In the months leading up to my book launch, I told my friends that since I had the world’s smallest wedding ceremony (held in my apartment, 7 guests in attendance), the day of Temper‘s release was going to be My Special Day. I was only sort of kidding.
You only release your first novel once, and so many writer friends had told me that launch day itself could feel anticlimactic, even depressing. So I did my best to make it feel celebratory and fun for me. I took the day off work, slept in, and got a book cover-inspired manicure. I threw a launch party at my favorite bookstore, Women and Children First, and bought myself a bomb-ass book cake.
Looking out into the crowd gathered at the party and seeing the faces of so many people I love and admire, all there to show their support, was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. As an introvert, it was a little overwhelming, too – but I felt so myself at that event. I felt like finally, at the age of thirty-five, I was settling into my own skin.
That feeling did not last. The night after my launch party, I couldn’t sleep, and I found myself in my home office around 3am, re-reading Zoje Stage’s excellent blog post on “The Post Publication Blues” (which should be required reading for all debut authors) and experiencing about sixteen different emotions at once. I told myself I’d deal with all these pesky feelings after my trip to New York for ThrillerFest the following week. I didn’t have time to feel them now, I had to respond to social media posts and pack my carry-on and adopt a new cat and literally anything and everything else that didn’t involve addressing my swirling anxiety.
I had a wonderful time at ThrillerFest. I also had several panic attacks, all the stress that had been building up in my body for months finally seizing control and forcing me to slow down. I took deep breaths, a long walk, and some of my friend’s Xanax, and the panic eased, but I still felt unstable, like I was on the verge of screaming or crying or both at any given moment. Some days I still feel like that, though things have settled down a lot now that I’m over a month past my publication date. I’m figuring out my new normal, slowly but surely.
Publishing a book is amazing, but it’s also a LOT. I was warned, but I wasn’t ready. Looking back, I wish I’d thought more about self-care and mental health and less about the flavor of my launch party cake (although that cake was fucking delicious). But I don’t think there’s anything I could have done to truly prepare myself. I just had to go through it, experience all the highs and lows, and come out (hopefully) stronger on the other side.