It’s Your Party and You Can Cry if You Want To

Look, y’all, there are already enough pressures put upon authors. Don’t heap onto that pile needlessly, okay?

I didn’t have a “launch party” per se; I had a hometown reading at my favorite local, independent bookseller the week Caged Eyes released. I kept it simple:

One of my fellow Deb Ball rock stars helped me create an image to spread the word on Facebook (Thank you, Jenni!!). Because they were so excited, about twenty of my friends shared it without me even asking them to (Thank you, friends!!). Easy-freaking-peasy.

I flew back home from a New York/DC trip late the night before the event. Fortunately, that didn’t overly stress me out. I had an outfit picked out already, and that morning I had set aside time to spend a few minutes reviewing what I’d say. I marked a few passages I’d read (two short ones) and thought about who I wanted to thank plus a few anecdotes about writing Caged Eyes.

I showed up, hugged all of my friends repeatedly, gawked at the famous people who came (like former Deb and NYT bestselling author Eleanor Brown!), and then spoke for about 20 minutes. The audience even laughed once or twice! I opened up to Q&A’s, and a few people I didn’t know asked me the tough questions while my best friends asked the easiest ones (Alissa, thanks for asking me about my next project, you sweetie pie.)

Lastly, I signed books. I thanked everyone in person again. Gave them all one more hug. Together they cleaned out the whole rack of copies Tattered Cover had ordered for the event!

Then we all went home. I donned pajamas and poured myself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. And, let’s get real, I’m sure I had some chocolate too.

Selling books – check!

Avoiding extra stress – check!

Done and done.

I will admit that the pressure to throw a lavish book launch party is significantly less as a westerner.  I’d guess the majority of my Colorado friends did not know to expect cake, bless their hearts!

Ultimately, this is your big day. Do whatever it is that is going to make you happy. I know, what a concept, right?!

For me, I was afraid that I’d have too many expectations launch week. I was afraid I’d be a mess of feelings and even though at one point I fantasized about having a big after party with every person I had ever met and champagne plus cupcakes and maybe some of those cute little shrimp, in the end, I thought it’d be too much stress. In hindsight, I know I was right. I probably would have lost my mind if I had tried to throw a party in the midst of all that launch week madness.

But you do you. If, on the other hand, you feel like celebrating big is how you want to do it, by all means, bring on the cake. You’ve worked years for this moment. Enjoy it.

Oh, and, the fate of your book baby does not rest on this one event. It’s only one way among a myriad in which you sell books that first week, okay?

Either way: adopt Amy’s suggestion and have some vodka in a Nalgene on standby! Couldn’t hurt.

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Lynn Hall is a memoirist, activist in the movement to end sexual violence, ultra-runner, and crazy cat lady. Her memoir, CAGED EYES: AN AIR FORCE CADET’S STORY OF RAPE AND RESILIENCE, was published by Beacon Press in February 2017. Her writing has previously appeared in the New York Times, The LA Times, Hippocampus Magazine, The Sexual Assault Report, The Manifest-Station, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and elsewhere. In the summers, Lynn copes with publication anxiety by spending too many days in the Colorado mountains, and in the winters, with pans of brownies. She lives in Boulder with her partner and their 23 cats. Just kidding…she only has five.

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This article has 1 Comment

  1. I’ve had different kinds of launch parties, but the best one was as you described–hometown bookstore. 75 people showed up. I had cake and wine and a local author interviewed me. Here’s the fun part: the person in charge of the bookstore events did not know me or my books and she demanded to know if I thought I could bring in people to my launch. I replied that I thought I could. Needless to say she was a believer when they had to keep adding chairs and finally ran out of chairs and books. The moral of this story is that even in your hometown, you may not be known!

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