How to launch your book, by Ali Bacon (with help from Wendy Jones!)

Ali Bacon at the St Andrews Photography Festival 
We Authors Electric are a far-flung bunch, but this month, through a happy coincidence, Wendy Jones and I found ourselves in roughly the same place at the same time. 

On Friday September 9th I was reading a programme of short stories in St Andrews in Fife as part of the town’s first Festival of Photography. Wendy, who lives just over the Tay Bridge in Dundee – said she could make it to St Andrews – and by the way, she had a book launch in Waterstones in Dundee the following day. 
Some mutual writerly support was on the cards!

I won’t elaborate on my own event right now (more coming soon on my own blog) except to say that I had an appreciative audience (including Wendy!) most of whom were fellow photography fans and some of whom were movers and shakers of the early photography world. As well as getting some great comments from the audience it was a fantastic networking opportunity for me. 

Wendy Jones - yes, really!
Then next day it was over to Dundee. Wendy has already built up a following for her Dundee police procedurals, but this was the start of a new series with Young Adult sleuths Flora and Freddie ready for an audience of ten years and upwards in The Dagger’s Curse.

I arrived a bit hot and bothered after a dash to and from the bus station, and as I dragged my overloaded flight-bag into Waterstones, for a minute I failed to recognise Wendy, already holding court to an audience of families and young folk and more than suitably dressed for the occasion! 

She was also accompanied by an impressively brawny assistant bearing a silver case which was grudgingly (racking up the tension!) opened to reveal a dagger resting on a purple cushion and pulsating with violet light. Wendy – dead pan – uttered many warnings about the dangers of the dagger for anyone who got too near it, which of course made the audience pay even more attention. What a great opener that was to Wendy reading from her book.

Is this a dagger I see before me?

Throughout the event Wendy was engaged with the children all the time and introduced one who had been written into the book – cue envious looks from the others and requests for future roles!

After two readings there were plenty of questions – some of them from Wendy’s adult crime fans which I’m sure were spontaneous but of course could have been stage managed if need be. The whole event was rounded off with a serving of that irresistible confectionery, Scottish tablet!

This book launch may have been aimed at children, but it was an object lesson for me in how to do it.
  • Plan ahead .Wendy had lots of helpers, including children, the dagger-bearer ...
  • ... and the maker of tablet - refreshments never go wrong
  • Think of it as theatre - get as much drama in as possible
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously (Wendy was happy to abandon her Egyptian outfit and hold court in t-short and shorts  as time went on!)
  • Be flexible – the shop was busy involving adhoc arrangements for those needing seats etc

So all I can say to Wendy is well done and good luck with The Dagger’s Curse. 

If the launch is anything to go by, it will be huge. I only hope she found something useful or entertaining in my own small piece of theatre. 

Then it was time to go home!


The Dagger's Curse launch looks great fun! Yes, curses can do it for kids...

I used to read out the curse at the front of "The Great Pyramid Robbery" when I was promoting that one, and almost every time I did something weird happened. Broken microphone at a festival, lights going out, whatever... once I warned a group of 13-year-olds this was likely to have strange results and they all rolled their eyes in boredom, and then when I read out the curse there was a huge crash and flash of lightning outside. Hall went totally silent. Books were sold!
AliB said…
Wow - I'm impressed you harnessed the forces of nature to the cause of sales. nice work!
Umberto Tosi said…
Excellent points and your launch event sounds delightful. Wish I could have been there (one of the drawbacks to we, AE scribes being so far flung, as you pointed out. I'm terrible at putting these things together, but with your points in mind, I hope to do better with my next launch.

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