So…it seems that my approach to book proposals was on target. That first publisher, way back when, actually liked the proposal and said she’d be interested in publishing. But, here’s the catch: she needed to see the complete manuscript. I had to admit that this seemed like a reasonable request since I had a very limited track record as a writer at that time.
So, I buckled down, got to work and completed the manuscript. The good news for me was that this was the last time I had to do that. For the next eight books, I was offered contracts based on the proposal only. In the end, that first book was accepted and published. Then, what was supposed to happen?
This week I’ve been thinking about that very question as I introduced a colleague at the launch of his new book last week. The book is Media Mediocrity: Waging War Against Science. I introduced the author Richard Zurawski then sat back and thought about what an author expects from a book launch.
When I held my first book in my hand all those years ago and looked at the cover, I had so many expectations. I recall thinking that a book launch ought to “launch” the book into the marketplace. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But the real purpose of the book launch is this: to celebrate a singular accomplishment.
I’ve had a few book launches in my day. My first book resulted in a reception at a hotel with numerous invited guests. Oh, I forgot to mention – unless your name starts with “O” and you have no need for a last name, you will probably have to pay for that book launch yourself. Yes, you’ll talk about your book, maybe even read from it if anyone wants to listen. You’ll sign and sell a few books, but remember that it’s really a party.
My favorite book launch happened two years ago when I launched my memoir Another Pointe of View: The Life and Times of a Ballet Mom (Dreamcatcher Publishing). The most personal of all the books I’ve ever written (or am likely to in the future), the book tells the story of my journey on the periphery of the work of the elite ballet dancer. The ballet dancer in my life happens to be my son who is now 22 years old and dancing in Europe with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.
I knew that I’d like to celebrate the book, so I had to find a way to interest people beyond my family and closest friends. That’s when it struck me: if they won’t come to learn about a book (not a lot of people actually attend book launches as a part of their regular social calendar), I knew that they’d come if I invited my son to get on an airplane, bring along a colleague and dance for us at home – something that he had not done since his early training: he left to attend Canada’s National Ballet School at the age of eleven.
On that beautiful spring day, Mother’s Day to be exact (a book about mothering seemed a brilliant fit time-wise), Ian and his partner Nikki danced for us and they came in droves.
A successful book launch just takes a bit of creative planning – and a willingness to pay the bills.