By Judy Christie
With an acute case of Spring Fever and the launch this week of my third novel, “The Glory of Green,” I’m in the mood for cake.
Amidst great ideas here about marketing and surviving as a writer, I offer an idea that isn't as lofty as some, but I promise it’s fun: Every book deserves a party.
My CPA knows I’ll probably spend my last dime on a book launch party, and she shows up for the music and food. The Hot Dog Man and I go way back. I don’t schedule an event until I have lined up the baker who artfully draws my book covers with icing (not that paint kind either; real icing).
With the publication of my ninth book—three fiction and six nonfiction – I’ve learned how important it is to celebrate this milestone and to express my immense gratitude to readers and kind souls who help me every day.
I got this idea from Carolyn See’s great book, “Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers.” (Yes, Carolyn is the mother of Lisa See, recently interviewed by the terrific Kathy L. Patrick.) If you haven’t read Carolyn's book, I encourage you to pick it up.
As she says, “We throw housewarmings and birthday parties and baby showers and bachelor parties; we need parties when our book comes out.”
A few tips if you want to add a party to your writing life:
** Focus on saying thank you to all those who encourage you -- friends on whose shoulders you cry, the spouse who makes sure you have health-care benefits, the siblings who pre-order your books and all those nice folks who show up for you in life.
** Obsessing on how hard it is to be a writer is draining, so make the most of the good moments. If you haven’t had a book published, reward yourself for sending a manuscript off or getting an agent or coming up with a wonderful idea. Throw a party for a friend who has just finished a book or had one published or won an award or made a bestseller list.
** Don’t say you can’t afford it. You can spend as much or little on a party as you want. If nothing else, invite friends over for drinks and snacks. Have a potluck. Make cupcakes.
** Offer live music. You can often find a local musician who is willing to play for a reasonable rate in exchange for you introducing people to his/her music, and there's more energy when creative people collaborate.
** Consider an offbeat location that fits your book. My “Gone to Green” party, celebrating my first novel, was at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum. My “Goodness Gracious Green” party was at the Pioneer Heritage Center, with a collection of great old buildings and tables set up under ancient oaks. I've had a party in the gathering area of my church and one in my office.
** Give the party your personality. I display an old green typewriter, put flowers in old 7Up bottles and other flea-market containers, and use my collection of vintage stamped tablecloths. (One of my biggest expenses is having them ironed. Much to my shame, I can’t get the wrinkles out.)
** Decide if you want to sell books at your party. This has been the toughest question for me, and I’ve done it both ways. I didn’t start the parties to sell, but guests have asked me to sign at my events, and I always do now. It still sort of amazes me that people want me to do that.
** Send invitations through the old-fashioned U.S. mail. One of my favorite parts: Ordering stamps with my book covers on them. (www.stamps.com)
** I like to give guests a little gift, and I’ve tried all sort of things, even M&Ms with my book titles printed on them. This time I’m giving away bookmarks that I – whose name has never been associated with the word “crafty” -- made with recycled objects, including discarded and torn-up library books.
** Try different things. Tomorrow I’ll gather with a group of friends and family, readers and encouragers, for a party at Barnes & Noble in Shreveport, La. As in the past, we’ll eat cake and I’ll give away presents. But this time I partnered with B&N to make the event a Book Fair for Common Ground Community, http://www.commongroundcommunityshreveport.com/ A portion of all sales will go to this nonprofit, plus people can buy books for children from a wish list. This idea came, by the way, from a reader.
If you’re in the neighborhood Saturday, 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., stop in and say “hey” and celebrate “The Glory of Green,” book 3 in The Green Series, with me. And I hope you’ll send me an invitation to your book party!
Would love to hear your comments and questions about throwing parties and making an enjoyable literary life. Have a great weekend.
About the Author: Judy Christie is the author of “The Glory of Green,” part 3 of a series set in the town of Green, Louisiana, published by Abingdon Press. The first two in the series are “Gone to Green” and “Goodness Gracious Green,” and "Rally Round Green" will be released this summer. She also writes the nonfiction “Hurry Less Worry Less” series, and her first YA novel, “Wreath,” will be out this fall from Barbour Press. She lives in North Louisiana. For more info: www.judychristie.com (She’s on Facebook and loves visiting with readers.)