The Book Launch Party is becoming a bit of a dinosaur in this modern digital age but it still has lots of appeal. And why not? If you have spent months, or even years, writing a novel or a work of non-fiction, why not throw a party and celebrate.
I have recently attended several book launch parties and there was much to celebrate. In November my local writing group Medway Mermaids published ‘Mermaid Tails’, an anthology of work by fifteen female authors from in and around Kent’s Medway Towns. We met with friends and families on a filthy Sunday when a year’s rain fell from the skies. Inside a local bar we enjoyed live music and readings from the book. The sense of community felt within our meetings became illuminated that day as we celebrated. The group have already sold over 100 copies and raised £130 for a local Dyslexia support charity. It is a modest achievement but the authors have achieved their main ambition to see their work in print.
We talk a lot about the writing community. On-line that can be worldwide and whilst the interaction is interesting it’s not very personal. Within a local community it can have a lot more meaning. This was very much the case when I attended the book launch of S L Russell’s latest work of fiction, ‘A Shed in a Cucumber Field’. In case you are wondering, the title is a quote from the bible. Ms. Russell writes Christian fiction. If you are new to this concept it’s not very different from other fiction. A human story with all the ups and downs in the characters lives but with the added interest of finding resolutions through Christian teachings. That night in the little Village Hall within her own community, the author was embraced by friends and neighbours who couldn’t wait to get their hands on her latest work of fiction, a story about warring sisters, human frailties, love and loss.
The next launch was for another anthology, this time by one author. Lin Tidy, author of ‘The Unsent Letter’, has led a rather unconventional life. She’s travelled a lot, has had many different lives, and even a spell in prison for contempt of court. (This story is told in ‘Warrior on the Wall’, a previous publication.) ‘The Unsent Letter’ contains stories, poems and memoir written by Lin throughout her life, reflecting her thoughts and memories. She is a superb writer but this work also means a lot to the people who know and love Lin, who came to celebrate publication of this book with her. Hence the writing community is again local, personal and very meaningful. Although the book would equally appeal to a wider audience.
My final local author (for now) is Liz Stead-Wright, with her first self-published work, ‘Amazing Women, Our Ancestresses’, a non-fiction book. You could call it a different approach to Ancestry hunting. She certainly did a lot of that and shares tips and information on how to approach your own Ancestry search. But she has gone beyond that, delving into the life styles, particularly of the women, from whom we are descended. Some fiction creeps in to better describe the lives of these women who lived long ago, without whom none of us would be here today. It is a brilliant book with a thoughtful theme. The local writing community, to which both Liz and I belong, are again ready to support her with help and advice as she begins her journey as a published author.
Self-publishing these books has given the authors control over their own work. They write because they have something to say. They say it in their own way with their own words. They are not being dictated to by an agent or a publisher, not to decry their role in producing excellent commercial fiction for mass readers. But niche books like these, written by excellent authors, would never be available unless the authors had the courage to by-pass traditional publishers, and self-publish their own work. The support of their own local writing community makes the journey worth celebrating.
Links to view and read excerpts from the books mentioned in this blog: