In preparation for the launch of the book, I became equal parts event organizer and ecommerce specialist! I obviously wanted to have an amazing launch event. But on launch date, I also needed to be ready for all my online orders.
Let’s talk about online orders first. I already had setup the Whisk & Spatula website nine months prior. But because I was not selling anything yet, I had not activated the e-commerce portion of the website. So I upgraded my subscription on SquareSapce.com to include an ecommerce option that integrated with my shipping solution.
In addition, I set up my Amazon product page so I could sell on Amazon. Because I had no idea how things would fare on Amazon, I ended up choosing the most basic selling plan. When sales volume increased leading up to the holidays, I upgraded to the professional plan, which is more economical after you reach a certain volume of sales and also offers you additional features. I did not opt for fulfillment by Amazon as I felt I was more than capable of handling fulfillment of orders. Again this is something I can change at anytime if I ever chose to. But so far it has been manageable.
Because I was now selling, I needed to collect sales taxes on books sold any state I had a physical presence. Hence right before launch, I registered with the Florida Department of Revenue. I had already setup a LLC six months prior but had not yet registered with the Department of Revenue as I wasn’t selling anything yet. The minute you are registered with the department of Revenue you have to file quarterly taxes with the state, even if you didn’t sell anything. Hence, I waited until the last moment to do that.
I also had to prepare for the logistics of mailing books. I ended up subscribing to a service called ShipStation.com. It is a web-based shipping solution for online sellers designed to streamline fulfillment and is integrated with both my website and Amazon. So when I get orders from either, they can all be fulfilled from the same platform. I simply package the books and print a label with postage already paid. Then I just drop it off at the post, without even getting in line!
In addition to setting up Shipstation.com, I purchased all sorts of shipping supplies. The last thing you want is to get orders galore and not have the proper materials to ship them! I purchased a few different types of mailers taking into account that people purchase different quantities of books. I also bought mailing labels so I can print them at home and plenty of packaging tape to reinforce the packaging when needed. Mailing materials can get expensive so you need to do your research. I found that RoyalMailers.com offered competitive prices and good service.
Now on to the BIG night… the Launch event!
A big reason for the success of my launch event has to do with a relationship I had with a Spanish government entity in Miami. They helped me find a centrally-located, indoor venue (it was in July in Miami!) with parking facilities nearby that fortunately didn’t charge me. This probably was one of the hardest things to secure as most venues require a fee and sometimes those fees are quite hefty! This venue couldn’t have been any better! It was spacious, and it had chairs, a projector and a sound system
Because this was a cookbook launch, the event had to have food… particularly food from the book! So I decided I would prepare all the food myself. But because I knew that the days leading up to the launch would be crazy, I had to plan the menu in such a way that I could spread the work out in the days preceding the event. At the actual event, I had two servers assembling the platters and serving. If I known I would have gotten about 150 people at the event, I probably would have hired one or two more servers. Fortunately, the daughter of a friend was more than happy to help out and she was the hit of the party! As for beverages, I got a donation of Spanish wines and the distributor showed up to serve and talk about the wine, which helped defray the cost of the event.
I also had to prepare the invitation for the event. I called on my book designer @LuigiPanda to design my invitation. I shared this invitation with everyone on my email list and all my friends and followers on social media. I also printed copies that I mailed via the postal service to some people and had some available to give out to people as I came across them.
At book launches, an author is expected to talk about his or her book and my launch was no different. Some people were coming to hear about the Camino. Others were more interested in what I had to say about the food. And others wanted to hear about my journey writing this book. So I came up with a program that attempted to address all these aspects. I started off talking briefly about the Camino and what led me to embark on it. Then I spoke about my passion for food and the Camino and gave them an overview of the food of each region I walked through. Finally, I talked about the process of creating this book. I did my best to keep the presentation portion under 35 minutes and then gave ample of time for people to ask questions. I'm a strong believer that no matter how good of presenter you are, nobody wants to listen to you for more than 35 or 45 minutes!
A book launch is very much like being the bride at a wedding where everybody wants to congratulate you and take pictures with you. In addition, they also want you to sign their books… Of course, all that attention is incredibly humbling! But it is hard to do it all yourself and you need to bring in the troops to help with a bunch of stuff, particularly the selling of the book. Therefore, I enlisted two trusted friends to help sell the book while I signed books and chatted with people. I equipped them with a couple of square readers (square.com) as well as a cash box. The square readers enables one to take credit card payment using a mobile device like an ipad or iphone.
Of course, I had to have someone documenting the evening and hired a good friend, who is also an accomplished photographer, to capture the best moments of the evening!
Finally, on the same day of the launch, I also announced it to my email list as well as on social media. So when I got back home from the launch event around midnight, I already had plenty of orders waiting to be fulfilled, which is what you strive all the time, but particularly on your launch day!