Countdown to a Brilliant Book Launch
Size, location, food and drink are all important. But the essential quality must be ambience. Book and Kitchen, a literary café in London’s Notting Hill had style, friendliness and a touch of literary glamour. Send email invites out as soon as the venue is booked and ask for a RSVP – though there are bound to be surprises right up to the last minute.
Now is your big chance to show-off your book, so make sure there are a few artful displays, including the shop window for passing custom. Someone needs to make sure there are lots of copies to sign and a till to take the cash. The Appetite for Violets bookmarks also proved popular - all of them disappeared on the night.
3 Food and Drink
If you have a theme, go for it. Book and Kitchen supplied gorgeous cheese and breads but we also laid on lavender macaroons and 18th century Soul Cakes along with explanatory leaflets. The wine and fruit juices were well chilled and flowed liberally…
After sitting in a solitary room for years it can feel pretty overwhelming to face your audience en masse. Write your speech early, get feedback from friends and do a few practice runs. It is far easier to speak ‘off the cuff’ if you have virtually learned your words by heart. Consider listening to a Public Speaking audio guide from the library to visualize the scene and calm the inevitable nerves.
5 Feeling Good
Now is the time to reward yourself for all that hard work. Get your hair fixed, wear a new outfit and get a good night’s sleep. If you are away from home, stay somewhere that makes you feel good and pampered. Face powder should keep the inevitable shininess at bay. Be wary of too much alcohol before you speak and sign your books - but you can let yourself go afterwards! You deserve it.
You will probably be introduced by your publisher and then all eyes are on you. You are an author not an after-dinner speaker so clutching notes is fine (in fact bring a spare set, too.) The audience might be expecting to hear what inspired the book, what the title means and how you set about researching and writing it – briefly. A short extract will also give a flavour of your work. It is also your big chance to thank the many people who helped create your book and remind everyone of what a terrific team helped you to publication.
7 Book Signing
Bring along a few reliable pens and it also helps if you’ve practised signing your name – especially if it’s a pen name! Your book buyers may want very specific dedications along with difficult name spellings, so book signing can be more demanding than you might expect. But it is also massively rewarding to meet and thank your fans in person.
Ideally, ask someone to take charge of photography. It probably isn’t possible to have all the photos you’d like of you with every person in the room, but a good selection for blogs, twitter and facebook should ensure your fabulous event stays alive in people’s memories long after the book hits the shops.
Martine Bailey’s An Appetite for Violets was launched on 22 May 2014 thanks to Andrew Nurnberg Associates and Hodder & Stoughton. The venue was Book & Kitchen, All Saints Road, Notting Hill. Photography and stationery by Martin Bailey.