Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to Launch Your Book: part three

When your book arrives, spend a day looking at it. Weep with gratitude.

The crowd at the 2009 launch of Guidelines.
Then begin to plan your reading at the launch.

Ideally, your reading would be between 15-20 minutes: long enough to give people a good taste of the work but short enough to leave enough time for signing.

If you're reading with anyone else, you should max out at 10-12 minutes and maybe even 7-10 minutes...

Rehearse often so that you don’t weep or giggle or burp in the middle of your reading, unless you can weep/giggle/burp charmingly.

(Even if you’ve given heaps of readings and are usually as cool as the proverbial cucumber. Because launches make for a whole other level of reading-anxiety.)

Ariel hugging/signing books at the 2010 launch of Hump.
“For a book launch, or any longer reading, I order a set of pieces days in advance and read that set over and over again until each piece settles into its proper place and the words themselves become comfortable in the mouth. Planning and practice for me is key — no matter how many times I’ve read the poems previously,” says Ottawa poet Sandra Ridley, who has two collections of poetry to her name.

“Generally, I’m concerned with arcing a mood or atmosphere and don’t worry about a linear unfolding of the underlying narrative.”

Mark up your book with sticky notes or dog-eared corners or the page numbers written on a bookmark so that you don’t get confused,
mid-reading, as to what you’re performing next.

Laura Lush reading in Toronto in 2011.
Though it might feel contrived, have some sense of what you’re going to say between poems. If you want to thank specific people, write the names down and stick it in your book.

Now, not everyone at your launch will want you to sign their book…but the majority will. It’s proof they were there! It also functions a bit like a receiving line: people want to have their moment with you.

But this arcane launch ritual also gives you the chance to say something nice – in print – even if it’s just thanks for attending the launch and buying your book.

So think about what you’re going to write in people’s books. Only your name? Your name plus some witty phrase? What?

“If I know the person or have had time to talk with them I will try to write something specific to them but mostly I write generic crap like ‘Best’ or ‘Thanks for your support,’” says Steele.

“I have to concentrate hard on writing legibly as signing books is one of the very few occasions that I write by hand and not by computer anymore.”

It's also worth nothing that being inventive when you’ve got 50 books to sign, one after the other, is like being stuck in greeting card hell…

* * *

Thanks all, I hope this is useful! 

No comments: