Well, I finally had a book launch. Why did it take so long?
Better still, what is a book launch?
After the miracle of being published comes the hard and necessary work of selling your book. My book slipped unobtrusively onto Amazon and like entities in April, my official publication date the 17th. Still, there had been no public ceremony around its landing on the market. Naturally, when you publish a book you want to have some fuss to be made about it, and sell as many copies as you can. So my marketing coordinator went about looking for a place that would launch my book.
The event was predicated on the schedule of my “home” book store, the venerable Boulder Book Store. When COVID hit, the store paused in-store events. The people at the bookstore were just opening up the process again when we contacted them. We got hold of them in May and found that the first slot that was open didn’t come up until August. We grabbed it.
So what does a launch consist of? The author reads a bit from the book, is interviewed, answers questions from the audience, then signs purchased copies. That’s it. Hopefully, you and/or your book are interesting enough to entertain an audience for an hour.
I was having nervous fits. Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder I am still struggling with, I wondered if I was capable of getting up in front of people without passing out. This is a marked difference for me, as I was a stage-loving comedian ever-so-long ago. My sang froid has dissolved into panic.
Luckily, we got Ron Bostwick to do the interview. Ron is super-good at interviewing people, as a radio host at the Colorado Sound, as a producer at the Boulder International Film Festival, and as much much more. We worked together, and he still cracks me up. I thought he would be the best possible choice for the job.
I went and checked out the venue. It’s in a beautiful upstairs area at the Book Store, cunningly rearranged to fit a small crowd. The thing that struck me was the sheer number of books on display, perched on every available surface. Suddenly I had a vision of my gloomy little tome floating off into the ether of a back room somewhere there, covered over by an avalanche of new titles. Steven Piersanti writes, “For every available bookstore shelf space, there are 100 to 1,000 or more titles competing for that shelf space.” Yikes.
None of this research gave me reassurance. Why was I so nervous? Afraid of losing my train of thought in pubic, judged incompetent. Worse still, working to an empty room, something I certainly and horribly had experienced as a standup. The night we were booked into a tiki bar on the southwest side of town. The owner had us work to an empty room “in someone comes in.” So we did our routines for the barman and waitstaff. They sat quietly, unwilling to disturb us.
Now I was hawking a book, and there was no two-drink minimum.
Is it easier to promote something you did that’s apart from you? I am happy to report that it is. When I arrived the evening of the book launch, I was directed upstairs to an office, where I signed multiple copies for the store, and even got to write a salutation in their keepsake book. The place was set up for 30, but we got 40, making things pleasantly crowded.
Thanks to Ron, who kept serving up great questions for half an hour, then worked the crowd for their questions for another half hour. (Mercifully, Ron began questioning me right away, so it turns out I didn’t need to read aloud after all – whew!) Then people came up for personalized signings. It was just like it is in the movies, kids, and it feels pretty good.
It was a great deal of fun. Friends from many different crowds interested, and the enthusiasm was genuine. I even saw old friends from high school. It was very affecting. I was completely bedazzled by the whole affair. My thanks to everyone who made it happen. Now, buy it!