I’m back! After a month-long sabbatical and full site overhaul, I am finally back to write deeply and fill the world with wonder!
A little side note, before plunging into the meaty material: I have been sending out surveys recently, and according to the feedback I received, the content I provide that you are all most interested in receiving is ‘writing advice’ and ‘classic book reviews.’ Which is great, because that’s what I love too!
And now, how to throw a party!
Literary Fantasy Book Launch Party
This article is a bit off my well-beaten track, but when I was surfing the web looking for ideas for my book launch party, nothing came up when I searched literary fantasy book party. The only results were things like Harry Potter-themed Birthday parties or how to host an Elevensies book reading.
Granted, those sound like fun, but not what I was looking for. I don’t have kids, and I am rather below middle class, so usually, when I throw a party, my friends know it’s going to be casual, laid-back, and chummy. It’s going to be intimate with close friends, Apples to Apples, and lots of talk about Philosophy, Theology, and Literature. While it’s a lot of fun, it’s not exactly the best idea for a book launch, where I am inviting professional people in the community, complete strangers, and families with kids of all ages. Quite the mish-mash!
So, like any successful person, I sought out a mentor, and went to the best party-thrower I know – my cousin Megan.
With four small kids and a small house, she manages to throw the absolute coolest birthday/Halloween/benefit parties EVER, and after sitting down with her for just one hour, I had better ideas for my party than I had come up with in weeks!
(Btw, you should check her out on Instagram! Being super mom, she’s got the most amazing cozies for sale!)
I’m going to show you everything I did, price estimates, and what I think was most important for a successful evening.
The Basic Elements of the Party
1 majorly helpful aspect of a book launch party is to identify a color scheme and stick with it. For a book launch party, it should probably be the main colors of your book cover. For me, I chose blue, gold, and white because not only are they my book cover colors, they are also the flag/battle colors of the main capital in my fantasy world.
These colors worked out better than I could have hoped, because lots of things are blue or gold! And I remained flexible on exact shades, because I could only afford ($$$) to be so picky. But to be honest, I think it actually turned out looking better that way. Your eyes didn’t get too tired from staring at the same exact hues all night.
If you have many colors on your book cover, then I advise choosing only three, with preferably one of these being white or black. When you’ve got white or black, you’re more likely to find the things you need in a color you can use!
I had LOTS of games at the party! 1 for kids, and 3 for adults.
Crown Toss Game
My cousin said that toss games are the secret to party success with little kids! “If you put them in front of a ring toss, they’ll be fascinated for hours,” she said. ‘Last time, two of the kids started fighting over who’s turn it was, and to me, that means it’s a hit!”
She also pointed out that it was a good trick for when you don’t have much room at your venue (which I did not), because it’s an active game that keeps the little ones localized, instead of foot races or something else more underfoot.
I did some brainstorming (because I wanted my ring toss game to adhere to my theme, and Bozo’s Buckets just wasn’t in my book), and finally settled on a crown toss! With only gold wall border decoration and pipe-cleaners from the dollar store, the Crown Toss was a big success!
What You Need:
- 12 gold wall borders with ends stapled together ($2 at dollar store)
- Handful of color-themed pipe cleaners with ends twisted together ($1 at dollar store)
How to Play:
Have someone man the station to make sure that the kids line-up and take their turns. On their turn, each kid is given three round pipe-cleaners to try three times to toss it round one of the crown points. They can stand really close to the crown, as it’s not easy. If they get it, they get to keep the crown and take it to the decorating station to be King or Princess for the rest of the night. If not, they are free to get back in line and wait for their turn again. If they already won a crown, they are free to come back and keep playing just for the fun of it!
We weren’t too strict on the rules, though, since there were more crowns than kids.
Name the Character Game
Literary Fantasy is few and far between – something that, oddly, I have discovered only after I wrote it. I wasn’t trying to be unique or against the flow, it’s just the way I wrote.
This was a book launch, so I wasn’t able to quiz people on my own book because they hadn’t read it yet. So I had a problem, at first, thinking of literary fantasy books that I could reference to give people an idea of what to expect from my own work.
But then Meg suggested Narnia, and the ideas started flowing! Lord of the Rings, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Prydain Chronicles, The Odyssey, Beowulf, etc…. these are all literary fantasy, even though we often think of them as only classics.
So I made a game from them!
What You Need:
- Poster Board
- Online printed images of your favorite literary fantasy characters
- Printed sheets of numbers and names of characters
How to Play:
Glue/tape the pictures to the poster board with numbers beside each picture. Hand out the sheets with the numbers and character names, and let your guests decide which name goes to which picture.
BONUS: You could also PLAY THE GAME YOURSELF!
Description and Image Game
My mom suggested this one, and it’s a great game to play for your book when no one has read it yet!
What You Need:
- Pictures of characters or places in your novel
- Descriptions of characters or places in your novel that match the pictures
How to Play:
Print pictures on one side of a piece of paper, and the descriptions on the other. Have your guests match the description to the picture.
Name the Place Game
You need a map of your fantasy world for this one! It’s less a trivia or wit game and more of a match-up.
What You Need:
- Map of Fantasy World
- Small pictures of individual locations on the map
How to Play:
Print the small pictures on a piece of paper, and have your guests study the large map to name each place on the paper. It’s a good way to make people curious about your world and novel!
While doing research, Meghan found advice that stated, “If you have a big enough centerpiece, you don’t need a bunch of small things.” I don’t know who said it, but they were quite right!
We decided on a balloon arch, which was simple and beautiful!
What You Need:
- Color Scheme Balloons (for me, it was gold, white, and blue in equal parts) ($3)
- Balloon Tape ($3.99)
How to Assemble:
Blow up the balloons and insert them into the balloon tape. After that, drape the strip above the focal point of your party. I waffled between the place where I would be signing books, and the place where I would be reading a chapter aloud. I finally decided to wait until I got to the venue to set up, and then I let the space speak to me. I put it above where I was reading aloud, and it made me feel like a queen!
I bought yellow and blue cloth flowers from the dollar store for giveaways, and used the leftovers to make a bouquet on the food table.
My sisters are amazing! I’m pretty sure they are real angelic Seraphim come down from the heavenly host to help me through life. I just hope I’m able to return the favor. 😉
They’re artwork is amazing, and they’ve put it at my disposal by creating custom pieces for my book! We framed the pictures and put them all over the room. I’ve put together a gallery so you can see the pictures too! I can’t wait to publish an edition of the book with artwork inside!
This was the highlight of the event, and the thing (besides my books) that I spent the most money on! But I really wanted to properly thank people for coming, so I think it was worth it.
I had two free Raffles for the evening, one for kids and one for adults.
What You Need for Adult Raffle:
- A customized mug from Snapfish (regularly $12.99, but I got it for $5.99 with a discount. Snapfish is usually offering discount codes on their site. At the time I’m writing, they have mugs available for only $3.90)
- Nice color-scheme candy ($1.69)
- Color-scheme cloth Flowers ($2)
- Gift Cards from Local Businesses (Free)
- Clear plastic bag/basket wrap from dollar store ($1)
- ribbon/pipe cleaner ($1)
How to Assemble
Put gift cards, candy, and flowers inside mug and then enclose with clear plastic and ribbon/pipe cleaner.
What You Need for Kid’s Raffle
- Customized Stickers ($4.99×3; I used 3 images from my sisters, but you could make the cover of your book into stickers also)
- Candy ($2)
- Color-scheme foam filling ($1)
- Mason Jar (I got one from the house)
- Clear cloth bag (found in the house)
- Cloth flower ($1)
How to Assemble
Put stickers, candy, and foam filling in the mason jar. Then put the whole thing in the clear cloth bag. I was only going to use the mason jar, but then I found the cloth bag in my household wrapping supplies, and it made it a little prettier.
These are like the raffle, but I used them for incentives for people to sign up for my website. I had them next to me as I signed books, and gave them out to anyone who told me that they had signed up for thefairytaleblog. Again, I spent more on these because I wanted to thank people.
What You Need
- Color scheme paper bags ($9)
- Color scheme cloth flowers ($15)
- Color scheme notebooks ($9)
- Color scheme pencils and pens ($5)
- Homemade tiny stationary (materials I had in the house)
- Color scheme candy ($2)
- Stickers ($1)
I had a basket of various bookmarks, which were a lot of fun to make!
What you Need:
- OR just a printer
There are a bunch of tutorials and Youtube videos out there to give you inspiration! If you’re good at origami, there are a ton of fun options, but if that is not your strong-suite (like me), then just stick with something simple – like printed versions of your book cover images, with your website name on them!
I bought dry snacks – yellow and blue corn chips, and yellow and blue candy, plus some apple cider!
How to Run the Party
Ok. So you’ve got all the stuff! Now, how do you host the party?
First of all, the best decision I made was to ask my brother Tim to MC the event. It really took the pressure off of running the whole thing by myself!
We began the evening with the games – the best way to break the ice! I also signed books almost right away, in case there were people who wanted to leave early.
Half-way through the night, we asked people to turn in their games, and while Tim sorted through to see who the winners were, I read a chapter aloud from the book.
That was my favorite part! I LOVE reading aloud! Then, to my surprise, people started asking me questions afterwards, and I realized that I should have scheduled that in to begin with. It was such a nice spontaneous thing to happen! I definitely underestimate how interested people are in the creative process behind author’s works, so I won’t make that mistake again!
Then Tim announced winners and handed out the prizes. I went back to signing books. The evening ended very soon after that, although we did run rather late. It was such a magical evening!
In retrospect, I went a little over-board, and all the things I did were not strictly necessary for a successful evening – but they were a lot of fun!
The most important elements were the things I loved, and that’s what you should concentrate on too. Do you like decorating? Then go for it! Reading aloud? Make it the center of the evening. Mingling and talking? Then don’t be shy!
Don’t feel like you need to do every single thing listed here, or that you find on other sites. If you hate reading aloud, then chances are, your audience won’t enjoy it much either. If unstructured mingling gives you anxiety, then that might be uncomfortable for more people than just you.
I’d recommend doing at least one game, plenty of printouts of your book to decorate the room, and just relaxing and having fun! This is your day to celebrate you! Enjoy it!