Have you ever wondered what it’s like to plan a book launch? Earlier this year children’s poet and author Tiffany Stone did just that. Here, she gives us her top 10 countdown for preparing for a launch.
On July 18th, I launched Teatime, my fifth children’s book, with a Fairy Tea. The launch was a chance to give family, friends and even a few curious strangers a peek at my brand-new book, as well as my opportunity to finally meet its illustrator, Jori van der Linde. And since everything I write is in rhyme and therefore ripe for performing, it was the perfect time to try out material for future school and library visits.
The night was the culmination of months of excitement and activity that built … and built … and built …until BLAST OFF!
No wonder the release of a new book is called a launch. And, just like with launches that send astronauts off into space, Teatime had a countdown, too.
10. Find a venue
In February, I was invited to visit a kids’ book club to discuss Baad Animals. I just happened to mention to the director that I had a new book coming out about two fairies who have an adventure that starts in a cup of tea. She told me her venue was famous for its Fairy Teas and offered to host the launch!
My previous books are poetry collections, which means I have a variety of material and a multitude of props – from a flamingo puppet to rainbow-painted shoes – to choose from for performances. But Teatime is one continuous story, with not very much text. I had to figure out a different way to present it. I eventually decided that after a short intro (involving a tiny tea set), I would read the story aloud while standing in a giant teacup. The illustrations would be projected on a screen to make sure everyone could see. Jori liked the plan. Phew!
8. Order an outfit
I’m shy, something you probably wouldn’t guess from one of my poetry performances. That’s because when I work, I wear a special outfit – a costume of sorts – that acts like a superhero’s suit, giving me instant poetry performing powers. Part of the costume is permanent (more about that later) and part of it is clothing. The clothing part is thanks to Kate Nowland, the designer behind EvieGreenPixie. I asked if she could make a Teatime skirt using a reclaimed tablecloth and she created a fabulous custom piece for me. Since Kate lives in Australia and I live in Canada, I placed my order in March, just to be safe.
7. Buy a tiny tea set
While two of my kids were at a homelearners’ class, I popped into a nearby toy store to kill time and, lo and behold, found Tea Parties in a Tin. I bought three: for my performance, my editor and Jori.
6. Invite people
In mid-June, the venue made a digital invitation, which I immediately emailed to everyone I know, hoping at least some of them would show up. I wanted to give people enough notice but not too much, in case they forgot. I sent invitations personally and then ‘reminded’ more generally via social media a few days before the event.
5. Design bookmarks
Bookmarks are good advertising – but also disposable. I’ve found those that do something besides mark the place in a book are more likely to be kept. Being with small presses, I have the option of designing my own bookmarks. For Rainbow Shoes, the bookmarks had one of two poems from the book on them. Kids who couldn’t afford a book still got a bit of it to take home – plus the poems could be used during Poem in Your Pocket Day, which many schools now celebrate. For Teatime, the bookmark, a collaboration between the book’s designer and me, has a teacup on the back with space for kids to draw who or what they would be if they could fit in a cup of tea. (Now, post-launch, I use them as a character-building activity.)
4. Part two of my costume
Ever since Floyd came out, I’ve been getting my hair dyed to match my latest book. (Big shout out to Jeannie, my hairdresser!) In 2012, I got turquoise streaks to go with ‘The Blues’, the blue hair poem in Rainbow Shoes. July 9th, Jeanne added some orange so that my hair now matches Teatime’s cover palette.
3. Get buttons
Bookmarks are good but buttons are better – well, definitely more permanent. And surprisingly popular. For special events (like the launch), I like to give out little buttons for people to wear. I get them designed and made by a local company that’s great at filling last-minute orders. (The week of the launch – oops!) The Teatime buttons are 1-inch and feature a tiny teacup image from the book.
2. Papier-mâché a giant teacup
I found balloons that inflate to 4-inches in diameter at a dollar store. The week of the launch: dollar store balloon + newspaper + glue + several REALLY late nights + fancy paint job by my 12-year-old daughter = teacup big enough to hold me!
1. Primp, preen, prepare props and …
The launch was a huge success. The place was packed, the presentation went according to plan, the book sold out and there had to be TWO sittings of the Fairy Tea. Needless to say, I was over the moon!
About Tiffany Stone
Tiffany Stone is a children’s poet and the author of three collections of humorous verse – Floyd the Flamingo and his flock of friends, Baad Animals, and Rainbow Shoes – as well as a brand-new rhyming picture book called Teatime.
She is the co-author of aRHYTHMetic, a book of math poems, and a contributing poet to Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems and And the Crowd Goes Wild: A Global Gathering of Sports Poems.
Tiffany lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada, with her husband and three children.
You can learn all about her on her website.