Monday, May 13, 2019

Party Time

Q: Swag: what do you do about this knotty question? Have you wasted money in the past? What works best for you, and why? Do you have an annual budget?
-from Susan
I concentrate on being generous at my book launch events. For that, I go all out. They’re really parties. The launch for the first book in 2010 was an out-and-out party held at the SF avant garde art gallery, 111 Minna. Made sense because the book was MURDER IN THE ABSTRACT, about crime in the contemporary art world. Food, drinks, and I invited everyone I knew. And sold books, many, many books. Swag: little gift bags with magnets (with Tim’s art on them) and more, but I can’t remember what.

My “home” bookstore is Book Passage in Marin County and I have held the rest of my launches there – four so far. They are good to me. Still parties with a little book talk thrown in and now a bookstore to sell them for me. Swag: no takeaways but wine, sparkling water, food. THE KING'S JAR and MIXED UP WITH MURDER also had tiny cupcakes courtesy of Kimberley Cameron, who was my agent then.
The launch of LOVE & DEATH IN BURGUNDY in 2017 was special, a new series with a big publisher, and the gracious and charming Kimberley surprised me by bringing really, really good wine and by standing up and saying such nice things that I blushed. And then dear friend Rhys Bowen introduced me and broke the news that the New York Times had reviewed (and liked) the book. I served a sparkling white Burgundy wine, some reds, Perrier, and elegant French chocolates. That was fun. Shortly after, I went into the hospital for open heart surgery, which wasn’t quite as much fun.

I did a handful of fun events in 2018 with Cara Black, who writes crime fiction set in Paris, and who had a book coming out about the same time as DRESSED FOR DEATH IN BURGUNDY.  We provided delicious, gooey French cheese and baguettes, the same chocolates, and some wine as we toured bookstores. 

Most of the takeaway stuff that’s been pressed on me by eager authors is not a good use of their money. Pens that stop working immediately, little notepads that are too small to be useful, refrigerator magnets that have to compete with every other decoration on the front of the appliance. The best giveaway I got was from Laura Benedict last year: one of those big clamps you use on open plastic bags. It’s in use all the time, is sturdy, and reminds me of her every time I reach for a tortilla chip!


Paul D. Marks said...

Never saw clip bag swag, Susan. But it's something to keep in mind. And your parties sound mah-vah-lous :-) .

Susan C Shea said...

Paul, The launch parties have been such a joy for me - it's something I treasure. I was going to post a photo of Laura's clip thingie, but it's the same kind you can buy, only with her name and book title on it.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Wow, I have to plan to be at your next launch, Susan. It sounds like quite the party.