Of Book Launches and Chocolate, by Leona Wisoker

Of Book Launches and Chocolate, by Leona Wisoker

Here is a guest post with excellent tips for a great book launch, by author Leona Wisoker. Leona shares some details of a very successful event (in Williamsburg, VA) to launch her first fantasy novel, Secrets of the Sands, published by Mercury Retrograde Press.

She also showcased several artists, and a massage therapist. One artist had done a preface map for the book, others had done artwork based on the book’s story. The cool thing about involving and highlighting professional friends, artists, literary associates – especially any who had some role in the creation of the book . . . they likely will promote the event to their own networks.

Of Book Launches and Chocolate
by Leona Wisoker
author of Secrets of the Sands (fantasy novel)

The launch went amazingly well – I had hoped for 20 people, and over 70 showed up. We sold out not only the stock for the launch, but also the stock for RavenCon (a local SF/F convention in Richmond, Virginia, the following weekend). So I had to scramble to get more copies to sell at the convention. Good problem to have!

Over 30 people also came to the after-party (my house). It was a tremendously fun time. I credit much of it to having gotten friendly with the local SF/F community over the past 3–4 years. They knew me from MarsCon and RavenCon, where I had worked as a chair massage therapist and also volunteered when I had time left over. When I expressed surprise at the strong community turnout, someone told me, “Well, you’re one of us. It’s always great to see one of our own ‘make it,’ and we want to support that!” Others just complimented my choice of venue, noting that the chocolate shop was as much a draw as the launch . . . !

[That’s right, the event was held in a specialty chocolate shop, Coco Chocolatier. Now, wouldn’t you show up for that event?? For your book launch, pick a fun place that people want to check out for lots of reasons, including you and your new book!]

The preface map artist was not local, but actually lives in New York; his name is Ari Warner and he came to town just for my book launch. (He also did the map for Larissa Niec’s Shorn, another great book by Mercury Retrograde Press.) Gail Engle is the jewelry artist, and she is local (Newport News), as is the doll artist, Angela Wade. We also had a chair massage therapist at the launch, Cecelia Edic, who lives in Virginia Beach and has been working MarsCon for years (she’s the reason I got in on that gig in the first place, and I was delighted to have her attending my launch). She stayed busy the whole time! Another draw during the launch was my effort to raise money for Heritage Humane Society, the local animal shelter . . . so I had quite a few things going on during those five hours to keep people entertained, which I’d have to say, thinking back, is probably one of the most important things that drew folks in.

Some other things I learned from my first book launch:

  1. Lists are worth their weight in gold. So are Post-Its.
  2. Be specific when asking for help. “Bring a case of Pepsi” is much simpler than “I’m putting you in charge of the sodas.”
  3. Make contacts before your book even gets accepted for publication. Join book groups, writing groups, photography groups, whatever your interests are. Become part of your target communities; give generously of your time and labor. Paradoxically, the best way to get success from this is to sincerely give for the sake of giving, without asking for or expecting any return.
  4. Facebook is your best friend when you need to advertise events on the cheap. This also requires a long build-up of “presence,” however, just as in point #3.
  5. Three hours is more than enough time for a book launch.
  6. Plans made months in advance will all be completely null and void by Launch Day. Make the plans anyway! Just don’t get attached to them. Regard them as good practice.
  7. Always have your launch at an excellent chocolate shop. It makes for a near-guaranteed success (and if the launch is a flop, at least you’ll have chocolate to console yourself with).

Leona Wisoker is the author of the fantasy novel Secrets of the Sands (Book One of Children of the Desert). For more info, visit: http://www.leonawisoker.com. For more on the launch, visit her blog (http://leonawisoker.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/my-first-book-launch/).

“The author creates a lushly visual and highly detailed world of desert tribes, a language of beads, and a unique way of viewing the world. VERDICT: This series opener features an exotic desert culture and strong male and female characters and should appeal to fans of Middle Eastern culture and folktales like the Arabian Nights.”
Library Journal review

Leona has also published short stories and is a reviewer for Green Man Review. She has lived in Florida, Connecticut, Oregon, New Hampshire, Las Vegas, Alaska, California, and Virginia; has experienced the alternate realities of Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Long Island, and Italy; and believes that “home is wherever my coffee cup is filled.” This is currently in Virginia.

(You’ll find more Writer’s Handbook Blog tips for great book launches here.)

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