I've been reading some articles about book launches - How to have a book launch in London when you don't even live there by Elizabeth Baines in particular but also how to throw awesome book launch, what I learned from my first book launch, etc. Here are some points
- Venue - Consider a big city (e.g. London) rather than your home town. Decide whether to use a bookshop.
- Tone - Treat it as a party/celebration, but don't forget to circulate.
- Selling - Make it someone's job to take the money. Don't just sign copies, ask people what they want you to write on their copies.
- Sharing - Invite other poets with books to launch? Have a musical interlude?
- Expectations - Don't expect to cover costs. Invite everyone you can (family, friends, maybe a few more famous people) - invitations double as advertisements for the book. Use Facebook (maybe set up a Facebook event), writers groups, etc. Don't expect many people to turn up.
- Review copies - Many publishers think that review copies don't even lead to reviews let alone extra sales, but a poetry collection that has poems from many magazines might be dealt with more generously?
You can have more than one "launch" of course. You can also arrange a virtual book tour, use open-mike sessions, etc.