Well, it’s been an interesting month indeed.
DOSF is about lobbyists and legislators and their hobnobbing in the environs of fine dining and luscious golf courses. So, where better to throw a book launch party than in the shadow of the State House? At a watering hole favored by those very characters?
Three weeks ago, I locked in the date at Scollay Square. On that day, the Massachusetts Senate passed a casino gambling bill different that the House’s version. So it went to a conference committee. They usually futz around with it for a few weeks anyway, but they’re going to want to pass it before Thanksgiving, right? Hah, I laughed to myself, wouldn’t it be hilarious if the conference committee reported out the casino bill the day before the party, and both the House and Senate were busy as beehives?
Now to get some of those lobbyist folks to host the event. No problem, said ten of the most respected people in the profession – without even knowing what was in the novel! Well, one did. Ace environmental lawyer Jamy Madeja was an early beta reader, so she knew the dirt.
Now to invite 150 of my closest friends and a bunch of complete strangers. Ever use Paperless Post? What a marvelous tool.
Put together a nice passed hors d’oeuvres menu, order 50 more books, just in case, get some sharp looking posters made. Put together a press kit and a press release, and find an incredibly fabulous publicist to help a friend.
And voila, a party ensues precisely at the time that both the House and Senate are acting upon the conference committee’s compromise casino bill
Let it be known that I have some exceptionally fine friends, most of whom go back over 20 years, some more than 35. Why look, some of them are here! (We forgot the camera until after I’d spoken and a good half crowd left.)
The two gentlemen in the foreground are Mark Russell (L) and Tom Beaton. They are my 1973 Andover classmates. The fellow over Tom’s right shoulder is Russ Bubas, the President of Dataquest Ltd., a security and PI firm. Russ is the real life Rex Barkley (a book character for you laggards).
Okay, let’s change the perspective. There’s my darling bride in the foreground, chatting with one of my very best friends, Ken Ghazey. Ken and I are former college chums, post-college roommates in Boston, and frequent golf co-conspirators. To the left of Tom’s closed eyes, in the background, is Len Rubenstein, and incredibly talented photographer who is usually off shooting portraits of the very important people. Len and I are guitar players in the fabulous Gratefuls band.
In the very back corner under the television, there is a clutch of men in suits. Those are all lobbyists hiding from the camera. You can just make out a shock of white on the head closest to the tv. That’s Tom O’Neill, Tip’s son, former Lieutenant Governor, head of O’Neill & Associates, and one hell of a competitor on the golf course.
Let’s see who else Betsy captured for evidence.
Here, we’re getting on toward the end, so I am enjoying my very first and only martini. My arm is draped upon Ruah Donnelly, my first cousin, author of The Adventurous Gardener. On my right is Holly Laurent, a law school classmate who – coincidentally – formerly worked with Ruah at Goodwin Procter . Obscured by Holly, wearing a chic purple scarf, is our dear friend Jan Saragoni, President of Saragoni & Co., who provided me with some superb publicity help. (Getting a Boston Globe columnist to attend an event requires persuasion tools I do not have.)
Now I insinuate myself into the lair of lobbyists under the ruse of signing their books, for which they have paid cash. To the left of me with the charming smile is Steve Tocco, the President and Chief Executive Officer of ML Strategies, the government relations arm of the law firm, Mintz Levin. While this appears to be a fairly innocent scene as I sign Steve’s book, Steve and I are actually engaged in a ruse to lure Bob Havern (far right holding the Amstel) into a lopsided golf match to be scheduled in the future.
By 7:00 sharp, the tables were rolled out, the crowd was gone (well, most of them), and my first book launch party was behind me. I was drained, wired, exhausted reeling from it all.
At the end of the night, I’d sold over 65 books, generated some great buzz, seen some old friends, had one hell of a good time; and I’d been shown an unusual instance in which word of mouth in your own back yard has a huge amount of power.
More importantly, I realized how damn much I believe in this novel.
And that right there’s worth the price of the Baby Beef Wellingtons and Tuna Tartare.