Saturday, 24 August 2019

Paperback Launch at Steyning Bookshop. How Did it Go?

Have you ever had one of those posts that you can't wait to write? Well this is one of them and the reason? I've just had my first ever paperback launch at my local independent bookshop, The Steyning Bookshop. A dream come true.

Proud? You bet!

The bookshop was established in 1984 just three years before I moved to the town from Brighton, heavily pregnant with my first daughter. Being an avid reader, it was one of the first shops I ever went into and I spent many a happy time with my children in the reading area. Once the children had grown up, I continued to visit with my three grandchildren.

Over the thirty years or so I’ve been living here, I’ve been to many author events organised by Sara the owner: several book launches and a number of talks by inspirational authors such as Debbie Howells, Elly Griffiths, Michelle Paver… even the fabulous Mary Berry. What I couldn’t have predicted is that one day I would be having a book launch of my own.

But why was I celebrating the launch of my second novel, rather than my first? The simple reason is that when my debut, What She Saw, was published, I was scared. It was my first novel, I was a new author and I had no idea whether anyone would want to even read it, let alone like it. But to my amazement, What She Saw went on to become a Kindle bestseller not only in the UK but also in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and sales in the three months since I’ve been published have topped 40,000. It was the validation I needed to help me feel I'd earned my right to be standing there with a novel in my hand.

In the weeks leading up to my paperback launch, I'd posted on various Facebook author groups, asking for advice for the evening. How long should my speech be? How many pages should I read from the book? How could I stop myself from panicking? I received a lot of sound advice but one that stood out for me was 'just enjoy yourself'.

The evening started at 7.30 p.m. with guests arriving for nibbles and Prosecco (there was also wine and soft drinks). The bookshop held a maximum of fifty people and that was how many people I had! A wonderful mix of family, friends, writers and representatives from all the local activities I take part in: tap, badminton, ballroom, Pilates and choir. With everyone under strict instructions to arrive at the start, the room quickly filled up and the sound level rose several octaves.

After twenty minutes of socialising, the guests were ushered into a seated area of the bookshop. Sara introduced me and then it was time to ‘do my bit’ (a talk of around eight minutes consisting of a welcome and thank you, a little about my path to publication, a summary of We Were Sisters and bit about the location, as it’s set in the local area). The bookshop had even organised a sound system so I could be heard at the back! Now, having been a teacher, I’ve been used to speaking to large numbers of people but that had been children, not adults. Would I be able to deliver something that wasn’t rambling? Would I stumble and stutter? Not trusting myself not to blank, I wrote my speech down and decided to read it, but once I’d warmed up, I felt confident enough to ad-lib in parts which was liberating.

Next was a seven minute reading from the novel followed by a roving microphone in the audience for questions. And what great questions they were.

The formal part of the evening was over. I could breathe, have a glass of Prosecco, sign some books and relax while my guests ate my fabulous ‘book cover’ cake.

Then, too soon, it was 9 p.m. and the book launch had come to an end. Sara and her husband, Rob had looked after us so well. As the last guest left, I looked around me at the table of my books, the remnants of the cake, the empty Prosecco bottles. A room that had been filled with the support and love of so many people.

The whole event should have been daunting, scary even, but it wasn’t. It was exhilarating. And that was because I’d taken the advice I’d been given and enjoyed every moment of it. But the evening wasn't quite over as I popped over the road to join my friends in the pub to carry on with the celebrations and wet the baby’s head.

You could say, the paperback of We Were Sisters has been well and truly launched!


  1. Such a positive excited blog post. Well done.

  2. Fabulous, Wendy! I wish I lived nearer, I'd have loved to be there!

  3. Congratulations. Sounds a wonderful event.

  4. You were fabulous, so calm and collected - a real professional. Hope you sold lots too :)

    1. Thank you! And thank you for your valuable role as barmaid x

  5. It all looks wonderful! Well done.

  6. Congratulations Wendy. Lovely to hear about the launch- fab book cover cake too.xx

  7. It looks such a happy evening, Wendy. Congratulations again. xx