Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget) - Part 4: Sweet Music

Karen McTackett By Karen McTackett, 13th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

Your venue is set, the decorations are organised, and you know exactly how your venue will look. Now to create the mood! Music is an essential part of any event to not only add a background noise but to impart the sense of mood you would like to create. In Part 4 of the series, I will tell you how I had live musicians auditioning to play at my Book Launch as well as cover the other music options your may consider and how to develop a playlist that fits your event.

Sweet Music

This is Part 4 of a series: "Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget)"

Read the Introduction HERE
Read Part 1: Finding Your Venue HERE
Read Part 2: Organising the Layout of Your Venue HERE
Read Part 3: Decorating Your Venue HERE

In the introduction, I gave you the background of my launch experience and why I decided to write this series of articles. In Part 1, I told you the story of how I found my ideal venue and gave you some tips on finding yours. In Part 2, I discussed the layout of my venue and some ideas to help you. In Part 3, I discussed how I decorated the venue with limited funding. In Part 4, I will discuss all things music.

Music for Awakening

The mood that I wanted to impart into my Book Launch for Awakening was quite mellow but emotional. I wanted the music to be a constant background hum that would flow like my story with highs and lows and that my guests would enjoy. I was not using music as a focus point but rather to instill ambiance and subconsciously take the audience through the journey of my characters. As I had a silent presentation running on loop (more in a later chapter) I also wanted to maintain a soft experience to allow guests to read the presentation if they chose to.

These clear definitions of what I wanted to achieve with the music led me to the decision to have a live musician. Let me be clear, this was my preference rather than my decision until I found the perfect musician. I created a playlist as a back-up just in case and I would highly advised anyone who is booking a live performer to have a back-up option to ensure they are prepared for a worst case scenario.

The Search

You may be wondering how I was able to book a live musician on a budget. Not only did I book the PERFECT musician (for my needs) but I even had my choice. I come from an acting background and that enables awareness of certain creative avenues that many may not know about or may not consider, but rest assured, you can access these. is a fantastic site where actors, musicians, models, etc post their profiles for availability for work in their respective areas. Those looking for performers can post ads on this site and the performers will apply for these positions. Think of it like your local online employment website. You advertise your job and applicants contact you with their qualifications etc. is available in several countries.

I placed my ad on the Australian platform, (see above) and I received four applications within a few days. My ad read as follows:

I will be holding an Official Launch Party for the release of my first novel in August (date TBA). The theme of the book is horror/fantasy. In keeping with this theme, I will be hiring an ambient private function room at the Manhattan Hotel in Ringwood. Although the date has not been finalized, it WILL be on a Sunday evening from 5:00pm to 10:00pm.

I require a musical style that will stay with the ambient environment. Your sound must be mellow and you will not be in the spot light; however, you will play several sets in a relaxed situation throughout the night. I am keen for a variety of music with and without musical accompaniment.

I would prefer a solo artist though will consider duos or small groups. A variety of styles and sounds would be great as long as it keeps with the feel and I am targeting someone who can do originals and covers to keep the night interesting.

Food and drink will be provided throughout the night; however, I cannot offer payment. Instead, I can offer you the chance to be heard by around 80 people and feel free to bring any copies of your own music for sale.

I will be inviting media to this event; however, I cannot guarantee their attendance.

Please let me know a little about your style (reference to other artists would be helpful). Ideally, you will have audio available on your starnow profile or you can link me to another site with examples of your work. If not, we can discuss other options.

Payment details: no pay

Applications to this casting call require:

  • A phone number
  • A profile photo
  • An audio clip

In addition, I linked this add through my social network sites: Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, and placed an add on the free ad site at Your local area should have free sites you could utilize.

Finding Jamie Slater

The other sites did not produce any direct applicants; however, StarNow is a site for artists looking for work so it is a much more targeted system. Of the four applicants, one was instantly dismissed as he did not have the attitude I was after - their application can tell you much so pay attention to wording and demands. I set him as 'unsuccessful' and moved on.

With the remaining three, I read their applications and checked their links to experience their sounds. This was their auditions. The “other options” mentioned in my advertisement would have been to organize an audition piece via Skype, video email, or CD etc. Luckily, most musicians these days have a strong online presence so usually, you can audition them based on the links they provide. Of the three, one was an older gentleman who was a little too stuck in the sixties for what I was after, another was a country musician, but the third, was perfect. Her voice was mellow and soulful. She was an acoustic guitarist and she was absolutely perfect for what I was after. Jamie Slater was destined to be a part of my launch because without her, there is no doubt in my mind that it would have been missing something very special.

In her application she wrote:

Hi, I'm a singer songwriter with over 10 years experience performing acoustic sets. I live in Sydney, but I travel to Melbourne the first week of every month for work and would really like the opportunity to play for you. If your launch party ends up being in the first week of August, I would love to be considered as a candidate. Regards. Jamie

My launch ended up being the first week of September and that decision was partly based on the availability of Jamie. We had a total of 33 messages through StarNow and more via email chatting back and forth as together we arranged a mutually beneficial outcome. We discussed where she would be seated (I sent her photos of the venue), the playlist, the equipment she needed and even little things down to providing her drinks on the night. Before the night, I advised Jamie that I would like to offer her a payment of $100 as not only was she saving me the cost of hiring a microphone, but she was also clearly focused on ensuring my launch was fantastic rather than expecting to be the center of attention. A humble musician is rare and beautiful.

The Playlist

Jamie sent me a sample playlist of suggested songs including links to her performing some of these (please have a look at her YouTube channel linked below to see just what I saw) and asked me to send her additional songs I would like her to play. I chose a few songs that I felt represented sections of my novel and I was absolutely blown away that Jamie was willing to learn and play these songs. Below are the songs I requested with a brief overview of how each relates to Awakening:

  • Close my eyes by Jordan Knight - This song represents Rebecca's mental separation as she drift into the Garden.
  • Ashes and Wine by A Fine Frenzy - This song represents Zach's struggle to get close to Rebecca though her acceptance of him is bi-polar!
  • Naked as we came by Iron & Wine - This song represents the image that comes up a few times of old Rebecca and Zach hanging out on the porch as "old vampires".
  • Love Song for a Vampire by Annie Lennox - This song represents a very pivotal moment around Benny (no spoilers, lol).
  • Creep by Radiohead - This song represents Rebecca's inability to establish who she is.
  • Rise above this by Seether - This song represents the emergence of Rebecca as a force.
  • Awakening James Morrison - This song just epitomized by own experience of writing the novel and of Rebecca's acceptance and embrace of her reality.

The only one Jamie could not perform was Close my Eyes by Jordan Knight. I expected this as it is not a released song, nor could I find the music to it to provide, but this was not a huge issue for me.

She also surprised me! As we were nearing the end of the night and it was time for me to give the final thank yous and speeches, I advised her father (who accompanied her and taped the below video) that the current song would be the last one. Jamie came back and said she wanted to play one more, which of course, I was absolutely with. When she started playing "Awakening" by James Morrison, she saw how happy I was. I think I actually jumped up up and down a little and made a "thank you" gesture to her. The lyrics include: "I've been waiting for this Awakening for so long." How appropriate and how remarkably professional and considerate of Jamie to play that song as everyone was being gathered inside for the final moments of this perfect night.

Please take a moment to share in a snippet of my book launch with Jamie Slater's rendition of Never Saw Blue by Hayley Westanra.

Doing What I Could

Jamie Slater is an amazing artist who truly wanted to help me in eveyway she could so I naturally wanted to return that professional approach.

In addition to the $100 (and I wish I could have offered more), I also wanted to help get her music out there. She gave me five copies of her CD with her own songs. You can listen to one in the video in the section about Jamie below. I was raffling off door prizes that included a copy of my book, several bottles of wine, and four of Jamie's CDs. I kept one for myself :)

I wrote a recommendation on Jamie's StarNow page that read: "Jamie was extremely professional and an amazing talent. I am honoured to have had her play at my event. Thank you Jamie."

I have also kept in contact with her on Facebook and am happily promoting her on this very article and through my social network channels.

If you find a great talent, please give them all the support you can. Please offer any payment that you can (if you can). Having said that, if you do not have the budget pay a live musician, remember that if you truly respect them as an artist, they will respect you. It is a networking opportunity for the performer and many will be willing to work without payment. Just please, be aware of this and do all that you can to help them as they are helping you.

Part 5: Presenting Awakening

In Part 5, I will tell you about the 30 minute presentation I had on loop. This is a great way to display your work and yourself and the possibilities are limitless. I will include a shortened version of the presentation to give you a taste of what my guests saw.

  • Read the Introduction to the Series - HERE
  • Read Part 1: Finding Your Venue - HERE
  • Read Part 2: Organising the Layout of your Venue - HERE
  • Read Part 3: Decorating Your Venue - HERE
  • Read the poem that inspired the novel, "Awakening" - HERE

Awakening is Available on Amazon - Search for Porle Joen. Copyright 2012

More about Jamie Slater

Here is more about Jamie Slater:

Other Articles/Works By Porle Joen (me!)

Launching Your Book in Style (Even on a Tight Budget) - Series:



All poetry has been self-published in "Love, Life and Evisceration" by Porle Joen available on Amazon and KDP. Copyright Porle Joen 2013.


Author, Awakening, Book, Book Launch, Coming To An End, Event, Event Planner, Event Planning, Events, Hayley Westanra, Horror, Jamie Slater, Music, Musician, Musicians, Never Saw Blue, Porle Joen, Public Relations, Publish, Published, Publishing, Publishing My Book, Starnow, Writing, Youtube

Meet the author

author avatar Karen McTackett
* Professional Writer/Facilitator/Speaker
* Writing Mentoring & Freelancer
* Master of Arts (Writing)
* WRITE NOW Creator -

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
16th Feb 2014 (#)

Nicely done. Thanks for supporting fellow artists. I do wonder, however, why you put in your ad that you could not afford to pay when in fact you paid -- perhaps not going rate, but something. As someone who's both performed at venues and hired performers for venues, those words might turn off good people who'd be willing to work for you and with you, but can't work for nothing in the same way that they can't play w/o instruments or mikes and can't power amps w/o electricity. Sorry to nitpick such a small point -- I'm just trying to figure why you'd put it that way so I can learn from you for MY next time. ;)

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
16th Feb 2014 (#)

Great post and for supporting artists!

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author avatar Karen McTackett
17th Feb 2014 (#)

Hi Phyl,
When I placed the ad, I did NOT have any payment I could offer. It was only by the time the launch approached that I had managed to minimize my spending in other areas to which end, I could offer Jamie the $100. I attempted to make it clear in my article that there are artists who love their craft and will help you if you help them (even if that cannot involve money), but that you should never take advantage and you should do everything you can to help them. Thank you for pointing this out because I did not make that as clear as I could have. She was able to help me source the mike and other essential equipment, hence, she saved me money that I would have otherwise spent.

I was happy to "turn off" performers because I was after someone who does their craft for the love of the craft - not for money. They say, "You get what you pay for," but I believe, "You get what you give."

Jamie has read this article and was very happy with it. She again thanked ME for allowing her to be a part of my night. I again thanked HER for making my night something special. The inclusions of her links in this article are just one more way I can re-pay her for her time. We both know her time (and certainly her talent) were worth more than $100 but she would have performed without that offer and she still would have been just as brilliant. I understand that some artists can't "work for nothing"; but keep in mind that I had not made a cent for my four years of work at that stage. Working for love is a choice. Jamie Slater is the kind of performer that loves what she does as I love to write and we understood each other in that regard. I hope this has somewhat answered your question.

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