Monthly Archives: May 2011

When You Publish a Book about Your Life Story, Enjoy Your Book Launch Party

So you’re envisioning what it might be like when you finish writing a book about your life story and someday guide it to publication. You’re anticipating the satisfaction, and the relief, from having seen your project through from start to finish. You’re feeling excited, and maybe a little bit nervous, about your family, friends, coworkers and yes, even strangers, reading your very personal accounts of your life experience. Maybe you’re even flashing to images of getting a surprise phone call from someone like…Oprah? Don’t forget to add to your visions a very important moment to plan for and bring to fruition: a fun and meaningful Book Launch Party!

I just had the pleasure of attending a Book Launch Party for John Thomas, one of my clients who happens to live in my city of Charlottesville, Virginia. John has just published his book “MY SAINTS ALIVE: Reflections on a Journey of Love, Loss and Life.” The book is a moving compilation of stories and experiences born from John’s rich, soulful journey of having two loves of his life who both died from breast cancer. The book is both a profound portrait of the possibilities of a grief journey after losing a loved one, and an engaging, living tribute to Susan and Barbara, his two wives, with whom he maintains an active spiritual relationship.  You can learn more about the book by visiting John’s website: http://www.mysaintsalive.com/.

I first began listening to John’s stories when he was a student in my Autobiographical Writing class at the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies in Fall 2009. After the eight-week class ended, I assisted him as a life book coach and adviser, helping him shape and organize the reflections that kept pouring from his soul to his pen at 3 or 4 in the morning. When John felt ready to share his accounts in a book, he made an unusual and thoughtful choice: he would order a small number of hardcover copies to give to family, friends, and others who had helped him on his jouney, as well as a softcover edition for retail forums.

When it came time for the Book Launch Party, John carefully wrapped each copy of the hardcover book and printed a personal inscription for each recipient. He invited not only family and friends but those who had assisted him in producing the book: myself, his graphic design specialist, his website developer, his therapeutic guide, his proofreader, his photographer. While I can’t begin to describe the care and attention John devoted to arranging his home for this event, I will provide one clue: because one wife loved pink roses and another loved white roses, we were greeted by white and pink everywhere, right down to the napkins! John spoke for a few minutes to share his appreciation to all the important people in his life and to reflect on his book, ending with a brief excerpt. Then it was time for the cake!

The event was memorable both for John and for those of us privileged to attend. Your own Book Launch Party is sure to be that for you as well. It doesn’t really matter where you have it, how you decorate the space, what food or drink you serve, or what words you speak. The idea is to provide an experience for you, and for those you care about, and to honor what it is you have done by capturing your life story or some part of it in your own book. In my own new book “YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK – AND IT’S TIME TO WRITE IT: An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story,” I name the Book Launch Party as a step just as important as any of the writing, organizing, or editing. It’s a time for others to say “Hooray!” to you, and for you to sit back and say to yourself, “Wow, I really did it.”

– Kevin Quirk, life-story ghostwriter, personal historian, editor, and author of “YOUR LIFE IS A BOOK – AND IT’S TIME TO WRITE IT! An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.” Member of the Association of Personal Historians.