The Book Launch

[March 2010] First off, happy St. Patrick’s Day. Though my ancestry is predominantly Scottish and English, I do have a dollop of Irish blood in me and I grew up watching the Irish Rovers on television so I always honor the day by forgetting to wear something green.

How many of you writers out there—and I invite my fellow Unplugged Storytellers to chime in—have held book launches for one or more of your projects? If you have, please tell us all about them in the comments section. I’d be fascinated to hear what you do to celebrate that moment when your projects are launched upon an unsuspecting world.

Because, let’s face it—if we don’t do something to celebrate the occasion, it’s almost like it doesn’t really happen. The books show up in stores—sometimes at the same time everywhere, but not always. Usually we know the approximate day it will be released, but I’ll never forget the time Peter Straub posted on his newsgroup about how surprised he was to stumble upon a copy of The Hellfire Club in a store. No one had bothered to tell him it was out.

Though we all anticipate the release of a new book or anthology containing one of our stories, the reality is that by the time the book appears, we’ve all moved on to something else. After spending so much time immersed in the project, we’ve released it into the hands of the publisher, who in turn ultimately releases it to a printing house and it can be many, many months after that happens before the book appears. We get a reality check when the first proof versions are sent for review, but the arrival of the finished product is almost anticlimactic in a way. What are we to do about it?

I suspect that most real-life book launches aren’t much like the ones you read about in novels or see in movies and on television. Remember the extravagant affairs depicted in Bridget Jones’s Diary. On an episode of the ABC series Castle, where the main character is a successful crime writer, the book launch for his latest novel resembled a post-Oscar party: a crowded ballroom at a ritzy Manhattan hotel appointed with champagne and chocolate fountains, waitresses serving expensive hors d’oeuvres, celebrity guests arriving in designer apparel, full media coverage, and stacks upon stacks upon stacks of the book in question waiting to be snapped up.

I’m sure something like that happens for certain celebrity authors, but the reality for most of us is probably something quite different. Though I have published three books (including the one I co-edited with Brian Freeman) and have had stories in a number of anthologies, I’ve only had one book launch party. At this event, about ten people were invited for a sit-down dinner and no one bought books—they received copies as gifts instead.

I’ve never had the chance to attend the launch of an anthology containing my work. That’s about to change. At the World Horror Convention in Brighton next week, I’ll have the opportunity to participate in two launches.

The first takes place at 10 p.m. on Friday night—a launch party for When the Night Comes Down, the anthology containing four stories each from four authors, published by Dark Arts Books. Contributors Joseph D’Lacey and myself will be in attendance, though Robert Weinberg and Nate Kenyon unfortunately will not. Editor Bill Breedlove is hosting the two-hour event, where there will be Free Booze (Bill’s capitalization) and the opportunity to meet and chat with Joseph and myself. (Did I mention Free Booze?)

The second launch is for the Evolve anthology edited by Nancy Kilpatrick. This is a collection of Canadian authors writing contemporary vampire stories, from the same publisher who releases the annual Tesseracts anthologies, Edge Publishing. A fair number of the Evolve stable will be present for the launch, which takes place on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. I haven’t heard the specifics of this event. I was going to say at first that there probably won’t be Free Booze, given that it’s in the middle of the afternoon, but since this is a World Horror Convention, who knows?

Contributors attending this launch include editor Nancy Kilpatrick and authors Jerome Stueart, Natasha Beaulieu, Gemma Files, Sandra Kasturi, Ron Hore, Sandra Wickham, Rio Youers, Kelley Armstrong, Claude Lalumiere and yours truly. There will also be an Evolve reading from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, with each of us spending 10 minutes either reading from our stories or babbling on about it. These books will be well and truly launched.

So, please, fellow writers. Share your book launch stories. And here’s a checklist of considerations when planning a book launch in case someday you get the chance to do it up big, like Rick Castle.

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