Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My very first contract was for a cozy mystery called Where the Truth Lies, which I co-authored with Janelle Mowery. The book released in 2008. Since then, I have been very fortunate to have one title release every year. But in all that time, with all of the marketing, interviews, and promotions I have conducted, I have never hosted a Book Launch Party.

The reason? Overwhelming, debilitating, paralyzing terror.

See…I was never the popular kid who got invited to the birthday parties. In fact, I never even had my own birthday party because I was too afraid no one would show up! Okay, so that wasn’t the only reason. I did, after all, grow up in the middle of farm country where our nearest neighbor could only be reached by phone or smoke signal.

Still, the plain and simple truth of the matter is I used to have nightmares about sitting all alone with a pitiful little cake in front of me and a solitary candle sputtering to an agonizing and dismal death. So is it any wonder when a friend and co-worker suggested we host a Book Launch Party for my Edge of Freedom Series, my heart tried to beat its way out of my chest?

 I came up with excuses: It’s a busy time of year. I’m not sure what day will be good. It’s too far into the series so there really isn’t any point. My friend stared at me, unblinking, and said, “Let me rephrase. We’re having a Book Launch Party. It’s on the 18th. Make sure you’re there.”

I could have dug in my heels. Or volunteered for jury duty. Instead, I pasted on a smile and agreed to the date. After all, the Book Launch was still almost two months off, and hurricane season was in full swing…

But this year? This year, it was clear skies and sunny days and before I knew it, the Book Launch was upon us. Lo and behold…there was a cake, but it was by no means pitiful. I even had friends around to help me enjoy it. So what happened? What made this event unfold so successfully despite my all of my fears and insecurities? Well, along with a basketful of heavenly petitions, I developed five keys which I think can help anyone enjoy what is meant to be a celebration of their accomplishment:

1. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: My name is Elizabeth Ludwig, and I love social media. Rather than fight the pull on my time and attention, I decided to maximize it, use it to my advantage, so to speak. After all, social media is where my friends are! Once the details of the book launch were finalized, I created an online invitation and used my influencers to help me spread the word via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Also, I emailed the invitation to my church secretary and to all of the local churches where I’d had opportunity to minister. I printed hardcopies and distributed them to the public library, fellow parishioners, and co-workers. More importantly, I made sure that people knew they were welcome, and that we had a fun evening planned.

Key #1 to hosting a successful book launch? Do like facebook and “share.”

2. Hard as it is for me to admit, even work-driven, overachievers like me can’t do everything. That’s why I am so thankful for a few, close-knit family members and friends who were willing to take on some of the tasks for the night of the book launch. The list was simple—thing like posting updates and scheduling tweets. I even pre-wrote a list of tweets to post throughout the event, so that my husband could simply paste the messages into the compose box, and then attach a picture. For me, this was much better than scheduling tweets, because using the pictures helped those who couldn’t attend get a glimpse into the fun. Lastly, all of my tweets automatically posted to my facebook page which helped me to reach all my cyber-friends. And don’t forget the hashtags! For this event, anyone who wanted to follow the action simply looked for #LudwigLaunch.

Key #2 to hosting a successful book launch? Enlist friends to help you include the people in your cyber circle.

3. As I said earlier, I’ve never had any problem with the other forms of promotion needed for marketing my books. Blog articles, speaking engagements, workshops, seminars, even radio interviews have never made me as nervous as this book launch. I have, however, developed a very lengthy list of contacts from the aforementioned events, and I didn’t hesitate to contact them early and often to ask if they’d be willing to help me spread the word. This was especially effective with all of the local promotion I’ve done over the past few months, especially the book club chats and library speeches. I also utilized my contacts in the local media and tried to get as much exposure as I could the week before the event.

Key #3 to hosting a successful book launch? Keep a list of contacts from previous or upcoming speaking events. Invite them personally to the event, and then ask them to help you spread the word!

4. By now, we’ve probably all become aware that the old way of conducting book signings has become rather cliché. People want plenty of activity, but it needs to be topical and organized. I scheduled several things over the course of the night and tried hard to keep things moving. Among the activities was an authentic food tasting with recipes from the 1800’s. We had recipe cards available for any brave souls who wanted to create their own authentic food. Believe it or not, this was big hit! I also debuted my series trailer, had a cover reveal for the third and final book in my series, conducted several question and answer sessions, and conducted a drawing for a Nook.

Key #4 to hosting a successful book launch? Plan your book launch like you would a wedding. Provide good food and entertainment, but take care that everything you do points to the star of the show—your book.

5. Jason Gray recorded an amazing song called “Remind Me Who I Am”. I’d heard it before, many times, in fact. I’d never sung it, however. That is, not until the Sunday before my scheduled book launch. I sat there in the pew, struggling with my insecurities, and then this:

When I lose my way,
And I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror all I see,
Is who I don’t wanna be
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places
When I can’t remember what grace is.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You.

Suddenly, I remembered something I’d forgotten in all of the planning and preparation—I belong to Jesus! In Him, I have value and more than that, I will live my life never knowing what it is to be completely alone.

Key #5 to hosting a successful book launch? Remember who you are—not to your friends, readers, or fans—but who you are to God.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, Books One and Two in the Edge of Freedom series. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit


  1. thanks for your insightful tips...I love to read and review many books so will keep these in mind. I love your work and still need one more book in the Freedom series to finish...thanks for sharing,Have a great day.

    Paula O(

  2. You're very welcome, Paula! Thank you for stopping by. :-)


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