It’s true; people will form a long queue and wait patiently while you sign books. You don’t need to write a little essay in each book – just write a line or two and sign your name.
Last week, I went to a book launch. The strange thing is, the book launch was my own. This sounds like a dream come true and although the night was fabulously fantastic, the lead-up was exhausting and nerve-racking. I mean, seriously stressful. In the spirit of all things writerly, I’m sharing my learnings, so when your book launch comes around you can avoid some of the pitfalls I made a habit of falling into.
Relax. Okay, that may sound obvious, but this is an amazing journey and something many writers dream of, unfortunately if you’re stressed to the eyeballs you won’t enjoy the ride. At the risk of sounding like your mum, I ask you to take a few gentle breaths. Don’t misunderstand me and hyperventilate. I mean slow cleansing breaths. I know what you’re thinking and I also have no idea what this actually means. People kept saying it to me but to be honest, I would forget and just rush through each day like a speeding bullet train, but it sounds like great advice and definitely something you should do.
Try to prioritise sleep. You can’t perform well if you’re tired. It’s probably a good idea to give yourself some wind down time at night and not stay up until the early hours in the realm of social media. Oh yeah, and eat well. I have a stack of chocolate in my desk drawer, and I don’t necessarily think this is something you should do. By eat well, I mean consider consuming green smoothies (let me know how they taste), and other home-cooked meals.
Don’t get sick. I mean it. I did. I lost my voice. Usually, I feel better once a cold gets to the lost voice stage, but not this time. I was sick for eight days before I crawled to the doctor’s surgery. Doc gave me these amazing little pills called something or other cillin and I started to magically feel better after a day. Look after your voice; accept this as true, you will need your voice on launch day!
This is important. Do. Not. Read. Reviews. Truly, believe me, I read them and it was baaaaad. Why do we focus on the negative when there is so much positive? I have no idea. I had three days of abject misery. I roamed the house wailing and asking myself, why? Why did I write a book? Why did I submit it to a publisher? And what was I thinking? The whole book thing is a bad idea and I should press rewind and forget the whole project. I was rather pathetic I’m afraid. I bothered my writer friends in a panic. My friend James really got me through this one (many thanks Mister) and I gave myself a serious talk. I want to be a writer. This is what I have always wanted so I have to learn to live with bad reviews right? Nah! Just don’t read them. My publisher has banned me from reading reviews and every now and then, sends me positive ones so I can tweet them to my heart’s content. Seriously, read reviews if you must, but only when your next book is out.
Write down some notes for your speech. Maybe not the day of the launch though. Give yourself plenty of time to practice. Scripting your speech means you won’t forget to thank important people and if you’re quoting statistics or referring to legislation, it’s probably helpful to have it all written down.
Try to choose an outfit with a pocket. That way you can store said speech there for safekeeping! Planning is a great idea. You could shop for a new outfit or plan what to wear a few days in advance of the launch. Don’t do what I did: I ordered a very cool Slyvia Plath enamel pin for my favourite denim jacket and then promptly crossed off outfit on my to-do list. This meant the morning of the launch, I took everything out of my wardrobe, put it all on, took it all off, put some of it on and took some of it off, all while my husband deplored my fashion skills. I was then amidst spring cleaning because I had to put all my clothes away again. Actually, it would probably be easier to buy something new. No, not another enamel pin, I was thinking more along the lines of an outfit with a pocket.
Hit up a few mates to live tweet throughout your book launch and while they’re at it, they should take lots of pics too. They can post their pics all over social media and you can repost, regrann and retweet at a later date. No, I don’t mean in the toilets during the launch. Believe me, there is no time for that. You will be busy signing books.
It’s true; people will form a long queue and wait patiently while you sign books. You don’t need to write a little essay in each book – just write a line or two and sign your name. This is not the signature you use at the bank. This is your author signature. Practice this before launch day. I found it easy to sign books for strangers but for family there was so much I wanted to say. Don’t. You don’t need to write it in a book. Hug them, write love you and sign your first name. Maybe leave off your last name. Oh, and date all signed books, just the year will do.
To help with book signings, get a friend to go along the queue getting people to write the first name of who they want the book signed to on one of those sticky post-it notes. This means you won’t stress about spelling people’s names wrong. You must not spell people’s names wrong in the book they have just bought. Really, just use the sticky note thing.
And that my friends, are the lessons from my first book launch! If you need help, ask for it, there is always someone who has been where you are going and writers love to share their experiences.
PS Just remembered, please don’t ask early bird guests at your book launch to help you move the furniture around!!
Photo Credits: Teena Raffa-Mulligan
More information about Jenna’s Truth can be found at the Aulexic website.