No chance to make a splash: Griselda Heppel mourns the loss of the Book Launch


The Fall of a Sparrow by
Griselda Heppel

Well, The Fall of a Sparrow is out at last, hip hip hooray! Officially, that is. Publication Day was three days ago.      But given that copies have been available (online at least) for a couple of weeks already, the actual date feels less significant than it used to; and since the pandemic, even insignificanter. (Yes that is now a word. I have used it.)      Because there's something missing. 

Ahhh those were the days. Traditional launch of 
The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst at
Blackwell's bookshop, Oxford

That great JOY of bringing out a book, the fizz of excitement of a launch, the wonderful opportunity for a party with friends and book lovers queuing up to your table piled high with fresh, gleaming copies which you sign away merrily, glass in your other – third? – hand … gone. All gone.

It’s hard for even the most well-known authors not to feel a sense of deflation; but they at least will have publicists stirring up excitement on social media and reviews in the national press. For indie authors with a much smaller public profile, the loss of the book launch means the loss of your one chance to make a splash, not to mention a goodly number of sales to start the new book off.

Griselda Heppel ready to sign piles of fresh, gleaming copies of 
The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst

Never mind. There’s a certain amount you can do. I plucked up the courage and announced a giveaway competition on social media. Incredibly, the idea didn’t fly on Twitter (honestly, you just can’t get the RTs these days) but did much better on Facebook, where people were genuinely thrilled at the chance to win a FREE copy of The Fall of a Sparrow, and shared my post many times. 

 And how’s this for a pleasing ending to the day? As I enquired at Daunt bookshop, Summertown, about my book, the woman who’d just been served said, ‘Ooh, great title. I’ll buy that.’ Turning to leave, she came back and said, ‘I’ll buy two copies. Will you sign them for me?’ 
Daunt Books, Summertown, Oxford

Of course I would. Like a shot. What a pity that, Publication Day or no Publication Day, stocks still hadn’t arrived at the bookshop. All because of, yes, you’ve guessed it, the pandemic slowing everything down. Books leaving the printers a month ago haven’t even been registered at the wholesalers, for heaven’s sake. 

Honestly, I don’t know why we don’t just scrap the idea of Publication Day altogether.


Peter Leyland said…
That looks really exciting Griselda, the picture of the kids with the books especially, although I know that wasn't The Fall of the Sparrow. I'm waiting on my grandson's response to his copy. Initial approval was expressed. I will have to ask him to review it! All best from me.
Kirsten Bett said…
Hi Griselda, on my tbr list! And thanks for the tips. I am publishing my first book soon but only as an ebook first so then book launches would be wasted on me anyway. (I am publishing an English book in the Netherlands, will translate it too though.) Thanks for your tips too. I love the idea of a giveaway contest.
Griselda Heppel said…
Thank you both so much! Peter, you were my first buyer, I think - lovely support from a fellow writer. Hope your grandson is enjoying it!
Wendy H. Jones said…
It is, indeed, a struggle at the moment when it comes to launching books.

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