Swoon Author Kelly Zekas: Top 10 Things I Learned at My Book Launch Party

Hello swooners! Kelly here. How are you all holding up this winter? I hope you've been able to enjoy some of the wackier weather and are counting the days till spring. I've had a pretty great one myself, leading up to the NYC joint-launch party for These Vicious Masks and Heidi Heilig's debut, The Girl From Everywhere. We met last year as members of The Sweet 16s—a group of 2016 debut authors. It's a wonderful community and Heidi is as incredible as her first book. She and I were discussing launch parties and, realizing our books had very close publication dates and that we both lived in NYC, it made perfect sense to see if the amazing independent children's bookstore, Books of Wonder, would host us for a joint launch party. 

tvm launch party 1

They did, and Heidi and I were lucky enough to have a wonderful night surrounded by our incredibly supportive friends and family. Approximately 85 people showed up for us, which was overwhelming and touching.

We mingled, hugged, talked about writing and signed copies for two hours. After, I went home and slept for 2 days straight. When I came to, I realized that I learned quite a lot that evening.

1. The Swoon Reads and Macmillan team are amazingly supportive. The hands-down best part of the night was seeing the amazing Macmillan contingent. I couldn't believe it when I saw so many lovely faces, including Jean, Holly, Lauren, Emily, and Sandy (who came all the way from NJ!). It reminded me for the thousandth time how lucky Tarun and I are to be Swoon Reads authors.

tvm launch party 2

(Jean and Emily!)

2. Photographers are so very worth it. When Heidi and I were planning our party, we took the advice of other Sweet 16ers and hired a photographer. I am so very glad we did. Friends with phones are great, but our wonderful photographer, Patricia Phelps, caught moments that I am so happy to have preserved.

tvm launch party 3

​(My small meltdown at seeing Holly)

3. Joining a debut author group is the best thing I did last year. Not only did the Sweet 16ers tell us to hire a photographer, they helped us with what to expect, offered suggestions and ideas and enthusiasm. Entering into publishing can be a strange new experience, and as amazing as everyone at Swoon Reads is, Tarun and I tried not to bother them 50 times a day. The 16ers chime in with ideas on swag, promote each others' books, are there for the ups and downs, and are generally just a wonderful community. In fact, other authors from the group showed up to support Heidi and me!

tvm launch party 4

4. Food. Bubbles. Non-alcoholic drinks. All are helpful in creating convivial fun. The prettier the layout, the better. Also, some lovely soul brought in artisan DONUTS, so you should always be very nice and hope that it will get you donuts. (This is just a general life lesson.)

tvm launch party 5

5. If your book is about superpowered people, it's probably a good idea to have a prepared answer for what your superpower would be. I'm all too sure I just said "um" for about a minute during the Q&A, when the very obvious question was asked of me.

6. On a similar note, just because you studied acting, does not mean you are an inherently great public speaker. For example: I am not. I went on many tangents and forgot plenty of things I wanted to say. I now know that preparation is KEY and I am absolutely making sure I am more on the ball for my next event. How do I know that I went on tangents and forgot things? Well ... 

7. Get someone to film you speaking. This is important for two reasons. 

A. Your parents can see it—Yay! 

B. You now know every single horrifying thing you did while speaking! I played with a button on my sleeve for the entire 30 minutes that Heidi and I spoke. I also had weird answers. I looked angry at odd times. BUT, at least I know what I want to work on. And it is nice to have a record of the first time I ever spoke publicly about These Vicious Masks.

8. Talking and writing at the same time is extremely difficult. I originally attempted to write lengthy messages in everyone's book, but finally I had to give up. I kept screwing up spellings and writing the wrong words as I tried to talk to everyone while writing. The shorter the better!

tvm launch party 6

9. Waterproof mascara continues to be this emotional girl's favorite weapon. Everything and everyone makes me cry (happy and sad) so I was very pleased I used my trusty $5 mascara.

10. I have more support than I knew. I have always found my friends to be a lovely, cheerleading group. They're my friends, after all, and are happy when I find success! But the sheer number of people who came and the amount of enthusiasm that was showered on me that night, well... I am an extraordinarily lucky person. 

tvm launch party 7

Overall, it was a wonderful night and I wouldn't trade a second of it for the world. I have some work to do—public speaking, figuring out my superpower—but I couldn't ask for a better first time talking about These Vicious Masks

Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the winter and are looking out for the exciting April releases, No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista and Love, Lies and Spies Cindy Anstey! I know they're gonna make you super swoony.

About the author - Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few ...

See More
Report comment

10 comments on "Swoon Author Kelly Zekas: Top 10 Things I Learned at My Book Launch Party"

Danika Stone on Feb. 27, 2016, 11:20 a.m. said:

Danika Stone


I read this entire post with a big smile on my face. You are adorable! I'm SO happy for you, and inspired by all you do. Sending big hugs your way!

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas on Feb. 27, 2016, 12:54 p.m. said:

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas


Thank you SO MUCH, Danika! I hope you do something wonderful on your release day! *hugs hugs hugs*

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Lisa Buscemi Reiss on Feb. 26, 2016, 1:40 p.m. said:

Lisa Buscemi Reiss


Awesome! Congratulations!

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas on Feb. 27, 2016, 12:55 p.m. said:

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas


Thanks Lisa! It's been a blast.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Chen Yan Chang on Feb. 25, 2016, 10:20 p.m. said:

Chen Yan Chang


Congrats on your book launch! I used to go to Books of Wonder for author signings when I lived in NYC and went to NYU! Such a great place :)

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas on Feb. 27, 2016, 12:57 p.m. said:

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas


Oh that's so funny - Tarun and I met and began writing at NYU! Books of Wonder is such a special place. :)

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Jen Wilde on Feb. 25, 2016, 6:17 p.m. said:

Jen Wilde


I love this! Congrats on such a wonderful, happy launch! It looks like so much fun. Great tips, too :D Thanks for sharing!

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas on Feb. 27, 2016, 1:01 p.m. said:

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas


Thank you so much, Jen! And yes please feel free to steal anything you can from my ramblings :)

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Kimberly Karalius on Feb. 25, 2016, 4:01 p.m. said:

Kimberly Karalius


SUCH a wonderful post, Kelly! I've seen the photos from your launch party (sooo exciting) so it was awesome to hear about your first experience. YES to everything (though I'm actually glad no one recorded me, haha) but esp the talking and signing. I did manage to spell names correctly, but at the cost of decent conversation. It was like, a long pause of silence while I quickly scribbled, and then the talking could resume on my part, haha. I need to get better at that.

Congrats again to you and Tarun!

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas on Feb. 27, 2016, 1:03 p.m. said:

Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas


Thank you so much, Kim! I was rereading your signing experience in preparation - so so helpful! Hopefully this writing/listening at the same time thing gets easier :)

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.