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‘Publication party’ great way to promote your new textbook

Karen MorrisWriting a textbook not only has the potential to generate royalties, but is also a great way to advance your career. Karen Morris, author of Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Law, has used her textbook to do just that by hosting a “Publication Party” each time a new edition of her book is published.

A “Publication Party” is an event designed to celebrate the accomplishment of completing the book and to remind people that you are an author.

“If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to promote yourself, in my mind, it is such as wasted opportunity,” said Morris, also distinguished professor at Monroe Community College. “It’s a way to gain publicity and notice, which is part of my goal in writing textbooks.”

She has held a Publication Party for each of her four editions. Her goals each time include advancing her career as a professor and as an elected official – she is town judge of Brighton, adjacent to Rochester, New York. “Every time a new edition of my book comes out, my goal is to make sure that the local people who are influential in my life are aware that I have published a book, as well as to celebrate that accomplishment with my friends,” said Morris.

For each Publication Party, Morris sends invitations to not just her friends but also her colleagues and administrators, including the chair, dean, provost and president at Monroe Community College where she teaches. She also sends event announcements to the media, town officials, and her publisher. “I want these various constituencies to see me as an author, as well as someone who is recognized as an authority in a particular field of law,” she said.

Morris’s first Publication Party was held at her local Borders bookstore. At that event, she made a formal presentation. The bookstore also stocked a large number of her books hoping to sell them, but, said Morris, the purpose of a Publication Party is not to promote sales of your book: “I don’t sell my book at the party, and don’t expect the people coming are interested in buying it.” She held an “after party” following the Borders event at a restaurant and treated her invitees to dinner.

Her second Publication Party was held at the Rochester, New York Writers & Books, where Morris is a member. The third party was held at a restaurant, and the fourth party was held at Monroe Community College. She serves food at each event, sometimes decorates with balloon bouquets, and displays numerous copies of her book. Depending on the forum, she says, she might talk a bit about the book and then answer questions. She then mingles with guests, and she adds, hopefully with media who have sent a reporter. “A big part of the goal is publicity,” said Morris. “I write a press release and send it to the local media – newspaper, television and radio – and also lesser known outlets including a local lawyer business newspaper, and my synagogue’s bulletin. They all usually include an article.”

The benefits of holding Publication Parties have been cumulative, said Morris: “I’ve been re-elected to serve as Brighton Town Justice five times. My community college nominated me to be the first Distinguished Professor at the community college level in the State University of New York System in 2006. No teaching professor from my college was given that designation before or after I received it.. I’m not saying that these were a direct result of holding Publication Parties, but they played a role in reminding everyone that I’m someone working hard and doing good things. It keeps me on their radar screens.”

The Publication Parties are also just plain fun, she said: “It’s a chance to revel in the accomplishment. I work so hard when producing the book, the parties give me a chance to really say, ‘I have accomplished this.’ It is also a way to celebrate with my friends and to enjoy my friends’ congratulations and their excitement for me.”