Launch Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget) - Part 2 – Organising the Layout of Your Venue

Karen McTackettStarred Page By Karen McTackett, 16th Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

You've found the venue for your book launch, but how do you design your layout to maximise the space and make sure everything runs smoothly? This second installment of the "Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget)" series will help you out with practical lessons learned from doing. Come on a journey as I tell you about my experience and share what I learned on the way.

Organising the Layout of Your Venue

This is Part 2 of a series: "Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget)"

Read the Introduction HERE
Read Part 1: Finding Your Venue HERE

In the introduction, I gave you the background of my launch experience and why I decided to write this series of articles. In Part 1 I told you the story of how I found my ideal venue and gave you some tips on finding yours. In Part 2, I will show you how I organised the layout of my venue and tell you why I made those choices along with a look at what worked, what didn't, and what I would do differently next time.

What Now?

Once I decided on the venue, I could start considering the layout. So many considerations must go into the layout that it is truly difficult to contend with all possible issues and problems. I was very lucky in that my night ran very smoothly and I don’t remember there being any issues with the layout I chose. Then again, with a million things going on and the extreme excitement I was feeling, maybe I just did not notice. Let's go with the assumption that it worked as well as I believe it did.

I will start with a list of the requirements I needed, then I will show you in Figure 1 how I designed my layout and I will go through how Figure 1 met my requirements. Please keep in mind that I was utilising the venue's tables and chairs so I was using these to design my layout rather than the other way around. This should make it very clear to you why you must design your layout after you have chosen the venue. To design your layout and then search for a venue to suit is a waste of time as you will just need to rework everything based on what is available, what you can bring, location of power outlets, location of entry points, etc. Having said that, by all means, search for a venue based on a list on needs and wants. If you have not already, please read “Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget) – Part 1: Finding Your Venue” for more.

My Layout Needs

Once I had the venue, I could allow my ideas to develop and from this I decided I needed my layout to have the following:

- Display Table
- Clear access to display table
- Projection (small table and projector screen or wall space)
- PA system/speakers etc for musician
- Large tables x 2 and small bar tables
- Seating
- Entry table
- Secret meeting area

The Layout at the Launch of Awakening

Figure 1 shows the layout (not to scale) that I used at my book launch for "Awakening". The following sections will refer to the numbered components in this figure.

1. The Display Table

The first thing I thought about was the reason I was having this book launch... to LAUNCH MY BOOK so a display table was my number one essential component. I needed to be able to showcase copies of my book with plenty of room to store additional copies. I also had some ideas for merchandising (for want of a better term) that I wanted to try to sell as well as raffle off as door prices and I will cover this in more detail in a later chapter. The venue had a number of tables we could use so I chose one that was sizable enough for what I wanted to display without being too big. I placed it in the corner where everyone could easily see it and I left ample room for guests to come up and inspect. I also needed to ensure I had a clear walkway to the display table so that my guests could easily reach it.

What Worked:
* My display was visually available.
* I had ample space below the table to store gifts, two boxes of additional copies of my book, and extra merchandise as well as a nice quick stow away spot for all the little background things like scissors, extra decorations, etc.
* When I was doing my speeches (welcome, etc), the display was easily seen behind me.

What Didn't Work:
* You want your display table to be inviting and one of the lessons I learned that I will share with you is to simplify. I got carried away with creativity (as is my style) rather than just dedicating that display table to my book.
* My display table looked “off limits” so people did not approach to have a look. It looked like a museum display rather than a “test” counter.
* The table was too far away from the flow of traffic and too close in proximity to areas that actually were off limits.

Lessons and What I Would Do Differently Next Time:
* Next time, the display would be simply. It would have several copies of my book, business cards, and perhaps some simply decoration but nothing more.
* I would purposely “damage” two copies to make them look worn and leave those open on the table as my guests would have been more likely to pick up a copy that they perceive as "used" – this is simple human psychology.
* I would place my table smack bang in the middle of the main traffic area and force guests to walk around it.
* Overall, the display table at my next launch will look more like a welcoming play area rather than a “do not touch” display.
* Finally, during my welcome speech, I would ask my guests to have a look at the books and during the night, make a point of physically picking up the book and pointing things out to show people that it is OK to touch.

2. Projection

While I was brainstorming ideas during my inspections of venues, I had the idea of projecting the pages of my book onto the wall. This idea matured into a presentation that would play on a loop in the background. I will discuss this presentation further in a later chapter. I needed a small table on which the projector could sit, electricity supply to the projector and either a projector screen or a clean wall space. Luckily, the venue I decided on had a projector screen they used elsewhere in the hotel and they were very happy to bring it in for me to use at no additional cost. A quick lesson here is that you don't know if you don't ask. I used one of the venue's small available tables for the projector. I placed the projector screen at the back of the room so that it would be easily visible for all.

What Worked:
* The presentation was a hit and I had requests for copies.
* The placement was perfect. It was out of the way of traffic so there was no risk of damage to the projector or the screen.
* While doing speeches, the projector ran in the background so my photos have great little pieces of the presentation in them.
* I had the 30 minute presentation running on a continuous loop so my guests could sit and watch it – or not. It was always visible either way.

What Didn't Work:
* I had only two issues. One was that the cord had to be plugged into an extension lead that ran behind the musician (number 3 in Figure 1) to a power outlet. There really was not anything I could do about it and because of the placement away from traffic, it did not present a trip hazard.
* My computer that was linked to the projector timed out at one stage so it was blank for a good ten minutes before I realised.

Lessons and What I would Do Differently Next Time:
* The projection of a presentation was a brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) and the only small thing I would do differently next time is turn off my computer's time out function.

3. Musician's Space

I made the decision to have an acoustic guitarist/singer and I found the perfect artist to suit the feel I was after (more on this in a later chapter). I am not a musician and I was not familiar with the equipment required so I asked my musician. Together, we worked out how much space she would need, what equipment was available at the venue, what equipment we would need to source, and the best place to position her. The layout in regard to the musician was more for convenience as the power boards were located just behind her, but it actually worked out to be perfect. The musician's father accompanied her to video the session so we added a small table behind the guest tables where he could have full access without interacting with traffic.

What worked:
* There was direct access to the power.
* The cords and equipment were completely free from traffic.
* The small table for her video recording was not intrusive yet allowed a full view of the artist.
* As she was as the back of the room with three walls, the acoustics worked to help project her sound throughout the room.
* As she was away from traffic areas, guests did not need to yell to be heard and the musician did not have to compete with noisy conversations.
* The layout was conducive to the overall effect I was after – a cool, laid-back and stress-free gathering.

What Didn't Work:
* In regard to the layout, the placement of the musician could not have been better.

Lessons and What I Would Do Differently Next Time:
* In this particular case, there is absolutely nothing I would do differently.

4. Tables

I was expecting about forty guests and during the night, there would be platters of food served so I wanted to have areas for my guests to sit and congregate. The venue had several large round tables that would very comfortably seat 12 people. As there was no sit down meal, I decided to utilise 3 of these tables and an additional stand up bar table near the bar. The layout was planned to allow traffic to pass freely from the entrance, through the bar and out into the courtyard as well as to the display table and the musician's area.

What Worked:
* By limiting it to three main tables, people mingled outside of their normal social groups.
* The bar table became a drop-by hang out point as it was in the perfect position to appreciate the full layout – you could watch the presentation or the musician and you could see outside.
* The tables helped define the traffic areas.
* A nice bit of decoration in the middle of each table worked well.
* Guests tended to stay longer in one spot and were many gave some time to the presentation.
* All guests had somewhere to sit during the speeches.

What Didn't Work:
* Though the tables did help to define the traffic areas, guests seemed to shy away from using the traffic areas to go to the display table or the musician's area. This may have been affected by the bulk size of the tables.
* Although most guests mingled, there is always one group of people who plonk themselves in one spot and do not move for the rest of the night. It brings down the mood of the larger group overall and I think having these large tables may have encouraged those prone to this.

Lessons and What I Would Do Differently Next Time:
* I think next time I would try something different though I can not be certain if it would be better or worse. I would try eliminating the large tables altogether and have more sitting areas with lounges and more stand up bar tables. Perhaps a few coffee tables. My reasoning is that I feel people are less likely to remain seated in one spot if they do not have a table to lean all over and if they do stay in one spot, they won't affect the mood as much as it is not as noticeable.

5. Seating

It was important to have enough seating without turning the room into a theatre. I placed chairs around each of the larger tables and a few additional dining chairs along the wall near the display table. I also utilised two plush lounge chairs that were by the bar and moved them down to the musician's area so that guests could sit back and enjoy the sounds. There was additional seating outside so I knew this would be enough.

What Worked:
* There was plenty of seating with a few spare seats always available.
* People were able to sit and enjoy the presentation or musician.

What Didn't Work:
* As with the comment in regard to tables, there was not a lot of movement of guests towards the display table or the musician's area as everyone was perhaps too comfortable.

Lessons and What I Would Do Differently Next Time:
* As the seating was much defined by the tables, my comment here is the same - I would try eliminating the tables and seating and have more causal groupings of lounges and smaller tables.

Entry Table

I needed an entry table as I was giving out tickets for lucky door prices and also had arm bands for some guests who were included in a bar tab. This was pretty straight forward as it was placed at the entry of the room where every guest would need to pass. It worked well because as each person came through the door, my fantastic friend would give them a ticket and let them know they needed to hold on to it for a lucky draw later on. He was aware of those that needed wrist bands and that we needed to keep this relatively low-key (this will be explained in a later chapter) and by having the entry table, he could manage these "special guests".

Secret meeting area (Dressing Room – see Figure 1)

The venue I chose had one huge advantage that I was not aware of until after I had booked. There was a small dressing room next to the women's bathroom that I was allowed to use. As you will read in a later chapter, this room became a very important part in my big night. All I will say for now is that I needed a space for certain people to be able to meet away from the other guests and the dressing room was perfect. Had this room not been available, I would have utlised an adjoining room that was separate from the main room by a closed partition along the inner wall.

Part 3 - Decorations

In Part 3, I will discuss decorating your book launch on a budget. I will include how I decided on the look, which options I had for different price ranges, where I purchased my decorations with a minimal budget, and how I used them to create a look I was proud of. I will give you tips tips on ways to substitute more expensive options with cheaper options and even how you can pick up decorations for free.

* Read the Introduction to the Series - HERE
* Read Part 1: Finding Your Venue - HERE
* Read the poem that inspired the novel, "Awakening" - HERE

Awakening is Available on Amazon - Search for Porle Joen.

Other Articles/Works By Porle Joen (me!)

Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget) - Series:
* Introduction (star page)
* Part 1: Finding Your Venue (star page, previous featured page)

* Mitcham Railway Station – Thank You for 131 Years of Loyal Service (star page)
* Music Review: The Revolution is Never Coming by The Red Paintings (previous featured page)
* Finally - a place for Self-Published authors to find readers!

* Awakening (poetry - dark)
* Busted (poetry - humorous)
* The Broken Knight (poetry - love)
* Leap of Faith (poetry - love)

All poetry has been self-published in "Love, Life and Evisceration" by Porle Joen available on Amazon and KDP. Copyright Porle Joen 2013.


Awakening, Book Launch, Design, Event, Event Planning, Events, Layout, Porle Joen, Self-Publishing

Meet the author

author avatar Karen McTackett
* Professional Writer/Facilitator/Speaker
* Writing Mentoring & Freelancer
* Master of Arts (Writing)
* WRITE NOW Creator -

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author avatar Jerry Walch
16th Jan 2014 (#)

Another well thought out and organized presentation, Porle

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
17th Jan 2014 (#)

Nice post as well informative!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
23rd Jan 2014 (#)

Better and better, but my brain is niggling at me. You invite 40 people to a launch. If each of them buys one $15 book, that's $600 gross (not counting your cost to buy the book in the first place). So I hope you will talk in a future article (whether one I've yet to read or a future one you will write) about properly using the launch as a marketing tool, because these 40 people are each going to be able to generate x number of leads far above and beyond the purchase of a single book.
I promise I'm not trying to be picky -- I'm telling you what I'm extremely anxious to figure out for my next event. Please do not take my maths as criticism!!

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author avatar Karen McTackett
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Hi Rhys. Thank you for your comment and I absolutely take it in the way it is meant. :) This is the feedback I want so that I know what other chapters to include in the series. I will discuss some of my marketing tactics and I will discuss what I would do differently next time; however, you will find that this particular chapter will have quite a few external references as this was one area that I did not take full advantage of. I definitely have some suggestions that I would utilise next time. What out for more on this in the coming days :)
All the best - Porle :)

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author avatar Karen McTackett
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Oh, Rhys, I forgot to mention that only half of those guests purchased books. I had a large group of work friends that were only there for the alcohol it seems, hahaha. That was a huge lesson learned.

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