A tale of two book launches

The Significance of a Dress banner displayed at launchThe launch at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery was an excellent example of how to do a launch: easy to find venue (especially helpful when the headline poet’s not from London), welcoming relaxed atmosphere, a host to keep things running on time and let people know what to expect and opportunities to buy books and mingle. Cake and gingerbread women (it was International Woman’s Day) an appreciated bonus. Although there was no microphone, the venue’s acoustics and quiet audience made it easy to hear readers. Poetry, book sales and conversation made it a great event. Could Leicester live up to London?

Sadly, due to staff illness, the library had to withdraw the venue. The timing was unfortunate: less than 24 hours before the launch was due to take place. But I’ve organised plenty of events at the library and know they wouldn’t pull out without very good reason. I had to make the decision to cancel or find an alternative venue. The obvious city centre alternatives weren’t available on Wednesday. My local Community Hub wasn’t available during the week but was available on Saturday evening. Within half an hour of knowing the library was unavailable, I had a new venue and date. Then it was a matter of getting the new venue and date publicised. A huge thanks go to all those who shared social media posts, Arachne for updating their website and Scraptoft’s parish clerk for putting up posters.

book table at 14 March launch

Fortunately people were prepared to venture out. The chairs were placed with gaps between and I’d wiped all hard surfaces before anyone turned up. I talked about the genesis of The Significance of a Dress and read some poems.

After the interval was a question and answer session with a discussion on book covers, where inspiration comes from, whether writing short stories is different from writing poems and whether I have a preference and whether my collections were gathered round a theme.

There was an interesting discussion on book covers. Authors don’t usually get much say in the choice of cover and there’s the worry that the publisher might withdraw if an agreement can’t be reached. One attendee mentioned she knew someone who’d had a manuscript accepted, gone through the editing process when funding fell through and the publisher couldn’t go ahead. That’s devastating and it’s hard to see anything positive, but the take-away is that a publisher was interested and the writer has chance to try again knowing the manuscript has a vote of confidence. Sometimes you have to look for the silver linings.

The great thing about both readings was the sense of being among friends, the welcome and feeling of community.

The Significance of a Dress is available for online order from Arachne Press.

A reading of “Outside the Photograph” from The Significance of a Dress at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich, London.

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