Book Launches for Beginners.
My new book Jerry Lewis Told Me I Was Going To Die is being released this Saturday (May 6th) and to celebrate the occasion I’m hosting a Book Launch at the Capreol Curling Club from 2-4pm. It should be a fun event and everyone is welcome to come listen to me read a short excerpt.
But I have to admit up front that I’m no expert on book launches. I doubt I’ve been to a half-dozen in my entire life. Still, it doesn’t take long to learn a few tricks to help survive enjoy the experience.
To aid those of you who may be nervous about attending your first book launch I’ve compiled a helpful list…the Top Ten Things to Know Before Attending a Book Launch:
- Eat before you arrive. I’ve learned, through embarrassing experience, that even if a launch offers food there’s no telling when the plates will be served. Having your stomach rumble louder than a transport truck isn’t ideal public behavior, trust me. My event has light snacks but they won’t be going out until AFTER I finish reading. A hungry audience is, after all, a receptive audience. Once fed, attentions wander. And I want everyone focussed on me and my supposed genius.
- Talk, mingle, have fun. Books intimidate some people, I’ve no idea why. Reading is my happy place. But, for those of you still traumatized by that 3rd grade book report, know that attending a book launch isn’t like visiting a library: hushed whispers and “best behaviour” are not necessary. Be yourself, chat with friends, laugh at the author’s jokes…just try to restrain from throwing things when it gets corny.
- Why no Q&A? A lot of authors like to arrange their launches with a partner, usually a friend, to ask questions and make sure things run smoothly. Unfortunately, as my friends and family will tell you, I’m not good at sharing. I want the limelight all to myself. So, it’ll be just me at the mic. Don’t worry I never run out of things to say…shutting me up is the challenge.
- Which leads to the most important point: Try not to fall asleep. Authors like to hear themselves talk and so tend to drone on far too long. My advice is to grab a coffee early, before the clueless author (in this case me) begins blathering. Don’t worry, I’ve trimmed my remarks to a tight twenty minutes. (Far better than the two hours I’d originally scheduled—without an intermission.)
- Do you HAVE to buy my book? This the #1 question people are too shy to ask. Let me reassure everyone: No, you are not OBLIGATED to buy a book. I don’t have undercover agents taking down names or anything. As far as I’m concerned just coming out to show your support is enough. Though some polite applause would be appreciated, thanks.
- Are you expected to read the book? If you decide to buy a copy—or, better yet, several…remember, books make great gifts!—don’t feel that you have to read it. Not right away or ever. I have a shelf full of books that I still haven’t got around to. And it’s a big shelf.
- Honesty ISN’T always the best policy. If you do read a book and then meet the author, you can admit it wasn’t for you. Don’t beat yourself up trying to find something to praise. That said, there’s no rule you have to list every little thing you didn’t like. Luckily for me I have thick skin and so will smile no matter what readers tell me…good or bad.
- What’s even the point of a signing? This is your chance to meet the author and exchange a few words. I’m hardly an A-lister, more like Y (as in “Why is this guy writing?”) but that’s not the point. Besides, there’s zero chance you’ll get tongue-tied around a nobody like me. I couldn’t manage more than a stunned expression on meeting my literary hero in 2003. Don’t be shy about getting your book signed. It’s a huge ego trip to be asked and I’ll happily stick around until everyone’s copy gets defaced by my illegible scrawl.
- Tip generously. A lot of book launches are small affairs, run on shoe-string budgets. Mine relies heavily on friends and family. My publisher and I are covering the all the costs…except for the bar. That’s a pay-as-you-go affair. And, considering the bargain rate the venue is charging, it is probably the only chance the Curling Club has of making a profit. Please slake your thirst from their stock.
- Lower your expectations. No two book launches are the same. Mine is an informal affair. I want to be comfortable and, since I’m a regular guy, things will be low-key. I won’t be wearing a tie…or even shoes. It’s a sock-only day for me, like every other day.