I planned to write this post two weeks ago, but time, as always, slipped right through my fingers. Why does it seem like the more things there are to accomplish, the less time there is to do so?
Anyway! Almost 3 weeks ago, THE GIRL BEFORE released! And there was much rejoicing throughout the kingdom! I spent the day hunting down my book in the wild. My sister and I found it at the local independent bookstores and at Target, and later some friends and I found it at both Barnes & Nobles and at another Target. It was surreal to see MY book cover and MY name out there on shelves for everyone to see!
The week progressed with receiving pictures from all over the country of people finding THE GIRL BEFORE in the wild or in their mailboxes. Every new post made my heart happy. And I was hearing the NICEST things from people who were enjoying the book, mostly that they couldn’t put it down, which is on of the best compliments an author can receive.
Thursday and Friday, people started arriving. People from out of town, friends and family. I had decided on two launch events, one at each of the local independent bookstores in the area. The first night was at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines. So many beautiful people came out to celebrate with me. Family, friends, coworkers, church people. All told about 75 people showed up. I’ve always known I have a great support system here, but there they all were, in one room, looking at me.
I was super nervous to talk, and even moreso to read, but I did both, albeit a bit quickly. Then I signed and signed and signed and I don’t think it will ever not be weird for people to line up to have me write my name in their book. So many pictures were taken, but I’ll only share one more of my faves here.
On Saturday it was another fun event, this one at Plot Twist Bookstore, which is just down the road from my house! I love this little store, and I was their first official launch. I expected this event to be a bit smaller, but by the end of the two hours, another 70 or so people had come through! Some were repeats, but the majority were different from the night before. I was overwhelmed in the best way.
It’s taken me a couple weeks to fully recover, as the colorful flowers and shriveled up and the leftover food has slowly disappeared. I couldn’t have imagined a better weekend. The release in general went really well, and I’m so happy with life right now.
As I’ve been thinking over the past few weeks, I wanted to write up a few things that I learned. Everyone learns different things, I think, but by reading up on other people’s release experiences, I felt better prepared, so maybe this will be helpful for others in the future. Some of them are universal, and some are things I decided to do for myself.
- If you work another job, take release day off. You will want to be on social media and/or gallivanting around town, taking pictures of where your book is.
- Make plans for release day, whether you’re having your launch party on that day or just going to lunch/dinner with friends, have other people around to help commemorate the occasion.
- Invite invite invite! Make sure people know where to get your book! Make sure people know where to come to party with you! Tell them in advance, and talk it up. Make it the celebration it is.
- Remember your support system. I relied on my people SO MUCH. I was insanely surprised at the turnout I had at both events. Surprised in the best way. Get the word out, and people will come. They want to celebrate with you.
- Bring your author copies to your event(s). I had read this on someone else’s tips ahead of time and threw mine in a car (that almost went to the State Fair that day, but thank goodness it didn’t!). The bookseller at Plot Twist did such a great job of selling my book ahead of the event, she was almost out by the time the event rolled around! We were able to work it out so that everyone who wanted to buy a book was able to. (This is also why it’s important to communicate to the bookseller how many people you might expect at the event, if you’re able.)
- It will never not be weird to have people lining up for an autograph and/or a picture with you. People you know, but also people you don’t know. Especially for an introvert, this can feel very odd, but enjoy it. Again, people come to support you because they want you to succeed.
- However, there may be people in the crowd who ask weird questions or seem to resent your success. Be generous with them. Answer their questions graciously or steer the topic elsewhere if the question or tone seems off.
- Find a way to remember the moment. I made each crowd pose for a picture, and also had a guestbook that I’ll bring to all my events. (My nieces all signed it about ten times.) Not everyone signed it, but most did, and some wrote messages. It’s a keepsake that I can go back to when I’m in the valleys of writer world.
- There will be tough days, even in the midst of the excitement. There’s always this huge buildup to release, and then the drop-off of attention and excitement. Plan some things for the days and weeks after release to look forward to. Come down gently.
- There will be people who you expect to be supportive who will be silent. People you have supported in the past who let the day or week pass by without a word of congratulations or support. It will hurt, but it’s more about them than it is about you. There will also be support from places you didn’t even expect. Let those surprises and the people who do show their support outshine the negative people with the light of a million suns.
- HAVE FUN. BE IN THE MOMENT. REVEL IN DOING SOMETHING AMAZING. You only get one debut. Enjoy it!