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Monday, April 9, 2012

The Aftermath of a Book Launch

So you’ve written a book and snagged an agent who sold your book to a publisher who helped you revise and copyedit and promote, and now three years later, you have an actual book in the world! Most people might assume that after this long roller coaster of a journey, the writer can finally breathe a sigh of relief and just coast. But in my experience, this is just the beginning of another roller coaster, much shorter in length but with the same amount of ups and downs--the post-launch.
The first “up” in my post-launch rollercoaster was my launch party held at The Doylestown Bookshop last Saturday. I debated whether to have a launch party at all—I’m not one for being the center of attention—but I would encourage anyone with a debut coming out to have one, if only to remind yourself that you have accomplished something that the rest of the world sees as kind of awesome. It was so wonderful to have friends, family, and even some of my students come out to support me, to chat and sign, eat scones and drink wine, and basically just celebrate with the people I love. Major, major high point! A huge thank you to all who ventured out on that rainy day to help me celebrate; it was amazing!

And now for the “lows.” I’m sure there are many writers who navigated this post-launch terrain with more perspective and maturity than I did, but I also know I am not alone in becoming a dysfunctional mess of a human being during the first week after my launch. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I was on spring break; if I’d been teaching I would have had more distractions. But right after my book released, my world suddenly became very small, a bubble of minutiae that no one else really cares or knows about but that can become all consuming for the writer.
I’m talking about the internet, of course. Every morning I would hop on the computer to see if my Amazon ranking had gone down or if my Goodreads ratings had gone up (and then cry when I realized the opposite had happened). I obsessed about sales and reviews and blog comments, hoping that my little book was thriving out there but knowing that, for the first time in this entire process, I couldn’t do a single thing about it.

Because once a book releases, it’s no longer yours. Unlike the end of a pregnancy when a woman gives birth and has an actual baby to take care of, a book is immediately out of your hands, for better or for worse, and the only thing the writer can do is wish it well and get started on the next project.
I am happy to say that now, two weeks after my release, I have returned to the land of the living. This past weekend I threw myself into revisions on Book 2, and today I head back to school. Normal life has resumed.
And I know that a year from now, I’ll be going through this roller coaster all over again. But next time I’ll be armed with this knowledge and experience, no longer a green “debut author” but a seasoned writer who will have learned not to fret about things beyond her control. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself…
Has anyone else had a less-than-relaxing post-launch experience? Any tips on how to avoid the madness?