Launch This Book

How important is a convention book launch? I have no idea at all.

Certainly, a party is great idea. It is a celebration of a legitimate milestone. You wrote the book. The book got published. That’s a big deal. Let’s have some beer-cake and love that you wrote a book. You’re going to be at a convention? Great! Let’s have that beer-cake party in public and ask people to join us. Maybe you’ll sell a few more books.

A celebration is important but, I suspect that the majority of convention book launches are secretly just parties for everyone that helped (put up with) the writer/publisher.

A launch, it seems to me, marks the transition between creation and sales push. The book is done. Here it is. Now we sell it. And that’s cool, too. Presumably, the book is good. People are out there interested in reading it that don’t even know they are interested. A big launch party is a fine way to make a blip on the radar. And sell a few more books.

But let’s say you launch your book at an awesome party at AwesomeCon in April. You sell some books. Everyone eats tasty beer-cake. Come June, you go to SuperCon in a different state. Does the AwesomeCon book launch provide momentum for SuperCon? Or for CoolCon the month after that? I’m not sure.

It seems like there is something else that can be done. Some way to continue and build upon the momentum for those of us who go from con to con. Marketing, publicity, passionate advocates, sure. But having attended book readings, panels, launches, and parties, I have a vague sense that we haven’t happened upon the ideal way to use conventions.

What do you think? Am I off? Am I asking the wrong questions?


About jonahknight

Jonah writes, records, and performs songs about ghosts, monsters, steampunk, and creepy Christmas tunes. Is that geek music? Nerd music? Filk? Who knows. Find more at He also co-hosts (with Mikey Mason) the Pros and Cons podcast. A Parsec Finalist, the show is about geek music and convention culture.

8 thoughts on “Launch This Book

  1. Well, having just launched my second novel at Farpoint earlier this month (same con where I launched my first one back in 2010) and having shared in the launch of an anthology at Shore Leave 34, I can tell you that one launch does not necessarily provide excitement for the same book at the next con. Truth is, unless you’re an established name or a veteran writer guest at several cons, it could be that fans at the next con may not even know or care who you are.

    I think it takes a number of ingredients to sustain momentum for a new book launch on the convention scene. If possible, keep coming back as a writer guest to as many cons as time and money allow and keep producing quality work. You may not have a new book at every con, but people will get to know you, and your books and promo material will get into people’s hands. Some of them might check out your website, blog, or follow you on social media.

    Eventually, your latest launches will get attention on the convention scene and one con could feed momentum to another simply via word of mouth. As for serving food, that did nothing for my first book launch. For my most recent one, there was no special food served and the launch was fantastic, even when it was rolled into a larger book fair with 20 other writers selling their books.

    People are unpredictable, but some things are within your control such as maintaining a presence at the cons, producing quality work consistently, and networking.

    • Hey Phil. Do you think that there is any difference, momentum wise, between novels and anthologies? This may be deep in the weeds but, if someone stops by your table and you have a novel or two and an anthology or two, are you more likely to talk up the novel?

      I’m always surprised that anthologies don’t sell better. After all, 10 authors trying to sell a book should boost the signal more than one guy selling a book.

  2. Sounds like you should launch the book at each con. New demographic, new launch. If someone calls you on it give them extra beer-cake as hush money.
    Seriously though, I think multiple instances of the same event makes good business sense.

    • agreed – maybe the “home con” party is attended mostly by the already converted, but throwing several events/parties at multiple cons during a book release “tour” of sorts, makes a certain business sense, as it extends the potential audience base.

      Sure, have multiple instances of the same party event (work the cost of extra beer-cake bribes in as part of doing business) – odds are, attending one of these semi-intimate public party-gatherings will make new audience members, if they have a good experience, feel like they’re part of something special – that creates loyalty, and I think loyal fans/readers would be a nice thing to have as one’s creative career continues.

      • So, I can see that if I/me/Jonah have a novel published, I could make events memorable by writing and performing related music.

        I performed at a Dark Quest Books launch but it was a big event and I couldn’t tell if my presence (or that of the other musicians) had an impact. I’ll play a song at the launch of Leona Wisoker’s next book and, again, I’m not sure if that one performance will move the needle.

        On the other hand, after playing songs based on Nobody Gets The Girl for years, I know that I have sold not just that but other books that James Maxie has written. Perhaps If I add these other book songs to my set list, over time there would be a similar effect. The key being over time.

  3. Darkcargopants, I had a sudden vision of pretending it was the Official Launch every time, and I LOLed! If only. But I think you & Chuck are on to something with the idea of multiple *events*. The key, of course, is developing sufficient platform (for the author) that people will choose to come to these events rather than, say, Kingon Karaoke. (Because don’t knock it til you’ve been sufficiently drunk at that event.) And that, of course, (platform, not Klingon Karaoke) has a lot to do with what Phil is talking about above.

    We must do All the Things.
    I have just realized I need beercake.

    P.S. The spell-check mechanism recognizes “Klingon” and can identify when it has been misspelled. This has made my day.

  4. I think I need a book launch party and beer cake, even if I haven’t written a book. If you are an unknown author, you could go with your posse/entourage to a series of cons and each person can take a turn hosting the party….and if some book buyers mistake the host for the author….. well it will make a famously funny story once you are famous.

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