Book Launch

Helen Chandler Two for JoyWell, it’s happened! I am now officially a published author. Two for Joy came out last Thursday, and I had the most amazing publication day.

My husband had taken the day off work, so he took Anna to nursery (lovely for both of them), while I went to get my hair washed and blow-dried. I always say that if I won the lottery one of the luxuries I would definitely treat myself to would be very frequent professional blow-dries. My hair somehow manages to be both thick – there’s a lot of it, and it’s heavy – but also fine. Left to its own devices it tends to look limp and nondescript, it takes a proper blow-dry to inject some much-needed volume.

After the hairdressers, we had coffee in the Deli Cafe; our very local cafe which just happened to be where I wrote quite a lot of my book. The staff in there were excited about the book and the launch, and I got my first ‘author’ moment of the day when I signed a copy for the cafe. Then down to Waterstones Walthamstow to chat to the manager there about Two for Joy, where it would be placed in store, and about the signing I will be doing, after their re-furb, in the early autumn.

We treated ourselves to lunch out (agent/mother-in-law had collected Anna from nursery), and I had the most amazing crab and avocado salad at Eat 17 in Walthamstow Village. With chips, of course. During lunch I got a text message from my dad, on his way down for the launch, showing rows of Two for Joy displayed in WHSmiths in Liverpool Lime Street station. Cue much excitement. I was particularly impressed at my dad successfully sending a picture message as mobile technology is not normally his strong point – it seemed rather like those cases you read about where a child becomes trapped under a car and the mother suddenly develops the super-human strength to lift it clear. Under the impetus of seeing his daughter’s first novel on sale for the first time, my dad developed hitherto unknown capabilities.

I became increasingly nervous as the afternoon passed on, but my mood was lifted by the arrival of a gorgeous bouquet from my publishers, and another from a friend who couldn’t be there for the launch.

We’d chosen Penny Fielding Gallery and Interiors for the launch – a very local shop and gallery selling modern collectables and showcasing local artists. One of the huge advantages of this venue was the gorgeous back garden, and, amazingly, the weather obliged and we were blessed with a warm, sunny evening. Soon everything was set up – cupcakes displayed on stands and plates, books arranged in the shop, wine ready to pour, and an author’s signing station under the fig tree. The only thing that remained was to wait for the guests.

And they came! The nicest thing about the whole launch period was the enormous amount of support and enthusiasm I received from friends and family, and from my community more generally. My aunt and uncle, both teachers in the middle of the exam season, made the four-hour round trip to be there. My mum’s cousin, who I’ve met only a handful of times, not only came to the launch, but is recommending Two for Joy to her book group. A large group of my husband’s colleagues, who all work on the other side of London, were there. We’d put invitations through the doors of all the houses on my road, and I was incredibly touched by the number of my neighbours, many of whom I was meeting for the first time, who came along to support me and (crucially!) to buy the book.

The party was a happy blur for me. I meeted and greeted and signed. My editor made a short (and sweet) speech, I mumbled some heartfelt but slightly inarticulate thank-yous (I’m better with the written word, really), and my husband launched into full marketing director mode and urged everyone to go forth and tweet. After the main event we then adjourned to the pub,  I got to chat to people in a bit more depth, and we sat happily around in the beer garden until well after my usual bedtime.

The whole thing felt incredibly reminiscent of my wedding day (right down the making the cupcakes beforehand!), and I was left with the same feeling of being so incredibly lucky to have such amazing family and friends, and, particularly such a loving and supportive husband. Now I just need the books to sell…


  1. Good on your Dad I say. Read & thoroughly enjoyed the book Helen, it’s very strange reading a book by some one you know. Hope it all goes brilliantly & look forward to the next one – your Mum says it’s even better!


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