Book Launch Jitters

by Marylee MacDonald in For Writers Ready to Publish

The “Book Launch Jitters” hit me big time this morning. My wonderful friends, Sapna Gupta and Steve Hillegeist, offered to host a book launch event to celebrate publication of Bonds of Love & Blood. The book made its official debut a couple of months ago, but scheduling an actual party proved complicated. If it is complicated for me, I suspect that when your book comes out, knowing where and how to stage a launch party will prove more stressful than you could have imagined.

evite for book launch

Here’s the E-vite I eventually figured out how to create.

Creating an E-Vite Proved Stressful

When Sapna proposed the idea of the party, I thought the invitation list would magically get done by elves. I never imagined I would have to figure out how to use E-vite, the online software that everyone is apparently using to organize things like this.

Using E-Vite proved stressful because I don’t have an organized e-mail list. I’ve been wedded to Outlook for a long time, and I’m only now making the transition to G-mail. I don’t have my contacts loaded in, and in any case, people change e-mail address pretty frequently.

Why didn’t I just use Outlook and search for all Arizona residents? Because if I do a mass mailing from my personal e-mail account, someone on that list might flag the e-mail as spam. Two or three spam complaints could shut down my account. I’ve know two authors who received warnings from their ISPNs for just this sort of infraction.

As an author who wants to connect with readers, I’m now scrupulous about making sure anyone who receives an e-mail from me actually wants it. This meant I had to copy and paste addresses from my personal list into the E-vite list, all the while thinking, gosh, I wonder if so-and-so would want to come, or will it be a bother?

Food: How Much And Who Will Buy It?

Oddly, food provided another stumbling block. Out of the two hundred invitations I sent, by Wednesday of this week, which is to say four days before the party, only sixteen people out of a hundred had said, yes.

I checked on Friday and that number had gone up to forty-eight, with a few “maybes” thrown in. Over a hundred and sixty folks had not bothered to respond at all, so I guess I was bothering them.

The hostess turned out to have a very busy week at work, and she suggested I make a Costco run to buy some party platters. I don’t have a Costco card. Luckily, my friend and member of my writing group, the wonderful Margaret Spence (go here to read her essay in About Place journal) bailed me out. She offered to pick me up, take me to Costco, and store food in her refrigerator.

The Book Cart

I knew from having participated in the Payson Book Festival that I would need two things for the launch event. One was a cart to tote all my books over to Sapna’s, and the other was my long unused Square.

I pre-signed all the copies of Bonds of Love & Blood in my possession and packed them into this cart, taking the precaution of lining the cart with a garbage sack. I don’t want the books getting dusty, and that’s a real danger here.

The cart now weighs about two hundred pounds. Just joking. But it is pretty darned heavy, and I’m going to need my husband’s help to lift it into the trunk.

shopping cart

I wish I had a metal shopping cart. The last time I used this one, the plastic lift-grip snapped, making for a heavy and unwieldy carrier.

Of course, while I’m in the mood to feel anxious, I’m also feeling anxious about how many books to bring. I have forty or so copies of BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, but I also have a little book of illustrations, a companion piece. I called it POSTCARDS HOME. If someone buys my “real” book, I want to give them a copy of the small book, too.


BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD and its companion, POSTCARDS HOME, make a nice set. One works for people who like a lot of words, and other works for people who like to flip through a few pictures.

I have a few copies of my novel, MONTPELIER TOMORROW, and I also have some “swag,” meaning bookmarks. I had some made up for both books, another added cost that I hadn’t thought about prior to my first book coming out.

Long-Forgotten Square

Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I have to remember how to use my Square. This is the credit card reader that plugs into my iPad. I haven’t used it in nine or ten months.

the Square

I hope I can remember how to use my Square. Now, what was the password?

Should I try to handle the sales, or can I ask someone else to do it? Maybe my writer-friends Judith Starkston and Andrew Levkoff know how to use a Square. They’re out selling books a lot more often than I am.

Actually, my worry stems from one source. I’m feeling chagrined telling you what it is.

I am embarrassed to sell my books.

There. I’ve said it. The desire to hawk my books is at the root of the anxiety.

But that’s not all.

  • Should I dye my hair?
  • Is there time to have it trimmed?
  • What will I wear?
  • Will people be bored?
  • Should I do a reading? (Probably not. No, no. Absolutely not! That would be imposing on a captive audience.)
  • Will Sapna have enough chairs?
  • How about wi-fi? I don’t want my iPad battery to run down.
  • Can I stand for two hours without my back hurting?
  • Who will clean up?
  • What about plates?
  • How much food shall I buy? Will people be hungry?
  • Should I buy champagne or will wine be okay?
  • What about for the non-drinkers?
  • Should I buy a present for Sapna and Margaret, and when can I get out of the house to do that?

Normally, I’m pretty self-sufficient, but anticipating this party, I’m feeling a lot like Blanche Dubois: “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.”

Thank goodness writers understand.


  • Marylee MacDonald

    Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, BODY LANGUAGE, and THE BIG BOOK OF SMALL PRESSES AND INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS. Her books and stories have won the Barry Hannah Prize, the Jeanne M. Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, a Readers' Favorites Gold Medal for Drama, the American Literary Review Fiction Prize, a Wishing Shelf Book Award, and many others. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, and when not reading or writing books, she loves to walk on the beach and explore National Parks.

2 Responses to “Book Launch Jitters”

  1. Barbara Teter says:

    I’ve been reading your posts and should-a answered.
    Don’t color or cut your hair, etc. Wish I could be there for your book launch.

    Barbara Teter