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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Launch This! (A Discussion about Book Launch Parties)

That's sort of the attitude I had about throwing a book launch party. As you've heard me say a bagillion times by now, my debut novel, Crossing Oceans is releasing May 1st.

Actually, it turns out you can buy it now at Books A Million stores. Not sure why they have it ahead of everyone else, but it was quite a nice surprise to see it on actual bookshelves.

Anyway, that was a little off subject. What I really want to talk with you about today is book launch parties.

Before I got close to becoming a published author, I'd never heard of such an animal. Suddenly, I was expected to have one.

Let me tell you a story about one of the few parties I've ever tried to throw in my life. It was a baby shower for a co-worker. I didn't have enough seating, so the guests ended up on the floor. For finger food, I served hollowed sourdough bread filled with a sour cream dip. Then chips and sour cream dip. Veggies and sour cream dip and crackers and ... that's right... sour cream dip.

We all sat around eating sour cream dip, feeling a little bloated and gassy, and staring at each other until someone finally said, "Aren't we going to play any games?"

"What kind of games?" I asked. "Like scrabble or something?"

My guests exchanged glances right before excuses were made about how late it was getting and whose dog needed walking.
I'm not t a hostess. I never have been and don't care to be. So, the thought of throwing a party surrounding the release of Crossing Oceans and having a repeat of the baby shower disaster made my stomach cramp. There's a very good reason I eloped.

But like I've said before, I only get one chance in my life to debut. I want to do everything within my power to help this story close to my heart have a chance in this cold, cruel world.
I did a little research asking friends what their
launch parties were like.
I got a lot of vague answers like, "Pretty much it was just a big signing."
One friend, Austin Boyd, held his book launch party at NASA. He used to be an astronaut so he had a few connections. Connections I do not.

I knew I wanted more than 'just a big signing', but less than Command Center involvement. That was a start I suppose-knowing what I didn't want.
Still not knowing what I DID want, I took the next logical step, I googled "book launch party."
Turned out there wasn't a whole lot of information. I found this and this, but I still was perplexed about exactly how this whole to-do needed to go.

Should it be catered? This sounded like a fine idea, but I have a Ramen noodle budget with beef wellington taste. Okay, no food. Music? Does a CD on a boom box count?
I found a local bookstore that would throw it and serve cookies and punch. I thought that was about as good as I was going to do and was about to book it when I was asked by the events guy at our local library system if they could throw the party.

Um... let me check my schedule... oh I already promised it to the local bookstore, they'll be terribly disappointed. . . well... I suppose I could promise them a later signing and ... all right... you can do it.

To my surprise in having my book launch party through my local library system, I hit the PR lottery. My mug is plastered on the cover of the library magazine. Hundreds of free copies given out in every library in the area.
At my launch the library is going to have music, a local theatre group acting out part of the book, food, door prizes, a video with me and the host, River Laker, and I can only imagine what else.
Also as part of this little soiree, I'm being invited on NPR to discuss the event, two local talk shows, two local papers, a billboard, and the list goes on.

I'm sharing all this as a subtle, (or not), reminder that sometimes lightning strikes in the most unlikely places.
One connection might open the door to hundreds.
If anyone has had a successful and/or unusual book launch party, or been to one, please share your experience with us.

Publishers Weekly~ Crossing Oceans

Jenny Lucas has returned to her childhood home, a refuge of picket fences and lace-covered tabletops. But with an intensity likely garnered from years of unpublished suspense writing, debut novelist and blogger Holmes slowly unveils the hidden angst in this homecoming.

A single mother, Jenny must find caregivers who will raise her five-year-old daughter when she’s gone. She’s forced to mend relations with two possible custodians: the baby’s father, who doesn’t know he has a child, and her own cold-hearted father.

As Jenny comes to face her future as well as her past, dramatic emotions yield to an appreciation of life and an enjoyment of the grace of fleeting moments. There can be no happy ending, but Holmes ties a neat bow of acceptance around this haunting tale that packs an emotional wallop. Keep tissues near. (May)


  1. My sister gave me a surprise party to celebrate the release of my first book. It was a nice gathering of friends and family members and I was sick with a cold! However, I still had a great time! Also, I hate being a hostess, too. I wanted to elope too, but hubby wanted to have a wedding! Also, when I planned a bridal shower, I hated it! It was treacherous getting along with the other bridesmaids concerning the details, and I feel the same way about planning baby showers! Those are tasks I'd rather leave to somebody else!

  2. A girl after my own heart :) Thanks for the comment, Cecelia. You're up very early btw.

  3. Wow! You did hit the PR lottery! I love to play hostess, it's going to parties I avoid! ;) I even thought about being a party planner once. In fact, for every novel I write, I have my book launch party already planned including the acting out a scene from my book, themed food and party favors and music. Only problem is I have yet to LAUNCH a book! But when I do, I'll be ready! I've even taken your advice and put together a book launch consultation biz. Maybe that will sustain me until my own launch! ;)

  4. That's great, and something I'll keep in mind for the future. It seems so much better to be able to say the library is organizing it than to be throwing a big party for yourself.

  5. Gina, I'd forgotten that conversation. Very cool. I wish I was more of a party planner but God didn't wire me that way. Julie-yeah, I guess it does seem less presumptuous.

  6. A month ago I had a launch party for my debut novel, A Distant Melody. I did NOT want it to be about me, but rather a way to thank everyone who had supported me in the long rejection letter years. I rented a large room at my church and did simple catering - cookies, brownies, & beverages. Since my book is set during WWII, for decorations, I printed off WWII posters and put them in stands on the tables with red, white, & blue confetti and star-shaped helium balloons. I had 54 people come, spoke briefly to thank them, and did some drawings for books and book-related items. It turned out to be lots of fun. And I'm no party hostess either :)

  7. That sounds like a great party, Sarah. Simple, yet festive. My kind of event. Best of luck on Distant Melody. Lovely cover btw. I keep running into it and have been admiring it.

    I'll blog about my book launch party after the event and give you all the run down on how it went.

  8. I'm in the throes of book launch party planning myself. Ugh. The library idea is *brilliant*. If my current plan doesn't pan out I may try that. Thanks for the tip. ;)


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