Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


   Sunday, July 13, is Redwood Writers' Club's annual Author Launch. 20 authors will have 5 mins. to read excerpts from their new books. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the new releases and writing successes of the club's members. Author launches, in general, can be exciting, yet nerve racking events. Will enough people show up? Will you have enough food? Will the venue have ordered enough books? The great thing about an author launch in a club like Redwood Writers is that you have other people you can share the launch with, a very supportive crowd, and a built in audience. Plus, all the planning is done for you. All you have to do is show up! All the more reason members should relish and appreciate this opportunity Redwood Writers offers their members.

   If you don't belong to a writing club and are preparing for an upcoming Author Launch, here are 5 tips for a successful Author Launch:

  1. Good communication—make sure both you and the event organizer confirm important details such as time and date, length of event, decorations (are there any limitations?), food and drinks (what does the venue supply, what do you need to bring?), number of books to order (are they ordering through their distributor or are you bringing books and selling them on consignment?)
  2. Think in themes—for decorations and food. Is your book about space? Maybe you can have posters, photographs and decorations of outer space, planets, or aliens (if your story involves one.) I attended a book launch for a children's ghost book, Horrible Hauntings (Goosebottom Books, 2012), and food items included sandwiches made to look like cut-off fingers, a punch of eyeballs (lychees and I can't remember what they used for the pupil, but it was really fun). At one book event for Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, I brought turnip cakes (featured in the book) and fortune cookies. For Sacajawea of the Shoshone, I served buffalo sausage. Themed food can be a lot of fun preparing and serving, but if it stresses you out even more, just keep it simple: cookies and lemonade and juice are always a great hit, especially with kids.
  3. Presentation—will you read from your book? Show a power point? Have activities? A lot of it depends on the kind of book you have, who your audience is, time constraints, and your comfort level. I've done straight readings, a combination of excerpt reading and discussion of the writing process, power point presentations. I've given out raffle tickets for a chance to win a free book, taught a craft related to the book. The launch program varies with each book. But one thing that is consistent is the Q and A which is a great way to connect with your audience and for them to find out what went into writing and publishing your book.
  4. Have copies of your books on hand. If you're lucky, the bookstore or event venue will sell out of your books and you'll need extras. However, I've heard of events where the organizer had forgotten to order the writer's books. So, it's always better to be safe than sorry. Don't forget to offer to sign a few unsold copies. It's a great marketing tool for bookstores to display books signed by the author, but they're also books that can't be returned, giving you a few more sales.
  5. Have fun! You've toiled for what seems like eons on your book, and now you're sending your baby out into the world. That, in itself, is a tremendous feat! So, celebrate and allow yourself to be acknowledged for a job well done.

I'll be reading Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, at the Redwood Writers' Author Launch. For this meeting only, all meeting fees are waived, so if you're interested in checking out the club, come join us at the Flamingo Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa, Empire Room, this Sunday, July 13. See you there!

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