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Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Launch Advice (and a giveaway!) with Debut Author Jenny Goebel

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
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).

Book Description:
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 Twitter handle: @jennygoebel

(click the link)


  1. This sounds like a fun book! It's really interesting to hear about planning a book launch!

    1. Thanks, Andrea~ yes, it sounds like it was a lot of work, but her event really was so well-done and special :)

  2. Oh, this sounds like my kind of book! Congratulations!

    God bless,

  3. I want to read this!!! Sounds great, and congratulations Jenny, on publishing. I haven't done a book launch, but I could already relate to the bursting into tears part :) Favortie Halloween costume? I love going punk because it shocks the adults who know me in real life!

    1. Hey training for and running marathons breeds at least as much emotion as writing/publishing books! Going punk sounds pretty darn fun :)

  4. Love that cover and what a fun premise. I have some grandkids who will love this book, methinks.

    1. I love the cover, too~ I had her sign my copy of the book to my girls so they can read it when they get older :)

  5. Sounds like a ton of fun! Are you planning your launch, Jess? :-)

    My mom made us really fantastic costumes, but one of the most memorable ones for me was when I started doing my own and was Cleopatra when I was around 12. Now my kids and I go to a huge Halloween thing and the year Toy Story 3 came out, there were dozens of store-bought Buzz Lightyears, but there was this one girl with a homemade Buzz costume that was SO AWESOME.

    1. Homemade Buzz! That sounds pretty sweet.

      Looks like you're the only one who's mentioned a costume so far~ you've got a great chance of winning the book!

    2. Woops, make that 1 of 2 people w/ a costume comment :)

  6. Thanks, Jess, for such an infomative interview. I've bookmarked it. The book sounds great. I love endearing characters and eerie plots.

  7. OMGosh, this book sounds so fabulous! I love the cover. And great tips for a book launch.

    1. You'll be doing your launch soon, right? So exciting!

  8. Such great launch tips (one day some of us waiting in the wings will be able to take advantage of them, right??), a fun sounding book, and inspiring interview. I'm taking notes...

  9. These are great tips! I agree that a celebration-based event is best. It should be like a giant party, with book sales being the outshoot but not the whole purpose. Best of luck on your new release, Jenny!

    1. Thanks Karen~ I'm with you on the book launch being best as a celebration-based event :)

  10. Aloha Jess,

    New follower here after I saw your comment on Unicorn Bell's blog!

    I laughed a lot - and nodded even more - about the reasons why I'm not doing the Nano thing:)

    1. Hi Mark! Yes, I'm all for cheering for NaNo participants, but it's just not in the cards for me anytime soon :)

  11. Great tips! I'll be needing these soon :)

  12. I went to the Tattered Cover last year when I was in Denver and fell in love with it. What a great bookstore!
    This was such a useful post that I've bookmarked it. Lots of great info about holding a book launch.
    My favourite costume ever was my homemade detective costume at the age of 8. By the way, which costume did your daughter choose?

    1. Homemade detective??? So cool. She chose NONE of the options~ can you believe it? Instead, she wanted to wear a homemade dress that one of my CPs made and went as a "butterfly princess." Go figure. I was rooting for bigfoot hunter.

  13. I love the cover! It sounds like a delightful book. Great interview and good luck to Jenny! :-)

  14. Congrats on the book! Great advice all around. :D

    1. Thank you Lisa~ it was a fun interview to do, having been to the launch.

  15. Thanks Jessica and Jenny. Great information! Now I'm looking forward to both The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher AND Grave Images.

  16. I've only dressed up for Halloween once, and I was a pregnant nun... yeah.
    Anyways, I would love to read Grave Images. :)

  17. No need to enter me in the giveaway, but I just wanted to say that this is a great and useful interview with such a lovely person. :) Thanks for sharing it, Jenny and Jessica!

  18. Wow...I'm late in organizing mine. Thanks for the tips. =)

  19. What a great cover!

    Yep these are helpful tips. My launch is next week, but all virtually since I'm indie. So much to plan!! :D

  20. I loved getting to read about how you went about doing you book launch(and I dream about mine all the time too- and I haven't even started querying!). =)

    And lets see, my fav costume that I did as a kid was a bat. I loved my black wings!

  21. Great post! Halloween costumes, hmm... I liked my pirate costume this year! :)

  22. Nice interview--Grave Images sounds like a great book!

  23. I'm starting to think about what I want to do for my launch party. This was very helpful! Thanks! Sounds like an awesome book, too.

    1. Congrats on having a launch to plan~ glad Jenny's answers were helpful!

  24. Interesting interview. Some great advice, and I love the idea of the pudding cups with headstone cookies. The kids must have loved that!