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We are two short weeks away from the SCBWI conference in LA. I love listening to advice from authors, agents, and editors. I've got a journal full of notes on the right and even proper things to do as an author in any stage of career. Folks are very generous with encouragement. However, sometimes I think we hold back on the bloopers. Maybe I'm just the lone goofball, but truthfully I've not always been right and I'm rarely proper. I've made some missteps. No, I've made some bonehead decisions. As promised, here's another "What NOT to do" as a debut author.

How not to treat your book launch like a baby shower:

1. No formal invitations -- Yes, I did that. In my mind, it was a party and parties have invitations. To point out the obvious, invitations are a waste of money. Everyone you have an address for and would invite is going to be there anyway. Instead, use email and word of mouth in addition to the publicity generated by the bookseller. We had a great turnout for my book launch, largely due to word simply getting out.

2. No snacks -- Those 10 pounds of personalized (Be your own icon), periwinkle colored M&M's seemed like a good idea at the time. And they were a hit. But in my case, the B&N Customer Relations Manager -- the fabulous Patti -- planned snacks from the cafe. My M&M's weren't necessary. Besides, people are in the bookstore to find great new reads -- not to celebrate the birth of your book. Be sure to encourage the reading not the eating.

3. Don't forget to mingle -- You'll probably have great representation from your family and friends at your book launch. These people love you and know all about your book. However, I had to remind myself that the launch is for the public, and the bookstore is a public place. Scout the folks you don't know and stretch your reading audience. Hand-sell your book. There's no better time.

Finally, I did do one thing right. T-shirts. My people (family, store staff, friends) wore special T-shirts personalized with the book cover. I even handed out some as swag. If you were in the book store on that day, you couldn't miss the hype about a great new book, THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 19th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC)
Lovely post! A few thoughts...

Cafe snacks are great, but serving some sort of food and drink is gracious and (at least in Austin) expected.

I'd caution against wine/beer/alcohol in general, though, if the launch is at a bookstore or other public venue. You're inviting the possibility of an ongoing presence of discomforting folks, who're lingering to take advantage of the drinks.

I've seen customers wander by, kick back a couple of glasses of wine, and start asking inappropriate questions or talking loudly during the presentation.

Besides, it is a "youth" literature event, and do you really want to police who's serving themselves?

I agree about e-invites for public events. But I wouldn't rule out hard-copy invitations if it's an exclusive party--a private party at the author's house or limited guest list event. I've seen more established authors launch first with their nearest/dearest before taking it on the road.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
Cutest picture ever -
Jill, that is the cutest picture ever . . . thanks for sharing your experiences and valuable insights at the conference!! You rock!!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )