Thursday, 20 May 2021

(To) Launch in the time of COVID? Ruth Bonetti

 I’m awed by author colleagues who run online book launches. Such enterprise. So tech savvy! How do you do it? What were your challenges?

Digital is cheaper. How can indie authors afford wine, cheese and nibbles after the expense of publishing a book? Plus, (if we want a quality product, as we do!) paying trusty editors, designers, proof-readers, cover illustrators?

Endless thanks to my esteemed creative team for your staggered invoices. Annie, Beck, Peter, I’m looking at you.

Is a live launch self-indulgent...or masochism?

Why persist with live launches, even though it cruels the budget and mortgage? 


  • The PR Cookie Monster demands an Event.
  • Authors can splash photos on social media.
  • An Event may just attract a par in print media. (A few did survive Covid. Check the Queensland Courier Mail on 29 May.)

Events I made, pre-Covid.

Naïve moi hoped my first publication by a Big House, Oxford University Press, might warrant a contribution for a launch. They gave a grudging £50 to a mere minion. After all, I'd booked the then first lady of the state, Lady Flo. (Tip: Aim high and work down.)


Students played excerpts from Enjoy Playing the Clarinet. It was a great night but the catering cost. Queue lentils and baked beans, leftover delicacies and vino.  


To launch Taking Centre Stage, which later morphed into Confident Music Performance, I played demo clarinet in a slinky red dress (since donated to Vinnies when girth expanded).


In 1998, I steered Omega Writers to publish an anthology, Seasons of Giving. The so supportive Phil Ryan hosted its launch at his Paddington bookshop. Of course, my next book was launched at a Mary Ryan’s shop.

Hot tip: Find an audience and write/ launch a book to fit it.

Don’t Speak Out – Freak Out was a hectic rush to coincide with a national speakers’ conference.The first edition was ho hum, later improved, so it became a Good Thing.

Practice is a Dirty Word pitched to a national clarinet conference. I hoped delegates might move themselves to the State Library launch. We feasted on leftovers and wine for a week. But PR noise saved some of our bacon. 


The cost of a stand at a Music Teachers conference prompted me to launch another book, Sounds and Souls: How music teachers change lives. It was a lacklustre affair. With many competing options, sales were drab. But hey, I didn’t outlay food and vino!


To launch the first book of my Midnight Sun to Southern Cross trilogy, Burn my Letters, I enlisted a son’s gypsy band, Greshka, and Scandi delicacies from IKEA. 

For Midnight Sun to Southern Cross, a Finnish pastry cook provided delicacies, much appreciated by a live-alone relative. It broke the budget but we so enjoyed! 

(Memo: in future, delegate a minion to turn on the tea urn.)

The Art Deco Mansion in St Lucia: What drove the man who built it?  is the third book of my Midnight Sun trilogy. It will launch on 30 May at 2.30, St Lucia Uniting Church. Because my grandparents donated the organ, it will feature that in a performance of music by Dr Phillip Gearing and acclaimed singer Anne Fulton. Watch my FB space for an Illustrious Person invited to launch. (Hope and prayers!) 

Thanks to Covid regulations for ruling against food and vino. That saves my bacon!

Would you like to attend?

The launch allows capacity seating as long as I comply with COVID regulations. At the time of posting, there are still places. Please register with your name and contract tracing details to

Would you watch a livestream?

COVID taught us to think outside our norm. If enough people express interest in a livestream, I will action and share a link.

Why a live launch when introvert authors are allergic to the spotlight? 

I’m a shy introvert released from my chrysalis by the need to promote books. (Midnight Sun tells of my transition to butterfly).

A book launch is an opportunity to 

  • celebrate all our hard work
  • thank those who helped us through the journey to print

Helpers and supporters deserve acknowledgement and thanks. 

A launch is an opportunity to thank supporters – and a stage to blow my own trumpet.

Ruth Bonetti is the author of a dozen or so books in her primary field of music which evolved into advice for confident performance of words and music. After a decade absorbed in the biography/memoir of her "Midnight Sun to Southern Cross" trilogy Ruth is tantalised by the prospect of writing in less demanding genres. The first book of her trilogy, Burn My Letters won the CALEB Nonfiction prize in 2017.


  1. I'm in awe of your adventurous spirit and book launch dedication, Ruth. Your creative inner livewire excels through your efforts. All the best for your May 30 launch.

  2. I enjoyed attending the Midnight Sun launch and have been toying with the idea of finally doing a physical launch myself - after sending eight of my own books and two anthologies into the world. My online launches were easy, if fast paced, and lots of fun.

  3. Thanks, Mazzy. and I love your own livewire!

  4. You inspire me with your brave digital launches, so if you can do those successfully, surely a live launch is possible! You go, gal!

  5. Wow. Inspiring. I’m launching a book later this year and have been wondering what to do that will help to boost sales, plus satisfy my writerly soul. I’d like some kind of live launch, Covid permitting, but is it a good idea from a business perspective, I don’t know.

  6. Thanks for responding, Susan. I do find personal contact more satisfying than digital. Plus the photos garnered from a live launch can create pizzazz on social media. Spreadsheets of profit and loss aren't my strong suit, so I can't promise the business perspective will boom. A launch is a lot of work, let's not pretend otherwise. It's challenging and yes, tiring. But it works for me.
    Be brave! Go for it, even if on a modest scale.

  7. Most of my books have been live-launched by the trad publishers. I'm not sure which way I'll go when I eventually get my next novel ready to launch. I still hate up front work. As you mention, there are so many pros and cons. You've done a great job with yours.

  8. I've had seven actual face-to-face book launches, Ruth, but opted for an online Facebook Live launch for my historical novel 'Down by the Water' in January this year, because of COVID. The big plus of my online launch was that friends from far away could join in--and I honestly don't think I lost out sales-wise either, to my surprise, even though people weren't physically there to buy on the spot. And as you say, an online launch is cheaper! On the other hand, it was quite a scary experience for me as I was unsure of the technology, but I got there, with the help of family members! Some of my face-to-face launches have worked better than others and I think combining a launch with some over event often helps. But, as you also point out, Ruth, they are a lot of work, especially for people like me who tend to over-cater and are not good at delegating! I do hop yours goes well though--it sounds wonderful. And I remember your grandfather's house at St Lucia--it was quite a landmark out that way during my uni days!