Last week, Stuart Dill celebrated the release of his debut mystery novel, Murder on Music Row: A Music Industry Thriller, at ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) in Nashville, Tenn., where anyone who’s anybody in the Nashville music scene celebrates his or her launch. Angela Harwood, Blair’s VP of Sales and Marketing, attended the event. Below is an excerpt of the post she wrote for Teresa Rolfe Kravtin, one of our sales reps. See the full post (and lots more photos) at Teresa’s blog.
Stuart shared his launch event with his close friends and family in an atmosphere he knows best, although he’s usually attending parties at ASCAP in support of one of his many clients (Billy Ray Cyrus, say, or Jo Dee Messina), many of whose names are sprinkled throughout his novel. More than 200 people turned out in support of Stuart, and to my delight (I do work for the publisher, after all), most of them bought books!
The first thing guests noticed upon entering the party was the absolutely gorgeous miniature cupcake display, provided by Ivey Cake — the bakery that made the wedding cake for American Idol winner and country music superstar Carrie Underwood. Ivey’s delicious cupcakes were decorated in the same color scheme as the cover of Stuart’s book!
Guests mingled, ate cupcakes (the cupcake I chose was peanut butter and sported edible glitter), and sipped on coffee from Humphrey Street Coffee Co., while listening to background music played by Ryan Joseph, Charles Kelley, and Randy, who play with Laura Bell Bundy, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Craig Morgan.
At 5:30, Tim DuBois introduced Stuart Dill. Tim DuBois is managing executive at ASCAP and a major figure on Music Row. Tim discovered artists such as Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, and Brad Paisley, and co-wrote “When I Call Your Name” with Vince Gill. Tim was followed by Laura Bell Bundy, star of Legally Blonde: The Musical, who told us about when she found out Stuart was a writer. She never knew!
Stuart spoke graciously about his friends and family and told a few humorous anecdotes before entering the adjoining conference room to sign books (this conference room just begs you to pretend you’re in an Austin Powers movie). Stuart tirelessly signed books for an hour and a half, while his guests continued to mingle (and buy books).
Among the guests seen at the party (the ones I recognized, anyway—everybody there looked like somebody, I just wouldn’t know who!) were Frye Gaillard, Stuart’s longtime friend who originally suggested Stuart send his manuscript to John F. Blair (thank you, Frye!) and Stephen Doster, the author of Lord Baltimore and Voices from St. Simon’s, both published by John F. Blair. Jan Fairchild of Southern Territory Associates posed for a photo with Stephen Doster and introduced me to Nancy Stewart, Blair’s buyer at Ingram, who has been doing a wonderful job juggling the inventory for Murder on Music Row as the book generates more and more publicity (Country Weekly, Library Journal, BookPage, MusicRow.com, CMT.com, and more). I also met Stuart’s longtime friend Brent Holmes, author of Island Tunes for Kids, who let me in on a little secret: Stuart has also written song lyrics! Shhhh.
It was nice to meet Stuart’s parents, Dr. Stephen Dill and Ruth Dill, who came all the way from Mobile, Alabama, to attend the launch party. They will also attend Stuart’s hometown signing at Page & Palette on Friday, October 21.
About halfway through the evening, a second wave of guests flowed in, and we found out that many of Stuart’s friends and acquaintances were unable to attend due to a neighborhood lockdown in Brentwood (a burglar was on the loose with a gun!). For those who missed the launch party, you can see Stuart Dill at Southern Festival, Sunday, October 16, or at the Cool Springs Barnes & Noble in Brentwood on Thursday, November 17. (For Stuart’s full event schedule, click here.)
The party hit just the right note, wrapping up, as planned, around 7 p.m. Blair sold around 100 books at the party, thanks to help from our summer intern, Morgan Hawk, and our current intern, Katie Saintsing—who came along in the spirit of Judd Nix, the 23-year-old unpaid intern at Elite Management, who finds himself witness to an assassination attempt in Murder on Music Row. (Interestingly, our interns are also unpaid—hmmm). I’d also like to give a shout out to Stuart’s intern, Laura Jo Blair, who was a great help directing guests to where they could buy books.
After the party, Katie and I joined Stuart and Maral for dinner at South Street in midtown, where we rehashed the night’s events and planned for more successful events in the future. For those who are interested in seeing what the fuss is all about, you can read an excerpt from Murder on Music Row. Books are available at your local bookstore, at online booksellers, including IndieBound.com, and at John F. Blair, Publisher. Ebook editions are also available.