Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Truth about Release Day (Laurie)

 You've worked for months - years, maybe - writing your story. You've gone through countless rounds of edits, striving to get every word and phrase just right. You've squealed at cover designs and the advance copies that showed up on your doorstep and planned every last detail of your marketing strategy. You've waited patiently (sometimes agonizingly) as the months passed until you could finally get your precious book into readers' hands.

And then, at long last, it arrives. RELEASE DAY!!!

You do an excited little victory dance when you wake up. You throw in some bonus calories with celebratory treats. You post on social media and check on Amazon for the tenth time to see if any reviews are up yet, both grinning and trembling about what your first readers will say. Then, you realize the dog still needs to be walked and the kitchen counter hasn't cleaned itself and a pile of dirty laundry continues to clutter the floor of your room and... You get the idea.

In my (admittedly limited) experience, release days are a funny thing. SO MUCH excitement, anticipation, and hard work leads up to it, which somehow sets an expectation that it will be magical. An extraordinary day. But it can also be exhausting, and other aspects of life don't seem to acknowledge the specialness of the occasion. Chores still need to be done, children and pets still need to be cared for, and work or other obligations don't disappear in a puff of congratulatory confetti. As a personal anecdote, the night before the publication date of my debut novel, my young son woke up with a stomach bug around 2:00 am, and I was up with him for hours, comforting and cleaning soiled bedding. Not quite the fairy tale I'd dreamed of! On a sadder note, a friend recently lost a loved one just days before her latest book release. Her publication day consisted of attending a memorial service, doing far more grieving than celebrating.

The other odd thing about release days is that if you work with a publisher, you will likely have no idea what the sales numbers for your book look like until months later. The Amazon ranking or number of reviews can give hints, but royalty statements with actual sales figures won't show up until long after the release hoopla has passed. So don't be surprised if authors look a little lost when you ask something like "How did your book release go?" Because while social media buzz and glowing reviews absolutely produce smiles on our faces and gratitude in our hearts, we're likely in the dark about how the book is actually doing, even if we had some kind of benchmark goal for that landmark occasion (which often we don't).

If you're a published author, what have your experiences been? If you're a writer who dreams of a future release day, don't lose hope! The publication of your story with your name on the beautiful cover is truly an extraordinary thing, and the wonderful day it releases into the world feels sprinkled with a bit of otherworldly fairy dust. But keeping your expectations realistic can make a huge difference in avoiding disappointment if other aspects of life besmirch the perfection you might've otherwise envisioned. And preparing an answer when caring family members and friends ask about your release can be a great way to steer clear of awkward pauses and stammering...at least if you're anything like me :)

I wish you all many happy future release days! And an appreciation for and positive attitude toward the messier aspects of life that so often accompany them.

Thanks for reading!


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