Launching your book in style (even on a tight budget) – Part 3: Decorating Your Venue

Karen McTackett By Karen McTackett, 19th Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

You have decided on your venue, you have worked out where everything will go, and now it is time to work out how you will decorate! Decorations can be as basic or as fanciful as you would like and my main advice would be to consider the impression you wish to create. In Part 3 of the series, I will tell you about the vision I had for decorations, how I attained that vision on a very tight budget, where I sourced my decorations from, and a few tips and tricks I learned along the way.

Decorating Your Venue

This is Part 3 of a series: "Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget)"

Read the Introduction HERE
Read Part 1: Finding Your Venue HERE
Read Part 2: Organising the Layout of 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 discussed the layout of my venue and some ideas to help you. In Part 3, I will tell you about the vision I had for decorations, how I attained that vision on a very tight budget, where I sourced my decorations from and a few tips and tricks I learned along the way.

Matching the Decorations to my Novel

“Awakening” is a horror/fantasy novel. The mood is light at times but there is always a dark undercurrent and there are a few rather horrific and bloody scenes. To work with the content of my novel and help bring the room into some aspect of the setting within, I knew very early on (as mentioned in Part 1: Finding Your Venue) that there should be a nice splash of red. The venue itself offered a crucial atmosphere that flows throughout my novel: closed-in openness. Heavy dark curtains and low lighting hanging from a high white ceiling gave the room that sense of being confined in an open space. But there was no red. There was a lot of brown and white that at least would not contrast too heavily with my intended “bloody” decorations. To install a further sense of dark and foreboding, I wanted black and to off-set these two drastic colours, I choose to have a thread of silver to represent my novel's lighter side and sense of optimism. Unfortunately, I do not have many photos that capture the decorations.

Bring a Friend!

Once I had my colour scheme, a friend and I revisited the venue with my layout plan to work out what I needed to get. He was an absolute godsend at a time when my brain had a million thoughts attacking from a billion angles. If I can advise nothing else, I insist you have a friend during your planning. Preferably one with a sense of creativity and logic – or a team of friends that have these qualities between them. My ideas were big and often overzealous so to have someone who was not as emotionally invested to ground me and point out the logistics was invaluable.

Decorations List

Below is a list of decorations I decided I should have (that my friend agreed with):

* Table cloths (red)
* Napkins (black)
* Vases (Red or clear)
* Pebbles for the vases (black)
* Flowers (Black)
* Blood splatters/hand prints

You are probably thinking, “That isn't much!” and you would be right. I wanted the decorations to add to the mood created by the music, the venue, and my presentation, not create it entirely. Any more and they would have started to take over as a talking point – thank you to my friend for not allowing that to happen. The other reason the meager decorations were appropriate is because the main character of my novel had no memory of anything before the moment she arrived in my novel. Everything fascinated her and unusual objects scared her, so it made sense to avoid having too much clutter and too much visual stimulation. If your novel's character is eccentric, or the setting is elaborate, or there is a plethora of visual cues and sights, then yes, more decorations would be suited.

Shopping on a Budget

Now that I had my list, it was time to go shopping. I had a clear visual image of what I wanted and yes, I did have to be flexible with that image but I was still very happy with what I managed to purchase and the ridiculously low amount of money I spent – it was less than $40.

Table cloths (red)

I would have ideally liked to have had a blood red velvet covering my tables, but as the venue was providing me with thick white table clothes, I decided to go with an extremely cheap option. I purchased 3 large square red plastic table covers from the Reject Shop. At $2 a piece, I was not missing the velvet at all.

Napkins (black)

Napkins were an easy one though I knew black may be difficult. I search around at all of the local discount stores but ended up finding them in a party supply store for a price no more than I would have spent elsewhere.

Vases (Red or clear)

I purchased my vases from Spotlight. They were a clear red glass and I now use them as candle holders. I could have probably reduced my cost further by going to the Reject Shop but sometimes, you find something that you don't mind spending a little bit more on for the quality. They were still only $4 each and I purchased three – one for each large table.

Pebbles for the vases (black)

I purchased the pebbles from Spotlight as well simply because they were there when I was purchasing the vases. I had not seen deep black pebbles at any other store so I got these while I could.

Flowers (Black)

Black material roses were ideal for my purposes and I picked them up from one of the discount stores. I had no interest in fresh flowers so they were perfect.

Blood splatters/hand prints

These were a special addition for the secret mission I will discuss in a later chapter. I wanted hand-prints and blood splatters that could be stuck on the walls and I found them on E-Bay for a few dollars.

In addition, I was very lucky in that when I was setting up on the night, the venue Manager asked me if I would like to place candelabras on the tables. They absolutely finished off the look and gave the whole room an eerie glow. If I was do re-do this same launch party, I would add those to my decorations list though I suspect it would push the price up rather heftily.

If you are on a tight budget, discount shops are the best places to go for decorations. The quality may not always be the best but you really only need it to last for one night. For those more difficult to find items, E-Bay will always be a great source of weird and wonderful. I searched blood and my word, the magnificent things that came up blew my mind. If I had a more extensive budget for decorations, I would have had my guests drinking red wine from hospital style “drip bags”.

My First Stop Next Time

Since my launch, I have become aware of a few other great places to shop. Resource recycle warehouses are popping up all over the place. There are two quite close to my venue site. These warehouses remove recyclable waste from companies and offer them to the public at prices that barely cover their own costs. Here you can find material, foam, picture frames, wood, piping, stuffing, plastic, containers, drinking cups, straws, balloons, streamers, toys, and just about anything you can think. When I hold my next book launch, once I am ready to consider decorations, they will be my first port of call.

You could also try garage sales, markets and fairs, and even searching on Gumtree or posting a request on Gumtree. For those who are unfamiliar, Gumtree is a popular site in Australia that is similar to E-Bay but without the auction style of purchase. Buyers and sellers contact each other directly and work out an agreeable price, etc. There is a free section and you could certainly ask for donations, lends, or maybe even offer a copy of your book as a trade.

My Advice

There are a endless options available to you when in comes to decorating and where to purchase your decorations. My advice is to decide on your budget and stick to it. Stick to is like your book depends on it. Remember, it is not about the decorations, it is about YOU and YOUR BOOK. Use the decorations to bring your story to your guests but do not over do it. Subtle clues and odd decorations relating to your story that get people asking questions will be much more successful than a room in which your guests are blown away by the amazing decorations... but forget the name of your book!

Part 4: Sweet Music

In Part 4, I will tell you about one of the best decisions I made: To have a live musician. I will tell you why I made that choice and how I was able to find musicians willing to audition for the opportunity even though they understood that I did not have a budget to pay them. I will tell you ways in which I was able to give a little back to the wonderful musician I chose, as “payment” for a brilliant night's work.

* Read the Introduction to the Series - HERE
* Read Part 1: Finding Your Venue - HERE
* Read Part 2: Organising the Layout of your Venue HERE
* Read the poem that inspired the novel, "Awakening" - HERE

Awakening is Available on Amazon - Search for Porle Joen. Copyright 2012

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)
* Part 2: Organising the Layout of Your Venue (star 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
Finally - a place for Self-Published authors to find readers!

Awakening (poetry - dark)
Busted (poetry - humorous)
Renewal (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.


Author, Authors, Authors Resources, Book, Book Launch, Book Promotion, Book Signing, Book Writing, Books, Decor, Decorate, Decorating, Decorating Ideas, Decorating With Vases, Decoration, Decoration Tips, Decorations, Vampire, Vampires, Writer, Writing

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
19th Jan 2014 (#)

Good morning Porle. I am passing this series on to a friend who owns and operates a publishing company that works with self-publishers. This series will be of great benefit to many, if not all of his clients.

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author avatar Karen McTackett
19th Jan 2014 (#)

That's fantastic! Thank you so much Jerry. Point them to the article "Finally - a place for Self-Published authors to find readers!" as well as I have a blog that advertises self-published authors for free and I can advertise the company on there too. Every little bit helps us indie authors :)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Jan 2014 (#)

You've got it Porle.

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author avatar Karen McTackett
20th Jan 2014 (#)

You rock Jerry! My blog advertises article writers. Let me know if you want to be in it! :)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Jan 2014 (#)

OK, Porle, I will let you know.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
23rd Jan 2014 (#)

Nice post!

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