Building Narratives: Is a book launch really necessary?

 There is more to that than just celebrating the birth of a book.

OVER the past few years, I have been invited to attend quite a number of book launches and advised some authors intending to launch their books. But in advising these authors, I have figured out that most of them simply want to have book launches for the sake of celebrating what is apparently the birth of a “legacy baby” in the form of a book without knowing the real reasons behind having a book launch. Some have incurred huge and unnecessary expenses, some have been disappointed by low turnouts, and like weddings some have had to pay debts months after the launch.

In my view there is more to a book launch than the glitz and glamour associated with it and its cousins — the publicity, photos and social media vibe.

 There is more to that than just celebrating the birth of a book.

In dealing with people who consult me on my opinion regarding their desire to book launch my response has always been the same, so I always ask these authors “Why do you want to have a book launch?

Most of the responses I get are rather somehow disappointing, well in my view, as I understand that authorship and writing books involve investment of time and money and just like in a business set-up, an investment ought to bring some returns. Although many are of the perception of publishing and launching books for the sake of it, I am of the view that authorship can be taken as a form of entrepreneurship (authorpreneurship) and should be accompanied by returns on investment made especially in the monetary sense. Yes, some may be quick to dismiss the monetary returns associated with the literature and books which could be “largely true if done haphazardly” but that on its own is a case for another day.

 Before I go deeper, let me explore some of the reasons why people launch books,

Celebration and Publicity

Writing a book can be a long arduous and straining process requiring discipline, dedication and commitment and entails one might have to inculcate new habits and as such completing a manuscript and going through all the stages of the publication process up until the moment you hold that hard copy in your hand calls for a celebration. Moreover, launching a book is one of the most effective ways in which authors announce their grand entrance into the authoring and writing world.

Personal branding and thought leadership

Some people launch books to position themselves as thought-leaders in particular or specialised matters. Examples of these include accomplished figures in the industry and marketplace, government and civic society amongst others. In 2022, businessman and philanthropist Dr Rinos Mautsa (pictured) launched his book The Will of Time – a fictional piece rich in entrepreneurial nuggets at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in what became one of the most historic and oversubscribed book launches  and his books were completely sold out.

Others may write specialised matters on entrepreneurship, a good example being Dr Kudzanai Vere, author of the Becoming a Person of Impact: The Six Pack Approach — a book focused on providing top-notch coaching in Entrepreneurship and Organisational leadership as well as Financial Literacy.


A book launch attracts a lot of people and presents a perfect opportunity for both the author and the entire audience to network. Over the years I have found books to be a powerful networking tool and book launches are a perfect platform for those in the academic, authorship or marketplace world to network and cross-pollinate ideas on various issues.

Book Sales

Depending on one’s priorities, one of the main reasons of launching a book is to boost sales.

One of my most saddening experiences has been to witness first-time authors misplacing their priorities and incurring more expenses in having a glitz and glamour launch without working on a quality product and executing a sales strategy that ensures a good return on investment (ROI). Some may go at length and financially strain themselves or even borrow to have a book launch in a hotel without paying their printers or without investing in printing more copies and ensuring quality publications. I have witnessed situations in which books run out at some launches and for me these are usually missed opportunities in as far as ensuring R.O.I is concerned.

If one is a first-time author and intends to launch their book, they can request their audiences to pre-order copies and then use that money to print more copies and finance their book launches. Alternatively, they can conduct a virtual book launch which is a cheaper option in terms of cost. I strongly feel that for some the peer pressure behind the glitz and glamour associated with launching a book could be too much especially if conducted without a proper pre and post-launch strategies.

Don’t get me wrong

Now back to the question Is a book launch really necessary?

Well, it all goes back to the intention or reasons for launching that book and this is usually contained in what is termed a pre-launch strategy, I have helped some authors with this over the years.

Accomplished people such as CEOs, politicians, industry and marketplace leaders may not care much about sales but about publicity and announcing their grand entrance as thought-leaders in the market. I gave the example of serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr Rinos Mautsa whose purpose in launching the book was a double barrel because not only had he sold hundreds of pre-ordered copies prior to the launch but that he had expressed his intention to direct proceeds from the book sales towards his charity work.

Those who have got the budget and want to launch their books for the sake of celebrating can launch their book/s without sweat. But even that budget should be used wisely and incorporated as part of a pre-launch strategy which I mentioned earlier.

Those who are on a tight budget should not get themselves into debt by prioritising the glitz and glamour which only last them for a day but should rather prioritise product-related aspects such as printing more copies and executing a sales strategy that places value proposition of the book to its prospects or intended audiences. People should invest more in ensuring good well-written quality publications ahead of the glitz and glamour because the former will be there for legacy and posterity whatever the subject matter may be–be it fiction or non-fiction (inspiration, motivation and self-development).

The decision to launch a book or not should be made depending with one’s intention as highlighted in this article.

Is a book launch necessary, what do you think?

  • Fungayi Antony Sox is a communications strategist and publishing consultant with a special interest in books and storytelling projects for emerging brands. He writes in his personal capacity. For feedback contact him on 0776 030 949, connect with him on LinkedIn at Fungayi Antony Sox or follow him on Twitter @AntonySox.

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