A Book Launch Tale: Planning with Abandon

author rb frankGuest Post
by R.B. Frank

When I planned my first book launch, ignorance is bliss worked just fine for me. Most people research a topic and make decisions with their accumulated information. Makes sense, right? Yeah, too much of anything is not a good thing (even wine). I got sucked into the vortex of blogs, twitter postings and online articles. Then I realized if I spent lots of time down the rabbit hole of internet links, my thoughts would never coalesce into a real plan for a book launch. I would forever research, vacillate and procrastinate with an ever-changing definition of a book launch and never jump in.

I made the decision that my publishing date for my first book would be no later than April 30th. A PR friend of mine (all parties and promotion) said, “Well, you just have to throw a book launch party.”

Party? Was a book launch a party? Omg. Omg. Omg.

For the most part, writers like being wallpaper, invisible but there. A party meant being the center of attention. What if no one comes? I panicked with just the thought of it – a long lost recollection of the Brady Bunch episode when Peter threw himself a party and no one showed up.

And I’ve been to book signings before. They weren’t parties. The author sat behind a table in a store; or large crowds gathered to hear stunning wisdom couched in everyday language, and then the author sat behind the table; or wine and cheese lured in strangers, and then the author sat behind the table. That’s all I knew.

But I publish a first book only once and I would regret not celebrating. I knew this much: I would have the launch at my local library (a fav place of mine) and my friend happened to be the PR director there. She was thrilled. Any reason for a PR person to have a party is a good one. I didn’t know what I could or shouldn’t do for a book launch. I just knew I couldn’t bring wine (boo). I had the room, folding chairs and empty tables available. And my friend said to read a story from my flash fiction collection to show my awesomeness. (That wasn’t gonna happen.)

So how could I give my visitors a sample of my writing without feeling as if someone ripped off my epidermis and exposed my innards?

I abandoned the lure of “the next link has a better idea” and I jumped without my parachute and discovered the beauty of planning with abandon, without direction. Without the internet.

Here’s what I came up with: My book is divided into three sections of short stories. I took the first paragraphs of two stories from each section (so, very good, six all together). In MS Publisher, I created JPEGs that looked like those Read More teasers from online articles. I sent them out to be printed 11 x 14, spray mounted them onto poster board and stuck a stand on the back. The day of the event, I had a table for each section of the book and two excerpts on each table, along with a smattering of bookmarks, piles of my masterpiece and exquisite flowers. The set-up kept people moving, ensuring they’d find something they liked, and I could mingle with the safety of being wallpaper and still be the ubiquitous writer.

click to enlarge

I sold over 25 books that day. My PR friend who helped organize the event had never heard of a launch like this. Well, that was because I wasn’t sure of the rules. And not knowing the rules frees you up to be creative – in problem solving, in writing, in life.

And sometimes, when you don’t know the rules, you jump without a parachute. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead. Jump!

R.B. Frank has competed one YA novel, has a YA work-in-progress, and a published flash fiction/short story collection – Bite Size Reads. She has a husband, two kids, and a dog, and when she’s not loving on them, she’s worrying about them. You can learn more about R.B. on her website and her Author Central page.

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