Thursday, 16 March 2017

Book Launches—Eat, Pray, Love, Entertain and Give

 – by Ruth Bonetti

Our book baby is birthed, swaddled between covers. It’s time to party!

And what better way to party than with a book launch? But it's not always that easy.

If we self-published, funds are tight until sales happen. Unless we’re Kate Grenville or Tim Winton, mainstream publishers say ‘There’s little budget and rarely do book launches increase sales.’

Even Oxford University Press, my first publisher, were pained that a small pebble on their strand had the temerity to ask for funds. They gave a nominal token when I booked Queensland’s then First Lady, Senator Flo Bjelke-Petersen, to launch it. Like authors, politicians crave favourable PR ops.

So what makes a successful launch?


Send your book into orbit with a flourish. I enlisted students to play excerpts from Enjoy Playing the Clarinet. For Taking Centre-Stage, I played clarinet, wearing a red dress and orchid. Or, play a sound track of relevant music.


But words and music are my fortés, so live music happens at my launches. A worker is worthy of his/her hire. My good sons will sing for their gingerbread; I won’t ask their colleagues to do so. Relief. My crowdfunding ran above my target so I was able to pay Greshka gypsy band.

Is a launch worth the effort and expense?


Many jostle for a slim mention in limited PR space. An EVENT has a chance to hook media.


Enlist helpers to prepare food that’s relevant to the book, like gingerbread for my Finnish sagas. Bianca Kasurinen, who worked with Jamie Oliver, is a Godsend to prepare Finnish pastries for my launch of Midnight Sun to Southern Cross on 23 April. If cheese and bikkies fit your budget, so be it.

What if we slaved at the stove so there’s lavish food and people don’t come to the banquet? Or the letters ‘RSVP’ were ignored and the food runs out?


We pray that enough people will be interested to attend. That they will buy books. Try this line: ‘One for yourself, and one to lend to friends, because you know loaned books aren’t returned!’


I allow my great-uncle–who died in 1962– to snatch the photo limelight from me. His pics reinforce the story, as does ‘his’ Facebook page ‘Burn My Letters; Karl Johan Back’ for a book published in 1920.

Place scribbled proofs pages on seats as teasers.

Present a SHORT PowerPoint presentation.


Spread the love around. Thank people who helped along the way with relevant gifts; a bamboo for Anne Hamilton as she encouraged with the word that a bamboo suddenly flourishes after latent years; a seed in a matchbox for descendants. Small but special.


Thank those loved ones who man the credit card swiper, MC, or carry trays.

Today, on our wedding anniversary, I thank my husband who travelled the paths with me, carried my bags and my baggage, who supports me in my writing journey.

Before Skype and emails, during our long distance romance, I waited weeks for Antoni’s first missive, which consisted of a cross word puzzle centred around my name. What wordsmith could resist that?


Believe in our God–given gifts, and the enabling of our hard work to reach fruition.

Have you run or attended a book launch? What tips would you give?

About Ruth Bonetti

After publishing in her primary field to help presenters of Words and Music to perform with confidence, Ruth turns to her heritage. Her two-part saga, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross is completed with the launch of the second book at St Lucia Uniting Church, Brisbane on 23 April at 2pm. Bookings essential:


  1. Great post Ruth. Loved the way you presented it. Your launches sounded like fun. I too used music and composed my own song (with the title of my book) for my book launch - and sang it.   I agree music does add a lot to a book launch. Loved those finishing touches you'd thought of - like giving unique (even if small) gifts to special people. Would have enjoyed seeing you playing the clarinet in that red dress. Thanks Ruth. Warm anniversary wishes to you and your husband today. May the new year bring you more joy and togetherness and many monments of working together for the kingdom.

  2. And I would love to have heard you sing your specially composed song! Somewhere I have a photo of the red dress but couldn't find it.
    That's the word-special. Send people home with a unique gift relevant to them. As well as an autographed book!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience on launches Ruth - I'v done a few e-launches now, which are a lot of fun, but plan on a physical launch once Akrad's Children is published. Hmmm, I'll have to think about music. All the best for your launch of Midnight Sun to Southern Cross. I'm hoping I can come (need to work out my schedule).

  4. Great practical tips for a book launch. I haven't done one yet, hopefully one day... Thank you!

  5. This was fun to read and i bet your launches are fun too! A good reminder for us not to get too serious.

  6. Well said, Ruth. I love a good book launch and I think the excitement and shared celebration is very much worth the effort and expense. (And those darling helpers! Where would we be without them?) Trust your next launch goes off with a bang and lots of 'one for you and one for a friend' sales. :)