Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Let the (virtual) champagne corks pop! By Ann Evans

This time last week the wine was flowing, celebration cakes were baked, friends, family, and strangers alike were all invited to come along and join in the excitement...

The occasion?

The launch of my latest book, A Children’s History of Coventry. In fact it was a double celebration because fellow Sassie, Rosalie Warren was launching her first children’s book, Coping with Chloe so we joined forces for a double whammy!

It was exciting and it was fun. We’d both previously done book signings in Waterstones, but we thought why not keep those champagne corks popping and celebrate with a launch at the central library with wine, food and all the trimmings.

We’d enlisted some young ‘actors’ from a local school to read sections of our books, we had an audience, talks, questions and book signings. The whole thing was a joyous celebration – and quite rightly so. Getting a book published has to be the highlight in any writer’s life

At the same time – or to be precise about three weeks earlier, I’d managed to get four of my out of print mystery stories up onto Amazon as ebooks. Fishing for Clues, Stealing the Show and Pushing his Luck had all been published ten years ago by Scholastic. The fourth mystery Pointing the Finger didn’t quite make publication. Proof and cover stage, yes, but it never actually got to the printing presses.

So a brand new story that had never seen the light of day and three old favourites. I’d often read extracts from my dwindling stocks of these mysteries when doing school visits – the problem was the kids got a taster but they weren’t able to buy these particular books.

So, with the coming of Amazon’s Kindle it was the logical solution to put them out as ebooks. So I set to, learning how to make one, re-formatting the four stories to bring them back to life. In a couple of cases it was a matter of re-typing the whole book as the original computer files were long gone.

Then came the editing, the checking and double checking, plus of course the new series needed a new name and logo and new cover designs. Lots of hard work and lots of blood, sweat and tears (okay, no actual blood) but lots of sweat and tears, until finally the books were all ready to actually go live.

The moment came, after numerous attempts at getting the books to look right, ebook number one, Fishing for Clues could finally go live. Drum roll…

I pressed the ‘Publish’ button.

Not a champagne cork in sight. Just a message to say it would be live in about 24 hours. Mmm! Okay. Slight anti-climax.

Then a day or so later, there was an email from Amazon – a nice congratulation email true enough, and when I went to Amazon, there was my lovely ebook, sitting there, published! Finally my story which hadn’t been available for anyone to read for umpteen years was back on the shelves – the virtual shelves.

But I couldn’t touch it, couldn’t hug or handle it, couldn’t sniff or feel the shiny pages, couldn’t sign it for a friend. There would be no book launch, no book signings, and popping the champagne corks sitting around my computer just didn’t feel quite right.

Books two, three and four followed, again with a huge sense of relief and some trepidation – but no fizz!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the ebook – I love ebooks! Authors finally have some power to their elbows, we aren’t reliant on agents and editors, we’re our own bosses, and it’s brilliant.

Maybe we just need to learn how to celebrate the success of producing an ebook, to recognise it as an achievement and acknowledge it as so. Probably making bookmarks, postcards and leaflets would help – just something to sign and give away to people.

I’d love to know how other ebook writers have celebrated the launch of their ebooks. Have those virtual champagne corks been popping? Or has it been the real bubbly stuff?



Dan Holloway said...

A very interesting point - so easy for e-launches to slip by with a bit of a blog tour (if we're lucky) and no food and drink.

At eight cuts gallery press, we don't really promote print books, but we always bring out a POD print book to accompany the ebook and, in addition to a gig, we'll do a special limited edition - the first 30 editions of Verruca Music come with a musical score and free soundtrack download, The Dead Beat had a special cover and free entry for life to all our live shows, and The Zoom Zoom had a one-off handbound edition in 15 parts and folio binder (

But that's not really an e-launch. Lots of people have Facebook parties, which are great but again can pass off with varying degrees of sparkle.

One really great launch I've seen was for Pierre Van Rooyen's Saturdays are Gold, celebrated with a special signed e-edition of the book

Anonymous said...

I've never had a book launch. The books I write kind of sidle out sideways, blushing shyly and certainly not popping champagne corks, virtual or otherwise. Although for many years there was a tradition of celebrating with a bottle of bubbles whenever I signed a contract, but that seems to have petered out ...
With an ebook on the horizon I'll be interested in finding out how to launch party one though: I feel the need to do something to celebrate my return to fiction!

Ann Evans said...

Thank you for your comments.
Dan, I didn't realise what Eight Cuts Gallery does exactly. Enjoyed looking at your website. And thank you for the instruction on uploading multiple pics. As you can see, it worked!

Dan Holloway said...

It's worked fabulously - and I love the way the pics move diagonally as they go down the page.

We do 5 different things so it's always confusing - they all come under the umbrella of "overgrounding underground culture" though - publishing, exhibitions, running the Chris Al-Aswad Prize, putting together live shows, and showcasing any and every piece of underground wonderfulness we find on our blog.

Absolutely love the idea of getting people from the school to do the readings!

Ann Evans said...

Your works sounds fascinating, Dan, good luck with it all.
And yes, involving school children really lifts a launch. I got the idea after going to a another author's book launch when some teenagers acted out a whole chapter from her new book.

Katherine said...

Good point, Ann. I agree we need some kind of printed THING to give away at festivals and in schools and libraries, etc... maybe something we can sign for our fans?

Traditional bookmarks don't seem quite right for e-books, though! I thought maybe a cardboard "cover" you can fold about the Kindle itself, with the book cover printed on the front and some details on the back with space for an author dedication and signature? Or, if this is too expensive to produce, a Kindle-lookalike postcard with the same information?

What would Kindle readers like to see? Any ideas what might take the place of the promotional bookmark?

Karen King said...

Congratulations, Ann, I'm still in the process of retyping my book to Kindle it but when I finally get it up there I'd love some way to promote it. I like your idea, Katherine about a book 'cover' with info about the book and a space to sign.