The Book Launch!
The planning started some 4 weeks out — about the only thing I did right. The pattern I used was my 70th birthday bash, which had seemed to go down well.
It was a case of sorting out what I wanted to happen and what equipment, food/drink I would need to make it happen. Rebecca and I had attended two local book launches, and that was the sum total of our experience. And so began a series of lists, with lists of lists, which I gradually worked through. Of course I went overboard, I always do!
The fare was:
Smoked salmon, homemade pâté and assorted crackers, four cheeses, watermelon slices, and grapes. I found, by much trial and error, that there was a recently marketed Marlborough NZ Sauvignon blanc in a 2-litre cask, which was brilliant for the price. We had orange and apple juice, and small bottles of water and ice for the puritans. Not many of those of my acquaintance.
I hired an assortment of glasses, and a P.A. System with a cordless mike, which I’d never used before. I also asked a couple of the ladies I used to work with, for some help. I contributed to their forthcoming holiday funding!
Rebecca has hidden talents as a stage manager and producer, so I left the positioning of the tablets and chairs to her, the food and drink tables, (topped up from the little kitchen where all the preparation was done).
We arrived at 5pm to set up. She suggested the banner be just inside the entrance for maximum impact, and that I position myself to speak at the opposite end of the hall to the food/drink/entrance.
I set up the CD player from home, to play background music. The PA system, my keyboard and the story-links, (pictures of the cats and so on) were at this end too.
I did the ‘meet and greet’. People just kept coming, the first on the stroke of 7pm, which is most unlike North Queenslanders.
At 7.30pm I called the sixty or so guests to take their seats and welcomed them to this, my first ever project of this sort. I then told them of the origins of the book, the holiday in UK and the e-mails home, the places I worked, including 2 months in Norwich prison.
I told them about the appraiser of my original script and her comments and encouragement, the subsequent submission of stories and her further encouragement leading to self-publication.
I explained the concept of MIC’s (make it complex), and KIS’s (keep it simple), being like the ‘Lumpers’ and ‘Splitters’ of science, and how I always thought I kept everything simple, whereas the facts tell a different story. I do complicate things. I was advised to self publish a small book, and ended up with a double CD set, two flash drives, one for ladies and one for gents, a website to promote the whole thing with downloadable versions as alternative options! Well, it just seemed as though everything just grew, like Topsy.
I told them of the concept of the Welsh equivalent of Dai the Bread to describe my team of experts, who helped me put this together, to my forbearing and very confused wife.
Having set the scene for the story about the balloon and the cats, ‘Happy Anniversary’, I gave the mike to Dave Martin, my narrator, who then read the final half. It got a lot of laughs.
It was time to wrap up the talking, according to Rebecca waving in the background. I told them my entertainment hadn’t turned up, so if they wouldn’t mind I would do the honours, and described, and then played my composition on the keyboard, which seemed to go down well.
Then it was on to signing books and CD’s, and even one flash drive, and my first glass of wine of the evening. In future, I will have one or, max, two before the speech as it will un-cement my face from marble to something more elastic!
The guests got food and drink, convivial company, a first edition signed by the author, and the first performance of a recital by the composer! That’s what I call value for money!
The farewells and the best wishes, then, with the backup help, we were out of there, totally clean, aircons off and all packed into the cars by 9.15pm.
There it is, and God knows how many mistakes I have made, but I guess it all comes down to money, really. I have done it the way I wanted it done, and it’s cost a bit, but I’ve had control of what it looked and sounded like. I gather that’s a common beef with letting a publisher in on the act.
Now I have a product to market and, although I’m not without marketing knowledge having been in retail for most of my working life, I have a large box of folders from marketing courses I’ve been involved in. I will now have to embark on an advanced course, with practical application, on the run.
It also means that I will have to get out of my comfort zone and reach for a higher profile in society. This goes against the grain in that what I, and many others, prefer, which is to be in a hammock, under palm trees, reading a good book, like mine, with a handy glass of something cold and grapey to hand!
Then again, if I can persuade enough people to buy my stories, I may have the money to afford that sort of lifestyle.
‘If it’s going to be, it’s up to me!’