Remember Me To The Bees – the launch

Remember Me To The Bees book launchI’m a great believer in doing the things on your wishlist, your bucket-list, if you get the chance. A book launch was on mine, though I hadn’t dared look it straight in the eye.

So when the opportunity came to have my short story collection, Remember Me To The Bees, published, that was exciting, but glimmering at the edge of my vision was the launch.

But I almost didn’t do. Almost lost my nerve. Almost let the idea of ‘what if no one comes’ fright me into inaction.

I pushed past the fears – started planning the night.

And one excellent piece of advice from Mike French on throwing a successful book launch made it work – plan it not as a selling exercise, but a celebration, as a party.

Here are the ingredients of my book launch

1. The venue

I thought about what I would do if money was no object and set my heart on my dream venue, The Birdcage – a coffee shop cum vintage clothes shop cum bar cum music and lit night hosts.

The Birdcage, BristolI had a few chats with them about what I wanted to do, and they agreed to let me have the space free of charge on a Monday night. And that was that, preparations in motion.

The Birdcage Bristol

2. Live music

Having achieved this, I had the courage to come up with a dream list, and a pretty clear picture of the kind of tone I was going for – going with the party theme and the vibe of the venue, I was keen to have live music…

Rabbit City at Remember Me To The Bees launch

I asked around a discovered that a friend of a friend, Anders aka Rabbit City, is an extremely talented musician and singer/songwriter. I listened to some of his sets on SoundCloud and realised his music would work really well with the stories in my collection, create the vibe I was after and was exactly what I was after.

Rabbit City play Remember Me To The Bees launch

3. Original artwork

Art was always my vision for the night. Bournemouth-based artist Louise Boulter created the cover for Remember Me To The Bees and artwork for each of the twenty stories in the collection. I checked with the venue and then asked Louise if she fancied holding a one-night exhibition of her work at the Birdcage on the launch night. She was keen – so that was the décor sussed, if a way that matched the feel of the book, the music and the venue.

Louise Boulter Fishermen

4. An outfit for the author

Okay, this one may feel pretty frivolous, but for me the right clothing can help to put me in the right frame of mind, and I wanted a fancy frock. I opted for a vintage-look silky navy blue number with a wonderfully flowy skirt and lacy back, and felt like a literary princess all night long. It helped give me an extra boost of confidence, and added to the party feel for me.

Judy Darley Remember Me To The Bees launchI also wore a gold bee pendant my hubla had given me, just in case people weren’t aware this was a book of stories smattered with bees.

5. The readings

I prepared four excerpts to read at the launch, only around ten minutes in total, and just enough to whet people’s appetites. My reasoning was that a full story demanded too much attention from attendees – I wanted everyone to be intrigued by what they heard, and be left wanting more. It seemed to work!

Judy Darley reading from Remember Me To The Bees I practised diligently in the weeks before the launch so that I almost knew the snippets off by heart. It definitely helped to be so well prepared when I took to the stage and saw quite how many people had turned up!

Remember Me To The Bees launch

Which takes us to…

6. The invitations

I invited people I loved, people I liked, people I respected and people who I simply thought might be interested.

Philip at Remember Me To The Bees launch This included members of my family, local publishers, authors, journalists I’ve worked with, and just a lot of people I’ve enjoyed the company of at one time or another. The majority of the people I hoped would come did, and a few more besides. The place was packed!

7. A compère

I was happy to go up and introduce myself, but my hubla wisely pointed out that it would look far more professional if someone introduced me and then Rabbit City, and he kindly offered to take on that role, and did a grand job!

James as compere fro Remember Me To The Bees launch

8. The signings

Judy signing copies of Remember Me To The BeesThe Birdcage is a curious l-shape, with a main room that has the bar at one end and the stage at the other. A slightly smaller space spills off this and we took over a large table in there to pile up the books onto. I sat there and signed copies of the book and chatted to my fans (!) while Rabbit City played. It was utterly exciting, but when I felt overwhelmed it definitely helped to have a friend come and sit with me, or get lovely Louise Boulter to come and sign a few books too!

Judy signing copies of Remember Me To The Bees1

9. The photography

Last but not least, the gorgeous photographs that will helped me remember this night till the end of my days. Pete Gettins turned out to be the perfect man for this – unobtrusive and keen-eyed. Pete took all the photos published in this post. He captured many moments I hadn’t seen and many that made me exclaim as I laid eyes on them for the first time. Working in low-lighting and a party atmosphere he managed to take a collection of images that feel to me part art, part reportage.

Remember Me To The Bees photographer Pete Gettins

And on the night everything went swimmingly – there was a golden glow to the evening that brought to mind weddings, birthdays, the gladdest of times.

I shared excerpts from Girls in Windows, Stalagmite, On The Ledge and Singing For Seals, signed and sold a lot of copies of Remember Me To The Bees, basked in the shimmer of a job well done, saw the pride on the faces of family and friends, revelled in having my own, one-person house band, posed for photos, forgot to pose for photos (those ones turned out better, I think), made contacts, had some jolly chats, felt like a literary star, and floated home feeling like moonlight was seeping from every pore.

So this is my advice. If you publish a book, even if your publisher has no publicity budget, have a launch. It raises awareness of your work, but more importantly it marks a pretty special achievement, and you’re bound to have a fantastic night.

Your invitation to my book launch

Remember Me To The Bees cover smlScopophilia Publishing invites you to the launch of Remember Me To The Bees, a short story collection by Judy Darley

In just over a month, my short story collection will finally be out, officially! To celebrate I’m holding a party at local vintage clothes shop/bar/cafe/cool and quirky venue The Birdcage, Bristol, and you’re invited.

Here are the important details:

Time: 7-10pm
Date: Monday 31 March 2014
Venue: The Birdcage, 28 Clare Street, Bristol, BS1 1YE

During the eventing there will be a scattering of readings from the collection, live music from Rabbit City and art from Louise Boulter, who illustrated the twenty stories that appear in Remember Me To The Bees and created the original cover artwork.

Signed copies of the book will be available to purchase at the launch.

Please RSVP at judy(at) to let me know if you can make it.

It should be a fabulous night!