The 2 by 4 of Book Launches: the last word
Last month I launched The Ruined Land, the third book in my Chronicles of the Pale series. In next week’s post, I’m going to share what I said as well as an extract, but first, here is my Last Word of the Week on The Two x Four of Book Launches.
Here you will find four ideas about running a launch, plus four ideas for attending a launch. I’m thinking about small to mid-list authors like myself, who are probably expecting tens rather than hundreds of devotees to attend.
I’m restricting myself to only four items for each list, because let’s face it, give me any topic and I could probably write a thesis…Bwahaha!
The 2×4 of Book Launches Part 1: Launching
If you are the writer launching your book, here are four guidelines to consider:
- Whether you are running your own launch, or your publisher has asked you for a list of personal invitees, the first rule is the most important. Invite people who make you feel happy, people who love you. This is not a time to show off to anyone who has previously scoffed at your writing ambitions. Let them read the rave reviews and simmer, somewhere away from you. Your book launch is for you to enjoy!
- Your launch is about celebrating. It’s a party. The launch is not, first and foremost, a money-making exercise. You are inviting your friends to join you in the celebration, not to subsidise your writing. Selling books is a bonus – and signing them is excellent fun. But the launch is mostly about connecting with your folk, and about the excitement, achievement and relief of having a book published. Best done over a glass of wine or a piece of cake, depending on time and venue, and even better if you can have a word with every person there.
- Keep it short and stick to the schedule. No matter how much everyone loves you, there is a limit to how long they can listen to speeches and readings, especially if they are friends and family rather than the literati accustomed to going to poetry slams, or politicians inured to long sessions pretending to listen. In my case, most of my demographic isn’t particularly young, so standing for lengthy periods can be annoying. It’s better to leave your listeners wanting more instead of checking their watches wondering when you’re going to stop! Also, keep in mind that while they love you, your book may not be their preferred reading matter. That’s cool. They’re here to show their support, not as book critics.
- Appreciate the efforts of everyone who gets there, and of those supporters who can’t be there – a follow up email thanks or a social media post is good. If there are likely to be more folk than you can number off on your fingers and toes, ask one of your bestest to jot down names so you don’t forget who was there. Some authors have sign-in books, but that might make people uncomfortable. You know your crowd. Follow your instincts on this.
The 2×4 of Book Launches Part 2: Attending a Launch
- Be happy. This is a time to celebrate, to enjoy the achievement of your friend, colleague or family member. Take time out of your busy, hectic life and enjoy.
- Be friendly. There are probably folk there who don’t know anyone else, but you are all gathered for a specific purpose. Take it on yourself to reach out and speak to anyone who looks lonely. Your writer friend is bound to have invited some people that s/he knows and you don’t, and it’s important that everyone feels included. Believe me, your writer friend really can’t spend as much time speaking to each individual as they would like to.
- Be supportive. Arrive early if you can, and see if there’s anything your writer friend needs doing. Maybe you can arrange to ask a Dorothy Dixer, or be the one to zip around the room getting everyone together when the time arrives, or lead the applause – or the laughter – at the right moment.
- You don’t have to buy the book. True! Buying hard copy books is not always an option, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed or feel the need to explain. (In the same way, your writer friend shouldn’t have to explain why they cannot simply hand out free copies.) However, you can still show your support in other ways. You could offer to take photos and post the celebration on social media; you can share information and posts about the launch; you could offer physical help on the day such as carrying books or getting chairs for people. You could simply bring your friend a bunch of flowers from your garden, or a special congratulations card you have made. You were asked because the writer wants you there.
There’s so much more that can be said about launches, but that’s enough from me. I’d love to hear from you! Any suggestions about launching books the best way? I still feel there’s so much more I need to learn, and fingers crossed, I will have further opportunities to launch books in the future.
See you next week 🙂 Merry and Happy in the meantime!