A little merchandise goes a long way

When we launched Clovenhoof we had a launch party. A real one, in the physical world. It was a lot of fun, and we sold some books and felt like rock stars for the evening.
We’ll be doing it again for the new book, Pigeonwings. We love a party and want to share the fun with friends. But what about readers who aren’t local? We’ve sold Clovenhoof across the world, so it seems wrong that we couldn’t do something for people who can’t get to Birmingham.

I’d been to a virtual launch party before. Graeme Reynolds is the author of a werewolf series, and he had a launch party on Facebook for the latest one, Moonstruck.
It seemed like a lot of fun, and he’s a generous guy who seems happy to let me copy his ideas, so the Pigeonwings virtual launch was born!

If you’re interested in the mechanics of what we did, there’s a list below.

First of all, I want to talk about the ethos behind it. We were very keen that our guests did not feel that we were exploiting them in any way. A launch party is an effort to make a “splash” with a new book, but we wanted to explore ways that we could do that without putting pressure on people. For that reason there were two things that we stressed. We made it very clear to people that we’d be equally thrilled if they came for five minutes and said “hi” or if they stayed for the whole thing. A Saturday night is a precious thing, so we wanted people to drop in when they had a moment. Secondly, we made the book free on Amazon while the launch party was taking place. That way we could ask people to download the book, share the link with their friends, and there would be no cost or hard sell.

As a result, we had a really enjoyable evening. Other people said that they enjoyed it too, and we have boosted the readership of the ebook nicely.


Here’s our recipe for a Facebook launch. Add your own ingredients as you wish.

At least 1 month beforehand.

Setup a Facebook event. We made ours 6pm – 11pm, which was a feat of stamina for us, but made a nice wide window for people to join when they were free. Make it public and invite as many people as you can. You can invite your own Facebook friends, but also send out the link on emails and Tweets.

2 weeks beforehand.

Mention that people are not obliged to turn up for the whole thing. Tell them it will be fun. Get some small prizes. We had badges, totebags and a couple of paperback versions of the book.

1 week beforehand.

Count down to the event to remind people, in a fun way. Show them the prizes that they might win! Set up KDP select on Amazon to make sure your book will be free during and after your event (not everyone will respond instantly)
Gather together some ideas for music that is themed to your book. Get some suitable pictures that you can use as caption competitions. Work out a schedule for the evening. Warn your family that you will be hunched over a keyboard for the entire evening!


  • Spin some tunes! Post a Youtube link to a song that you think is suitable. You will find that your guests join in with this. Appoint a DJ if someone is especially keen! Otherwise, make sure you have ideas for a song at least every 30 mins.
  • We suggested fancy dress. Think of a theme (we had angels, devils and monks) and ask people to change their profile pictures. Extra kudos to anyone who actually dons an outfit and takes a picture.
  • Caption competitions. These are great fun, and you can run one per hour. Make sure it’s obvious when each one is at an end and announce a winner. Be sure you have a small prize, and be prepared to send it to them, wherever they are.
  • Author interview. Announce that you will do an interview, and collect questions.
  • Encourage people to share a link to your book. It’s free on Amazon(did you check?) so it’s not a huge favour you’re asking, but you can offer a prize (we used a paperback) to a randomly selected guest who has shared. You’ll need to run this until the next day, to give people a chance to get round to it.
  • Encourage people to review your book. Again, this will need to run for longer. Give people a week or two after the event (reminding them before the deadline) and then you can award a prize to one that you select at random.


Most of all, pay attention to what people are enjoying and keep the momentum going.