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Libor Mikeska’s practical tips for a successful book launch

Published: 26 Jan 2018

Once your novel has been published, you’re understandably eager to do all you can to promote it. Immerse yourself in the novelty of the situation for as long as you can, for it won’t be long before real life starts to gobble away your precious time once again.

Planning your launch
The first thing authors generally do is to have a book launch to celebrate yet another literary feather in their cap. Unless you’re a prolific writer like Iris Murdoch or David Lodge, such events are few and far between. They should therefore be enjoyed - nay, relished to the fullest! It had been five years since my last one, so I was looking forward to finally introducing Life’s A Game You Play to the outside world. Organising a book launch, however, can be quite a daunting prospect due to all the planning involved. And irrespective of the number of invitations you send out, you can never really be sure of how many people will actually turn up on the day, especially at this capricious time of year! In my case five people eventually cancelled, as they had caught some horrible flu. Many others, who only weeks ago had appeared keen to attend, were nowhere to be seen and another group, who had initially declined, ended up coming along after all! In the end, 50 out of 150 turned up, which is a good result, especially considering the fact that the place we had at our disposal only had so many chairs.

Call in the volunteers
Another thing you should keep in mind whilst organising your book’s official christening is to have enough chirpy volunteers at hand to help you set everything up (chairs, posters, tables...), make tea and coffee, serve cakes and scones and clear up after the last guests have left. Bind these indispensable friends to you with free copies of your book and constant signs of appreciation (flattery also helps).

Be kind to yourself
When it comes to the actual book presentation, drink plenty of blue mallow or lime blossom tea to save your vocal chords. As a person who normally doesn’t like being in the limelight, I had one of my wife’s svelte colleagues interview me to disperse the attention a bit. I also managed to lure Charles Robin Broad away from his busy schedule (he’s a local entertainer, opera singer and piano teacher all in one!) It really did wonders to sustain the listeners’ interest. Such an eclectic configuration helps diffuse the initial tension and make your life that much easier. Hey, but if you’ve got the voice and enough extroverted character traits, by all means go it alone. I just prefer to work in a team.

Try not to stress
Another lesson I learned this time around was not to painstakingly prepare too much in advance. And unnecessarily worrying about what you’re going to say can only give you a sleepless night, which is exactly what happened prior to the launch of my first novel Allegro Agitato or Neurotically Yours. Of course, everyone is different, but this time around I simply met up with Sandra, my interviewer for a couple of hours, and by the time we had drunk our teas, we had come up with a programme appropriately interspersed with compelling questions, readings of three relevant excerpts from the novel and time left for the guests to ask general questions. Everything else would have to be improvised and that was it! For me, the most important factor was a good night’s sleep beforehand; the rest would have to take care of itself (Okay, admittedly, as a teacher I’m used to confronting large groups of people without much ado, but nevertheless there’s always some apprehension at the onset).

Provide snacks
Whatever your genre, any book reading should be an entertaining and intellectually stimulating experience for your guests. And believe me, a certain degree of humour also goes a long way, as does some kind of culinary treat afterwards. I opted to spoil my guests with tea, coffee and a generous array of delicious homemade cookies and cakes. Happily satiated, the majority were only too happy to part with €10 to secure their signed copy of the book. Many also extolled the look, layout and feel of the book, so thanks again to Catriona and her team at Silverwood!

Enjoy catching up
All in all, it was a Sunday afternoon well spent - not only to promote the novel, but also to practise my public speaking skills and catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a while. It made me realise that all the hard work that had gone into the book was well worth it.

Want to know more...?

You can find out more about Libor and purchase a copy of Life's A Game You Play here.