No matter how you succeeded in publishing a book: either you are the genius of the millennium, or you paid for it, or you are bloody lucky . Whatever the reason is: you have published a book.
Holy Fuck! Now you have to present it! Of course you have to!Obvoiusly! otherwise what did you publish it for?
You have to do it: whether you are terribly ashamed or whether you are excited, on the contrary, the idea itself excites you and makes you blow up like one of those helium balloons in the shape of a rabbit that slips through children’s fingers during village fairs and fly away., In either case you have to do it.
“I can help you, what is the problem?” your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your mother, your sister or your present friend asks. People who, not only have never presented a book, but probably have never read one. In spite of this, they feel more than capable of organizing a presentation.
Yes, what’s the problem? Actually,it is something quite difficult. But the rookie writer does not know and he falls directly into the trap.
It’s enough to find a place,. Simply invite some people, e. Enough to find someone who presents and asks a couple of questions. It’s enough to bring a big box full of books (“maybe two are better, you never know, in case there’s a demand ) “
Concerning the place, you often take the first one you see, thinking that, in the very end, it’s only a neutral space in which you barricade a crowd of potential readers, that are eager to know every single detail of your masterpiece.
Thus, you happen to see erotic novels presented in a parish room (with an interesting consequent fainting of the vicar during the reading of the incipit )or essays on free market salvific virtues presented in an ARCI centre -Italian Recreational and Cultural Association- (with an interesting consequent fainting of the author when a former activist of the Communist Refundation Party, in backward integration, stands up and lands him a punch in the face) or books about a hundred different ways of cooking sausages presented at a vegan club (with the rhythmical fainting of the majority of the participants when the image of a huge plate of sausages is projected behind the author.)As far as the invitations are concerned, some people confine themselves to simply “creating an event” (event?!?) on Facebook thinking that it’s more than enough, instead others exaggerate, and start ringing bells on Sunday mornings like Jehovah’s Witnesses. Once, I heard rookie writer saying with my own ears : “I have already invited fifty people; I think it will be enough, after all the room is small”. Lovely. I felt more tenderness for him than for Winnie the Pooh!
Another big problem is the “speaker”. There are writers who decide to do everything by themselves . Which is not exactly the perfect solution, especially if you are a clumsy writer. But if you don’t know anybody, no reporter or critics, not even a college professor, it would be better for you to do everything by yourself. Maybe you are not even on good terms with your son’s Literature teacher of the in primary school (the idiot that got so mad simply because your young child slipped a green lizard into her neckline).
Thus, you happen to attend to presentations where the speaker is your niece’s teacher or uncle Peppino who, during his youth, published a poetry book about his mom. It could be worse. It could happen that, after two months of shameful humiliation, “the writer just a bit famous” who lives in your town agrees to be your speaker with not too veiled offers of sexual favours from your complaisant wife. It’s a pity that on the fateful evening he arrives two hours late in a bad mood and he immediately expects (without a warning) a down payment for the above mentioned favours from your wife in the bathroom of the room where the presentation takes place. Then, he spends two-thirds of the time speaking about his book and not yours that obviously he has not even read. and, then, in the end, he brings up some dozens of copies of his old novel and sells them not really under the counter, in competition with yours.
The result?: only twelve copies of the author’s just a bit famous novel sold. Four of yours. Your wife’s pantyhose laddered. Self-confidence flushed down the toilet.
Another pathetic belief is the idea that a book launch alone is enough to get big audiences. But let’s get real! You people who write as well, do you move with such ease to go and listen to another nobody who presents his unknown book? Of course not. Then, why do you think others are willing to do so too ?
Let’s be brutally concrete: what makes you move from your evening cosiness at the television? Essentially three things: food, alcohol and “fannies”. So, what shouldn’t be missing during your presentation? Good, I see you are smart: food, alcohol and fannies (or if you are female writers and want to attract a female audience: “studs ”).
So, what does the ideal presentation looklike? Theoretically a roman orgy! But roman orgies areexpensive. Much more expensive than what you could earn selling books. So, you have to fall back onto something less engaging. Let’s say that some trays full of pastries and four bottles of prosecco can, in some way, help the the promotion of art. Moreover, in order to fill the first two rows, it should be enough to put the word out on street that your niece, the second winner of the Miss Wet T-shirt” contest will be there.
Book marketing experts suggest creating some distractions in order to to avoid public getting bored. For this reason, it often happens to attend book presentations interspersed with any kind of distraction: videos or slides projections, maybe those of the last holidays in Ladispoli, exhibitions of emerging local bands that desire to take part in X Factor, crowds of little nieces who replicate unconvincing ballet recitals wearing their tutus, forth-class magicians who let their rabbit run away from the back of their jacket while they’re trying to make it appear from their top hat.
I feel like suggesting you not to exaggerate because the risk is that these distractions can overwhelm your presentation and the day after you listen to these kind of conversations:
“Hallo, where have you been last night?”
“I was in a place where Black Minchias played”.
“Well, sometimes there was a guy who interrupted the show to speak about a new book”.
“Uhm… I don’t remember, I’m still a little drunk from prosecco and furthermore, there was a girl with a wet t-shirt on you cannot imagine…”
Translation by Paola Roveda, edited by Alessandra Franconi and Francesca Sabbadini; final edit by Jenovia Amisti Smith.
Alessandra Franconi and Francesca Sabbadini are students of the Linguistic Sciences and Foreign Letters faculty at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Brescia, Italy; they collaborate with Inkroci in the translation project coordinated by Professor Jenovia Amisti Smith.