Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.
~ Joseph Pulitzer
The book launch for my debut short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point has happened.and I’m still going around in overwhelm. First off it went well – we filled the backroom of The Rivoli and everyone had a good time. The Rivoli want my publisher and his authors and the entertainment (Sunny and Shane) back next year. So, my publisher is happy.
But I learned a few things from the experience and I’m passing them along for anyone out there organizing and experiencing their first book launch. Some of the points also are pertinent for doing public reading.
First I’d like to state that I was in a state of shock and operated on automatic pilot throughout the three hours. Not from nervousness, not from the time change overnight to eastern standard time, and not even my always time-strapped life. It was a phone call from a friend earlier that morning. And if you want to find out about that you will have to read my other blog’s post this week at http://www.onlychildwrites.wordpress.com
Now on to lessons learned.
When you are on stage at a club or pub, the lights may be too good – you can see what you are reading but you can’t see beyond the lights into the audience. You have a bright-light blockage. I like to connect to my audience when I read.
The next day (and thank you Shane for waiting until the next day) the editor at my publisher’s said I had read too long with the second and last reading. For one story, I had attempted to combine reading story excerpts with filling in a few storyline gaps. My editor said he saw a few people fidgeting. (I blame this one on being in shock/autopilot as I did the practice for this at home after the phone call). However, I am taking my editor’s advice for next readings. So time yourself to the second when you practice and when onstage reading, check your watch at the beginning and glance at it a few minutes later.
Mingle more with your guests. I did a lot of mingling, going around to tables chatting with my guests during the first part of the meet and greet and signing books. Then I sat down with my son and his girlfriend to talk to them. But I invited some friends to the table and also got up a few times to talk to others. I stayed put after that, except to go onstage to read. My police consultant came up to the table just before the music started so we didn’t have time to say much. I can’t carry on a conversation over performances on stage and don’t like to talk when authors are reading. After all the readings, friends and colleagues came up to say “hello” and for me to sign their copy of my book. But I wished I could have talked to them all more. I didn’t even see my cousins from out of town until afterwards – I joined them then. My son said that now I know how it is with him when one of his bands has a CD launch. I know that people do come in late and have to leave early and that can’t be helped. One of my friends later told me she would have liked a longer mingling session.
And connected to my other blog’s post – don’t try to arrange transportation, including car pools, for anyone coming to the launch. Just give them the location and directions there.
It also helps if you get enough sleep, which I hadn’t and still haven’t lately.
Besides the photo at the top, you can go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/writershane/sets/72157631935084560/ In the audience photo, the fellow who looks like he is napping is my son. I’m not there because I’m on stage.
And if you click on my book photo below, it takes you to Amazon.
Next week back to more of the ins and outs of writing fiction with brief information about my upcoming readings, etc.
Sharon A. Crawford