When my first book, Frogspell, was published, I vaguely thought that there would be what publishers call a ‘launch party’ – a big fancy do in London where lots of other authors and publishers and journalists are invited and you get to swank around and accept congratulations on the publication of your most amazing and marvellous book.
Alas! I discovered that this is NOT in fact the automatic right of any author. Maybe if you are Jacqueline Wilson or J.K. Rowling, but most authors have two choices. They give themselves a little private ‘hurrah’ on the morning their book is published and otherwise forget about it or…. they organise their own book launch.
Organising your own book launch is a little bit daunting. How do these things work? Who do I invite? Will anyone come? Will they think I’m just showing off? Do I hire a venue for 200? How idiotic will that look with 2 people in it? How much champagne do I order and will I be drinking it myself for the next three years?
I the end, I did a ‘play-in-a-day’ event at my local Arts Centre, where I was quite familiar with helping out and working with the children’s drama groups. We made the first 3 chapters of Frogspell into a mini-play over a one-day workshop and presented it to the parents at the end. It was great fun – and the kids did a brilliant job of bringing the adventures of hapless squire Max and his accidental frog spell to life – frogs, dragons, rats, bad-tempered cooks with meat cleavers and all.
Since then, though, I haven’t organised anything for my other books. It wasn’t that I was less excited by them coming out – more that I began to believe that a proper grown-up ‘famous author’ launch party was one that happened in London, cost lost of money, and had other ‘famous authors’ attending, along with ‘famous journalists’ and ‘famous editors’. I didn’t think I could manage something like that, so I just did the little, personal ‘hurrah’ thing instead.
However, last week I went to a launch party given by my friend and fellow-author, Victoria Eveleigh. It wasn’t in London, it didn’t have crowds of famous people, and it wasn’t in a massively expensive venue – it was held at the Lynmouth Pavilion, near Exmoor, where Victoria lives. It was fabulous, as I hope you can tell from the photos. Victoria was launching her latest book, Katy’s Pony Challenge, and there were also copies of all her other wonderful books about horses and ponies and the children and families whose lives are entwined with theirs.
The place was packed out with friends, family and all Victoria’s local fans, as well as a few fellow authors (some of whom might be described as famous!) – plus there were tons of nice things to drink and amazing cake.
Victoria signed loads of copies of her books (in fact, she must have had a very sore hand by the end of the evening) and I think it’s safe to say she had a pretty good time – as did the rest of us! I had a lovely chat with Gill Lewis (who also writes animal books, like Sky Hawk and Moon Bear) and Claire Barker, whose new book about a ghost dog, Knitbone Pepper, comes out next month. I am inspired to do something similar when I next have a book to launch – because actually, I’ve realised, you don’t need to be in London and you don’t need a ton of famous people – you just need lots of good friends and people who are enthusiastic about your books to help you enjoy the brilliant feeling that comes from having your book published. Oh – and it probably helps if you have some really, really good cake.