A Successful, Grateful Book Launch for The Witch of Zal

After weeks of preparation and hours of angst, my book launch for The Witch of Zal passed in a flurry of pride, amazement, and celebration.

Author Kerry Gans signing books at the Doylestown Bookshop

Like almost everything on the publishing journey, the book launch was a team effort. The people at the Doylestown Bookshop effortlessly took care of getting my books logged in, setting up extra tables for food and the TV monitor, and even came up trumps with plates and napkins (which I forgot). Everything about the setup looked great. (Thanks Rachel, Krisy, and Daniel!)

Crystal ball, bookmarks, and business cards at the book launch for The Witch of Zal

Even the food came from many hands. My mother made chocolate chip cookies, my friend J. Thomas Ross made dog-shaped cookies, and I bought rainbow-iced cupcakes (which I was told by several people were very good) from my local Shoprite.

Rainbow cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and dog-shaped cookies at the book launch for The Witch of Zal

I hauled the books and my essential items with me to Pennsylvania early in the day (I had other errands to attend to), and my husband arrived at the Bookshop with the perishables—cupcakes, water, and flower arrangement. The lovely rainbow flowers were done by Christine Keefer of Vintage Oceans, and she captured my vision of color and magic perfectly.

Beautiful rainbow flowers by Vintage Oceans at Kerry Gans' book launch

I sold my first book before I had even set up shop. I had one book up on a bookstand while I unloaded the swag, and a woman walked past and said, “That looks like the yellow brick road.” I replied, “It is.” And a sale was made to a fan of all things Oz.

After that, my friends and family poured into the shop and I was soon swamped with hugs and congratulations. My 6-year-old daughter must have thought her mommy was famous!

Kerry Gans thanking all those who have supported herI kicked off my presentation with a speech thanking everyone who had helped me get to this place in my career—and the list was quite long. Getting published is a marathon of will, not just because the craft is so difficult, but because we live in a world that often does not value what writers do. We are so often told not to waste our time or some other version of “you shouldn’t bother.” I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who always told me “You can.” and I wanted to be sure to let them know how grateful I am that they are my tribe.

My book trailer played without a hitch, which was a minor miracle in itself. In fact, I played it several times throughout the night, as the crowd changed over, and the technology that had been giving me headaches for weeks performed like a champ. This reinforces the value of testing out the equipment beforehand. When I had tested it a few weeks prior, I was not happy with the result. This made me make two minor changes the day of the book launch, and those changes seem to have made all the difference. Always test the technology if you can!

22 - Kerry reading (with Katie), 3-19I did a reading from The Witch of Zal. I read chapter 8 because I felt it would speak to my audience of mostly adult readers and writers. I still have not decided if I will read the same chapter to an audience with more children in it. I may want something with a little more humor and fun. But the audience at the book launch enjoyed the chapter, which made me happy.

Then I signed books, chatted with people, and basically celebrated! For all the nerves I’d had leading up to the day, the launch flew by and surrounded me with people who have cared about me and supported me throughout my life. I had everyone from my parents, to people who knew me in high school, to my writing friends, to my husband and daughter all at my side. I think the warmest memory for me was having my daughter literally at my side while I gave my speech and read my excerpt. She stood there beaming, smelling the flowers, and occasionally hugging my leg. While that was certainly not the way I had rehearsed my speeches, sharing my launch with her was a special kind of sweet. After all, The Witch of Zal is dedicated to her!

Author Kerry Gans with fan Donna Galanti

Kerry with friend & author Donna Galanti

Author Kerry Gans and young fan Jimmy

Kerry and fan Jimmy

Author Kerry Gans signs a book for Ann Stolinski of Gemini Wordsmiths

Kerry and Ann Stolinsky








As I packed up, a woman and her two daughters came by (thank you, Nancy Keim Comley, for sending them back as you were leaving), and I made my last sale of the night.

In a blink of an eye, this long-dreamed of moment had passed, but it is one I will cherish for a lifetime.

I am so grateful for everyone who came out and who sent good wishes from afar. Getting to this point in publishing is hard, and you have all made it a little easier—and a lot more fun. Thank you so much.




Book Launch! But what to read?

Exciting news, everyone! My official book launch will be March 19th, 5pm-7pm at the amazing Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA. Although The Witch of Zal has been available for a few months, March 19th will be the celebration of my debut novel.

I’m starting to make the plans. I’ve ordered a cool floral arrangement from Vintage Oceans Wedding and Event Flowers (a book launch is an event!), and am searching for some fun takeaways to go along with my bookmarks. I need to figure out the technology to run my trailer at the event, and the food to snack upon. And what to wear. And how not to embarrass myself in front of what I hope will be a large number of people.

One of the hardest things to decide, though, is what excerpt of my book to read. I suppose that not reading one is an option, but at an event celebrating the book that feels rather like sending the birthday girl to her room while we all sing “Happy Birthday to You” in the dining room. So I got to thinking what I could choose.

This excerpt would not be the same one I would read to a group of kids. Kids would want more funny or more action. So do I simply start at the beginning of the book, or find some other place?

Choosing an excerpt from farther into the book can be dicey. I don’t want to have to explain too much in the way of setup, or the listeners will get bored (or confused). And choosing an emotionally charged scene can backfire, too, since the listeners are not yet emotionally invested in the characters and may not react as hoped.

So I rummaged around and finally hit upon a good excerpt—one that I think will speak to my audience of writers and booklovers yet pull them in to want to read more. What is it? You’ll have to come and listen! If you’ve read the book and want to take a guess in the comments, feel free.

Now that the decision is made, I will have to practice reading the excerpt aloud. I need to handle the words, the rhythm, the pacing. I want to be able to do this with confidence and give my audience good entertainment value.

Anything else I need to do for the launch event? Of course, I need a thank-you speech. I have so many people to thank, it might take up the entire 2 hours!

If you can, even if you’ve already bought the book, come celebrate with me—I’d love to see you there.

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