What I Learned At My Book Launch

Patton_Cynthia_COVLast Sunday I had my book release party at Swirl on the Square, a stylish local wine bar. I’ve never has a book published, so I’ve never has a release party. Or a book launch, for that matter. I had absolutely no idea what to do.

My book, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, came out four months late, arriving on my doorstep only a few days before the traumatic/exciting (depending on your viewpoint) presidential election. Folks who had pre-ordered received their copies during the two weeks following the election. I may be brand new to publishing, but even I knew this was pretty much a total disaster.

Even worse, after the election I had trouble getting excited  about my brand new book. If a first-time author can’t muster any excitement about her own project, you know the situation is beyond grim.

Wallowing in post-election angst, I procrastinated on planning the release party. I figured I’d wait until January. (At that point, it seemed January 2017 had to be better. Silly me.) Then a non-writer friend with no connection to autism read a poem in my book and began to cry. She said she couldn’t wait until 2017. She wanted a party NOW! My mother agreed, so I scrambled to pull one together before the holiday party season was in full swing.

Here’s what I learned at my book launch.

  1. December isn’t the best time for a book launch, but it sure beats the week following Donald Trump’s election.
  2. Food is nice, but people don’t attend a book party to eat. (Hint: They come for the book.)
  3. Bring a small stand or easel on which to prop the book up. It just looks nicer. Plus you won’t have to obsessively fiddle with it all afternoon.
  4. Expect to be nervous and flustered. Don’t even consider reading anything that is emotionally challenging—unless you want to cry at your own party.
  5. Plan in advance what you will read and in what order. You might veer wildly off script due to nerves, but at least you won’t panic or drone on for too long. Or worry that you will.
  6. Bring change and a container of some sort for money. You don’t want to be scrounging for quarters or dollar bills during the event.
  7. Don’t try to talk and sign books at the same time. Trust me on this.
  8. Do plan in advance what you will write when you sign your book. Yes, it lacks both spontaneity and creativity. But that beats your family and friends watching you stare at the ceiling with a blank look on your face while everyone titters nervously.
  9. Don’t adopt a Husky, and if you do, don’t ever let your child open the door for the sitter. Because the three of you will end up running down the street chasing said dog when you should be setting up for your book party. This will serve to exacerbate #4. You will also be sweaty. Very sweaty.
  10. Most importantly, don’t obsess over clothing with the new man you haven’t met in person yet. If he helps pick your outfit, your first date will be strange. Really strange. As in, scratch your head and confound your girlfriends strange. There will be no second date. In fact, he will close his online profile and leave dating altogether. Simply because you are a neurotic writer who can’t dress herself.
  11. Forget #1 through #10. Just relax and have fun. It’s your book party!

“Just relax and have fun. 
It’s your book party!”

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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