In the early 1980s, Van Halen famously requested a bowl of M&Ms at each gig with all the brown ones removed. This was reported in the press as typical rock star behaviour, but the request fulfilled a practical purpose.
The band carried so much equipment on tour that they were worried about accidents from roadies failing to set it up correctly. By including the M&Ms clause deep in the technical part of the contract, they reasoned that if the bowl wasn’t set up as requested, there was a good chance the rest of the technical setup had been ignored as well.
While writers and poets don’t need nearly as much gear as musicians, I think I’ve been to enough literary events to know what I would like and wouldn’t like if I were ever to launch my own book. It’s not to be a diva, I’m merely thinking of practical matters.
I’ve narrowed it down to five key points:
When I’m organising NaNoWriMo events, one of my prime considerations is accessibility. At my hypothetical book launch, this would be a dealbreaker. Everyone ought to be able to come in and hear all about my hypothetical book.
Many studies have shown that sitting down for extended periods is a Bad Thing. Sure, most book launches rarely last more than an hour, but multiply that figure by however many launches you’re doing, and the time soon mounts up.
I’d therefore prefer to stand up as much as possible, especially while signing. This has the added advantage that I would be physically on the same level as the reader and it feels more of a two-way conversation. Speaking of signings…
Clearly signposted queue
I went to a launch in July that was so well attended, the bookshop ran out of seats. However, when the time came for the author to sign copies, nobody thought to direct people about where to queue up. Two queues were formed, and the author had to take turn about to keep the wait as fair as possible.
I saw a cartoon a few months ago where an academic was being interviewed on stage and the caption read something like We’ve just got time for one rambling self-indulgent question. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find it again.
I would have no problem answering questions, but we’d all like to remember what the start of it was by the time we reach the end. One breath, one question, or we move on to the next person.
Red wine available to all attendees
Writers and red wine go together like rock stars and cocaine. I’m sure Van Halen would agree.