The thing about book launches is that they don’t happen very often – not for me. I had my first one yesterday in about 15 years.
It all went off very well. The people who turned up were a great bunch, nice to talk to, and everything went very well indeed. It was a wonderful afternoon. I even gave a short talk on the meanings of the war for New Zealand, which I made up on the spot. And there was a short Q&A afterwards on the thorny issue of the Gallipoli participation rate (we don’t actually know how many Kiwis went).
Why are they so rare for me? I’ve written plenty of books in that time (the list’s here) – but I haven’t had any ‘launches’ since Quake – Hawke’s Bay 1931 of 2001. For me they are always a tad awkward: I never quite know what’s actually done to ‘launch’ a book – I mean, do you grab a bottle of champagne and break it over the book (or the author’s head) to declare the book ‘launched’? There’s also the fact that I’m the author and therefore the cause celebre of the moment, and I really hate being the centre of attention. I’d rather chat with friends about stuff.
That said, I quite enjoy the speaking bit. I was actually trained in public speaking – I had a job, once, as MC for a theatre group, I’ve done radio work – and I can do the voice-projection and ad lib without problem.
Even so, I tend not to want to do book launches, and usually if a publisher’s had a budget for them I’ve asked that the money’s put into advertising instead.
But this one was different. The New Zealand Experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front is my first military history-type book in years, and it’s likely to be the last unless a biography I’ve got in mind comes to fruition. It was also an important book for me because it brought together a lot of my long-term thoughts on the social experience of the First World War for New Zealand. And so when the opportunity came to launch it in a brand new military-historical bookshop – Messines Bookshop, one of the only such specialist bookshops in New Zealand – I was glad to accept.
And, as I say, it went off very well with a nice bunch of people who were all enthusiastic about matters military-historical.
I’m thinking maybe I should see about a launch for my next major book, which is coming out in October.
If you want your copy of The New Zealand Experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front, you can get it from any good New Zealand bookshop, or direct online from Oratia Books.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2017