I loved the cyber launch for From Light To Dark and Back Again held at the beginning of the month. Thanks again to Chapeltown Books and Cafelit for hosting the event. I was co-host. This post looks at how I prepared for the event and what I learned from it. I hope it will be of use to other writers. The images used in the post were those I used during the launch itself.
You can’t prepare enough material for an event like this. I had material ready in terms of music (all You Tube and so public domain) to use. These tracks covered one of my favourite genres in music – the story in song. One in particular, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, an album track by Dave Edmunds, tells the story of said creature but not from the usual viewpoint. Given I write flash fiction with twists in them, this track was really appropriate. What tracks would be appropriate for your writing?
Always check the clip will play properly before posting it. The one thing I did forget to check was that the clip I’d chosen only played that clip. I chose (the obvious) Paperback Writer by The Beatles (and I love the song) but the You Tube clip then went on to play other songs including the fantastic Penny Lane, which is wonderfully descriptive. Again appropriate for what I do but I would have been better off just sticking to the one clip = one song only idea.
Why? Faster download time for one thing. People watch the clip and then come back to you immediately. One downside of multiple clips is people can focus on that and not come back to the event! Definitely, a lesson learnt for next time. I hope there will be many next times!
Food and Drink
Pictures of food and drink for the party came from Pixabay as its pictures are free to use and don’t fall foul of copyright rules but word of warning: don’t use the Shutterstock ones as they are subject to copyright rules. I should’ve prepared these in advance. I found them live on the day, which was okay, but I could’ve posted faster (and maybe more) had I prepared these ready to go.
Having Material in One File
I had one big file (I used Scrivener, of course) to hold all my material and links and would highly recommend doing that. It made things easier to find and I was able to cut and paste in material on the day. It meant I was putting up post after post after post. This kept the page fresh with new material for people to read and comment on. The biggest difficulty I did have was in keeping up with the flow of comments coming in but that was a lovely problem to have. (All I can recommend there is have a good typing speed, it helps!).
Sharing Information and Extracts
I also gave thought as to what people would want to know about my writing and prepared snippets, suitable for a standard Facebook post. Later in the day, I shared one of my 100 words stories from the book – Health and Safety, which shares Goldilocks’ version of events in the classic fairytale. I was fortunate in that I found the perfect Pixabay image to go with it.
With hindsight, I should have shared one in the morning and another in the afternoon as tasters for the book. I don’t think one was enough. Two would have been right as I could’ve shown the different moods reflected in the book.
Quizzes and Raffles
The quiz fell flat. I posted links so people could find the answers easily and also earlier posts in the few days leading up to the launch so the information was out there. Have no real idea why the quiz didn’t work out. The raffle was a success though. A random number generator picked the winners (I gave everyone who visited on the day a number).
With hindsight, I should have not bothered with the quiz and just held a morning raffle and a separate afternoon one. That would have covered those who could only be at the event in the morning and/or afternoon. People winning in the first raffle would come out of any further draws to ensure nobody could win more than one prize. (This would have been pointless anyway as, bar the first prize winners, the prizes were the same for everyone else).
I had to change my plans on the day with the quiz. Only two people took part so I thought it only fair to award them joint first prize (a signed copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again), a book related notebook and pen, and sweets. The first name out of the raffle won that bundle too. Everyone else won the notebook, pen and sweets. Also with the quiz, I should have asked people to direct message me with the answers so nobody else saw them! But you live and learn!
Talking of prizes, I selected mini bags of sweets locally and then used Vistaprint for what I knew would appeal to those coming to the launch – my fellow writers! The secret, if you could call it that, with Vistaprint is to (a) work out a budget and stick to it and (b) choose those items where reproducing the cover image would not be a problem.
I went for notebooks and pens with my book cover on them. They look fantastic (and my prize winners love them!). I thought of choosing a mug but the image just didn’t look right on it. I don’t know if it was the ripple effect of the cover but it just looked as if it had been cut out and pasted on. With the notebooks and pens, the cover blends seamlessly in and so works a treat.
It is worth using Vistaprint’s online tools to try your design out. If the image doesn’t look right, go with your gut instinct here. If something about it doesn’t seem quite right to you, others will get that impression too. Equally, if you love the look of the design, then it will appeal to others too.
All credit to Vistaprint too. They spotted an error with the pens, which if it had gone through would have been okay, the pens looked fine, but their correction to the “bleed area” meant the image went all the way up the main section of the pen and looked so much better than my original. There was no additional cost for the correction. I ordered my goods about 10 days before the launch and worried I’d left it “tight” on time. Not to worry – I had the goods within five working days though next time I would order sooner.
The event was a long one (from 10 am to 6 pm) but that gave plenty of opportunities for people to drop in and out of the event all day. This boosted Facebook page visitor numbers!
The thing I was most pleased about was the wonderful interaction with people. There were some great online discussions (writing tips and so on) and people quizzed me about my writing. (I was ready for that! Always prepare your answers in advance!).
I think I should’ve prepared some more fun posts to put up such as Murphy’s Law for Writers (Rule 1 – You will never find a pen when you want one. Not a problem for most professions but embarrassing when you claim to be a writer! Rule 2 – ink cartridges and toners always run out in the middle of printing an important story or article, for which you are trying to meet a deadline!).
The great thing about promoting the book though is I will always be promoting it. I am working on the follow up to this book and when hopefully that is out in the fullness of time, it will be a case of Allison Symes, author of FLTDBA, now has her second book out. If you liked FLTDBA, you will like this etc etc. When I talk about my work in interviews and so on, the book will get a good plug!
Good luck to all local writers trying to promote work. I think the important thing is to enjoy what you write and how you promote it and so on. That I feel will come through to people. Anything else after that is a bonus.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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