Thursday, 24 June 2010

With a launch or a whimper? The birth of a book - Linda Strachan

As I write this my latest book Dead Boy Talking has just been launched and sent into the world by an enthusiastic bunch of 13/14 yr olds from North Berwick High School.

When Dead Boy Talking was written, edited and away to be printed my thoughts turned to the day when it would make its first appearance.

There is no particular right or wrong way to launch a book but it seems a real shame to have laboured over writing it, fighting with your characters and your muse for months, just to allow it to enter the world completely unheralded.
As you send your latest precious offspring off on its journey you need to fortify yourself, because it is a very scary business this; laying your work out there to be examined and criticised or (heaven forbid) to be ignored.
So this is your chance to celebrate its arrival.
I am a firm believer in having some kind of a book launch.

It doesn't need to be an expensive, sparkling, celebrity affair paid for by your publisher (in fact this is very unlikely unless you are a megastar or multi-million selling author). It may be held at a local bookshop, a restaurant, a gallery or just about anywhere with particular significance as regards the plot or theme of the book - with your publisher hopefully contributing to the drink and some nibbles and possibly helping out by emailing or sending out the invitations (although they may not offer to do any of this, there’s no harm in asking!).
It might be just the author inviting a few friends round for a party - but celebrate it you should - after all you have worked hard for it and as all those who long to be published will tell you; you are incredibly fortunate to be published at all – especially in the current economic climate.

But how to go about launching this new teenage book.
I have had all sorts of book launches some were open public affairs - for children and families -in bookshops and in castles such as Edinburgh Castle, Glamis Castle and

like this one, with Illustrator Sally J Collins actually on the Falkirk Wheel

Some were more private for invited friends, family, fellow writers and other interested parties and held in restaurants or other venues.

But I wanted to try something different for this book and get some  teenage readers and their school involved.
It’s by no means a new idea, it has been done before, and how it works really depends on the book and the theme, but most of all on the school and of course the teenagers themselves.
With the new Curriculum for Excellence about to be rolled out across Scotland’s high schools after the summer promoting cross curricular work, it seemed to be a project that might appeal to a school if they were to look at all aspects of publicising the book, of organising the launch itself and also examining themes within the story.
I will be writing in more detail and blogging about the project, the book and the teenagers, over the next few weeks but here are a few of the things they did:-

Their first job was to devise a company name and so they became  Platinum Pages Publication Promoters
  • They helped decide on the book’s cover, designed posters and invitations – finding printing companies and costs.
  • Found out about the publishing industry and how publishers work to produce a book.
  • Contacted the press and media about the project and the launch,
  • Created a blog
  • And a Facebook page for Dead  Boy Talking
  • Living in a rural location, a small group met up with a peer group from a city school to discuss the book and its themes.
  • Organised a launch for their entire year group in school time - which included a visit by a local police superintendent talking about the realities of knife crime.
  • They wrote and performed a short drama sketch based on a scene from the book
  • Produced a powerpoint display of the project for display at the launch
  • Produced name labels for the launch
  • Hosted the evening launch event in the school, welcoming guests, introducing the elements of the launch and interviewing me.
It was a great day and both afternoon and evening launches went well with only a few minor glitches. So from me a huge thank you to all at Platinum Pages Publication Promoters for a job well done and a fantastic book launch!

 Dead Boy Talking published June 2010  
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Dead Boy talking Blog Dead Boy Talking blog


Penny Dolan said...

Inspirational post for the book-launch intimidated! Thanks, Linda - look forward to more on how you did and are doing this - and conratulations on the book.

catdownunder said...

Oh, well done Linda and well done your support team! Reading that gives me well needed boost to my day!

Linda Strachan said...

Thanks, Penny and Cat

It was fun although for a bit of a control freak like me t'was a little scary letting them take over, but worth it in the end - here was such a buzz at the launch. And there was cake, a large cake with the book cover on the top, which they were very excited about!

Anne Cassidy said...

I have published 25ish teenage novels and never had a launch! Sigh.

Michelle said...

Congratulations! Sounds like a fabulous launch :)

Linda Strachan said...

Thanks Michelle!

go on and organise it yourself next time, it can be a lot of fun and you certainly deserve it! I am sure your publishers would come on board with something, if you ask them!

Nicola Morgan said...

I was there and it was great! I've done this sort of thing with several of my books, starting in 2004 with Sleepwalking, and each year since then, but not this year. Each time I do it a bit differently, depending on what the school wants - because, as Linda says, you have to let go control, which is scary! I've never regretted doing it. The last time I did it - last year, with Deathwatch - I even got the kids to help me write it. I have to say that doing a launch with a school is much harder work than doing it without a school, but it's a lot of fun on both sides.

Gillian Philip said...

What a brilliant event, Linda (and all the lead-up sounds wonderful too). So sorry I had to miss it, but I'm looking forward to reading Dead Boy Talking & I'm sure it'll be a huge success! x

Linda Strachan said...

Hi Nicola, it was much inspired by your excellent work with schools in the past, and it is interesting to see how it develops and takes on a life of its own. But but you do have to trust that the kids will run with it, and I was so impressed with their efforts.

Sorry you missed it Gillian!

Jan Markley said...

Great title! Almost as good as the title of my debut middle grade novel: Dead Frog on the Porch ;-j

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Miriam Halahmy said...

This is such an inspiring post Linda and making me think about my launch coming up next year. In American they call them 'book parties' now and in many ways I think that's more apt. I will be throwing a bit of a party to celebrate the book coming out. But your idea of getting a school involved is certainly giving me things to think about. Many thanks.

Linda Strachan said...

Hi Jan
Yes, yours is certainly an intriguing title!

Miriam, I agree 'Book Parties' is a great way to describe them. Hope you have fun with yours, too.

Rebecca Camarena said...

Congratulations on the book, so happy for you.

Linda Strachan said...

Thank you, Rebecca.