My first novel The Crest debuted on Amazon on December 10th, 2018. Well before it’s release, friends and family began asking me about a book launch. Given other festivities held in December, hosting a book launch didn’t make sense to me.
Deciding to Host a Book Launch Celebration
For weeks, I hemmed and hawed about what to do. All the while, friends and family kept reminding me that they were keen to celebrate. Before I could host a book launch, I had to understand its purpose and structure.
“Who would want to come and hear me read?” I asked myself on more than one occasion. At the same time, I started listing the names of potential invitees. I also created a second list of when and where to host it, types of refreshments to serve, and so on.
Venue and Invitation
As my list of invitees grew, I considered venues. If only ten people came, I could host it in my living room! If I opened it to the public, I would need a public venue. Since my list was lengthy without inviting the public, I decided on friends and family only.
Once I had a guest list, it was easy to choose the location: the social rooms in the tower where I live.
Next, I created an invitation and sent it out. If everyone came, I could expect well over 100 guests, but – according to statistics – that would not happen. On average, the turnout is ten percent, but fifteen people didn’t sound like much. By the week before the event, 45 folks had replied to say that they would attend. Yet, as the day approached, the numbers dropped due to illness. In the end, 30 came.
What to Serve
Refreshments! Following the lead of some artistic friends, I set the time of the event for late afternoon/early evening. I couldn’t ask my friends and family to attend a function that might fall within their dinner hour without offering food and drink. I had no way to serve warm food, so I created a buffet-style menu without it. I served wine and cheese, coffee, tea, soda, juice and water. I also served crackers, cold cuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, dips and assorted nuts.
I worried about preserving the food once it was set out on the tables, especially how to keep it chilled over several hours. In the end, I suggested ice packs. They were placed on the table and the serving dished were set on top. Worked like a charm!
Organizing the Venue
I considered the venue itself and decided the best way to organize the seating. I wanted my listeners to have the best vantage point for hearing the readers. Together with my helpers, we created a semi-circle of chairs. I brought two tall chairs from my kitchen and sat them in front of the fireplace. It was all very cozy.
Wait a minute! “Readers with an ‘s’?” you ask. Yes! I was hosting this occasion to share with friends and family, some of whom are very talented writers, including Ki Kwiatkowski, Gaelle Planchenault, Brie Wells and Carol Tulpar. I thought it would be nice to have them spice up the event by reading their work too. I didn’t want the event to be just about me. Another friend and writer, Elizabeth Mitchell agreed to introduce everyone.
Expectations Can Change
In my mind, I envisioned a sort of open-house event. Folks would come and go as their afternoon/evening schedules dictated. I didn’t expect attendance to be more than 15 people at any given time. As it turned out, most came early and stayed until the end.
I am blessed to have very generous, supportive people in my life. They embraced the varied program, and encouraged the other readers too.
I suggested in my invitation that I would have copies of my book for sale during the event, and I invited other authors to bring their books too. I thought I’d sell three or four copies of The Crest. I sold many more than that, and again counted my blessings.
While I thought the event a success, I know that I could not have done it alone. I must express deep gratitude for the volunteers who helped me organize it and tidy up afterwards, for those who kept the event moving along while I focussed on my duties as hostess and a reader, and for the others who read for my audience.
As my guests collected their coats and began to leave, I felt content. I had never taken time to think about me, my book and the significance of the event. The event was for my friends and family. It was about making them comfortable and welcome, keeping them interested, and allowing them a place to celebrate. Judging by the smiles, hugs and words of congratulations that I received as they departed, I achieved my goal.