Literary launch parties can go a number of ways. There are always worries over doing too much or too little, decisions about sticking with cheap beer or splurging on champagne (and perhaps questions about whether alcohol should even be involved at all). As with other marketing matters in the twenty-first century, so much of what we do when we promote a book’s release is done online and through various social media outlets. Facebook release parties have become not only an accepted industry format for release but also a more relevant option for certain types of author-reader relationships. On the other end of the spectrum, children’s book releases and fantasy and sci-fi book releases can often be events to get dressed up for, and they really can take on a life of their own that’s altogether separate from the book itself.
Regardless of what type of book is being promoted, the decisions a publishing company makes when planning a launch party can have an impact on the sales of a book as well as on the perception of what that book stands for. Given the importance of these considerations, the sheer number of lists that one finds when simply googling “book launch party” shouldn’t come as a surprise, but these results can be quite overwhelming to sift through. There are lists on how to organize a party on a budget, lists on how to plan a book party so no time is wasted, and articles describing how parties can be organized on Twitter. And yet this seems like a lot of effort to go through when it’s always possible that the increase in sales and publicity may end up being marginal no matter how much planning you do.
Thus, the best way to actually plan a launch party is to make sure to incorporate marketing collaborations of some kind. Much like the benefits of special sales for publishing companies and writers, the benefits of cross-marketing with other industries can be significant. For example, partnering with local food and liquor vendors so that all parties involved can gain extra exposure is a good move to boost local community solidarity. Another approach to cross-marketing would be to donate a portion of profits—from both the book sales and the sales of other cross-marketed items, like food and liquor—to a social cause.
Political books of multiple varieties were the most profitable books last year, and this is due in no small part to the fact that consumers can connect these books to particular political views and to their own political involvement. Marketing departments should lean into these political associations rather than shy away from them, and book launches can incorporate elements that further drive the association between a book and a particular political cause. This can mean reaching out to local or national organizations that relate to a theme in the book, or it can mean throwing the party at a venue connected to that political cause. This is a heated political moment, and parties themselves can often turn into political debates. We in the publishing industry shouldn’t feel the need to deny this reality.