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With all the excitement brewing around the release of my new illustrated children’s book, Eli’s Balloon, of course I had to blog about it! So, in keeping with my Upload to Launch series, what better way to end the series than with a post about the launch itself. Naturally, following the book release however, I already blogged about it in my May 2015 post, Week in Review: The “After” Party. So this is more of a repost with a few tweaks here and there about pulling off the actual launch and making it all come together.

Prepare Your Mind Things are about to move – rapidly! So get ready. After months (and in some cases, years) of writes, rewrites, edits, revisions, contract negotiations, research, and more writing, the book launch is now right around the corner and it’s about to take off. There is no better way to prepare yourself for this than to just understand that the launch is about to happen and you need to be the best multi-tasker ever! If getting through a party is not your thing, solicit the help of a close friend or family member to help you get through it. If you can afford to pay a party coordinator, then hats off to you. Make it happen. Otherwise, put your big girl panties on or your big boy drawers, and dig in!

Set up After several meetings with the facility and coordinator, the day has finally come and it’s time to set up. You may be the author, but you’re no celebrity. Yes, You have to be hands on with preparing for your event. I arrived early with my setup crew (my mom and my friends) to prepare the space for the event. Fortunately for me, the facility also pitched in to assist with setup. This was arranged ahead of time of course.

Early arrival meant everything had to be with me and ready to arrange. I arrived with balloons, party favors, table cloths, tape, plenty of signing pens, paper, bins & buckets, my phone and card swiper, and of course – the books. With all hands on deck, we were set and ready to go in no time.

NOTE: How many books you decide to bring will vary depending on the size of your book launch (and budget) and the level of promotion for your launch. If you expect 200 people, you should probably be prepared with more than 60 books. In my case 60 books was a good number. Whatever you decide, try your best to bring enough books to accommodate your supporters. While selling out sounds great, you are a first time self-published author. It’s not likely that most of your new customers will run out to your website and order yet another book that will crowd their kids’ bookshelves. Grab your audience while you’ve got them. Don’t run out of books!

Taking the First Customer It’s always good to be prepared. Because we arrived early to be sure everything was in place, my first customer was early and ready to purchase the book. What was I going to do? Say no because it wasn’t time yet? Ridiculous! I happily greeted my first patron and early or not, things were underway.

Signing This is the thing we all associate with book launches and book signings. . . Actually signing the book. I’ve never been so nervous in my life! But I knew I was ready. After forming the first letter in my name, the jitters subsided and it got easier-and-easier with each stroke of the pen. Thanks to some helpful tips from other bloggers, I was prepared with little cards for guests to write out names so I wouldn’t mistakenly misspell them. That made signing a lot easier. And I must say, signing was one of the most exciting parts of the event.

A Special Treat I invited my illustrator, Mark Wayne Adams, ahead of time. Fortunately, he was available to attend the event – and what a treat it was. He joined me in signing the books and he also illustrated balloons for the kids! He brought the balloons to life which excited my most bashful customer. Seeing the expressions on the kids’ faces was absolutely priceless.

The Program I planned to address my guests briefly. I used a general format for the launch. We had kid-friendly refreshments available throughout the event. So as guests arrived, they were free to mingle, purchase the book, and enjoy refreshments. We chose to serve cake, Italian ice, and water. We replaced the labels on the water bottles with the cover of the book, which really appealed to the kids. I planned a 10-15 minute block to address guests which included a Welcome, Introduction, reading an excerpt of the book, providing the backstory, thank yous, and a Question & Answer period. I’m not sure if I used all of my time because my nerves were maxed out. But my guests didn’t seem to mind, and I’m pretty sure I covered everything I intended to cover in whatever time I used.

Overall, the launch went well. There were only a few minor hiccups which I’ll share in my upcoming post, That Was a Great Idea! Until…”.

It feels good to have the book launch behind me, but Newbies, it’s not over just because the book is published. Now it’s on to the business aspect of writing – marketing and promoting. It feels good finally being published, but more importantly, I feel as if I can finally move on. For weeks, so many other projects and aspects of my life have been placed on hold as I stressed out in preparation for this release. Now it’s behind me, and life can go on.

For those of you almost at the finish line, hang in there. It will be over soon and you will feel a major sense of relief having accomplished your goal. But understand that the train doesn’t stop at the first book. I’m even more motivated now to get my works-in-progress completed and to build my career as a writer. Stick to your guns and get it done Newbies!

Good luck and write on.