The First of Many Firsts: Preparing for the NJASL Conference

On Sunday November 15th I will be attending my first ever conference as an author. The New Jersey Association of School Librarians has what they call Authors’ Alley where authors can get a table and speak to the many librarians who are there for the conference. I am so excited to be able to talk to so many librarians at once about my new book. However, I am also quite nervous. Luckily, friend and fellow author Donna Galanti will also be there—which will make the experience much more fun and less nerve-wracking.

Preparing for a conference as an author is no easy thing. I need to have many pieces in place. Such as:


The first thing I need to do is order books to have with me at the conference to sell or to show the librarians who are interested in the book. I did that today and they will be arriving sometime before the 15th. I can only imagine what it will feel like when I open my first box full of my own books and see all those wonderful covers looking up at me. 🙂


I would like to have bookmarks ready to give out to people who are interested in the book but may not wish to buy at this time. I also want to have flyers announcing my school visit topics and availability to give out. I’m thinking of getting new business cards to bring, if I have time to get the new card and if my pocketbook will stretch to that much expense. My old cards are certainly sufficient to allow people to get in touch with me on social media and my website. The only drawback is that the cards do not have the cover of my most recent book on them.


There are also business things that need to be taken care of prior to that and I have already completed those. I needed to get a federal tax ID number and register my business with the state of New Jersey so that I could collect sales tax on any books that I sell at the conference. I have also bought a Square credit card reader for my smartphone so people can pay me with a credit card. I tested it out and it works great!


I need some sort of display stand to put up a flyer on the table. I need to bring order forms in case there are people who wish to order the book later, so they can still get the special pricing I’m giving for the conference. I also need to remember to bring things such as my laptop a copy book for writing, and snacks and water so that I can make it through the day without fainting away.

I had hoped the have my book trailer available by this time but it simply will not be possible to get it done. However I do hope to have that finished by the end of the month. I had a lot of fun putting it together and I hope people will enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!


Eventually all those items above will be checked off my list, and the only thing left to do will be to pack up the car and head out. Then my worry will be: Can I actually find the venue? Thankfully my smartphone has a GPS, so now I have a little bit more assurance that should I get lost I will actually be able to find my way to where I need to go.

With this conference I am officially launching my career as a published author. I’m on the path that I always dreamed about the time I was young. I cannot express to you how amazed I am that this dream is finally coming true.

Anyone have more tips for this conference newbie?

My Dream Book Launch

I went to Jon McGoran‘s book launch for DRIFT Tuesday night, and that got me thinking about what I would like to do when I have a book of my own to launch.

Book launches come in all shapes and sizes, from small gatherings in a local bookstore to posh soirees in grand venues. Money is, of course, an object in planning a book launch, but there are many ways to cut costs and still have an unforgettable evening.

The main thing, I think, is to make a book launch special. It should be memorable in some way, and most times authors try to have a theme to their launch that reflects the book. You can reflect the book in the venue, utilizing a store or museum or school or other setting that features prominently in your book. You could choose a place that brings to mind themes of your book, such as a natural history museum for a book connected to nature or a historical society for a historical book.

The other way to reflect the book is in the giveaways you have and the decorations at the venue. A novel with the Greek gods in it might feature Greek decorations, for instance. A science fiction novel might have space-themed decorations. The swag will have the book’s title and probably the cover. Even the food can contribute to the theme, especially if food plays a role in the book or if you have an ethnic storyline in your book. Even if your book is about zombies, you can make zombie cupcakes. Let your creativity flow!

So what do I envision for my first book launch? Details will have to wait until I know what my first book will be, however, there are some basics I can share. First, it will be casual, informal. I am not a flashy person, nor a person who loves wearing dressy gowns and high heels, so I want a venue and atmosphere I can be comfortable in. There will be food and drink, of course, but the exact nature will depend on the book, the venue, and the time of day. I am also hoping to do some good with it, perhaps raising awareness of some issue or organization I feel strongly about.

Most important to me, though, it will be close to my home base. I want people to show up to my launch, so I want to have it somewhere that my friends and family can get to easily. I’ll need that support and camaraderie as I push my first book out into the world. Besides, all those people helped me get to the point of having a book published, and I want to share the day with them. My book launch will be as much to thank them as to herald the book.

So how about you? How do you envision your first book launch? If you have already launched a book or books, what would you want to do for your next book?

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