It’s been a hectic week. I had the official D.C. area book launch for “The Big Yank,” last Saturday. Of course Murphy’s Law made a cameo appearance.
I had hoped to hold it closer to the time that the book came out on Amazon (first week of October), but as luck would have it, I was on an assignment half-way across the country. I had left the booking of the venue with the promoter, who had promised me that he had every thing under control. I later came to find out that he did not set up an appointment with the venue until I was back in the area, and able to attend the meeting myself. At that time, I was somewhat unsure of why I needed a “promoter” in the first place, as it seemed like I was doing that which needed to be done.
I got busy sending out e-vites and found out some things I had not previously known. The rule for sending out an electronic invite, is very similar to any other kind of invite – expect to send out far more invites than will ever respond, or will actually turn up. Just about 50% of all e-vites RSVP’d…the majority responding “yes” and only a few “no.” Surprisingly, the “no-shows” and non-RSVPs were from people who I knew quite well. I learned not to count one’s e-vites before they are hatched!
Another lesson I learned the hard way, is not to rely on a hand-shake when dealing with someone like a promoter. Coming from Ireland, I have some “old-school” habits and doing business on a hand-shake has (previously) been one. The promoter said that he too had sent out 50 invitations ( he had access to my list, but I did not have access to his) and he expected that at least 25 would turn up. I was very pleased knowing that 50 guests could be expected. There was the possibility that others would hear of it from social media announcements, etc. and the crowd could possibly swell to 60 or 70.
The reality was that 3 people came from the promoters “effort.” They were three local politicians, who were all very pleasant, but for me they definitely did not make up for the 25 I had been led to believe would show up from the other side. Having said that, it was a lovely day – people ate, drank, were merry and bought books! I even had friends who surprised me by coming up especially for the event all the way from sunny Florida!
The moral of the story though is to plan like you are organizing the Macy’s Day parade, when holding something like a book launch. I was very grateful to have a top tier journalist from the Washington Post in attendance, but the next time, I would spend a lot of time and effort to bring in the Press and even local radio and t.v. I would also suggest not paying outside help to do that which one could do quite well themselves. I think one could benefit greatly from thinking “outside the box” when advertising a similar event….maybe putting posters up in the local businesses…having a free draw as an added attraction…things like that.
I hope this helps any writer who is contemplating having their first book launch. It can be stressful, especially leading up to it, but it is such a wonderful feeling getting to talk to people about the book and quite cool the way everyone wants to take their picture with you!