To tell you the truth, I don't know what other people do. I might have seen a book launch or two where the author serves a cake or it's a cocktail party sort of an affair. But no. Not me. I always wanted my book launches to have the same dramatic flair as my books, and get the reader in the mood.
Food helps to conjure the right atmosphere, but there is nothing like a little entertainment to get the ball rolling. In previous years I had the help of a cousin who plays a Celtic harp. But along with that, I always have my knights. Armored fellows who take time away from their other knightly duties to add verisimilitude to the proceedings by dueling and offering me and my guests a chance to get medieval on things.
And then I did a reading, and to accompany that, a brief Power Point presentation on the Origins of Knighthood with pictures of yours truly all armored up for the sake of research.
But sometimes...sometimes I wish I just served cake.