On the Ground Book Launches

Powell's Bookstore Book Event

We’ve talked extensively about book launches in Savvy Sunday News, particularly online launches with affiliate partners, networks and communities. Now, let’s take a look at “On the Ground Book Launches” and why they’re important.

I was working with an author who had a book on the workplace and he insisted on a launch in a bookstore with additional events at other stores after that. His insistence was a little unusual since a lot of authors wonder if anyone goes to bookstores anymore. (The answer is yes, they do. Remember, just because we might not do something doesn’t mean no one else does.)

However, I was a little reluctant because I’ve had the best luck at bookstores with authors who are pretty well known and have a lot of fans who will show up to any events they do. This guy wasn’t well known yet, but he had a topic that really spoke to people, and they showed up.

His first event had 73 attendees and the second one had 84. In both cases, almost everyone bought a copy of his book, and several bought more than one. (In case you’re wondering, those are very good numbers!) That feedback helped me to understand that “on the ground” events, particularly at bookstores are still viable and depending on the book, author, and distribution, they can be very successful.

Why? Because there is nothing like face-to-face, in-the-same-room, time. You know this is true. Oh sure, you can do a great deal online these days with all the video platforms and other communication tools, and I love every minute of it, but even neuroscience backs up the fact that we are impacted by one another, particularly when we’re together in the same room. If you can get people in the room, it’s going to make a huge difference.

Getting people there means strategy, and strategy is everything, so the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to launching your book is what are the outcomes you want? Who is your target market? How do you plan to reach them?

Then you must consider what kind of events you want to have as part of your launch? Do you want to be in bookstores? The library? A nonprofit organization? Perhaps you’ll launch at a book festival or book fair, a conference or other gathering.

Are you interested in having a friend throw you a launch in their home? Do you want to have it in your own home or business space? Wherever you can gather people, you can have a book launch event so think about what makes the most sense for you and your book, and especially what will make you happy. Oh, and do you have a sponsor, because if you do, that may determine exactly where your launch will be.

As with most things in life, there are some pros and cons to an on-the-ground book launch. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Pros to an “On the Ground” book launch:

A psychological “upper”

Getting ready to publish, market and publicize a book calls for a lot of pre-publication work that can be daunting. Don’t underestimate the power of this psychological shift from preparing to take action, to actually taking action. Having a point in time where we cross the line from “We’re getting ready,” to “Go!” makes a huge difference. It says, “Now the book is officially on sale!” (This is in regard to a hard launch. With a soft launch, your book might already be on sale.)

It’s easier to convert

Statistics have shown that converting, whether that’s to buy your book, sign up for your newsletter, buy a high-ticket training or other product or service you offer, is higher when you’re face to face than online. Look them right in the eyes and make your request.

Better sales

Similar to conversion, but now you have cash in hand. Nice!

More raving & devoted fans

I don’t really like the word “fan” much, but it’s useful to use since you immediately know what I’m talking about. These are the people who love what you do. They will buy any book you write, take your trainings, read your newsletter, and they will tell their friends and networks about you.

Cons to an “on the ground” book launch:


Unless you’re having your launch in your own home, you’re going to have to travel somewhere. It may be next door, across, town, or across the country depending on your choices, but wherever it is, you will have to go there, unlike being at home on your computer.

Schlepping books

To schlep or not to schlep depends on how you publish and what the set up is. If you’re self publishing and your books are in your garage, you are going to have to get them to the venue. You may have to carry them in your car, or ship them via UPS (or the carrier of your choice), but some schlepping you must do.

Exceptions. You’re POD. With publish or print on demand, the company can ship right to the venue for you. One caution: You must contact the venue and let them know they’re coming and when you’re going to be there to pick them up. Many books have been lost so make sure when shipping that you have tracking and a required signature. This may never be an issue for you, and I hope that is the case, but it only takes one time to experience the nightmare of not being able to find your books just before a book launch, and you will know that these words are true. Get tracking.

Other exceptions to schlepping. You have a bookstore coming in to do the sales for you. I have set this up many times and highly recommend it. You only get your royalties since the bookstore gets their cut, but you don’t have to schlep books, you don’t have to sell them yourself or find someone to do that for you. They clean it up. You’ve made a friend with the store and the staff. There are many good reasons to go this route.

There’s no long tail

You do the event and it’s over. Actually, there are a number of ways for you to create a long tail, even when you’re doing events on the ground. I have a special report on exactly that, which I will tell you about a little later.

Bottom line

Building relationships happens when you spend time with people, and you’re in the same room with them. That’s when the magic happens. Whether it’s your audience, the bookstore folks, your niche mates or affiliates, trust is built faster in person than over a screen. Again, science backs this up.  Having an on-the-ground launch is a great way to start off the life of your book.

To your success!


P.S. My client, Steve Brown, known as The Bald Futurist, was interviewed for a 5-part series on KGW-TV this week. His book is called The Innovation Ultimatum. Here is a peek as to what is coming for all of us.






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