Last month I held my first in-person book launch in 4 1/2 years. Fifty people gathered in The Treehouse at cSpace, which is located in Calgary’s former King Edward Junior High School. I had toured the renovated building when cSpace opened in 2017 as an arts and community hub and fell in love with the Treehouse meeting room. Its top floor setting, three walls of windows, and outside deck offer panoramic views of the city. On September 21st the weather was perfect for an evening event.
Prior to the launch, I often wondered if the effort was worth it. After I settled on the venue and date, the first step was sending out invitations. I created a Facebook Event page, invited my Facebook friends who live in Calgary, and kept the page active with comments to stimulate interest and discussion. In one comment I talked about cSpace and urged people to come to the launch to see what this unique building is like. In addition to numerous artist studios, cSpace houses community groups for seniors, indigenous peoples, writers, and those interested in speaking French.
For friends not on Facebook, I created an invitation, which I emailed to each person. I started out wondering if anyone would come. But eventually enough people said “yes” that I realized I’d get a good crowd. Then new worries set in. Would they enjoy themselves and be glad they came?
During the week before the event, I purchased wine, juice, and snack food: cheese, crackers, vegetables and dip, and desserts.
I developed a PowerPoint presentation, which focused on Calgary locations that inspired my story. I combined these with readings from the novel interspersed through the presentation. My first reading featured my protagonist Paula Savard in her office in Inglewood, Calgary’s oldest suburb. In my mind, Paula works in this four-story brick building on Inglewood’s main street. My added touch: the building is rumoured to be haunted.
For fun, at the end of my talk, I added a trivia quiz. Since the novel takes place in spring 2020 during the first COVID-19 lockdown, the ten trivia questions all related to COVID-19. I took my questions from the COVID timeline that I’d made for the novel to remind me of what was happening in the world on the story’s dates. To test your memory, here are my first two trivia questions:
- On what date did WHO (World Health Organization) declare COVID-19 a pandemic? Month, day, year required.
- Shortly after this declaration, what celebrity couple announced in Australia they’d tested positive for COVID-19?
The questions turned out to be too hard. The winner only got three right and received her prizes, which were priceless during the lockdown: hand sanitizer and a roll of toilet paper.
I wrapped up the presentation with random draw prizes: two mystery puzzle books and two sets of playing cards because a character in the novel has a gambling addiction that affects the plot.
Then everyone gathered for conversation, wine, food and drink. I signed books and talked with as many guests as I could. From the buzz in the room and comments afterward, I think people enjoyed the event.
Was the work and strain I put into launch preparations worth it? I don’t know. It’s fun to to host a party to celebrate something good in life and now I have these wonderful pictures with friends who made the effort to attend and cheer on my writing.