Not so long ago, you could attend a publishing launch party practically every night of the week. (I wasn’t inundated with invitations personally, but I know people who were.) Nowadays, publicity budgets are stretched so launches are few and far between. That’s come as a huge disappointment to lots of authors – I suspect that for many of them, the launch party was the highlight of the publishing journey.
Looks like a good party. Note the smiles. The glasses. The books!
I published Ready to Love myself, so the marketing budget starts and stops with me. And, hell yes, we’re having a launch tonight.
For me, the launch isn’t a pat on the back for a job well done, because I’m all too aware that I’m in the middle of my journey – if not earlier. The book is out but I’m acutely aware of the need to help people discover it.
The party will be a chance to thank some of the people who have supported me over the months and years it’s taken to get this far. Some of them will be writers, others family members who have never attended a book launch before.
I’m not sure she’s got the alcohol-to-books-for-sale-ratio quite right …
It will also be a chance to talk about Belinda Hollyer, my good friend who died a year ago, and to whose memory the novel is dedicated. Belinda was an editor and writer, like me. She was a fabulous reader. She was a wonderful friend, and my writing buddy over many years. We swapped manuscripts, and talked about characters and plots, and the agonies and ecstasies of the business.
I miss her very much, but she’s there in Ready to Love, I’m sure of it.
Every writer needs to work with a reader in mind: not so much as an editor hovering over your shoulder, mid-draft, nit-picking, querying a word or a repetition. They might not read your work-in-progress at all – rather, you’d like to offer the book complete, as a gift, hoping they’ll enjoy it.
But they’ll make you work, don’t doubt it. This person is sympathetic to your interests, but they’re not you. You need to make the reading experience pleasurable for them, possibly challenging, but not perplexing. This is someone for whom you choose to kill your darlings – you know, the bits of your work you love but really don’t belong to your book. You will imagine them agreeing with you, ‘Get on with the story!’ at a bit you know in your heart of hearts is treacly. This is someone for whom you will do your best to produce your finest work. This person keeps you in check – and encourages you, too.
He or she might exist only in your head, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to reach out to them. They might even be a version of you – you at seven, or eleven, or sixty.
My ideal reader was Belinda and I’m sad that I won’t know what she thought of the book that has her at its heart. But we’re going to celebrate her life and legacy. And so, I encourage all of you to take a moment to think about your ideal reader. If you’ve neglected them of late, don’t worry – maybe write them a few lines, just a paragraph, and think of them reading your work, and smiling the way you do when you’ve closed the covers on a really good read.