On the 18th February, I flew down to Wellington for the inaugural Kiwi Book Feast with six other New Zealand authors. The concept being that sharing the costs involved with a launch, and sharing the publicity, and the work load, would make all the more impact. And it did.
Having seven diverse authors all marketing the Kiwi Book Feast to their own networks was far more effective that slathering the city with posters and tweeting into the ether...
For an inaugural event, it was a learning curve, deciding on the run sheet, the catering, the venue, the date, the time, the authors, the layout. A hundred different decisions. For an event we hope to repeat around the country - with future books, some new authors possibly, who knows, it's a fluid thing.
Potentially a library or a bookstore may have been a better location, although holding it in a bar ensured fantastic food, a flow of beverages, and a dedicated sound guy, and a stage. So there were plenty of pluses!
We had a lovely bookish Wellington crowd, and plenty of Twitter personalities turned up to support us, which was fabulous. And I was blessed by two friends flying down from Auckland to surprise me. I should have worn waterproof mascara...
We were also all very grateful to the support given to us by the New Zealand Book Council. They've just launched their beautiful new website. You should go and have a look at it - NZ Book Council Website
Ten things you need to know for a book launch, anywhere in the world:
Sensible shoes. I sat down once, for about 10 minutes, over the four hours of the event.
Cash - have a float. $10 notes, $5 notes. Just enough to provide change if everyone only pays with $20 notes.
Have a display which is sympathetic with the content of your books. Historical? Have a couple of vintage props. Western themed? Horsey type props. Science Fiction? Not sure where you'd get your hands on some space junk, but maybe cobble something together!
Extension cord... I have battery powered lights which I tuck in the side of my suitcases, but I did note that one of our authors came prepared with a multi plug and an extension cord. Pack it.
Mailing List Sign Up Sheet. I've put that in bold, because I didn't have one. I must pack this into my book display suit case. That's this weeks job. Pack some pens too. Practice signing your book.
Price List - People don't like to ask the price of your books. They like to see clear signage showing the price of one book, two books, or the complete set. Make it easy for them.
Books. Self explanatory. But also book type things that can be slipped into your books, or into handbags. Nothing bulky. A bookmark, a postcard, all with your book and contact information printed on them.
Don't sit behind your table. I know lots of people feel more comfortable doing this, but I'm more a stand to the side, or stand to the side in front of the display. Its easier to engage. Easier to pass the book to a prospective customer. And on the topic of your table. Buy a table cloth. If you can't afford a table cloth, use your top sheet and iron it first.
Dress to impress: You're trying to portray that you are a professional, that you're serious about your writing. You don't have to go all Annie Hall, but maybe think beyond your usual old jeans and t-shirt. At the first two NZ Book Festivals I went with a long skirt and a velvet jacket. At the Kiwi Book Feast I wore smart jeans and a white cotton shirt, with a brooch. I felt smart and comfortable. The brooch was a nod towards the vintage theme of my books. Something to think about.
Smile. Smile and engage. Ask the people at your table about the weather outside. Ask if it's improved, or if the rain has finally arrived. Weather is a very safe topic. It's an easy opener. Even if you're shy you can say "Has it stopped raining today?" or "Isn't it a lovely day for being out and about". Give it a go. Relax and have confidence in your work. That'll flow through to your own personal confidence. Good luck.