Thursday, July 22, 2010

Launching That Book

When my first book was released, it never entered my mind to have a book launch. Sure, the following year for the second book I did have a book signing at a local shop owned by a Rotarian friend. Seventeen titles later over the next ten years or so, I still never gave a thought to having a “Book Launch” for any of them. In fact, I had never been present at any other writer’s book launch either.
Then we moved to Tasmania and I became a member of the Society Women Writers Tasmania. One of our writers who met with us each month announced the launch of her book and so I attended my first book launch ever. When my eighteenth title, Return to Baragula was published in 2008, there was amazement when I confessed I’d never officially launched a book. So, with the encouragement and help of my SWWT friends, Mary had her first book launch, followed a year later by one for her second book in the series, Outback From Baragula.

I have been to other launches since then and in the last couple of months there have been two. The one last June was for a beautiful children’s book, Potato Music, by a local award winning author, Christina Booth. If you are interested in the fascinating story how this book came to be written, I did share about that on my own blog. Here I would like to tell you about the launch I went to a couple of evenings ago.

The author, Marilyn Quirk (url) had taken three years to research and write her non-fiction book, Tasmania. . .an island far away. She spent many, many hours searching for information, interviewing descendants to write the true stories of migrants of many different nationalities. At least these stories have been recorded for their descendants, for generations to come, but the difficulty she had in tracing public and personal historical records of all kinds and in all places was a wake-up call that these precious memories are so quickly being lost. It is an invaluable reminder to all Tasmanians, in fact all Australians, what caused men, women and children to leave their homelands. Both good and bad experiences in their own countries brought them here. Both good and bad things happened in this country while they tried to become part of a different culture with often a different language.

Right now, immigration and asylum seekers are hot topics here in Australia. With a Federal election now only four weeks away, it has become even more controversial as increasing numbers of smugglers try to reach our shores with boatloads of people hoping to find refuge and a new life here. Whereas in the past, migrants have come mainly from Europe and Asia, more recent refugees to Tasmania have come from Africa. Even though modern communication links us around the world so rapidly compared to centuries ago, this is still a new “Island Far Away” from all that was familiar – whether hated or loved. We need to all remember that with “strangers.”

Every book launch I have been privileged to attend here in Tasmania has been different – including my own – and I am wondering what other writers as well as readers think about book launches. Two launches, including my first one were held outdoors as part of a National Trust properties annual Fair. I’ve heard of one organised by a well known local doctor, farmer and then state politician who hired a hall, had about 500 people present, an orchestra etc, etc. The one this week had many descendants of migrants present, including the local city Mayor who launched the book. His own family had migrated from Holland after World War II.

From my own two launches, I realise it is important to plan one that will be particularly of interest to targeted readers of a particular kind of book. Mine are aimed at the Christian fiction market, so the last one as part of a local church’s Fair was far more successful!

I would love to hear from writers and especially readers about book launches they have been to or heard about. What worked? What didn’t?

And hopefully in days to come, I too will be able to put some of your hints into practice at another book launch!


  1. This is a very interesting topic. I only have one book published so far and I did not know anything about promotions etc and never thought about a 'launch' either. My next one is coming out in a few months so I am thinking about it, but must confess, I am still unsure exactly how to go about it. So I will be waiting for all the great advise that comes in to these comments (or your future posts once you become an expert!)Tracy Krauss

  2. One thing I have discovered since my last launch, Tracy, is that many writers have more than one! Durig the next week or so, Marilyn has another couple booked, one in Hobart (our capital) down south and another on the north west coast. While they are important, I do think are even more so for books that are self-published or subsidised. The media also seem to like them for photos, interviews etc. Some bookshops also apparently help. Christina's was in a local shop which has mainly children's books. Another hint: make sure your books have arrived from the publisher - and in shops - before setting a date for your launch! Have heard some horror stories about that not happening.

  3. Mary, great post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with book launches :-)

  4. I have never heard of a book launch here in South Africa. I'd be interested to hear from our other African writers to see if I'm missing something. Interesting post, Mary.

  5. Hi Mary,

    I felt blessed to have a launch of my biblical fiction, As the Eagle, Flies the King coincide with an Omega Writers' Christmas lunch.
    Christians love buying books for Christmas and it was a great opportunity.



  6. Glad to hear I am not the only published author who was ignorant about book launches for so long, Shirley!
    You are so right about the timing of launches also, Wendy, but unfortunately not all books are rreleased so close to Christmas. In fact a bookshop manager in Hobart told me July - in mid-winter here - is their best sales time! Guess Tasmanian's hibernate - or write - in our freezing winters.