A reader of this blog asked the following excellent question:
I’m invited to a book launch party this evening. I believe my friend self-published. I was wondering what the protocol was for such an event? It is being held in her home. Do I purchase the book there? Do I bring a gift? I don’t want to embarrass myself. Help!
Good question. What to do if you don’t know much about the book, how good it is, whether you’ll want to buy it (or not)?
I don’t know if you saw this main post on book launches, it gives the story from the author’s point of view.
So, how does it work from your side, as a friend? No, you don’t have to bring a gift. (You can offer, if you wish, to bring something helpful like food or drink.)
And, yes, the book will be available for sale. But don’t feel obligated to buy unless you really want to. (That’s a separate decision from attending to support your friend.) There are reasons you may not want to buy: It may not be your cup of tea. It might not be very good in your opinion. You may not have the extra money in your budget.
It does help, however, to be supportive as a friend. Here’s what you can do:
- Attend! The more the merrier. It will feel more exciting & positive for the author the more people show up, and to have friends there to talk with. It means you care.
- If you know others who might enjoy the book launch, invite them to go with you or tell them where & when it’s happening (if it’s a public event).
- Be complimentary & celebratory. If nothing else, congratulate the author on having completed such a major accomplishment. It’s a lot of work to write a book, self-published or not! And you can enjoy the party, and help welcome others and keep the conversation going.
- Ask your friend how the idea for the book came about, how it was researched or imagined, how he/she overcame stumbling blocks, about his/her writing process (does he/she write every day, in spurts, what gets the creative juices going, etc.).
- You don’t have to buy the book, and you don’t have to stay all evening. Drop in, stay as long as you wish.
- Do try to learn more about the book, and share any marketing or review ideas you may have with the author. If there’s promotional literature, take a copy for yourself and for others who might be interested.
Before & after the event, you can help with valuable word-of-mouth publicity:
- Share the news! Keep the book in mind; pass on info about it (& share links to the author’s website, blog, etc.). You might note the new book’s release, for instance, on your own Facebook page, if you have one. That passes on the news to your network. If you don’t know enough about it to recommend it, you can still note that a friend published a book; share your congratulations and tell others how to find out more.)
- If you know any specific folks interested and want to recommend it, or places to post info, do so! You can mention it to book clubs, local libraries, etc.
- If you like the book, take a few minutes to post a review on Amazon, Shelfari, GoodReads, or other online literary communities. Or write a review on your own blog and post a link on Facebook. It really helps to have people like you stating in public that the book is worthy (it’s more credible than that author saying it about their own work!)
Of course, if for any reason you don’t think the book is worthy of simple mention or recommendation (a higher standard), then just hold your tongue, and focus on being a friend and offering sincere congratulations on this huge milestone for your friend. Whether or not it’s good, it’s a major achievement.
Ultimately, any book will sink or swim mostly on its own merits. But you can go to the book-launch party, learn more, share the news, and influence others if you think it’s worthy. A savvy author will know that’s more valuable than you just buying a single copy.
But of course . . . if it’s a decent book, consider buying a copy for yourself, or as a gift for others, or to donate to a local library or a women’s shelter or any worthy place.
If you do any part of this, you’re being a friend. And that’s what it’s really about. You can find books anywhere. Friends are more precious!