Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Are six-pack abs necessary for a book launch?

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Last week, I attended my first book launch party. Many of the people I saw were tan young men with glistening muscles wearing low-rider jeans, guys who obviously thought shirts were optional. But more about that in a moment.

Until recently, the term “book launch party” made me think of a Manhattan rooftop garden filled with beautiful people and the sound of a string quartet and clinking champagne glasses. So when my novel’s publishing date approached and other writers asked me if I was planning a launch party, I just smiled and nodded.

Turns out, there’s a cottage industry for book launch parties—mostly of the virtual variety. Fledgling authors can select from a range of launch consultants who can create an online event that would be the envy of experienced wedding planners. Some virtual launches feature celebrities, free music downloads for all guests, contests, quizzes and prizes.

This sounded like a relatively simple thing to do, something my anxiety-ridden psyche could manage while I worked on the many other promotion tasks that awaited me. Serendipitously, I happened to receive an invitation to a book launch party on Facebook the next day, so I attended.

I should have guessed by the title, Young Studs in Love, that this was a romance book, not only aimed just at women, but at women a decade or three younger than I am. Nevertheless, it looked like an opportunity to learn some techniques I might use.

The main attraction of this party, however, seemed to be a progression of photos of the young, partially dressed young men I mentioned at the beginning—enough to fill a college football locker room. The women attending were excited, either about the guys or the possibility of winning one of the author’s new books, and they responded with virtual oohs and aahs. There were questions or contests or something, but I could take only so many sets of perfect abs, so I logged off. I did receive a nice message later from the party consultant thanking me for attending and giving me the sad news that I’d not won a free copy of the book.

Fudge-cakes-Web-optimized-6Somehow disenchanted with a virtual party, I considered the possibilities for a real party. But the more I thought about it, the more complicated it became. And let’s face it, there aren’t that many penthouse gardens for rent in Reno, Nevada.

What I settled on was a launch party on wheels. I baked a batch of mini bundt cakes–chocolate fudge with vanilla icing. Then I decorated the cakes with tiny reproductions of my book cover stuck on toothpicks, like flags. I topped it off with colorful sprinkles and I was all set.

I loaded my car with the cakes and little flyers about my book and headed out to visit friends and neighbors and spread the word about my book.  Everyone wished me well; some had already bought an electronic version of the book.

And they were surprised. But how often have you seen a door-to-door author with free cake?

Win a free book

Yes, I am taking part in something of an online launch party today. In fact, you could win a copy of Death In Nostalgia City by visiting Patricia Stoltey’s blog. (Click here) Sorry, no fudge cake.

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