First time someone asked me for a tip, my immediate thought was: Do not try this at home! Aside from the fact that I loved the B&B where I held my party, I knew I wouldn’t want to clean up both before and after the event. If you’re younger, have more energy or more help, go for it.
Number two on my list is closely related, and also holds the “if you’re younger” exception: Don’t do all the cooking yourself! Don’t heap upon your own shoulders the worries of having enough, needing to reheat something or resupply something else. There are less expensive ways to do this, and of course the least expensive is to ignore these first two tips, but my location and caterer charged reasonable prices, and the cost was worth it to not have to worry about these things along with everything else.
Plan your event when your friends are going to be in town. This is Lesson Learned the Hard Way #1. So many people who responded to my RSVP announced they were going out of town for spring break. Since my life doesn’t revolve around school anymore, I didn’t even realize that’s where the weekend fell. So, try not to collide with your church or community when planning your day.
If you’re using them, get your invitations out early–and proofread them! Lesson Learned the Hard way #2, which I wrote about in “Proofread“! (March 16, 2011). Proofread everything–absolutely everything. I can’t tell you how much headache that will save.
Go local as much as you can. I bought the items for my grab bags from places I wanted to carry my book. While I was buying, I talked up the party and book, and left with the owner/manager saying, “Can’t wait to read it!” There are less expensive ways to get “party favors,” but this builds goodwill with the merchants. If I found their prices too high, I bought a gift certificate and used it in the drawing. Another tip: whenever you find little things on sale that will go well for a drawing or gift bag, buy it! Buy lots! Just before my party, Bath and Body Works put their purse size scented hand sanitizers on sale. I bought a ton. And as a side note, even if you’re not working a party, buy things on sale for giveaways, appreciation gifts, drawings. Catch the sales and have a small supply on hand, and send things out with your book flyers, brochures, whatever.
Keep receipts on everything. This event is tax deductible. Also keep a good accounting of how much you make out of the party, not only for tax purposes, but to let you know how close you are to breaking even. Believe me, I didn’t break even–but I didn’t expect to. Maybe that’s another tip. Keep your expectations reasonable. Don’t let this be your lesson-learned-the-hard-way! Be realistic. Your goal shouldn’t be to get rich off this party, but to introduce your work. If you expect a zillion sales, you’re going to be disappointed.
Get your media release out to your newspaper, radio station, TV station–wherever you want it to go–in plenty of time. I sent my press release about the party Monday, the party was Saturday, and the event landed in the paper Sunday.
So, guess what? The following Monday, I took a copy of the article, my flyer and business card, and a box of books to several local stores to see if they’d stock the books. Each person I talked to said, “Oh, yes, I saw this in the paper yesterday.” And each person agreed to stock the book. (The first merchant checked with our distributor to order the book, but there was a slight glitch. So glad I had ordered plenty ahead of time!)
While I’m on the subject, I’ll just throw this in: be creative about outlets for selling your book. I got mine into both local Christian bookstores of course, but also into a specialty store called “Heart of Texas.” As the name implies, everything in the store is Texas-themed–a perfect place for my book. Also, I happen to know the buyer for a pharmacy gift shop, and she took a supply of books. I’ll hit the larger places too, and with rodeo season upon us here in East Texas, I really have some clever outlets to pitch to. Give a thought as to where your book will best catch attention and make friends with that merchant.
Goodness–I don’t think I’ve ever written a post this long!
Keep the drawing in mind: A $10 B&N gift certificate to some lucky somebody who joins my Facebook fan page (search Give the Lady a Ride), and a $10 Amazon gift certificate to another lucky person for leaving a comment on my author page in Amazon.com. Aside from these two quick wins (the winner will be announced Monday), I’m giving two books away on Goodreads sometime in the middle of May. If you’re a member of Goodreads, look for Ride under the “giveaway” tab.