a small event? It’s recommended you do a small event to get your feet wet, but to reach the masses you are going to have to throw a bash.

Here is an idea of how you can tie it all together:

A pre-launch gathering – just family and friends, light on the advertisement but heavy on the “if you love and support me, buy a copy”. Doing this maybe a month or two before your release date can also help you gather book reviews: double win!

A book launch party – this is the one you blast to the world. Take extra care getting ready, and if possible, you should have a photographer.

Select the Location and Date

Now that you know what size of a party you are looking to have, the location will need to accommodate that vision. A bookstore is an obvious place, therefore not recommended by me unless you have a great relationship with the owner. Try something different; think about places where you don’t have to pay a hosting fee.

Even better, is there a place that fits the theme or genre of your book? This could also help create a theme for your party (see my next step)…

Here are some ideas:

Mine: A local publishing resource center or writers group – my book is on mastering the business of publishing and becoming an authorpreneur, two themes that lend themselves to a educational setting or one where writers are already gathered

Sci-fi: local planetarium, laser tag

Historical fiction or non-fiction: a museum (there are many small specialty museums out there) or old, large bed & breakfast or a Victorian house that is available for rent

Children’s book: ice cream parlor, the park

Romance: Create a beautiful outdoor party with lots of flowers or ambient lights

These are just some ideas to get you started – remember, this is YOUR party. Check out your options, and don’t limit yourself. Be creative!

Choose a Theme

Many authors consider a book reading the only thing an author can do at an event, but there is nothing further from the truth. Get creative! Think about meaningful ideas and concepts from your book for inspiration. Deciding on a theme not only gives you a hook to pitch attendees, but it can also give you a sense of comfort. Instead of dreading a book reading, you can look forward to a creative that plays on your personal strengths.

Answer these questions:

• What is your book about?

• Where is it set?

• Where would your target reader like to hang out?

For interesting ideas on décor, check out these Frugal Book Launch Ideas

Get it Listed

Getting your mom and pop to your event is great, but what’s even better is getting complete strangers to sign up and get excited about your baby book. To do that you have to list your event at least 3-4 weeks in advance. Many local papers have a free events section and will do a feature if you ask. You should also look into radio stations that will promote a free event and other creative activities, as well as consider listing on Eventbrite for early registration.

Other places you can list your event free include:

The BookShelf Café allows authors to list live in-person events as well as live online events for free. List your upcoming event here.

Faithhappenings now allows Christian retailers to promote their author events at no charge. Have the retailer post the event on their local microsite at Simply click on the “Easy Guide to Listing Your Ministry or Business” box. Events are posted within 24 hours.

GoodReads allows authors to list upcoming events for free. List your upcoming author event on GoodReads (you must be a member) here.

Have Fun

With all of the planning, writing, and publishing of your book you are undoubtedly stressed out. Do what you can to get some assistance setting up and preparing your event, but once your event starts there is nothing left to do other than have fun.

Here are some ideas to help preserve the fun:

Create an event checklist… and share it with friends and family willing to help

Start gathering everything you need for the party at least 3-5 days in advance

Order your books as soon as you decide on the date and location – this ensures they will get there in plenty of time and reduces your stress

Print little thank you cards with your book information – you will want to thank those who show up and make sure the ones who don’t buy on the spot have you information to take away

Plan to gather email addresses – gathering emails to follow-up later will help ease your mind that you can still reach your supporters, should anything go wrong at the last minute

Sharing your book with others is a joyous occasion. Bask in the glow, talk about your passion and enjoy the company of your guests. The truth is, even if only a few people shown up… “more than one makes a party!”