Event Debrief: “The Afflictions” Book Launch

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What: The Afflictions Book Launch

When: Wednesday, November 5, 2014

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Vikram, Christine, and Amanda

Where: The Mütter Museum, 19 S. 22nd Street

Hosted By: Lanternfish Press, (Amanda Thomas and Christine Neulieb)

Expected Guests (Actual): 50 (100ish)

Summary of Event: 

The purpose of this event was to celebrate the official release of The Afflictions. This is the first contemporary book we have published, and the debut work of the author. The Mütter Museum offered the perfect venue to highlight the literary and medical aspects of the book. The main goals of the event were to launch the book with style, draw attention to the author, and of course, sell some books.

The central activity of the event was a reading by the author. He told a few personal stories about how he came to write the book and what inspired him, interspersed with short readings from the text.

In the interest of helping the audience to mix and mingle, we did not have the author sit at a table to sign books. Instead we let him roam around so that guests who wanted signed books had to go find him. We also did a fun contest where guests got to make up diseases. The most creative responses got a giant stuffed microbe as a prize.

Set Up:

The event was held in the Thomson Gallery. It is a fairly large space which accommodates 100-150 people for a standing reception. We were concerned about attracting enough people to fill the space, so we tried to break up the room with a large central table for snacks and several high-top tables. We also had a table for wine and drinks, and one for us to sell books from.

Food and Drink:

The Mütter Museum has an exclusive arrangement with their caterer. The caterer was unhelpful. The initial estimate that she sent us for a wine and cheese reception for 50 guests was about three times our budget. When we asked her to pare it back, not a lot changed. We were fortunate to have a connection with the CEO of the Mütter Museum through our author, and the CEO graciously offered to sponsor a large portion of the bill.

The food and presentation decent, but not exceptional. But we did not have to do any of the set up or preparation ourselves which was very nice.

Volunteers:

As part of our catering package, we had a staff member from the Mütter Museum to help out with food and drinks.

We also brought both of our Drexel co-ops, Julia and Katarina. They did a fabulous job running the book table which allowed Christine and I the opportunity to meet a whole bunch of new people.

Promotion:

We started promoting this event well in advance. We used our Twitter feed, a direct email newsletter with a reminder the Monday before, as well as printed postcards with the event details.

Our author also has a large Twitter following and he did a lot to promote the event through his own network.

Neil Bardham very kindly did a write up for us in Geekadelphia as well.

Good Things:

The whole event went extremely well. There were lots more people than we expected, and lots of people we didn’t know. We had just about the right amount of food (the catering plan said 50 people, but it served 100 just fine). We also sold through our entire stock of books and had to take advance order. 😀

Things We Would Change:

Amanda’s car got towed (with all the book launch supplies in it) just before the event. It worked out okay in the end, but moral of the story, don’t park on the west side of 3rd street after 4pm.

We also didn’t have a lot of good pictures right after the event. The author hired a professional photographer, but her turn around was a couple weeks. It would have been a good idea to have a second photographer so that we could have at least some pictures right away.

We also sold through all of our books (we brought 50).

Money Things:

As of this writing (Nov.20), we have not yet received the bill from the caterer, but we are expecting it to be ~$500. Because of our connection to the leadership at the Mütter, the room was provided at no cost.

I feel like I should add that the Mütter Museum was not particularly easy to work with. We had reached out to them well in advance of the launch date to get more information and see if we could host it there. We got no response until our author’s contact made some inquiries. The space would also have been cost prohibitive without the support of the Mütter Museum leadership.