Laura is blue. Fiona is green.
Last week, we talked about Fiona's two book launches for Bubble Homes and Fish Farts and two of the main options of book launches: a completely DIY experience versus having a venue host and plan the event. You might have noticed I didn't say anything about my own book launch for Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School. That's because I'm chicken. The idea of a launch (which is really just another word for party) where my book and I are the main attraction makes my stomach hurt. I would dread it for weeks and wouldn't have anybody there because I would NOT joyously spread the word. Do you remember how Mary Richardson's parties were always a bomb on the Mary Tyler Moore show? That would be my launch party.
I know...as my DIY launch approaches next week, I'm starting to feel my innards in a bit of a tizzy, so I totally understand what you're feeling. The thing that's kept it sane for me is that although I'm being proactive in getting the word out via the media---both papers bit at my press release (result: 2 feature articles with photo op) and so did the radio station (result: my book will be the on-air giveaway during the morning show each day for the week before the launch). Thanks for the press release post!---I haven't been that way with people. I don't talk about it unless someone brings it up first. If folks ask about the book, I tell them about the launch...low key, no pressure... "If you're not doing anything, come on out. We'll have bubbles and cake!" Hee hee...I've discovered people really like bubbles and cake...I always get a giggle, the moment stays light, and then we move on to something new. That kind of limited "joyously spreading the word", I can handle.
Laura, you're a media whiz, blogger extraordinaire, teacher and school visit presenter. You're used to "being out there". So how is this different?
I don't know.
School visits? Check. Enjoying those, actually! Storytime readings and signings? Check. I've got a number of those lined up (all with my book promotion buddy) and am not dreading those. Online promotion? Check. I'm all over that.
So why does a launch party scare me so much? I have no idea. I just know that with limited time and energy, I have to focus on the things I can do well and that won't make me worry so much that I can't sleep.
And you know what? Right here and now, the "why" doesn't really matter. Knowing your comfort zone and choosing things that aren't overly stress-filled is really smart. I applaud you for that.
But, but... a book release is a momentous event. You will have some sort of celebration, won't you?
If I could hook up with a venue that wanted to organize the whole thing, I think I'd be OK with that, but I'm going with a third option: an online book launch.
I think an online launch has one big negative: People are less likely to actually buy your book. When you attend a launch in person, there's the excitement of being there and wanting to support the author, so you buy a book. Online, I'm quite sure that isn't the case.
And I also wonder about the amount of media attention. For example, the newspapers and radio are wrapping their stories and promo around my launch---an event seems to garner more attention than a thing (just the book, itself). I don't know that I would've received as much attention If I didn't have the launch as an anchor. And remember that five-figure contact list from last week? Through these media channels, the book title got out there, spread to tens of thousands of folks...maybe some of them will be intrigued and go and buy the book even though they don't attend the launch.
Ooh, you're absolutely right. (And that is completely awesome that BOTH newspapers acted on your press release! Do you have any links you could share with us if the stories made it online?)
I'm thrilled. Here's one (and now I know why some people are antsy about being quoted...they've got the gist of my thoughts, but those are not. my. words...I sound like an illiterate valley girl. And "teach"? It's not a word I use..."learn" or "share" sure, but not "teach". [sigh]) It's publicity, though, right? The other article won't be out until next week. I think I'll ask to see the quotes before they're printed.
Grr...Frustrating! But it's still nice press, and you and Bubble Homes sound wonderfully appealing!
You're right, nonexistent media coverage is another disadvantage to an online launch, one I hadn't considered. I'm hoping my zoo events (not launches, but storytimes tied into pre-existing events at both our local zoos) will put me in the position to get a bit of media coverage. We'll see. One thing I do know is that they'll have more attendance than a launch party that I would have thrown, because I would have been horrible at getting people there--because I don't want them to come see me. I know. It's ridiculous.
No, not ridiculous at all. It sounds like your zoo events are very similar to my event at the aquarium. One thing I've discovered is that there is a certain cachet to calling something a "launch", and it doesn't take much to turn an event into a launch. Essentially, one could call any book-related event a "launch" Doing so turns a "reading" or "signing" into a special event that people seem to be more inclined to attend, and media more interested in covering, even if the only extra "launch" thing is that the person introducing you says it's your launch. My aquarium reading & signing could have happened as it did at any point in the book's lifespan; it just happened to be called a "launch" because of the timing---my first offical book event. There's just something first-editiony-special about a "launch".
So...what if you called your first zoo gig a "launch"...bump up the specialness of the event a notch...perhaps the zoo will give you more attention in its publicity or your book will pop up as the special media angle of the zoo day because its a special event for you...a launch, rather than a regular appearance as all the others are?
But the two zoo events we're doing won't really work. First, the first event is only a few days after my pub date, and I'm not even 100% sure they'll have copies of the book to sell! I hope so! And I just got my author copies, so I could take my 20, I guess.
I would stick them in the trunk just in case. You can always order a replenishment from the publisher if you end up selling them.
But more importantly, these events are very specific, and my book only fits in tangentially. So at the Minnesota Zoo (the bigger zoo), our Animal Antics storytime is part of their Farm Babies celebration. So all the zoo's PR efforts revolve around the new babies in the Farm area of the zoo. We snuck in our books on the animal theme, but there's really nothing farm-y or baby-y about my book.
And the Como Zoo Animal Antics storytime is part of the Go Green for Gorillas event: "Go ape with Como as we celebrate the Year of the Gorilla and learn ways to protect these animals by going green on Earth Day with a Party for the Planet."
Yowsa, that's quite the mouthful. The bumper stickers must be something else. :^)
:>) So their focus is entirely on gorillas and on environmentalism. Again, not a key theme of my book. I will be sure to do the monkey poem from my book!
Having said that, I'll say that if we had had this conversation before our press releases went out, I would have probably called the Minnesota Zoo event my book launch, since it's my first official Stampede! event. Dang. That ship has sailed. But when I promote that event locally through my SCBWI list and such, I'm going to go ahead and call it my book launch, so thank you for that!
Yes, that's what I mean. And you're right, it's too late for the zoo to be onboard, but for the rest, you go, girl! It's a launch!
Something else I just thought of: Online book promotion is still a bit of a novelty. Would your local media be interested in a story about how you're hosting an online launch, an event that was traditionally a physical event? The ship may have sailed on that one, too, but when you get nibbles from local press, it's an angle you could mention that might result in bigger coverage because it's so different.
So, let's talk more about your online launch. I'm really intrigued about the idea of doing a launch online. Whatchagot planned?
First, the positives:
You can't get snowed in.
You don't have to worry about running out of cake.
Your voice won't shake as you talk to the three people who show up.
You can reach people all over, not just in your town.
The party can go on longer--all day, not just for 45 minutes.
You can ask people to help spread the word about your book. And since most of the attendees will likely be writers, they probably will.
Good points. Lots of positives.
How are you going about creating an online launch?
One option would be to host it on my blog. However, I blog every day, Monday-Friday. I don't want my launch party to just be another blog day. I want the launch to have a different feeling. Kind of like your kids wanting to go to Chuck E. Cheese for their birthday parties instead of just having pizza at home. But I wouldn't want to change my blog for just one day.
Hee hee...totally get that. You definitely want it to be something special that stands out and is memorable. So, if not on your blog, then where?
The online launches I've been aware of have been on LiveJournal. I've seen them advertised on Facebook, too, though I haven't actually attended any on Facebook. I don't even know how that works? The ones I learned about on FB were actually hosted on LJ. I'm unclear on how an event would even happen on FB. I'm still new enough to that to be learning my way around.
I've been to a few online and in-person launches for picture books now, and the range is huge. A couple of online launch parties I "attended" were no more than online announcements of the book. I definitely want to do more than that. In-person launch parties have generally been storytimes with cake. Fiona, yours sound like they go way beyond that, which is fabulous! I'm going for a middle ground. Fun activities, but in a flexible format.
The online launches I've "attended" seem to be mostly interactive posting of comments, which seems to be a limitation of the platform. How have you gotten around that to include fun activities?
I've been using nings (a kind of social networking platform) for my two online classes recently, and I think a ning will lend itself well to a party. It has an online chat area, so if people stop by, I can chat in real time with them. It has blog post areas and discussion areas, plus a sidebar area where I can link to all sorts of fun stuff from video and/or audio readings to images and stories behind the book.
Wow. Using a ning sounds like it gives you lots of freedom to include dimensions and interactive goodies not possible with other platforms.
What about maintenance once the launch date has passed.
With the ning, I'm setting it up specifically for the launch party, and then I'll leave it up afterward. That way the resources will still be there for people who drop by late (though I'll also update the ning with a note at the top to direct them to more current stuff, too, like my blog or my Stampede microsite). I'll definitely promote the launch party on my blog and on Facebook, of course! In fact, I should start doing that this week!
So, you're all invited!
On April 6, the official publication date of Stampede!, I hope you'll drop by stampede.ning.com for my launch party! Here's what you can expect:
The story behind the book
Video and/or audio of my reading a few poems from the book
Live online chatting with me and anyone else who might be there
Links to various resources, like the book trailer, Reader's Theater scripts, and more
Guestbook to sign
A few poems that didn't make it into the book
A few options for helping to spread the word about Stampede!
A place to write and share your own animal/human poem
My undying gratitude
Very, very cool. It sounds like a lot of fun! It'll be interesting to see what kind of response it gets. I'll be there! And [grin] I'll buy the book.
Yay! That's one! Seriously, thank you. I appreciate that. And keep your fingers crossed and mark your calendar! I'll have to do a good job since I know at least one person is showing up:>)
You betcha! Wouldn't miss it for the world.
If you've had a smash hit of an online book launch, leave us a comment telling us about the highlights and lowlights, what worked, what didn't. We'd love to hear your great ideas.