My Book Launch formula - Alec Lucke

An aspiring author customarily spends some years crafting his manuscript for publication. The book launch, another step along that pathway, presents an opportunity for an original literary creation to showcase the author's own unique talent and style before the focus shifts to promotion and distribution. Authors need to grasp the moment and passionately express their individuality as once the minefield of promotion and distribution starts, their book and its message risks being  submerged by the legions of others competing for space and sales.

Factors influencing how you prepare for your book launch.

In my own case, the following factors were taken into account.

I was born in Gladstone and had lived most of my life at nearby Mt Larcom. I had a public profile as a regional businessman, an environmental campaigner and social activist. Although we had moved to New South Wales almost six years earlier, Mt Larcom's proximity and focus on  Gladstone's adverse industrial impacts and ongoing harbour dredging controversy meant Gladstone remained the obvious venue. My entrepreneurial spirit and background experiences dictated if I was to remain consistent with past endeavours, my book launch party must at least attempt to make a decent splash.

Approach to a sponsor.

Because my manuscript rails against discriminatory political practices and corporate exploitation of its community and environment, my book was always destined to be potentially controversial. I therefore distributed ten preview copies to diverse contacts and asked for their honest assessment. Among those preview readers was David French, CEO of Capricorn Investment Partners, Rockhampton (my superannuation fund managers) whom I approached for sponsorship, “provided you do not find my material too intimidating.” I got feedback from most but not all previewers. The previewers did not concur with my opinion that the book would have only limited appeal and to the contrary predicted wide readability.

Polishing the manuscript

David gave an immediate commitment and encouraged me to obtain the services of an editor, “to make the book as good as you can get it.” This was excellent advice. After a false start with a freelance editor, I contacted former close friend Claire Mitchell, who owns a family printing business in Gladstone and entered into a productive collaboration with Claire as proof reader and editor. Technically, Claire is not an editor but never-the-less is very competent and because of her long association with the printing industry she has many valued contacts and is a regular font of information. Along the way, Gladstone Printing Services agreed to become joint sponsors of my book launch party and the whole staff (about ten) became emotionally involved. One of the girls in the office took the cover photograph and another came up with the book's title. When I suggested to Claire that she launch the book, she initially demurred but then took up the challenge and joined Toastmasters to improve her public speaking ability!

The sponsorship deal

Capricorn Investment Partners put up sufficient money to hire the salubrious Gladstone Art Gallery; professional caterer; i.e. finger food, soft drinks, fruit juices and bottled water; professional video operator; musician; bush poet and various prizes. Claire's contacts, local knowledge and supervision of printed invitations, business cards, posters, participation in pre-event publicity that included a front page story in the Gladstone Observer coupled with other media coverage and attention to organisational details meant nothing was left to chance.

The Book Launch Party

Although the function was open to the public, most of the eighty odd people who attended were invitees. Among them were dignitaries Hon Liz Cunningham MP, Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers, some councillors, author Therese Creed and an investigative journalist named Ali Phillips of Washington DC publication Think Progress. Apologies were received from China, Tasmania and Cairns from valued technical experts who had acted as consultants to the East End Mine Action Group.

Well connected close friend and long term East End Mine Action Chairman Peter Brady acted as Master of Ceremonies while other speakers were David French of Capricorn Investment Partners, Hon Liz Cunningham, Claire Mitchell, Ali Phillips and author Alec Lucke.

That this potentially controversial book should attract sponsorship demonstrated the sponsors'  convictions that the book's important message should be aired. It was a great credit to them that they were not intimidated and gave unqualified support. Reinforced by a powerful array of documents, the contents of Road to Exploitation, three months after the book launch, still remains unchallenged.

The formal part of proceedings with speeches and drawing of spot prizes took about one hour.   The food, drinks and entertainment coupled with the book signings went for a bit longer with family and EEMAG members receiving complimentary copies. The highly successful social event fulfilled expectations, came within budget and was enjoyed by all and culminated in a six and a half minute book launch video of Road to Exploitation on Youtube. The whole exercise had flow-on synergistic benefits not only for me as an author but for the sponsors as well and we were all pleased by the outcome.

Matching product and sponsor

Authors seeking sponsorship should try to match their manuscript with a reliable sponsor where there may be a mutual benefit. Offer them involvement with a decent product. Demonstrate organisational ability, keep the lines of communication open and value your sponsors. Send out invitations. Had my book been a work of fiction, it might have been more challenging to so readily find a sponsor and it may have been necessary to have approached the task with the appropriate level of care and diligence.

Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVZ4vMiASvM

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