You’ve somehow beaten incredible odds. You weren’t killed by an errant golf ball, struck by lightning, or mauled by a bear. No. Not you! Your book is on the cusp of publication. Congratulations. Now, if you’ve been paying attention to any of the recent trends in publishing, you know that the real work is only beginning. While you avoid golf balls, bears, and lightning, you’ll need to become your own publicist, marketing guru, and social media whiz. Sure, all that stuff is part of the new publishing paradigm; however, you need to do something very important. You’re thinking to yourself, “book launch, right?” Wrong.
You need to party.
Back in 2011 I wrote a blog post for 49 Writers about how to throw an Alaskan Style Book Launch. Of course I was being my jackass self, and cracking jokes and attempting to be funny while also attempting to sound like I knew something about book launches. I knew nothing.
My novel had just been published in Canada and I was nervous about the book’s reception. Mostly because I’d been dreaming my whole life about having a novel published and I really did have a book being published—in Canada! Oh, Canada….
I knew nothing about hosting a book launch, but I did know a little about putting on events and concerts. I decided I would go with what I knew. I’d book a cool venue, invite some talented artists, poets, and musicians to perform and just throw a big party. Books would be available, but I wasn’t going to care if I didn’t sell any. I didn’t want to stress about not selling enough books to cover my expenses.
The party was a blast and I learned something important about publishing that I never anticipated or expected. You can call something a book launch, and yes, you might be launching your book (like an errant golf ball), but you need to make sure the focus of the event is not about the book or about launching, and certainly not you beating the odds.
Let me make sure you understand this part about the party not being about you. Imagine that not so long ago you held a golf ball club high, during a raging thunderstorm, wearing a suit of bacon on a golf course on Kodiak Island. And then you wrote a book about how the golf ball hit you in the head, killing you, and then lightning struck a fraction of a second later at the same moment a Kodiak Brown Bear mauled you—the lightning shocking you back to life and killing the bear.
Clearly people would be excited to hear your story. Or at least you think they should be, and those exact people are who this party is for. Not just the people who nursed you back to health after the golf-lightening-bear attack, but for everyone who puts up with you being a writer. The party is for them. If anything, you’re throwing a party to launch the book out of their lives. For years they have endured you talking about the story, and working on the story, and fretting about this, that, and every stupid little thing related to a book being published. They’ve suffered through hearing about agents, and editors, and computer failures, and character development, readings, talks, panels. You name it, they have heard you talk about it. Your friends, family, neighbors, and often random strangers have pretended to give a shit about you and your silly writer dreams for far too long.
Face it. You have put your non-writer, and possibly even writer, friends through hell for a long time to make this publishing thing happen. Now your book is done and these fine folks deserve to celebrate, and you will for once, put the book aside, and party with them.
Congratulations. You beat the odds. Enjoy your good fortune. The luck is not that you’ve published a book. You’re lucky that you have friends and family who were willing to help you get there.
Don Rearden is author of The Raven’s Gift, and co-author of Never Quit. He has published two books and is about to have his third book party (Oh, Canada!). This party is for the citizens of Alaska putting up with him and his writing shenanigans. Join him for the party March 18th, 5-8pm, at Anchorage Brewing Company.