Launch Event Case Studies: Liz Garton Scanlon’s Happy Birthday, Bunny! & Janet Fox’s Sirens

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Highlights of this week included two book launch parties, featuring Liz Garton Scanlon with Happy Birthday, Bunny! (Beach Lane, 2013) and Janet Fox with Sirens (Speak, 2012). Both events were hosted by BookPeople in Austin. The former featured a picture book. The latter featured a YA novel. Each modeled great ideas for authors/booksellers planning an in-store launch event.

First, let’s peek in on Liz:

Modeling Happy Birthday, Bunny! (Beach Lane, 2013) with Lindsey Scheibe and Carmen Oliver
Author Liz Garton Scanlon talks about the book!
Making bunny ears at BookPeople in Austin!
In-store display
Liz and her mom decorate the food table

Takeaway Strategies for a Picture Book Bookstore Launch

  • A prominent display of the books as customers first walked into the store
  • Economic, but colorful costuming provided in the form of paper “bunny” ear hats
  • Tie-in refreshments–sweets (a birthday cake for bunny), healthy celery and tie-in decorations (carrots in a vase) 
  • A presentation/reading with participation opportunities, geared to the youngest fans
  • A chance to move around — “The Bunny Hop”
  • Takeaways: the tie-in elements offered unity; the kid-friendly approach offered fun

Now, let’s check in on Janet:

Learn more about Janet’s books!
Janet models her new novel.
Swag, my pretties! Swag!
Dolled up with Janet, 1920s — style!
Janet in a Q&A with Austin’s own Bethany Hegedus
Sean Petrie, Anne Bustard, Janet, Bethany and Greg Leitich Smith at Opal Divine’s Freehouse.

Takeaway Strategies for a YA Novel Bookstore Launch

  • A prominent display of the books as customers arrived at the YA department/event area
  • Tasty refreshments–sweets and drinks
  • Thematic 1920s costuming (and contest)
  • Tie-in prize swag
  • Giveaway bookmarks (don’t forget the backlist books)
  • Conversational presentation (local-draw author, plus out-of-state author)
  • A more intimate after-party with personal friends
  • Takeaways: embrace the fun; don’t forget the grown-ups (who’re a big part of the YA fan base)

8 thoughts on “Launch Event Case Studies: Liz Garton Scanlon’s Happy Birthday, Bunny! & Janet Fox’s Sirens

  1. Thanks for highlighting the KEY elements to successful book launches! Much appreciated and bookmarked!

  2. I wonder if you all have any idea of the BookPeople envy those of us NOT in Austin suffer from!

    Those launches look absolutely perfect. And I'm pretty sure there were satellite bunny hops going on all over this country!

  3. Thanks for posting this! I love seeing the different ways people launch their books, and it's interesting to see the contrasts between picture books and YA. Do you suppose middle graders enjoy swag too? I'm trying to figure out what to offer them.

  4. Nice post! I also attended a book launch party in for the first time last month. It was in one of the finest event venues and I had a very good time. This is a wonderful post! everything here looks amazing. I always thought that such parties are boring but in actual it does seem interesting.

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