Book launches and how to survive them
I wasn’t really looking forward to my book launch. There were aspects of it that were wonderful to anticipate: seeing some people I really love, eating some delicious chutney (Smy chutney, not my own home-made stuff) and enjoying some wonderful cheeses. There were some last minute surprises of a very positive kind, like Barefoot Wines pitching in to provide the superb Californian tipples that my guests were lucky enough to sample. I knew the good pots would be a hit, as they had promotional pens given by Gardening Tools Direct and lovely courgette seeds donated by Thompson and Morgan. And little bags of fruit and vegetable shaped sweets … that was always going to be a big hit! But, to be honest, I gave up sleeping, eating and enjoying life for about a week before the launch.
I’m not a natural self-promoter (very few writers are) and so the idea of standing in front of people and talking about my book was nauseating. And yes, I have done this kind of thing before, but never solo. Promoting an anthology is soooo much easier, because you can talk up the work of writers you admire who are published alongside you, rather than puffing hot air into your own collapsing ego.
Still, I did it. The venue was amazing. My dress was a triumph. The food was brilliant. Loads of people wrote limericks (two literary agents and a publisher got together to judge the limerick competition) and even more drew vegetable portraits. 72 people walked through the doors and 40 of them walked out again with a copy of “Minding My Peas and Cucumbers” – some of which got signed, but if you were one of the people who didn’t have time at the end to get a signature from me, just let me know and we’ll sort something out. There are pictures here of most of the evening and there’s even a YouTube Video although I don’t intend to link to it!
Having lots of things for people to do really helped – it stopped me being too much the focus of attention and allowed everybody to be doing things, rather than staring at me, expecting me to do something clever or entertaining. Allotment folk are quite competitive too, so the contests led to some good-natured rivalry which was fun to observe.
I loved most of the evening, panicked through some of it and really hope that the same is true of book launches as they say it is of childbirth – that you forget the pain by the next one …
Thank you to everyone who came along, you were all amazing, and I hope you had as good a time as I did.