Book launches are funny things – and fun ones. You spend a year going over with a fine tooth comb every nuance and gerund of what you’ve written–first with your editor, then with the copy editors, then with the publicity team–and then there’s this short period of silence, followed by more bleedin’ marketing work than you ever knew could exist.
Amid the flurry of learning the secrets of social media (that there aren’t any) and the hoopla of “getting your web presence increased” you find that the book drops back to a distant reason for why all this is happening, but not the core of what you’re working on.
And then, this date that’s been on your calendar for weeks and months, or even a year, is tomorrow, and you haven’t got party hats or a plan. But you just move through the day, and then it’s midnight and your book goes off into the world. (Since we own a bookstore, and since some friends asked us to, we stayed up until 12:30 so we could sell books at midnight. I don’t recommend this as a lifestyle, but it sure was fun as a one-off brief party!)
And then the eye of the storm passes directly overhead…. all through the weeks leading up to publication, there are bloggers and GoodReads reviewers and other worker bees in the publishing world, getting your book presence in the big world. But once anyone can buy it, who does? How?
Sitting in that eye, the day after publication, it’s good to know a couple of things: that you meant what you said, and that what you said means something to others; and that you are part of a vast eternal library of all people, in all time, who have put out words that can be read by other people.
That first one makes you happy, especially when you see reviews from readers who have identified with, understood, even challenged what you said in a way that you think opens a healthy discussion. I feel like I’ve contributed something nice to the bookselling world. That second one keeps you balanced, and reminds you of your place in the grand scheme. Like the machine Douglas Adams invented that tells you your importance to the proper functioning of the universe (.01%) all you have to do, the day after your book gets published, is walk into a bookstore and look around.
As Masha Hamilton said in The Camel Bookmobile, “You are a part of this dance. You are not its center.” That’s a good thing to remember, because to your friends and family, you are the center of something, and it’s all too easy to mistake your small world for the big one. That would hurt. And be unwise.
So, my little book about our little bookstore is even now, knapsack over one shoulder, wending its way through the twists and turns of the Great Wide World’s path. It is navigating the mountains of China (got a foreign language contract in Mandarin!). And it is, I think, whistling a cheerful tune. Because it says what I meant, and it says things that mean something to other people.