Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 10, 2013

Launch Etiquette: MUST You Buy the Book?

At the Writers’ Coffeehouse in November, we had an interesting discussion about book launches. Do authors expect attendees to buy the book at the launch? Are attendees in any way obligated to buy the book?

The published authors in our group all said that while they would certainly like everyone there to buy the book, they did not expect it. That expectation was unrealistic, they said, and turned the launch into a pressure-sell situation, which detracted from the enjoyment of the event and from genuine personal engagement with the attendees.

I was happy to hear that consensus because I have been to a bunch of launches—and I don’t always buy the book.

I feel guilty when I don’t.

The truth is, I can’t afford to buy all the books of all the authors I know. So I have to pick and choose—and I hate it. I would love to buy all my author friends’ books.

But for those of us on a tight budget who can’t buy the book that day, there are still many ways to support your author friends:

1) Attend the launch. The better turnout the author has, the more likely the bookstore will want them to come back and do another event sometime, since they have proven they can draw a crowd.

2) Social media the launch. I always post the launch of the book prior to the launch, to try and spread buzz beyond our group. I want everyone to know about my friends’ books.

3) Do a nice write-up after the launch. I will often write a blog post about the launch, or at the very least post on social media that I attended the launch of so-and-so’s book. Keep the buzz going.

4) Ask your library to purchase the book, if they haven’t already.

5) Recommend the book to any readers you know that might like it.

6) Put it on your “Want To Read” list on Goodreads. The more lists the book is on, the more visibility it has.

7) Ask friends or family to buy it for you as a present.

8) When you do finally read the book, review it on Goodreads and Amazon.

9) Attend other, non-launch, events the author does in your area. Again, the venue will be looking at turnout.

10) Tout those non-launch events on your social media platforms, to help spread the word.

Those are some ways I can help support my author friends when I can’t buy the book.

How about you? Do you expect attendees to buy your book at the launch? Do you have other suggestions for supporting your author friends even when you can’t buy the book?


  1. This is great, Kerry! A trick I heard is to always go in the bookstore and ask if they carry the book—even if you know damn well where the book is shelved. Helps bring the book to the bookstore’s attention.


    • That’s a good one!


      • Agreed!

        Love all these ideas, Kerry. And nice one, Kathryn!


      • Thanks! And I liked Kathryn’s idea, too. Anytime we can get our friends’ book in front of other people, good things can happen.


  2. This is a gift. I want to be supportive as well, but sometimes my author friends write books in a genre I’m not interested in reading. I too try to share links, post and RT, but I feel a touch of guilt, too. I will be sharing this! Thank you sooo much!


    • You’re welcome! Even if we don’t or can’t buy the book, our spreading the word can result in more sales that might not have happened otherwise. Every little bit helps. And I promise that when I become uber-wealthy I will buy all my author friends’ books, even if they are a genre I don’t read! 🙂


  3. Really good advice here! 🙂


    • Thanks, Angela! I just read your 7-step business plan for writers (it’ll be in our Thursday link roundup) and will no doubt be returning to it when I have something to sell.


  4. What a great post! I tend to give so many of my books away because I hate the pressure of “buy me!” I love your encouragement to friends/readers/book recipients to spread the word–that’s so much more valuable than the royalty on a book or two.


    • They say word-of-mouth is the still the strongest sales mover, even in this electronic age. So spreading the word is as important if not more so than buying the book.


  5. As I’m gearing for a book launch in January, this is terrific advice. I never expect people to buy the book (although healthy sales is always a good ego boost). I prefer to have a good turn out at the event (there’s nothing more deflating than a book launch attended by your immediate family) and that everyone has a good time. But I’ll remember this too when I attend other book launches.


    • Congrats on your book! I wish you a good turnout. What’s the book title?


      • It’s a children’s picture book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas (Charlesbridge Publishing, Jan. 7, 2014,, a multicultural twist on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story with a Chinese New Year theme.


      • Sounds fun! I have a 4-year-old, I’ll have to look for it (and recommend our library buy it).


  6. Thank you, Kerry. I too am getting ready for a January launch and my first launch party. Your commonsense approach takes the guilt out of the “buy me” syndrome.Your response to the writer who gives away too many books (me too!) was helpfully focused on ‘get the word out. When so much promotion rests with the writer, these kinds of posts are very useful.


    • Glad you find it useful! The more I learn about marketing from people who have been in the trenches, it seems to be more about making connections with people than the hard sell. The connection you make with someone might not bear fruit right away, but it lasts longer and can blossom somewhere you never expected. What’s your title?


      • I agree it’s about the connections because you never know where those connections will lead. People may not buy the book at the event, but they might order it online later or they’ll buy your next book because it’s more suited to their reading taste or they’ll tell a friend who’ll buy the book. Positive engagement may yield results we won’t even know about.


      • Exactly!


  7. […] 3. Launch Etiquette: MUST You Buy the Book? […]


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