Monday, December 14, 2009

BOOK LAUNCHES: ARE THEY WORTH IT?

I have launched five of  my 14 books and have come to doubt the value of this practice (readings too) for mid-list authors. Let me explain my skepticism.

Certainly the first launch boosts the author’s ego. Writing colleagues, friends, and family dutifully show up to hear you read a few pages, enjoy the nibbles and wine you pay for, and buy a copy of your book. If you’re lucky enough to sell 50, it’s considered a rip-snorting good launch. Usually you sell fewer. And lose money. If you’re a well-known author and have sent out releases, the media just might report the event in the book section of the local paper. They are unlikely to attend.

As I don’t write bestsellers—my books are for small, specialized markets—my name means little in the publishing world, nor do I attract the media. I decided to discuss this reality with my publisher’s promotion department last September.

They confirmed that launches do not help sales and had a few suggestions for me. They urged me to focus on launching my book electronically using FB and Twitter, as well as my blog; to create a new author blog just for my new book, and meet my readers online where they congregate; to offer myself as a guest blogger, especially to blogs that cover the subject and genre of my book; to let them (the publisher) get the books out to reviewers before I send more media releases offering to do print, radio, or TV interviews; lastly, to target my buyers and write articles for them online and in print.

My publisher’s bottom line: authors don’t have to do live launches and readings. If you must, they said, share them. It reduces your expenses (sometimes to zero) and ensures bigger attendance and better sales, all of which preserve your ego.