I am absolutely delighted to welcome back Barbara Henderson, author of Punch to Linda’s Book Bag. Barbara is a wonderful person and a fantastic writer. You can find out what I thought of her novel Fir For Luck here. Fir For Luck was one of my books of the year in 2016 and I was thrilled when Barbara shared her previous publication day experience with me here.
Punch is published today, 23rd October 2017, by Pokey Hat, the children’s book imprint of Cranachan and is available for purchase here.
Wrong place. Wrong time. A boy on the run.
THE MARKET’S ON FIRE. FIRE! FIRE! THE BOY DID IT!
Smoke belches out through the market entrance.
I turn and run.
When 12-year-old Phin is accused of a terrible crime, his only option is to flee. In the unlikely company of an escaped prisoner and a group of travelling entertainers, he enters a new world of Punch and Judy shows and dancing bears.
But will Phin clear his name?
And what can he do when memories of a darker, more terrible crime begin to haunt him?
Why a Book Launch Matters
A Guest Post by Barbara Henderson
By the time you read this, my book Punch will be officially out in the big wide world – today is publication day, and I will be three days away from the beginning of my grandly named but probably actually not all that impressive launch tour.
I think every book deserves a proper launch – not to bother seems churlish, akin to denying an excited child a birthday party. When Fir for Luck, my debut novel for children, was launched last year, I put out a general invite to friends and family, chatted to my local Waterstones branch and that was that. Thankfully, to my immense relief, they came – many of them! Waterstones swiftly ran out of space, and then books – and I was euphoric! It’s that feeling when walking into the church at your own wedding. You know everyone (well, almost everyone), and they are on your side, willing you on to succeed. They listen, they smile, and – helpfully – they may even buy!
Of course, the thought of a launch event with an audience may seem daunting to some. I am by no means an introvert, but even I feel an onslaught of nervousness just before.
So why should anyone bother?
- To forge links with local booksellers ! These people are part of your journey, and you are part of theirs. Your success is their success. Happy bookbuyers make their hearts sing, just as they do yours (and your publisher’s).
- To raise awareness of your book. True story: I had a knockback last week. A well-known radio show we had approached in the summer had asked for a copy of Punch. It sounded interesting. Yes, this may well be a fit for their show. When I hadn’t hear anything in response, I got in touch. Oh, they said. Didn’t you know that 500 books were published last week in the UK alone? No, we won’t be able to feature your book. Too crowded out there.
Do you see my point? A book, out there on its own, struggles to be noticed (especially if you are not a well-known author already). A book, with images of a well-attended launch event, on the other hand, makes for a more promising premise. Especially if you can think of something quirky.
- To be remembered! Coming back to my point of quirkiness, you have a better chance of online success if your images stand out from the crowd. Take Edinburgh writer Lesley Kelly. Her novel The Health of Strangers was launched a while ago. I have only met her fleetingly, her book is not usually my genre, but yet, I remember the title, the author and the publisher. Why?
Because she had an awesome idea for her book launch! What could be better for the launch of a virus-themed novel than wearing a bio-hazard suit, serving nibbles in syringes/petri dishes, and handing out protective face masks to the audience. The images continued to do the rounds online long after the launch had come and gone. And I remembered her book! Of course, my question is: What quirky thing might work for Punch? Puppetry will feature, naturally. For the children’s events, a bit of dressing up (I am customising costumes as speak) and some props for audience participation tend to go down well in schools. I am going to basically wear a Punch and Judy tent (well, a dress with that type of pattern) – think bold red and white stripes, probably teamed up with red shoes. And there is a giant inflatable club – after all, the word slapstick came from Punch and Judy shows! Any new ideas welcome!
- To attract a bit of media interest! An unusual venue might really help with this. In today’s visual world, anything that makes for a fab photo opportunity goes down well, and it may be as beneficial to the venue as it is to you. My Glasgow launch is going to take place with a school group, in the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre. Provided the school is ok with this, there is nothing to say that we can’t invite the Glasgow papers’ journalists/ TV /radio crews, simply because it is different. And as I am, sadly, not all that interesting on my own, an unusual venue, I hope, may help. Let’s face it, I need all the help I can get! With 500 books published in a single week, we all do!
- To have fun! Most of us pass on having a party for any occasions, as if it was an ordeal to celebrate a success or an achievement with like-minded people. Come on! Let’s shed the British reserve, kick our figurative shoes off and let rip. You have a book out!
That is more than enough reason to revel! Wish me luck for my first launch events for Punch on the 26th! I can’t wait!
(We wish you all the (well-deserved) luck in the world Barbara.)
About Barbara Henderson
Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition.
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