You remember that our May guest was Lucy Coats? She talked about the masses of research she had done for her latest YA novel, Cleo (published by Orchard). Well, last month the book was thoroughly launched at the Thames-side apartment of a friend, which is rapidly becoming the go-to venue for all History Girls and their guests.
The first rule of any launch party: get a book cake made!
On the left, the fabulous cover of Cleo designed by Thy Bui. On the right, the equally fabulous cake made by a friend of Lucy's (this one was hand-painted but there are sites you can find in the Internet which will make you a cake topper based on a photograph).
The room was dressed with appropriate detail:
So, what to do if you don't have a friend with a fabulous apartment? Candy Gourlay recently wrote about book launches (and she has attended a couple by the Thames) and makes it clear that you cut your party coat according to your cloth. Those readers of this who aren't writers might be surprised to discover that we have been organising these things ourselves. "Isn't that what publishers' publicity departments do?" I hear you ask.
The fact is that publisher launches are increasingly rare and if you want a splash, you must part with some cash. Many bookshops, especially the independents will be having to host your party without charging room hire as long as you organise the food, drink and glasses. And your editor will graciously come and say a few words, relieved that you haven't thrown an author wobbly and deminded cocktails at the Ritz.
And if you've written a historical novel, so much the better, as these lend themselves best of all to a little room-dressing and indeed dressing up.
Nothing says Ancient Egypt like a few gingerbread pyramids on a tray of soft brown sugar sand! And a quick trawl of the Internet will bring you some essential items, like a pink plastic flamingo:
And who are these people? You will invite some journalists and reviewers in a spirit of hope for some attention to your book but you will be lucky if one or two show up. Bloggers are usually happy to come so choose some who write about your genre or books for the age group your title is for. But paper the room with your nearest and dearest, family and close friends, who will be genuinely happy for your book and listen with rapt attention to the reading.
But beware of cultural differences when checking your RSVP list: I recently discovered it's customary to bring a "Plus One" to parties even when that hasn't been specified on the invitation - a complete no-no in the UK.
If your launch isn't in a bookshop, see if you can get an independent bookseller to come along with copies for sale. It spreads the word and people are very amenable to buying books when mellow with wine and charmed by your set dressing ideas.
Above all, enjoy yourself! You've written and published a full-length book, something that thousands of people dream of doing and very few achieve. Let your hair down - maybe twist it up into an elegant style or wear a hat or a wig, like the amazing Sarah McIntyre. (try the About or Events pages to see what I mean!)
My next launch will be of Shakespeare's Ghost and I'm definitely willing to dress up. But I need a beautiful young man and a baldy with a beard to be the bard. Any offers?