I write this on Thursday morning of my “launch week,” so I can’t report with total confidence that I made it through without losing my mind. After all, I still have to get through my first book signing event and launch party this afternoon and evening. But I can tell you about some of the intense moments so far, and I can report, that I am still standing!
We write our books for lots of different reasons, but for me – and I’d wager that for lots of authors – it’s not so much a choice as a calling, a compulsion, something we feel we just had to do. Okay so you write the book and if you’re extremely lucky, you might even get it published. And then we live happily ever after … the end. Because most of us don’t ever think about what happens next. How could we, since that’s a road we’ve never been on?
So here’s what happens (or at least what happened for me): people love your book and they tell you that and you feel so incredibly validated! And some people don’t like your book and they tell you that – often in ways that aren’t helpful – and you feel awful. Hopefully, more people like it than don’t like it and you feel good far more often then you feel awful. But you learn that people can sometimes be hurtful and you wonder what purpose that serves. You vow to grow a thicker skin, to not read your reviews and to be more careful about being critical of other writers. And you learn that there is an enormous pool of readers out there who adore books and authors and who are incredibly generous in their praise and in sharing their blog space and in spreading the word about your book. And though you’ve never met any of these people in person, you think of all of them as your new BFFs and you want to invite them over for a giant Margarita-fest!
You fall back often on the incredibly soft and supportive hammock of a group called The Debutante Ball and you wonder how you ever got so lucky as to be part of a strong, resilient sisterhood of debut authors. And you know your journey through launch week would have been hell without their support and their kind, kind words.
You talk to radio interviewers and you worry about your voice and you worry about them being mean. But they are kind and friendly and enthusiastic and one of them (a kind of famous one at that!) tells you that your hoarse voice sounds sexy and suddenly you feel like you CAN do this!
You drink a lot of champagne (you realize with glee that champagne can be purchased in six-packs!) and feel slightly tipsy even when you haven’t drunk any champagne. You get phone calls and cards and sometimes even flowers from dear, dear family and friends. And they love the book (or at least they say they do) and they are happy for you and proud of you and ask when you will be on the Oprah Winfrey show and you realize for the umpteenth time how incredibly lucky you are – book or no book.
You get reports of book sightings from excited friends. You walk by your local bookstore a zillion times a day just for the thrill of seeing your book in their window and they all smile at you each and every time you walk in for no apparent reason (just as cheerful and happy to see you the fifteenth time that day as they were the first time) and you are grateful once again for local bookstores. You non-chalantly mosey down to the big box bookstore in the mall and find your book prominently displayed on their shelves and you get giddy. They ask you to sign their stock and you get giddier still!
You recant on your earlier vow NOT to read reviews although you try to read only the nice ones. You are moved to tears (still!) when you realize through what your readers have written that they GOT your book. That yes, they laughed and enjoyed the story, but that more than that, they came away with a feeling of connection to people in places so far away from their everyday lives that they might never have known them otherwise. And you feel, with certainty, that you have made a teeny, tiny contribution to making the world a better place by bringing it closer together.
And now you finally know why you were compelled to write this book.