Lessons Learned from my Book Launch

A couple of months ago I surveyed a group of writer friends and asked them about holding a book launch. They were full of good advice, some of which I followed, some of which I should have followed.

My launch for Brilliant Minds: 30 Dyslexic Heroes Who Changed Our World was on Sunday October 30 and a great success. In all the pictures I am smiling, the table is heaving with food, the line of people wanting books signed stretches the length of the room.

My daughter signed as many books as I did

It was a fabulous party, due in large part to the generosity of friends and family who supplied an epic feast, cases of bubbly and decorated the room beautifully. It was the highlight of the year and a dream come true for someone who has always wanted to be a published author.

There were a couple of things I would do differently if I had the chance, and I’m chalking them up to learning experiences.

Just some of the beautiful food provided by friends and family

Here are some brief thoughts on holding a book launch:

  • Think in advance what you will want to write in various books. Will you personalise messages or are you going to write something generic in each. Will you just sign your name? Coming up with an articulate, thoughtful, personal message when you are chatting to someone at the same time is hard, especially if you’re used to writing in silence. My book was for kids so lots of people were buying copies to donate to schools. I wish I had thought in advance of something clever to write in those copies, rather than just winging it on the day.
  • Practice your speech but still take notes, especially so you don’t forget anyone when you are doing your thank yous. I followed Laurie Steed’s wise advice and just looked out at the faces in the room before I began talking. Over a hundred faces looked back at me – friends, family, writers, neighbours and it was honestly such a special moment. I do wish I had taken my camera with me so I could have taken a photo of the room from my perspective.
  • Get a big plate of food before everyone arrives. You probably won’t be hungry at all during the launch – they’re like weddings and you will spend your time ‘working’ – but afterwards you might kick yourself, as I did, that you missed out on all the fabulous food.
  • Practice your signing signature and get yourself some good pens. Don’t sign books like you would a bank deposit slip for obvious reasons.
  • Make sure you have a few people taking pictures. Unless you’re paying a professional (and we’re writers, so who has the money for that?) you will probably ask a friend to take pictures. But not everyone feels comfortable taking pictures of people they don’t know, so you might find you miss out on photos of some people. Lots of people will probably ask to take photos with you when you sign their books. Ask them to send them to you or tag you on socials.
  • This was my daughter’s idea and I love it – she got people to sign a book for us. While I was signing the books that people bought, she asked them to sign a book for us. Some people left messages, others just signed their name, but it was a wonderful memento of the day that I will cherish forever.
Our signed books – now a treasured keepsake

For more good advice from people who are far more experienced than me, check out this earlier post here.

More photos of the day thanks to my wonderful photographer, Kathryn.

Author – and fellow mum of dyslexic daughters – Sara Foster kindly launched the book and gave a heartwarming speech
Me with the owner of Dymocks Subiaco, Tim, store manager Izzie and Affirm Press/Hachette sales rep Nicky
Me with the jelly brain (which then became an awesome Halloween prop at work the next day)
Lots of people wanted to buy books to donate to their children’s schools, so a clever friend made this ‘Donation Board’ as a record
My daughter decorated cupcakes with little rice wafer book covers
My set-up crew. I couldn’t have done it without them
The food proved irresistible during the speeches
Artist Mia Laing and her daughter Ishbel (front), social media guru Amanda Kendle, author Melinda Tognini, editor Jess Gately, and authors Brooke Dunnell and Esme Lee Wilmot
Jade Wheeler (Student Crusader and the final profile in the book) and her mum Mel were special guests at the launch
Writers Maria Papas, Khai Virtue and Molly Schmidt
There are million more pictures I wish I could share, of my family, my Mum’s Group and Dinner Club, writing friends, neighbours, friends from school, teachers and all the other amazing people who support me, but I will just finish with this – someone figured out Brilliant Minds is an anagram (almost) of IS MINT BRAIN LOL

Published by Shannon Meyerkort

Shannon Meyerkort is a Perth-based writer and storyteller

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