EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: PULLING TOGETHER AN INTERNATIONAL BOOK LAUNCH



By Diane Gilbert Madsen

Launching a new book under normal circumstances is a challenge. I’d already launched two.  My first, “A Cadger’s Curse,” about Robert Burns, the Bard of Scotland, was launched at an MWA Raven Award winning Chicago based bookstore, Centuries & Sleuths.  The second, “Hunting for Hemingway,” about --- you guessed it -- was launched at the Hemingway Museum in Oak Park under the auspices of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park.

My third book in the DD McGil Literati Mystery Series, “The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper,” has a new publisher -- MX Publishing.  This innovative publisher is based in London, whereas me and my office - known as The Bat Cave - are based in Southwest Florida.  I also have a fan base in the Chicago area, my hometown. My challenge was how to work out the logistics of the When, Where and How among all these sites for the book launch.

Luckily, communications between me and Steve Emecz, the Managing Director of MX Publishing were excellent from the start.  The first issue we resolved was that the date of the launch would be May 22nd 2014 -- this being the 155th anniversary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday. Once we’d decided on the “When,” we moved on to the “Where.”

Of course, I wanted to be in London for the launch.  In fact, my husband Tom and I had friends from Cincinnati who wanted to join us on the trip across the pond, and we made some initial plans.  However, my husband developed some back problems, making the trip unfeasible, so I had to be here in the US and not in London for the launch.  The “Where” would be two locations – the US and the UK.  Steve and I agreed to work out a joint international launch between us using Skype and a live facebook feed to connect our two locations and make it one big party.  As for Chicago, I decided that a week after the launch, I’d go there for a signing at Centuries & Sleuths and attend the Printers Row Book Fair to meet my Chicago based fans.

Work then began in earnest on all the details of the Florida-London launch.  I selected a favorite bookstore in Southwest Florida – Copperfish Books – as my venue.  The owners, Cathy & Serena, are very author friendly, and they have a base of loyal readers who love the store and the many interesting events continually offered.  I’d done several very successful presentations and signings there, so I knew the layout well.  They jumped at the opportunity to help plan a joint international event. 

My publisher chose the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street in London as the venue – a perfect location.  The Hotel was extremely accommodating.  They baked a Sherlock Holmes/Conan Doyle Birthday Cake and even devised a special cocktail for the launch called “A Scandal in Bohemia” a la the Sherlock Holmes Hotel. The drink recipe is on my website -www.dianegilbertmadsen.com
 
Copperfish Books and I talked often, and we coordinated times with London.  Our FL event would begin at 2 PM and London at 7 PM.  We decided how many books to order and planned e-mail announcements to the press and to their customers as well as to my fan list.  We ordered a birthday cake and wine and cheese.  We planned some Sherlock Holmes decorations, and we developed an advertising poster for the event that could be distributed in the weeks prior at the bookstore, at libraries and at various retailers. We met at the bookstore several times pre-launch date to work out specifics. We did a trial Skype run; decided where to best place the Skype camera and where to set up and play my book trailer video; how to showcase the Conan Doyle Birthday cake; and the best arrangement for podium and seating. 

Meanwhile in London, Steve came up with some creative ideas to help make the launch memorable. He turned it into an “event” publicizing both my book launch and the 155th anniversary of Conan Doyle’s birth.  He organized a live interview, via satellite, where Stephen Seitz, Sherlockian, journalist, author, media consultant and film critic, would interview me about my new book directly from my launch in Southwest FL. He also secured a performance of "The Singular Exploits of Sherlock Holmes" by Jonathan Goodwin of the famous Don’t Go Into Cellar theatre company.  The program also would update the status of the fight to Save Undershaw - the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.  Steve sold tickets to the event, giving attendees entry into a raffle that included signed first editions of my book, "The Conan Doyle Notes."  Raffle proceeds were pledged to the Undershaw Preservation Trust.

Before the launch date, I sent out e-mails to potential readers on several occasions, highlighting different aspects of my new book.  I continually tweeted, put information on my facebook page and on some additional facebook page opportunities that my publisher provided for me.

We scheduled a 60 day “Goodreads Giveaway” for 3 copies of my new book for US, UK and Australia. It was amazing to see over 1,500 readers sign up for this promotion. I tweeted the promotions and put them on facebook

During this time I signed on for some blogs relating to my book launch.  Also I wrote an article for PBS Expressions Magazine due out in June 2014 entitled, “The Secrets of the Underground: Jack the Ripper, Sherlock and Ghosts.”   Additionally, I submitted an article to “The Baker Street Journal” which was accepted for publication.

My publisher and I worked to get reviews and endorsements on the new book. They were all excellent, including one from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. 

Finally we drew up our co-ordinated agendas for the events.  Here’s the London agenda:

6.30pm              Guests arrive & Cut Doyle Birthday cake
7.00pm               Performance of ‘Singular Exploits of Sherlock
Holmes’
8.00pm               Save Undershaw Presentation, Doyle’s home
8.30pm               Diane Gilbert Madsen Book launch & Interview by
Stephen Seitz via Skype on her new book “The
Conan Doyle Notes”
9.00pm               Draw Raffle Prizes



Here’s the Florida agenda for Copperfish Books:

2 PM            Guests Arrive & Refreshments Served

2:20              Cathy Introduces Diane
2:22-2:50      Remarks: Diane
2:50 – 3:00             Q & A
3:00              Toast Conan Doyle Birthday & Cut Cake
3:05- 3:25             Sign Books
3:25 –4:00     Skype Interview with London at Sherlock Holmes Hotel
·       
Steve Emecz, MX Publisher, talks about the London bash &; Steve Introduces Diane-
Diane introduces Carl Patrick and Marcus Goodson, real life people who are characters
in the book.
·       
Steve Emecz introduces Stephen Seitz 

3:35-4:00              Diane Interviewed by Stephen Seitz w/ Q & A for
London & FL audiences
  
So how did the joint launch come off?  Fabulous.  Both in Florida and London we had standing room only enthusiastic crowds.  We sold lots of books and the audiences in both locales were interested in the interview. London & Florida both sang “Happy Birthday” and enjoyed the unique Conan Doyle birthday cakes.  And I understand that the “Scandal in Bohemia” drinks were a hit at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel. In fact, many guests in FL were disappointed we didn’t serve them as well. 

We did run into two minor hitches.  First, the lighting at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel venue was too minimal to be able to Skype much of the party there. Instead, each locale enjoyed its own birthday celebration.   Secondly, Stephen Seitz had kindly agreed to interview me about the new book.  He was based in Springfield, Vermont, which meant that our Skype connection was a 3-way connection between London, Vermont and Florida.  Before the launch, we practiced a three-way trial run on Skype, and it worked perfectly-- we were ready for business. But the unforseen often knocks at the door, and it did so in the shape of the weather.  There was a horrendous thunderstorm in Vermont at the time of the interview that knocked out one of the two computers I had at Copperfish Books to run a facebook live stream.  Then it knocked out the 3-way video during the interview.  We still had sound, and both audiences stayed with us all the way through and asked a lot of good questions. Never take a hitch like this as an ill omen.  Quite the reverse. People are still talking about the event – including the thunderstorm, which in the final analysis made it even more memorable.

This event involved a lot of work and coordination, but I learned two important things. One is that you must have good partners to pull it off, and I was very fortunate in this regard.  Two, planning is essential, but always expect the unexpected.
www.dianegilbertmadsen.com   Twitter - @DianeMadsen 








Wow! What an amazing idea! Sounds like all went well!

Comments

Nancy J. Cohen said…
You are fortunate to have such excellent publisher support. That makes a big difference.
Nancy, thanks for your comment. You are so right. If your publisher doesn't support you, it's a very different story. I was extremely fortunate to work with MX Publishing. Not only were the lines of communication always open, but they have a great attitude as well which took us all the way.
Diane
Richard Sumner said…
Sounds like fun! Sorry to have missed it. I've enjoyed all three of Diane's novels and I'm anxiously awaiting the next! Perhaps I'll even be able to make the launch.
Richard, you would be very welcome at the next launch - To be announced (does that sound like an Agatha Christie title?). So glad you have enjoyed the Literati Mysteries!

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