I considered not having a launch party for my book. I’m not a big fan of being the center of attention (which is funny, because when I was ten years old this was my favorite thing ever), and I didn’t want to hand sell books to close friends. I was excited for them to buy it—I just didn’t want to be the one selling it.
But publishing a book is a really big deal, especially when it’s your first one. And anyone in my kind of shoes, whose contract is only for one book, knows there’s a possibility that this could be the only one. And it came out on my birthday, no less. I worried that if I did nothing at all to celebrate, I might regret it. So I planned a party.
My mother came down from Canada to be there with me, and I invited all my neighborhood fellow readers and ladies who play Bunco with me every month. I held it at a local club so I would not have to prepare food or clean up my house (a genius move, by the way, for anyone who can afford it). It was only two hours or so. People ate, drank, and I did not read from my book, but about halfway into the evening I did sit down at a designated table where I could sign books. Many who had preordered a copy were able to come over and get it signed, and to others I simply gave copies from my private stash. I told them that in lieu of paying me for the book, I’d be very grateful if they would leave a review on Amazon when they were done. (Don’t do this if you actually expect people to leave a review. I did not, so I haven’t been disappointed with the bargain.)
Now, I did not hold this party on my actual launch day because for some weird reason the club in question was booked solid for that random Tuesday night. But Wednesday was fine, so I decided to do it one day late. That left my actual launch day for just celebrating and taking social media bows and all that fun stuff. I woke up, got my kids off to their bus, had coffee and breakfast with my mom, and then late morning went over to Barnes and Noble so we could ooh and aah at my book on the shelf and take lots of pictures. The staff were still setting up that week’s New Release table, so we had to take our pictures between fits of nervous giggling (us) and wary side-eye (them), as they were clearly unaccustomed to debut authors squeeing over their books on the shelf and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
The rest of that day was pretty quiet, but photos were posted and champagne was drunk. The next night I threw my party, and I’m really glad I did. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and since I didn’t subject them to listening to me read, I didn’t really have to be the center of attention. It was a special gift to see all these people so happy for me. We’ve moved around a lot, but since Midland is where we started out as newlyweds, some of the people at the party had known me for as many as fifteen years. It was definitely worth doing!
As for swag, I came up with what I consider to be an adorable idea—I ordered a bulk box of glass vials topped with cork, similar to the kind of thing the dream peddler would have used to sell his wares, but instead of dream potions, I filled them with different kinds of candy. I made way more than I needed, but that was okay because I was able to bring the rest to the only book signing I did, which was about a month later at Barnes and Noble, and I also sometimes go the extra mile and bubble wrap one to ship in a box for giveaways. And hey, when I’m feeling blue about how the book is doing, I now have a ready-made stash of candy I can gorge on.
In summary, if there’s any way, however small, you can mark the occasion of your first published book, go ahead and do it. It doesn’t have to be a party—small celebrations are just as easy to remember as big ones. And if there’s any way you can make your book swag out of candy, do that, too.