Welcome Jenny Goebel!
Jenny is a middle grade author from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Her book launch for Grave Images (Scholastic, October 2013) was last week at an amazing indie bookstore in Denver called The Tattered Cover. I was lucky enough to attend and it was fabulous (scroll to the bottom to see a YouTube video of the event).
Her debut middle grade novel is a perfect read for anyone who likes endearing characters and eerie plots. I am not a fast reader these days, but I bought this novel last Saturday and emailed Jenny the following Monday about doing an interview and giveaway. It was devoured in just two reading sessions because I HAD to uncover the mystery and make sure Bernie came out unscathed (no comment on whether or not that happened).
Today she's stopping by to share insight and tips about one of the most exciting events in an author's career: THE BOOK LAUNCH. Indie and traditionally-published authors, pay attention~ Jenny offers some wonderful advice in her answers below.
1. How far in advance of publication did you start looking into
your launch? Who were your points of contact (aka, who is the
best person to talk to if you want to schedule an event?)
I’m pretty sure I started planning my launch party the day I
knew GRAVE IMAGES was going to be a real live book. Okay,
maybe even before that. Sheesh, in all honesty, I was probably
fantasizing about releasing my precious little book into world
long before the first word was ever written. But as for actually
thinking about the logistics of the party (and not just what I
would say on Oprah someday), I started attending launch
parties for other debut authors about a year in advance of my release date. It was while I was attending one such party that I discovered the awesomeness of the Tattered Cover Book Store. And then at another event I was given an introduction to
Tattered Cover’s event coordinator. So my advice to people
planning a launch would be to attend as many author events as
possible in the months leading up to your release date. I’m sure
you can call around looking for points of contact, but in my
experience a face-to-face interaction is usually more fruitful.
Plus, just think of all the great new books you’ll be introduced
to while making the circuit!
2. How did you determine the right location and timing of your
launch? Can you offer any advice on how days of the week
might factor in or time of day might affect attendance?
One reason I felt The Tattered Cover was ideal for my launch
was because it was centrally located for the friends and family I
knew would be attending. As for the timing of the launch,
everyone agreed that a Halloween themed event would be
perfect for my spooky middle grade mystery, so luckily my
publisher and the bookstore worked together to make it
happen the Saturday before my book was actually scheduled
for release. I did have the option of doing the launch one night
through the week, but, as my book is written for a younger
audience, I knew a school night would make it more difficult
for children to attend. Another upside of having it
midafternoon on a Saturday was that my guests could stick
around and peruse the bookstore after the event, whereas the
store would’ve been trying to close if we’d done it one night
through the week.
3. Did you consider the purpose of your launch to be sales-based or celebration-based? A combination?
I would say my focus was primarily celebration-based. My
friends and family have been cheering me on for quite some
time and I wanted the chance to formally acknowledge their
support as well as provide an opportunity to gather together
and just enjoy each other’s company. With that said I also
knew many of them had been waiting for the opportunity to
purchase my book and have it signed, so sales did factor into
consideration. I knew I wanted a venue where the books could
be sold, and that I wouldn’t actually have to handle the
exchange of money.
3. How did you get the word out about your event? Formal
That’s always the trick isn’t it? In addition to the bookstore’s
advertisement through newsletters and in the local paper, I
also sent out evites to just about every email address I could
scrounge up, and I created an Event Page on Facebook. I also
dropped off flyers and bookmarks to an elementary school I
had previously taught at.
4. What did you include in your speaking points? How long was your “program”? Anything you would have changed?
Knowing that there would be a number of young children in
attendance, I didn’t want to natter on for too long (which was
totally fine by me), and I also wanted to keep it interesting for
the adults. I’ve been to a number of events where the author
chose to speak about their writing process and the journey of
their book to publication. I think these types of speeches go
over very well, especially when there are other writers in the
audience. I tried to touch on these points briefly, but my
primary focus was on the collaboration of author and reader
and the magic that happens when the two meet. This was
something I hoped everyone would be able to relate to. My
program took around 15 minutes and included a reading from
GRAVE IMAGES. Looking back, I probably would change the
part where I burst into tears (Jess note: this was such a
beautiful, heartfelt moment!); but, what can I say, in addition
to being a day for my book to be released into the world, the
event was an emotional release for me as well.
5. Can you offer any advice concerning refreshments? Amount, type, etc.
This is where those evite RSVPs come in really handy.
Otherwise it’s very difficult to gauge what the turn out will be,
and how to plan accordingly for refreshments. Once I had a
vague idea of how many people would be there, I started to
think about what would work well with my theme. I was
fortunate to have my book launch landing close to Halloween,
so it took less creativity on my part. (I ended up having
pudding cups with headstone cookies sticking out of them,
cupcakes decorated like eyeballs, and witchy brew.) But I’ve
seen other authors come up with some very original ways of
incorporating themes from their books into the refreshments
they offer. For example, Melanie Crowder offered a beverage
at her launch that was made from the aloe vera desert plant
referenced in her middle grade novel, PARCHED. Whatever
you plan, just be sure to check with your event coordinator to
make sure the venue doesn’t have any restrictions on what you
can bring in.
6. Any other advice on launching a beloved book into the world?
Try to remember that it is a celebration. It’s supposed to be
fun! Don’t lose sight of that stressing over the particulars of the
event. Typically, the people who turn out for these things are
incredibly happy for you and excited to be a part of this
momentous leg of your journey, so just relax and allow yourself
to enjoy their enthusiasm for you and your book.
Thank you so much! Jenny is giving away a copy of her book to a lucky person leaving a comment. To be entered, tell us: what is the best Halloween costume you've ever worn (or, if you weren't the trick-or-treating type, the best costume you've seen).
Thirteen-year-old Bernie's summer is looking pretty grim. It's hard to make friends when your family runs a monument company, and your backyard is littered with tombstones. It's even harder when your mother suddenly refuses to leave her room . . .
To make matters worse, her father has just hired a new artist to engrave the headstones--the creepy Mr. Stein. Bernie has a bad feeling about him right from the start, and after snooping around his cottage, she discovers an engraved portrait of their neighbor . . . a woman who promptly dies the next day. And it's not just a weird coincidence. The pattern continues, and Bernie realizes that Mr. Stein has begun engraving headstones before people die, which forces Bernie to ask a horrifying question: Is Mr. Stein predicting the deaths . . . or causing them?
*Cool aside, not only did Jenny own her own engraving business, but she also engraved headstone portraits, just like Mr. Abbot Stein, the mysterious drifter who comes into Bernie's life, thus beginning a spectacularly creepy series of deaths in her town.
Jenny's Website: www.jennygoebel.com
Jenny's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjennygoebel?ref=hl#
Jenny's Twitter handle: @jennygoebel
(click the link)