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Making your book launch #plasticfree

You’ve written a story, you’ve worked hard to get it turned into a book. Now it’s time to launch it on an unsuspecting world! You’ve done all your homework. You’ve read Candy Gourlay’s excellent post on Notes From The Slushpile about organising a book launch. You’re ready!

Maybe not quite… Candy makes the very good point that your launch is part celebration and part promotional tool. Could you use it to raise awareness, not just of you and your book, but of something else as well? My husband, David Barker, used the launch of his debut thriller Blue Gold (out now!) to raise awareness of the work of Water Aid. Yesterday, saw many high-profile authors and publishers sign up to Authors4Oceans. This is a campaign to highlight the damage that single-use plastic is doing to the marine environment and to lobby the publishing industry to reconsider their use of plastics. You can sign up on the website and pledge to reduce your own use of single use plastics.

Pledging is the easy part. Now you actually need to do something. Every day. That can feel a bit daunting especially when you see rows of plastic-wrapped food every time you enter a supermarket. But your book launch might just be a good place to start and get other people on board too. So what do you need to think about?

  1. When thinking about a venue, ask about what their policy is on the use of single-use plastics. Do they have a café onsite? Do they use plastic straws? How are they encouraging their customers to bring in their own cups?
  2. Send your invitations out by email/social media where possible. This means you don’t have to use paper either! And you don’t have to use printer ink which always comes in plastic packaging that cannot be recycled.
  3. If you’re thinking about merchandise or freebies to give away at your launch then choose a less plastic or plastic free alternative.
  4. You want your social media pictures to look awesome, so you’ll be thinking about decorations for the launch. Think about sourcing these plastic free or making them yourself. I’m afraid that means no balloons. Fabric bunting looks great instead or what about good old-fashioned paper-chains?

5.   Candy has some great tips on catering for your book launch. But if you’re going plastic free there are a few other things to think about. Finger-food is great so you don’t have to worry about cutlery. Sourcing food can be an issue. You might have to resort to making things yourself but sometimes the simplest nibbles are the most delicious. But no crisps. Or if you simply must have crisps then buy them in the largest possible bag (less plastic per crisp! I think I need to get out more!) Small chains and local shops are best for sourcing ingredients plastic free. Use real actual china plates (remember those?) or if you can’t be bothered with the washing up then it is possible to source compostable alternatives to paper plates (which are plastic coated). For the drinks, some supermarkets will lend glassware or you could make a splash by asking everyone to bring their own re-useable cup. Maybe have a prize for the most beautiful/wackiest/best-book-themed?

Well done on even thinking about reducing plastic for your launch. But the most important thing is to enjoy yourself! You are an author! You made a book that other people can share. Don’t beat yourself up if you couldn’t source plastic free decorations or merchandise etc. If you asked people to bring their own cups, you’ve done something good. Every win, however small, is a win. I learnt this early on in my less plastic journey from the wise Amanda Keetley of lessplastic.co.uk. Celebrate what you did. Don’t torture yourself about what you didn’t do.

For more resources, I’d recommend looking at the Marine Conservation Society website (or even join – they have very snazzy tote bags!) or Wise Oceans. Surfers Against Sewage also organise beach cleans which are lots of fun (honestly).

So pledge for Authors4Oceans and then go forth and use less plastic!