The book launch
My bookselling career has been bookmarked with signature events. They have been book launches, In Conversations, forums, author interviews, and book signings. A recent event reminded me of the importance of acknowledging that these few hours mean the world to an author, usually coming at the end of years of work.
The recent launch was of a local history title and the author was both chronicler and relative of the subject. Her audience was predominately relatives but also included friends and representatives of the various local history community.
I approached this launch, ticking off the usual boxes - venue ready, AV working, catering organised, schedule being followed. I also made sure I welcomed everyone to the physical location and ensured they accessed the launch area easily. I maintained a ‘quiet’ presence at the back of the room, simply being on-hand should anything be needed. Post the official component of the event, I maintained a discreet presence and ensured that, on leaving, everyone was thanked for their attendance.
It probably isn’t “in the brief” to be personally welcoming and farewelling guests at a private launch (the author would typically do this alone), but I treat these occasions in the same way I do when entertaining someone in my home - with warmth and pleasantness.
The author spoke with great emotion as she described the years of work in researching the subject of her book; the decisions made along the way as to what to include; and the tracking down of people who could add their anecdotal accounts to her story and thereby ‘fill in any blanks’. She explained that getting to the launch day was of great importance to her in that she could both unveil her work and thank all those who had helped in its publication. What for me was a couple of hours of logistics and hosting duties was for her the culmination of one of her dreams.
Her subsequent correspondence brought this home; I was particularly pleased that my demeanour had made everyone enjoy their day: My team have nothing but praise for any interactions they had with Mary on a very busy and exciting day.
In other words, my expertise added to her enjoyment of the day. And, that is a prime role for an event organiser - to ensure that the day is enjoyable for authors and guests alike.