The Near-perfect Launch

Over two hundred readers crowd the room, some already lined up for an autograph. Phones flash, click, snap or whatever camera apps do. Books quickly disappear from a pile on the table, and your hand cramps up from signing. Obviously you’re Lawrence Hill.

But if you’re not Larry, then if you’re lucky (and I am) most everyone from your writers’ group shows up, some people from your gym class, a neighbour or two, a couple of bookshop devotees. You get 50 happy people, many of whom already own the book and/or have read several drafts. You sell 20 books. Congratulations, you’ve hosted the near perfect launch.

Since I have been so lucky several times, I have over 35 books published, I want to share with you the secrets of my success.

  1. Find a good place to celebrate. My goto is A Different Drummer Books. Ian Elliot’s store is cosy and he creates beautiful displays. In this store setting my attendees can buy other people’s books too (each others’.) Set your phone calendar alarms, November 5, I will launch The Artsy Mistake Mystery at the Art Gallery of Burlington.
  2. Ask your publisher for a budget. Shock of shock, they may have funds set aside for this.We didn’t serve this at the launch. But for a few moments there were Hollywood cupcakes.
  3. Plan for the best refreshments you can afford. Link or theme them to your novel, if you can.  Make sure they’re a treat for you (in case you end up alone.)
  4. Let whomever’s left of the press in your area know. Email the editors everything you would like the public to read about the book and the event.  I sent a long note to my community paper and they published it verbatim.
  5. Invite everyone with whom you associate, the mechanic, your hairdresser, preferably by a printed card. Usually not possible so resort to E-invite, Facebook event and individual emails. Individual is key. Each person should feel as though they are wanted. And they are! Your friends from Weight Watchers, your aqua fit crowd. They may not come but they may buy books at another time.

    Favourite props on a couple of the grands, natural born puppies.

  6. Plan to talk for a few minutes about the story. Bring a prop associated with it, a cap, a box of secret letters. Think about the questions people usually ask and answer those–where did the idea come from,( not how much money you aren’t making these days, please, please buy the book) Read a short excerpt. Do it with energy and a smile–unless the dog dies in that scene.
  7. Have your friends take lots of photos and post them all over social media. My writer friends are naturals at this.
  8. Share your launch with a good friend. Deb and I always have the best times.

  9. Enjoy yourself. No matter what the sales numbers end up to be, or whether your book ends up on awards list–this is a huge achievement and this book launch is for you.

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The Comic Book War

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The Comic Book WarThe Comic Book War by Jacqueline Guest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all a big congratulations to the author Jacqueline Guest who has just been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour. She is a lively writer who strives to encourage kids to rise to their full potential.
Honestly, it’s a strange coincidence that I just finished reading The Comic Book War. I’d put it off because I didn’t want to read yet another story with the backdrop of World War II. But the cover kind of pulsed at me from my bedside pile of potential.
I loved The Comic Book War.
First of all it’s a great home front story with a different perspective on the war. Robert Tourond is the youngest brother of four left behind as his siblings go off to fight. The way he deals with his anxieties about them is to read comic books and predict the outcomes of battles through their plotlines. He develops a deep superstition that he must read every new issue to keep his brothers safe. In order to earn money for his obsession he works as a telegraph delivery boy alongside a wonderful strong girl character Charlie. It was fascinating to read about this delivery process. I can’t imagine having to deliver countless missing in action telegraphs to parents after a big battle.
Jacqueline used great skill to incorporate comic books we won’t know in a way that we can feel the main character’s passion for them. The takeaway for me is that art, in this case comic books, can be a great source of comfort and distraction in times of trouble. As a grandparent of eight, arts educator, and writer (and former comic book lover) myself, I also am reminded that we should honour whatever our young people are interested in.

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