View Full Version : I am going to a book party. Advice welcome.

Plot Device
03-10-2011, 04:05 AM
I proof-read a novel for an established author last month. He was so pleased with my work that he not only paid me a huge bonus, he has invited me to the book party scheduled for next week in New York (not NYC, a different city in New York State).

I got an e-mail invite two weeks ago, and then the written invite came via snail mail today. Very cool invitation BTW, cleverly incorporating --in all the invitation-ish elements-- the themes and imagery and the actual illustrations found in the book. It's at a swanky restaurant, and the invite says there's a cash bar, hors d'oeurves, and live music. But there is no RSVP.


Fashion no-no's?

Conversational no-no's?

Don't stay too long?

Stay as long as you like?

Don't drink?

Do drink?


03-10-2011, 04:26 AM
DK Publishing invited me to a book launch last summer in D.C., I brought Namatsu and my husband as guests. Had a great time, met a lot of the authors/contributors and learned a bit about publishing by keeping my ears open.

Dress professionally but don't go overboard

Chat will be about publishing so brush up on what's going on

Take your business cards and don't be afraid to give them out when appropriate if your client introduces you as his proofreader

Go ahead and have a glass of wine (they most likely will)

Relax! This is the fun part of the business ;)

Soccer Mom
03-10-2011, 04:38 AM
What she said! Have fun, but not too much. Think of it like an office party.

03-10-2011, 06:15 AM
Assuming it's an evening shindig, wear something classy with a touch of hot. We dig it when women wear something a little bold or eccentric, but we're full of malarkey, so:

Something you feel great in, and comfortable, so you focus on being a good conversationalist...

...which means letting people blabber about things they love to pontificate on. They'll think you're great fun and you don't have to come up with heaps to talk about.

Drink a little if you want. Don't if you don't. No one will care if it's wine or ginger ale in the glass.

Eat something before you go so you aren't ravenous and you can nibble in a relaxed fashion.

Stay as long as you like. Do what you like, as long as you don't upset the host or his guests.

We second the business card idea. That's good advice.

03-10-2011, 08:27 AM
Bring your own booze.

03-10-2011, 03:07 PM
Just go, have fun and don't treat it too businessey. Great if you can give your business card to people but be a good conversationalist first.

Wear something comfortable, smart and wonderful!

Plot Device
03-10-2011, 04:18 PM
Thanks, guys! I'm going clothes shopping this weekend (with my bonus money! ;) ).

03-10-2011, 06:36 PM
Take your business cards and don't be afraid to give them out when appropriate if your client introduces you as his proofreaderAnd bring a pen! We got reading recommendations. :D

That sangria was lovely.

Have fun, Plot Device!

03-10-2011, 08:18 PM
Be ready to pitch your work. I don't mean try to force it on people, but be ready if people ask about it. I went to a friend's book launch and she introduced me to her agent as a writer, and she asked me about my book. I was so not ready (especially as the book is not finished yet) and did a really bad, slightly drunken pitch which made my plot sound terrible and ridiculous. I am still cringing from the shame. So yeah, don't do that!

03-10-2011, 09:44 PM
Think WWSD (What Would Scully Do?) Seriously. You know she'd look great yet appropriate and behave coolly and save the whole party from the monster-of-the-week, thus scoring points with publishers, agents and other potentates.

Because I think WWGD (What Would Gaius Do?), I tend to get into lots of trouble but survive in the end. ;)

Plot Device
03-10-2011, 10:12 PM
You guys are awesome! :D

I never would have thought of half of this!

Thanks! :cool:

03-10-2011, 10:59 PM
Well, the only advice I can offer......is......please take me along. :D

03-10-2011, 11:39 PM
Ooh, wear comfortable shoes in case it's a standing event.

03-11-2011, 08:13 PM
My two-cents, having done only a few:

- Think business attire. You can splash it up, but don't go too casual, or too formal.
- Drink whatever you want, but don't get in your cups.
- Have a pen with you, and business cards, if you have them.
- Don't monopolize the author's time, even if you DO have an established relationship with him/her
- While publishing and books will likely be a main subject, DO have something else to talk about
- Ganymede's advice about eating before you go is good.
- Hang out as long as you like, though don't be a hanger-on (unless, of course, your host collars you and says, 'wait until it's over, then we're all going out for dinner...')
- Most of all, have fun.

Old Hack
03-12-2011, 12:12 AM
You don't need advice: you know all this already!

Dress for business.

Wear shoes you can stand in for hours.

Stay a drink or three behind everyone else.

Don't monopolise the conversations.

Don't be the first to arrive or the last to leave.

Don't talk about your own writing unless someone begs you to tell them about it, and even then be brief.


03-12-2011, 12:35 AM
I'm thinking take a good book and sit in the corner reading...

Susan Littlefield
03-12-2011, 01:24 AM

I think I saw on your invitation that you can bring a friend along. What time shall I meet you at the airport? :D

Seriously, congratulations on a job well done! My advice is to have fun!

Plot Device
03-18-2011, 12:31 AM
Okay, guys ...

I came.

I saw.

I handed out business cards.


I owe so much to all of you here! Thanks! You're the greatest! :cool:


Susan Littlefield
03-18-2011, 05:16 AM

Oh no you don't....you need to give us more than this.

Did you have fun?

Please, tell us more! :D

Plot Device
03-19-2011, 12:28 AM
Okay, here's the deal ......

On Saturday I bought a nice black evening-ish top from Fashion Bug -- a black camisole paired with a black sheer jacket-y thing with frilly cuffs and a string enclosure in the front (a little sexy, and you guys said a dash of sexy would be okay). That 2-piece top was on clearance for $12. I already had in my closet a pair of black dress pants and flat black dress shoes (you guys said to wear comfortable shoes). Then on Tuesday (the day of the party) I went to Kinkos and made a small stack of business cards (about 50 I think) for about $10.00. Then I bought a tiny green carnation boutineer from a florists shop for St. Paddy's Day (there were assuredly going to be a LOT of Irish there at the book launch party!). I also bought one of those tiny, black, pretty, microscopic-sized and utterly useless purses that women wear to fancy parties. Then I got my hair done at my hairdresser's. I got in the car and started driving.

Two hours later, I found myself for the first time in my life in Troy, New York, cruising a maze of one-way streets, reading from my printed-out Google Maps page, and trying to figure out where to park. I spotted a postal carrier and told her I needed to park in a safe area (and for free!) and a resonable distance from some restaurant that I suspect was a block or two away. She said "Yeah! That restaurant is just 3 doors away. Park here and you're good!"

So I parked. Then I spent another 5 minutes in my parked car, putting on my makeup. Then I strolled 3 doors down to Daisy Baker's (http://www.daisybakers.com/), a hip retro-20's restaurant in the city of Troy.

http://blog.timesunion.com/realestate/files/2010/07/daisy-bakers.jpg http://media3.ct.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/CNsJZ7vE5vJHPhPNwkFwdg/l

I walked into the crowded restaurant at about 5:35 (the party started at 5:30). It was a stand-up affair with dozens and dozens of people wearing dark semi-formal attire (a few folks were in jeans, but very COOL jeans) standing around holding half-full glasses and food-laden toothpicks. I spotted the publicist who had oringally hired me for the proofreading job. I’d never met him before, but I recognized him from his hedshot found on his web site. He was up at the front of the restaurant tending to a display table and talking to a few other people. The publicist knew I’d be coming, but since I prefer not to circulate my photograph on the internet he had no idea what I would look like. As I made my way toward him, he looked SUPER busy because he was readying to have the author speak at the microphone. I walked up to him and introduced myself by my real life name. He hesitated for about one second, then finally said “Oh! Yes! Thanks for coming!” Then he introduced me to the guest of honor and author of the book that we had all gathered to celebrate that evening.

The book The Trial of Bat Shea (http://www.amazon.com/Trial-Bat-Shea-ebook/dp/B004R1Q85Y), is a historical novel* based upon a true court case --a murder trial-- that took place in Troy, New York back in 1894.


This novelization of the whole affair was written by a New York attorney, Jack Casey (http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Casey/e/B001HPOY1I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1), a native of Troy and a good friend of the family of the publicist who hired me. Jack originally published the hard-copy edition with Diamond Rock Press back in 1994 (on the 100 year anniversary of the murder and the resulting trial), and the man who eventually became the publicist immediately embraced the book as a fan of the book. And, if I have my facts straight, Oliver Stone briefly considered making it into a movie. (He sadly never did. And then Martin Scorsese went and made Gangs of New York starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz, a thoroughly different story which --while taking place in a different city and set a few deacdes earlier-- slightly echoes some of the themes and historicity and overall conflicts found in The Trial of Bat Shea. But truthfully, there’s loads more Law & Order-style courtroom stuff to be had in Bat Shea.) Since then, Jack Casey got the rights to the book back from the publisher. And this past fall, the publicist urged Jack Casey to republish the book on Kindle.

The publicist had sub-contracted me several months back to proofread the Kindle edition. And then after I submitted the final proof back to him a few weeks ago, he re-edited everything and uploaded it to Amazon. And then the publicist threw a huge book launch party this week! The publicist initially invited me via e-mail, and then a few days later (some time around the 10th of March) a very cool snail-mail invitation arrived for me back with a hand-written note from Jack Casey. The invitation cleverly incorporated a lot of the historical photographs that the publisher of the 1994 edition had used throughout the book.

Jack eventually introduced me to his father -- a retired judge-- so I sat down with him and we chatted for a bit. While he and I talked I spotted across the restaurant a semi-famous writer (Jim H. K., see my signature if you want his full name) making an appearance at the book party. Chatting with him stood another local (published) author, likewise putting in an apearance (a terrific case of writers supporting other writers --such a beautiful thing to see! Hooray for writers!).

Before the "speaking from the microphone" part of the evening began, I bought a drink and heped myself to some food. They had endless hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The sesame teriyaki skewers were very good, and the jalapeno poppers avoided being too hot.

When Jack Casey finally took the microphone and spoke to the crowd, he welcomed them and offered his thanks to various individuals for their help in making The Trial of Bat Shea possible He then went the extra mile of also recognizing and lauding Jim K. as well as the other author who was present. He generously saluted Jim K. and that other author for their own successes at writing (and especially Jim K., alluding in mock envy to the impressive number of copies Jim has sold over the years). And then Jack Casey also gave me a public acknowledgement for having not only proofread the book, but also for my having traveled all the way over the mountains from Massachusetts to get to the party that night. Lastly, Jack Casey offered up a huge acknowledgement to the publicist for all the hard work he put into the project, insisting it never would have happened if not for that publicist's skill, tenacity, and perseverance. And with that he introduced the publicist who came up and took the microphone for his turn to speak.

The publicist told the crowd about his love for the City of Troy and the rich history of literary giants from the region (including Hemingway). Then he gave some of the background details of trying to get the project launched, and also discussed the wonders of Kindle. The publicist then gestured to a display table behind him where he had set up a Kindle and an i-Pad, both turned on and glowing with The Trial of Bat Shea downloaded onto them. He also had an extra-extra huge flat-panel computer screen up where the web site for The Trial of Bat Shea (http://batshea.com/) was displayed. He urged everyone present to come up and play around with the Kindle and with the i-Pad to get a feel for how they work. And yet if anyone was still committed to reading books the old-fashioned way in hard-copy format, there was also a table full of 1994 hard-copy editions of the book for sale.

After the publicist finished speaking, Jack Casey picked up his guitar and played some original music he had composed for a musical stage version of the story. And his guitar playing accompanied the voices of two professional actors there that evening who had played the lead roles in a stage performance a few years back and who gladly returned that night to reprieve their old roles.

After the music, I eventually wound my way over to speak to Jim K. He recognized me but had forgotten my name from the last time we met. (I went to one of his book-signings last year. He’d forgotten my name since then, but I don’t hold it against him.) Meanwhile, getting back to the party in Troy, I re-introduced myself to Jim K. and we chatted for a while in a small circle of several others.

Jack Casey later found his way back to me, thanked me for my proofreading efforts, and asked if I could proofread some additional manuscripts in the future. I gladly obliged and handed him my business card. A few minutes later the publicist also asked if he could send me some additional proofreading work for other clients of his. I again obliged, and when I offered him a business card, he specifically asked for a stack. So I gave him about a dozen of them. Before the night was over I even managed to slip a business card into Jim K’s hands.

I had almost two hours of driving ahead of me. And because I knew last week that there was no way I’d make it back home without falling asleep behind the wheel, I arranged ahead of time to stop for the night at my cousin’s house in the Berkshires. She’s a doctor of US history who teaches doctoral candidates at a local university.

I slept most of the day Wednesday, then I had to go straight to class at the local community college Wednesday night where --between a job fair and then my regular night class-- I had to put in 6 full hours of butt-time in the classroom, listening to speakers and lecturers from local companies. (My butt STILL hurts!)

It was a cool night. You guys really helped me by giving me your advice because, to be honest, I would not have known what my frigging role at the party would have been. So, looking pretty, being professional, and offering future availability was how you all steered me, and that gave me my bearings.


*(I refuse to write it as "an" historical novel because it hurts my ears to write it that way.)


03-19-2011, 05:20 AM
A wonderful recap of the evening. Sounds like you had a fab time. And handing out cards...awesome.


03-20-2011, 07:01 AM
Plot Device, thanks so much for sharing. Like MM said, a great recap.

Susan Littlefield
03-21-2011, 07:34 AM
Wow! Plot, it sounds like you had such a wonderful evening! Thank you for sharing such a successful night!

03-21-2011, 08:44 AM
I'm thinking take a good book and sit in the corner reading...

Okay, guys ...

I came.

I saw.

I handed out business cards.


I owe so much to all of you here! Thanks! You're the greatest! :cool:

I'm not sure you owe me anything - what I gave you was apparently bad advice, going against what others said, and you managed to take their advice and not mine! :D

But despite me, it sounds like you had a great time!

03-21-2011, 09:58 PM
Sounds like a great night.

03-22-2011, 05:40 PM
Great post, thanks for sharing the night!