Today my hubby and I checked out the venue for my launch party on Sunday, mainly to see what type of coffee machine they’d be letting us use (because good hot coffee, and tea, are critical!).
Mosquitoes are out and I’ve posted warnings for guests who want to stroll the forest afterward to bring insect repellent (hubby and I got a number of bites in our explorer capacity.)
We also planned the layout for
- the sign-in table, with Guest Book & pens
- the refreshments table (near some outlets)
- the book-signing table (if I can get Amazon to expedite the shipping – still working that out – so my 50 author copies arrive on time)
- the table where my laptop will sit playing my Book Launch music playlist
- the table where his laptop will run a PowerPoint through our small projector for a ‘Where in the World is the Author?’ contest. The prize basket will include (hopefully) a signed copy of my book in softcover, and all the ‘fixins’ for a reading session with a cup of tea: a custom-designed mug with my marketing logo, a box of my favourite tea (Rocky Mountain Blend from Murchie’s Tea in Victoria, B.C.), a box of Murchie’s scone mix, a jar of fig preserve and 2 pots of crème fraiche (a very acceptable and delicious substitute for clotted cream,)
Uploading the book in electronic form to Kindle Direct Publishing and to Kobo was fairly easy, apart from changing all my draft formatting to match their requirements and writing an About the Author page (much harder than you’d think). (For books 2 and 3 I’ll have the manuscripts in the correct format well ahead of time!)
It felt very strange, and thrilling, to see my baby on a Kindle preview screen, as in ‘wow, I’ve joined the ranks of thousands of other authors on Kindle’.
The next step, and the most challenging, was to get everything set up for the printed edition. I designed the cover (front, back and spine) by myself, since I used to be a graphic designer, but it’s not something I’d necessarily recommend to anyone without that background. To create the design, I checked out current trends and a lot of other covers. KDP has a ‘Create a Cover’ feature, but it’s limited. Just fyi, I used Canva pro edition to produce all my designs.
Before that stage, though, I had to produce detailed maps of two locations in the novel – the (fictional) small town of Llithfaen in the wilds of Ontario where the bulk of the action takes place, and the campus of the local college where my protagonist, Romy Ussher, accepts a new job. My beta readers requested maps so they could visualize those places better, and I was happy to comply. However, my original versions of the maps, roughly delineated in PowerPoint when I first began writing Book 1 so that I could make sure everything was consistent, weren’t nearly nice enough to put in the actual book, so I bought a software program called Campaign Cartographer through ProFantasy. (Actually, I bought the Top Three bundle, and did use all three components.)
Campaign Cartographer isn’t for the faint-hearted, though. It’s actually a CAD program (‘computer assisted design’), and functions very differently than any graphic design software I’ve ever used. Perseverance, a great deal of patience and some tutorials on YouTube paid off, and you can see the results on my website 😊
So, my hubby and I are ready to put together the swag bags – custom-designed Roads bookmarks (which you can see on my Facebook page), a recipe card for a dish that appears early on in Book 1 (my books are full of food, and tea), two bags of my favourite tea (see list above), 2 pouches of mini Kit Kat bars (my favourite snack food when I’m actually on a road trip), and a gift certificate for a free Backgammon lesson (my protagonist Romy is a killer Backgammon player, and I taught her everything she knows!). I have three sizes of black plastic bags with “Thank you” in gold lettering, purchased from Amazon, ready to be stuffed, but I need to know whether my Author Copies of my novel will arrive in time to know which size of bag to use. (As far as I know, nearly everyone who’s coming to the launch wants a hard copy of the book.) Cross your fingers and send me good Amazon delivery vibes!
We have a pretty cool backdrop set up for a photo booth, and a pro photographer to take photos who also took my personal photos that you’ll see here on my website, my Amazon site, Facebook and Goodreads site. She’s amazing – managed to make me look good, and I’m NOT photogenic. She operates in southwestern Ontario in the Windsor area, so if you want her contact info let me know 😊)
Platters of sandwich bites and sweets have been ordered, and a floral arrangement for my signing table. I have most of the other supplies; just need to buy coffee, cream, juice and water.
I tell you, it’s a good thing I learned all about event planning in my jobs at our own local college, or organizing all this would be complete insanity.
Sometimes it feels like it is anyway. There’s a lot more that’s gone into this than I’ve posted today – if any other authors getting ready to publish are interested, let me know and I’ll outline the entire process.
So wish me luck. I’ll be taking photos at the event and will post them afterward to let you know how it went!