Posts Tagged ‘La Place’

Too Few Books……

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Well, what a busy few days! It’s been my husband’s birthday, from which we emerged tired and hungover. Obviously.  From there I went straight into a day of visiting bookshops and finalising launch plans at La Place, which involved a bottle of wine. Obviously. Which meant that my meetings went very, very well indeed. Obviously. In all seriousness – I had a fantastic day on Friday. Waterstones in Winchester were very accommodating, took me very seriously and I was thrilled with the outcome. Subject to them liking the book (emphasis on THE, I’ll explain in a minute) they are going to stock it for me, display it prominently, put it in several different sections and organise a signing for me – for which they anticipate needing 50-75 books. That seems like a wild amount to me! So a good result all in all.

However on Friday I could have done with 50-75 books; I went to Winchester for the express purpose of taking the book around several different places for people to see it. Bookshop managers are always keen to physically hold the book, I have learned. There are no conversations to be had unless they are literally able to have it in their hands – I presume this is to make sure that you haven’t glued it together yourself or something. So I in my wisdom took only one copy of the book with me to Winchester. I consider myself a veteran of selling my book to managers and I have never needed more than one copy. You will already know where this is going. Waterstones was the very first bookshop that I went into, I had a terrifically exciting conversation with the manager (lovely chap but I don’t think he made eye contact with me once; he stared at a space somewhere above my right shoulder for the duration) and at some point the sentence “….will give the book to our fiction buyer, who will read it to see if she likes it…..” was uttered. Swiftly followed by “Do you have a copy that I could keep?” Let’s think about that for a second – can I spare a copy of my book to give to the fiction buyer for Waterstones in Winchester? That would be a YES. What could I do? Possibly something other than what I did actually do; I said “Yes of course, do keep that copy,” and watched my plans for the day slide down into a sad little heap. My fault of course, I should have brought more. So I thanked him, looked longingly at my book and walked out of the shop, essentially thinking “Oh bloody hell, what do I do now?” I hadn’t taken anything else. No posters, no flyers and definitely no more books. I stood outside Waterstones for about a minute before I realised that I really had made a major error. So I swivelled around on my very high (and painful) heels, sort of slunk back into the shop, sidled up to the counter – of course the manager had vanished – and had to say “Well yes, I’m Sarah Haynes, I just left my book for the fiction buyer but could I possibly have it back?” Great start Sarah, well done.

From there I went to the next bookshop, also a major chain, and again asked to see the manager. There were muttered discussions about where he might be and it eventually transpired that he was in his Office. Which was spoken in tones that suggested the word ‘Oval’ should be in front of it. I was solemnly led upstairs and told to wait while they fetched this great person from The Office, so I did and looked at books while I waited. About ten minutes later this man appeared. He was just about a man anyway, he couldn’t possibly have been more than twenty, and he also looked like he’d been in a major car accident. One eye was black and swollen, the actual white of his eye was deep red, his eyebrow was being held together by a steri-strip, his cheek was bruised black and puffy and his arm was in a cast. It was a forlorn picture.

“Oh my goodness,” I gasped. “What on earth have you done?” It was an accident of some sort, the question was how severe and whether anyone else had died.

“Oh – I got into a fight at the weekend,” he said, and from that point my words deserted me. I was all ready with sympathy, etc. but you can’t sympathise about a fight. So I settled for just looking at him for a second, at a bit of a loss, and then launching into “I’m Sarah Haynes, a local author…..” Incidentally, when I’d said the same line in the previous shop the manager had immediately responded with “By local, do you actually mean Winchester?” To which I replied “Yes” because “No” would have been the wrong answer. And then had a fleeting panic whilst I tried to recall the addresses of friends in case the conversation became more specific.

After the bookshops I went to La Place and drank some wine. Obviously. Whilst finalising plans for the launch. It was initially going to be held downstairs in the bar area but now we are upstairs because the numbers attending suggest that this is a better idea. It has the potential to get very crowded, very quickly and upstairs will give us more space, a table for signing books and most importantly a free rein over music. I am so terribly excited that I can hardly bear to think about it. And I liked La Place so much that I went back on Saturday for a bit more wine. I do love Winchester.

I can also reveal that the newest member of the Haynes household has arrived! No, I haven’t had the world’s quickest and most secret pregnancy, our new addition is a fish called Octopus. Some time ago three year old Alice decided that she wanted a fish after seeing a pink, princess tank in a shop. My sister Kim (to whom Things He Never Knew is dedicated) is Aquatics manager at a pet shop so she obtained the tank for us and we withheld it until Alice had reached the required behaviour levels that would entitle her to it. This she has done and so we told her that yes, she could now have her tank and some fish. We were unprepared for the question: “And some sea?” But for as long as she believes that the sea comes out of our bathroom taps, that’s fine. However the next request was “And an octopus please.” Ah. Bit more tricky. And we didn’t like the tantrums when we answered in the negative so we quickly settled on calling her pet fish Octopus. Everyone’s happy.

Apart from me, because there’s still no sign of Boris.

Winchester is La Place

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I appreciate that planning a book launch sounds like it’s a wonderfully glamorous activity, but it truly isn’t. It probably would be if I had access to approximately five thousand disposable pounds and about the same number of friends. No, I jest, I’m aspiring for my book launch to be a low-key, elite affair, not a scrum of people queueing four deep at the bar to drink Aftershock.

La Place Bistro

The Venue for my book launch

So I have a venue, this is the first thing. It is going to be held at La Place, a very lovely French restaurant in Winchester where I unexpectedly ate fish with bones in it for the first time. It was quite a step up from fishfingers, I can tell you. And the worst bit was that I was with someone who didn’t know that I had never eaten fish with bones in it before (I’m sure there’s a proper term for fish with bones in it) and I was keen to both keep this from him and simultaneously maintain my dignified air, which meant that I had to contain my shock when I discovered the bones. Swiftly followed by wondering how on earth I was going to remove them effectively and discreetly. It was my fault; I’d asked for the wretched fish specifically. There wasn’t anything on the menu that fitted my ideal so my friend asked if something could be found for me that was ideal – which it was, along with several hundred minute bones. But suffice to say that I managed with my dignity intact (I hope) and the fish was tremendous. I thoroughly recommend it. And bone debacle aside, La Place is the perfect venue for my book launch. It’s quite small which lends a nice, cosy air, the owners are French and therefore utterly charming and very accommodating, it has a fabulously well-stocked bar and there’s just an air of… ne sais quois about it. It has to be visited to be truly appreciated.

Having decided on the venue, the issue of cost became a concern. Some sums were mentioned during conversation between myself and my friend; I nodded and smiled to indicate ‘yes’ and only I knew that I meant ‘absolutely NOT’. If I thought it would make an important difference to the event I wouldn’t mind spending thousands of pounds on the evening (my husband probably would) but I genuinely don’t think it will. Ideally, what I envisage for my guests is to be able to come along for as long or as short a time as they wish, I want them to be comfortable, i.e. something to eat (and I promise there will be no unexpected bones) and more importantly something to drink. I want a relaxed, convivial atmosphere with my book being the focus of the evening, and I think a nice venue, French fare and a few bottles of wine are the way to achieve this.

My husband has come up with a staggeringly awful idea for the occasion, and this is that I should do a reading from my book. Apparently this is de rigueur for these events. And, perhaps, if I’d written a book about some amazing achievement like sailing a yacht single-handedly around the world or swimming in almost sub-zero temperatures up on Everest (just trust me on that one) then it might be nice to hear a particularly exciting excerpt read aloud. I can safely say this because the idea of me doing either of those things is so implausible as to be ridiculous. But my book is not about intrepid adventures. It’ll be bad enough that my guests will have no choice about buying it; I can’t imagine that they want to be forced to listen to it all evening as well.

So having found my venue and approved a menu I must now decide upon a guest list. I have a number in my head that I’m working to, considering the size of the bar, and I must allocate spaces carefully. If you are wildly influential or I particularly like you then you will probably be invited. If not, then the other thing I would suggest is just popping into Winchester on the evening of the 29th September because the idea of this thing is that people can wander in off the street; there will be plenty of publicity posters up to engender interest and you’ll be guaranteed a glass of the one of the splendid wines at La Place.

And finally, I am very grateful to everyone who makes the effort to come and read my blog and if you haven’t already then click ‘Like’ on my facebook page, and you’ll be notified instantly when a new blog is posted. Alternatively follow me on Twitter @SH_Writes and become my sixth follower! There will be a prize for the tenth. You can also ‘Like’ La Place on facebook – you’ll find the link on my facebook author page.

Next time: I SHOULD have received my review copies which means I can step up a promotion gear and start begging and pleading for shops to stock my book and to be allowed to come in and sign them for people. Time for my most charming self to make an appearance….