Erin Thomas launched her first Orca title, Boarder Patrol, on Saturday, May 15 at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario. All this week, she is sharing tips for planning a fantastic book launch. Yesterday she discussed the importance of knowing your crowd and supporting local businesses. This is Part 4.
Last weekend I celebrated the launch of Boarder Patrol, my first book with Orca. The launch was a success, despite a few twists in the planning process. More than fifty people filled the bookstore and bought or ordered seventy-some books. We had too much food, not enough books, and lots of fun. Here’s what I learned.
Things go wrong. The night before my book launch, I received a phone call from Shelley Macbeth at Blue Heron Books. “I have some bad news,” she said. “Are you sitting down?”
After an ominous start like that, I was ready to hear that the store had burned down, or that Uxbridge had vanished into a great, gaping hole in the Earth. So when she told me that the books hadn’t arrived for my launch, it didn’t seem so bad.
We came up with Plan B: pre-orders. Between us, we scrounged and managed to get our hands on sixteen copies of the book. Those, we decided, would go to the people who had driven the farthest, or whom I was less likely to see. Uxbridge natives who came to the book launch who didn’t actually know me also got dibs on real copies. I trusted that my family and friends, and the people I saw in writing classes and through writing groups, would understand.
I put together a small poster explaining the situation, and an order form with a place for people to ask for an inscription. Shelley sold book orders instead of books, and last week, when the books came in, I started the process of signing and distributing the books to the people who ordered them at the launch.
Because of all the running around required to get “Plan B” off the ground, a few last-minute things that I had planned to do didn’t get done. None of them were deal breakers. Maybe a book launch is a little bit like a wedding, in that things probably aren’t going to smoothly, and most likely, it’s going to be all right anyhow. At the end of the day, it’s just an interesting story to tell: the bookless book launch.
In my case, part of the follow-up means delivering the signed copies of the books, as promised. I’m on it. With most book launches, this will already have been done.
I’m also writing thank you notes to as many as possible of the people who attended. There were a few there whom I didn’t know, but most are people that I have some way of getting in touch with. Many of them drove a long way to show their support for me and for my book, and I want them to know that I appreciate it. And of course, the people who brought food or helped with the planning and preparation deserve special thank you’s.
Holding a successful book launch takes a lot of work, before, during and afterwards. But on the day of, it’s a great feeling when people come out to help you celebrate your book.