How to Throw a Memorable Book Launch Party


How to Deliver a Memorable Book ReadingBeyond book launch basics: deliver the goods!

Podium with a working microphone? Check. People in the seats? Check. Books available for purchase? Check.

Ok. Let’s assume you’ve taken care of the planning, the booking, the promotion for your book launch party…

[—Oh, but if you haven’t taken care of those details, check out:


So anyway, back to the assumption that you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s regarding your next book launch party (or signing, reading, lecture, etc.)

How do you make sure your book launch party has that certain “je ne sais quoi” — that unforgettable something — the intangible X factors that put it over the top in the minds of your audience?

How do you make your book reading truly memorable?

1. Magnify your personality —

We’re all different. Some of us are confident and charismatic. Some of us are introverted and clever. Some are deep thinkers. Some are class clowns. We’re like… snowflakes.

You don’t have to be the world’s most skillful public speaker to succeed at a book reading. You just need to determine what aspect of your personality you’re comfortable sharing in front of an audience, and then jumbo-size it!

Why? Because the spotlight can have a muting effect. When you’re on stage, behind the podium, or otherwise in front of the public eye, adrenaline will distort proportions and make you feel like everything you do is larger than life, when really it’s just …. blah.  Magnifying part of your personality can help make up the difference in whatever might be getting lost.

The giant, ironic rock-leap you thought you made at the end of your reading — it was really more of a bunny hop. That final line of the poem you thought you read full-voiced and slowly? It was actually hard to hear and a bit rushed. Seriously, watch the video playback if you don’t believe me!

So, practice being a galaxy-sized version of yourself. (In front of a mirror, in the car, with friends and family). When it comes time for the actual reading, overactive nerves might shrink you back down a little — but only to your normal size! And that’s where you’ll feel most natural.

2. Leave ’em wanting more —

Give a brief, confident, appreciative introduction; deliver the goods; and get out! (Well, get to the table to sign and sell books!)

Remember, you are probably your own biggest fan. That means your audience might NOT want to hear you talk for much more than 20-30 minutes. Don’t risk boring anyone! Keep it short.

3. Keep things varied —

Don’t just start on page 1 and read until your 25 minutes are up. Offer anecdotes; provide context for each section you read; keep it casual; tell some jokes; make a confession; sing a song; and vary the tone of each piece you read (start with something funny; then read something sad; then end with something hopeful, or that makes people think). Variety is the spice of life!

Also, organize your book launch party so there is a dynamic flow. Here’s one possible approach:

A minute-by-minute breakdown of your book launch party

1 minute: introduction by someone else

2 minutes: greeting, thanks, and summarization of your most recent book (or some mile markers for what listeners are about to hear)

4 minutes: 1st reading

2 minute: story behind the writing

1 minute: joke and setup for next piece

6 minutes: 2nd reading

1 minute: anecdote about writing of book

1 minute: story about the cover artwork

6 minutes: last reading

1 minute: closing statement and call for Q&A

5-10 minutes: Q&A

30 minutes: book signing


Hopefully that gives you a few things to consider for your next reading, signing, or launch party. Let us know how it goes in the comments section below.

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Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."


  1. Very elucidating.

    I have been reading quite a lot these days on this subject, but this was immensely helpful – especially section 3, as it gives in brief and clearly the specific steps you should follow. That type of clarity, brevity and specificity is very useful for a writer who is trying to prepare for a book launch, and thinking hard about what exactly should be done during the event.
    Thank you very much.

  2. THANK YOU for giving such detailed information. My first book launch is in two days and NOW I am getting nervous! Thankfully, most of what you offered us above I already had on my “Day Of” list! I felt relieved…I think this is going to be the beginning of some wonderful memories.

  3. Thanks. This was very helpful.

    I will get to stepping. Tonight is my 4th book signing but I haven’t done the launch as yet.


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