As mentioned in the post on self-promotion, our authors have come up with many ingenious ways to promote themselves and their books. This blog entry comes from Deb Baker, author of the Yooper Mystery Series, who describes the book launch party she put together for her latest release, Murder Passes the Buck (Midnight Ink, August 2006).
When was the last time you were invited to a launch party to celebrate the release of a local author’s first mystery?
That’s my answer, too.
I’ve never, ever been invited to one. But I’d love to go.
So I decided to make the debut of Murder Passes the Buck a very special blast-off event.
My favorite independent bookstore liked the idea and, best of all, they agreed to allow me to serve alcohol. Wine, I knew, was the elixir of life that would draw the biggest crowd. What’s a magical night without a special brew?
The invitations announced a launch party complete with “beverages.” Proper attire suggestions included summer casual or blaze orange (Murder Passes the Buck takes place during hunting season).
I sent invitations to everyone I knew, including my children’s teachers, the gas station attendant, members of my exercise class. If you passed me in your car every day, you were invited. I also tacked up posters at our small library inviting the entire community to share in my success.
“You invited the entire town,” my husband said, aghast. “And you’re buying drinks all night?” His voice crept up an octave.
“Not to worry,” I replied. “I left the refreshment part out of the town flyer. Only real true supporters will show up.”
I worried about everything. What if too many people came? Fat chance. What if nobody came? I’d sent out over 100 invitations. Should I have sent more? Nobody would come, I just knew it.
How many bottles of wine would I need? In case people really did come.
“Make a deal with the liquor store,” my experienced buddies advised. “Tell them you’ll buy all the supplies at their store but you have to be able to return anything you don’t use. Order four cases of really large bottles of wine because everybody we run into says they’re coming. And buy tiny wineglasses, plastic five-ouncers.”
I loaded up with wine, cheese, crackers, and chocolates. I wore my orange hunting vest and my “Herb’s Bar” ball cap. My husband was the designated bartender so he could monitor the wine consumption. Friends had volunteered to keep the bookstore clean and to stand at the door to encourage any walk-ins to join the party. This wasn’t an exclusive event and I wanted to make sure everyone coming in to browse was welcome.
I arrived early to set up, only to find a few friends already waiting. Before I knew it, the place was jammed with well-wishers. Orange hunting garb was the dominant fashion statement of the evening.
I spotted my husband, wineglass in hand, mingling with the crowd, looking proud and happy. One of my friends had relieved him so he could get into the spirit of things. He had no problem doing that.
I didn’t quit signing until the bookstore owner whispered in my ear. She’d sold seventy-five copies and she was completely out. I supplied her with fifteen more from the trunk of my car.
At the end of the evening, my favorite bookseller had a big grin on her face. Not only had she sold all of my books, but she’d had a run on the rest of the stock as well.
She couldn’t believe the energy in the store.
I couldn’t believe I wasn’t dreaming.
But I wasn’t.