I'm going to write about the book launch and signing of Leaving the Hall Light On in three parts: Preparation, The Actual Event, and Lessons Learned.
Part One: Preparation
I think the worst part of the preparation stage was waiting for the book signing to happen. I booked it for the first Thursday after the book's release at Pages, my local independent bookstore, several months in advance, and I started to stress right away. I always stress before speaking in public and always end up calming down right before I speak, so it's really the waiting time that drives me to drink.
I also arranged for publicity in our local newspapers, "The Beach Reporter" and "Easy Reader." "The Beach Reporter" interview happened the Monday before the event and appeared on the day; "Easy Reader," though it got a review copy of my book, has yet to print something. Well, as I said to them in my email today, it's never too late.
Then I sent out invitations. I created an event on Facebook and carefully selected people in my local area to invite. In all I got about forty yes RSVPs from the Facebook folks. I also sent out an electronic invitation by email. I chose the Punchbowl application - I think it's a lot nicer than Evite. The invitation actually comes in an envelop that the invitee clicks to open. I got another forty or so yes responses as a result of that invitation. With that number of positive responses I started to stress even more. Plus my husband kept wondering where the small bookstore could put all those people. I didn't worry about that. I knew people would come and go - not everyone would be there at the same time. Also a woman I do Pilates with advised me to have no expectations about the number of attendees. She said I could have a huge crowd or no attendees at all. And I knew from my The Emerging Goddess reading experience, people who say they'll come don't, and people I don't expect to come do.
Next I had to plan the food. My wonderful facialist offered early on to host mini cupcakes, and I was delighted with that offer. To accompany those I decided to offer strawberries, mangos and cheese cubes; wine, and sparkling water. At my last reading we had way too much food, so I worried about how much to serve. It seemed like the crowd would be bigger this time, so I of course, the typical Jewish mother, didn't want to run out.
Another hard part of the prep was deciding what part/parts of the book to read. I had read an article about book signings and readings a few months ago, and the advice was to read for no more than ten minutes. Otherwise the audience would start nodding off. So after a few tries I picked a short prose piece, purposely chosen not to reveal much of the dark nature of my story and to show how I started on my way to survival. I also decided to ask the other three main characters in the book, my husband, son, and daughter-in-law to each read a poem. I picked out their poems. As the article advised, I printed out the excerpt and poems in large font on white paper so we wouldn't have fumble around reading from the book. And as suggested I practiced my part three or four times.
Stay tuned for Part Two: The Actual Event
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Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, Culver City, CA
Vistamar School, El Segundo, CA
Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA (Endowment in...