A little over a month ago, my first book came out. One of the things people fail to talk about is just how exhausting a book launch can be. I think authors don’t want to sound annoying to those who aren’t published yet. Like those people who say, “I just don’t know what to do with all my money,” or “my indoor pool is kind of a pain to clean.” And if I’m honest, I would have probably been annoyed if someone had said this to me early on. But, I think it’s important to talk about just how tiring a launch is so those who are gearing up for one can beef up their coffee supplies or hire someone to do basic things like laundry so their kids aren’t like mine saying, “Mom, I don’t mind digging for clean clothes if you can tell me what basket they might be in.”
A book launch is (in so many ways) like having a baby. First, there’s uncertainty involved. When I was pregnant with my first baby, an old friend I hadn’t seen in many years reached out to me. She had just had her first and there were things no one told her about birth she wished she’d known. After she was finished telling me all the things she encountered before, during and after delivery, I was terrified and wishing I hadn’t answered the phone. But in the delivery room, I also didn’t find myself saying, “What is happening?” Well, of course I did, but at least I had been warned. Book launches are also uncertain. Like, you’re always waiting for something to happen that will disqualify you and you’re waiting for a call from your publisher saying it’s not going to happen. And you’re thinking about all the people you told and how awkward it will be to say you were mistaken and you’re not really going to have a book after all. For Christmas in 2021, my family had a sweatshirt made with the Wren and Bear logo (the imprint that was publishing my book). At the time, I had a promise of a contract, but it wasn’t expected to be issued until the beginning of 2022. Well, you better believe I didn’t put that sweatshirt over my head until long after we came to terms on the contract. In fact, my husband asked me if I even liked it because it was hanging in my closet untouched. Of course I liked it, but I didn’t want to jinx anything. I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.
Just like getting a nursery ready, there are a lot of things to do to prepare for a launch. But then, a lot of that is just waiting. There are fun things along the way like revealing the cover and when the book is available to preorder, but in the meantime, you’re imagining and thinking about the launch. When I was pregnant, every day felt like some new adventure, but I was also counting down the weeks until my due date and reading the weekly emails that said my baby was the size of some fruit I’ve never heard of. Then, I’d have to look up the fruit and spend the next week craving a fruit I’ve never tried but that sounded good now that I read about it. For both, time went so slowly in the beginning, but the last month or two flew by and I found myself wondering if I’ll ever be ready in time.
Probably the hardest (and most rewarding) comparison is the actual launch. There’s a reason authors call them their “book babies” because it feels like your handing your baby over to friends and strangers and asking them if they think it’s cute. And just like babies, some books aren’t for everyone. If you’re like my husband and can’t lie, you may say something like, “Look! It’s a baby!” instead of calling him or her cute when that’s not the case. I haven’t had anyone say, “Look! It’s a book!” But that doesn’t mean everyone saw what I saw when I wrote it. By the way, I’m guilty of saying things about a baby’s outfit when it’s not cute. So, I guess I’m ratting myself out a little. Please don’t try to replay what I said about your baby. And if I did say “Look at that adorable dress”, you’re probably remembering it wrong. You were super tired at that time.
Which leads me to the last comparison. Like having a newborn baby, launching a book is exhausting. Since my book is a holiday book (Earth Day), I felt this pressure to fill that time between the launch on March 14 and Earth Day with all kinds of book events since it’s less timely afterword. I don’t regret doing that, and I know the book can still sell after Earth Day, but it was busy. I had interviews, school visits, book signings, and when I wasn’t doing something for the book, I worried I wasn’t doing enough.
And yet, with all the exhaustion and worry, I can truly say lunching a book is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. Holding the book in my hands for the first time was exhilarating. I absolutely loved working with my launch team and they did a fantastic job getting the word out. My kids were so excited to take a copy of the book to school and show their friends the dedication page where their names were. The school visits were amazing. I felt so welcomed by those I’ve visited so far. But my ultimate favorite part is seeing kids with my book. So many have sent pictures or videos of their kids reading or just holding the book and that has brought me the most joy in this entire process.
I know my work isn’t done. I have many more book events it the future and I’ll always be low-key selling this book. I’m also looking forward to helping my daughter launch her first book in August. But, if you’re a writer and your in a place where you’re ready to give up, know I’ve been there so many times. Keep writing every day. Some of it will be terrible and some of it will be great, but keep writing and stay connected to other writers. They’ll offer encouragement when you need it most. And if you’re about to launch a book, get a bulk shipment of coffee. You’re going to need it.