It’s 10 a.m., the morning of Rebelight’s ‘super launch’ at McNally Robinson Booksellers, an event billed as “three books, three authors, one big launch”. At 2 p.m., I’ll be launching my first novel, Missing in Paradise, alongside fellow authors Suzanne Costigan (Empty Cup) and Melinda Friesen (Enslavement).
This is not my first ride on the launch rodeo. I’ve had a few over the years. You’d think this would a breeze by now, but there’s always something to worry about. First and foremost, will anyone show up? Worst case scenario, I’ll be launching to a bunch of empty chairs, a fear shared by other authors I suspect. Will I choke on my words, forget what I plan to say, omit a thank-you to someone important? Will anyone buy a book?
Preparation is the key to success so a checklist is in order. Let’s see. Did I spread the word?
- Sent out invites two weeks ago.
- Set up posters in the community.
- Snagged an interview with a local newspaper.
- Posted the event on Facebook and other social media.
Okay, the word’s out. Now, what about the launch itself? It’s just hours away. I’m expected to speak then sign books. Hmm. Am I ready?
- Wrote rough notes of what I’d like to say.
- Selected a passage to read – something inviting, something short that gives the audience a taste of my writing and the story line.
- Practiced the whole routine – the more comfortable I am with the material, the smoother my presentation. (Mental note: practice once more)
- Timed it. I don’t want to be longwinded. Attentions might drift. If I was going solo, I’d plan for a 25 minutes session, but I’m sharing this event with others so my part is closer to 10 minutes.
- Prepared inscriptions. With people lining up for signatures, it’s easy to blank out. It helps to have a few chosen words ready for those who don’t want something specific. I scratch out three options on an index card: My favourite: So glad to see you at the launch. Thanks for coming.
- Packed a scratch pad, two pens (black ink), a bottle of water, and a few business cards to take along. The scratch pad is important. When signing books it’s easy to mess up spellings, especially when people are talking to you at the same time. I write the name down on the scratch pad first then spell it back before making it a permanent feature in the newly purchased book.
- Baked and packed sweets. For this launch, the three authors are providing baked goods. Fortunately, my wife is a superb baker so I’ve cashed in a favour or two, and 4 dozen cookies are ready at the door (Okay, maybe one or two less than 4 dozen – I’ve got a sweet tooth!)
- Cut back on coffee, tea or other beverages. No chance to run to the washroom at the launch. No need for extra jitters either.
- Camera charged and ready. Someone selected to take pictures.
- Don preselected attire. It might seem like a small item, but having an outfit selected beforehand goes a long way to settling nerves. No pants are too tight, colours don’t match, oops there’s a stain on this shirt scenarios to mess up an already tight schedule.
Whew! All done. Ready to go. Deep breath to relax. Wish me luck.
The launch went without a hitch. A terrific crowd of enthusiastic supporters. Wonderful introductions by Rebelight’s Editorial Director, Deborah Froese. Great presentations by the authors. A real celebration for all of us.
Thank you McNally Robinson Booksellers. You’re the best. Thank you Rebelight Publishing Inc. What a success! Congratulations to Suzanne and Melinda, amazing authors. Thank you Deborah for making it extra special. Kudos to the bakers, and thank you everyone for passing on encouraging words or joining us on what turned out to be a chilly, but heartwarming day.