Monday, 29 September 2008


Despite being threatened by Hurricane Ike, author of The Fine Art of the Motorcycle Engine has a very successful book launch.

Daniel Peirce's fascinating new blog is definitely worth a read. This extract from his blog gives a great account of his book launch.

Ever been to a book launch? Neither have I, but I had one anyway.
In our lives on this earth there are events that will happen whether we like it or not, and we can do nothing to stop them- childbirth, the sun rising in the morning, and hurricanes.
I had a book launch yesterday. And I couldn’t have stopped it. It was going to happen whether I liked it or not.
I tend to make things up as I go along and there are no instructions on how to have a book launch. When the books were printed I was told that they would be available to me in three or four weeks. So, if I planned the book launch for a couple of weeks after that I’d be ready to go. This plan was reasonable to both the book distributor and me so I set the date for the launch as September 15, 2008. I told my daughter in Chicago to go ahead and make her flight reservations to be here on that weekend.

I mailed out 125 invitations the next week giving everyone five weeks notice. A week later I learned that the books were two weeks late shipping from the printer in India, and they wouldn’t arrive at the US distributor until the day after my book launch date. Unless something happened I’d be signing napkins during my book launch. The publicist for Motorbooks International went into action, and I put myself in her hands. “Help me magic publicist, you’re my only hope!”

The venue for the launch would be Up-N-Smoke BBQ in Keller, Texas, the establishment that lent its name to the original photo project. From the invitations and response from family, friends and co-workers I was expecting around 200 people to attend. I had no way to tell everyone about a new date or that I may not have books for folks.
The publicist and my buying contact a Motorbooks were working on it. However, the books were in a container on a freighter on the ocean somewhere between Mumbai and New York Harbor. There would be no way to even touch the books until it reached New York customs two weeks before the book launch. Under normal schedules it would then take three or four days to get through customs and then three or four days to truck to the distributor’s warehouse and then a week to ship to me. Under that schedule I’d get the books just after my book launch. And that was if customs wasn’t delayed. I started making contingency plans because this was still going to happen whether I liked it or not.

After a week of anxious waiting the shipment came through NY customs only to be held up with a disagreement between the shipping company and the trucker. In the end arrangements were made to have the freight company hold the shipment long enough to send books directly to Up-N-Smoke with three-day service. That would put the books in my hands on Friday, September 12. It would be close, but it would be done.

But other things happen whether you like it or not. On September 11, I found out that Hurricane Ike would make an appearance at the book launch on Sunday. The forecast track placed it directly over Keller, Texas. At least I’d have books. It wouldn’t be good, but the die-hards would be there.

Over the next few days the storm track was shifted more and more easterly and I began to think that it wouldn’t be that bad. It wasn’t. After bracing for the worst, our area was only brushed and Sunday turned out to be a sunny, blue-sky day with mild temperatures. The launch was on… and there was still nothing anyone could do to stop it.

The launch was as good as it could have been. Up-N-Smoke has three rooms and we set up an exhibit with wine and cheese in one and everything else in the main bar room. My daughter Cat manned the cash box and my daughter Elizabeth was running credit cards. My wife Pam was entertainer at large, and I sat at the end of a table with a pen in my hand. Strange to suddenly be playing a type of character you’ve only seen in movies. Good thing I’ve seen lots of movies.

“Stay as sweet as you are, see you next fall.” That’s all I could think of as folks filed past waiting for me to write something clever in their book. Sometimes I actually thought of something clever. Sometimes it was a default “Good Luck.” Sometimes I’m just a nerdy as I look. Still, it was a part I wanted to play all of my life.

Funny thing about something like this – I couldn’t remember anyone’s name. People I new for years, close friends, family, Peckerheads I saw every week – their names only came to me after a mental struggle. Especially embarrassing if I had to break down and actually ask them. My brain had become mush. Not surprising after spending so many years getting it that way.

In the end we ended up selling all the books we brought and we considered everything a great success. Finally I felt like an author. Maybe not a great author. Maybe not even a good author. But an author nonetheless.

At the end of the launch I made a toast. To Veloce Publishing for taking a chance on me, to Motorbooks for getting the books to me, to my family who helped and supported me, and finally to the NTNOA, to Peckerheads and to friends. It was the best book launch I’ve ever had.

Click here to visit Dan's blog page on CycleWorldNetwork and see more great posts like this. Or, click here for more info about his book.