by the Kenny Powers of Publishing, Jess Riley.
Some of you know I just released my second novel. It’s been four years since I shepherded a book into the world, and I forgot what a stomach-clenching stress-bomb launch day can be.
The day of your book release feels a little like a Christmas morning in which any of the gaily-wrapped boxes under the tree might actually contain a turd. You begin terribly excited: how low will my amazon ranking go? Who will retweet the exciting news? How many fabulous reviews will be posted? How many copies will I sell? Will someone send me flowers? Will I have that special glow about me that people can’t help but compliment so I can blush and say, “Thanks, I just delivered a book baby.”
(Sidebar: did I actually just use the word “gaily?” Moving on. )
As word gets out, you start to wait for that one person to mention it, to say they bought it or loved it or simply acknowledge the fact that you have a new book out, to throw you even the rattiest of bones. The great majority of your friends and family are beyond the moon for you, shouting your great news to the heavens, but you zero in like a laser beam on the fact that ONE fellow author, relative, or friend totally ignored you. This is probably because: they hate you/think your book sucks/hate your politics/think you are a potty-mouth damned to hell/are the meanest, biggest doodoo-heads in the world and probably steal from the elderly and laugh at sick children, they steal from the elderly and laugh at sick children WHILE they’re leaving you a one star review and why won’t they just love you? Why? (sob) You’ll change! You will! You’ll buy them lunch, babysit their kids for free, be their personal chauffeur, change your politics and taste in music if they only validate your existence! Please!
|I am NOT like that.|
Actually, they’re probably just busy, but we’re funny like that. My dog is like this too, because she always sucks up to the one person in the room who wants nothing to do with her.
And WHOA SALLY if you’re indie publishing your book! Traditional publishing puts little muscle behind your promotion to begin with (unless you’re a Marquee Name, in which case hello! My name is Jess Riley! Do you need someone to pick up your dry cleaning?) When Driving Sideways came out I bent myself into a pretzel for 50 hours a day promoting it: contacting book bloggers, coordinating contests and social media, sending hand-written cards to every indie bookstore manager in a million mile radius, setting up signings and readings, streaking naked through my alma mater’s homecoming game wearing nothing but my book cover in body paint.
Just kidding. I didn’t do that last part. There was one awesome thing I did, and still continue to do: meet with book clubs. They give me wine and laugh at my jokes, and I always drive home afterwards singing along with the radio and feeling like a rock star.
Despite working my heiny off to be noticed in a sea of worthy books, the ONE THING that made all the difference in the world for me was being picked up by Target. One thing that was beyond my control. Well, you write the best book you can, but that’s a given. There are a lot of them out there.
So what advice do I have for you if you’re counting down to your own book launch? If you have a traditional publisher, you still have to promote the hell out of yourself (which most of us hate), but you’re incredibly lucky, because at the very least you will have distribution and consideration by old guard reviewers. People won’t give you the stink eye and say things like, “I only read real books.”
Now. After rigorous editing and careful consideration, are you indie-publishing? Okay, great! Do you feel that little whinging around the edges of your soul? That’s your ego. Take it in the back yard and shoot it. Now roll up your sleeves and get to work. Email your writer friends for support, and make a huge pot of coffee. You're standing on the edge of a cliff, naked, waiting for someone to either shove you over or wrap you in a blanket and say, "Oh honey, let's get you back to the yurt." But while you wait, there are a thousand book bloggers to put in that spreadsheet ...
Jess Riley just launched her second novel, All the Lonely People. It's about crazy family members and holiday angst and Christmas dinner in a cafe full of dogs. BOOK GIVEAWAY: Email her, leave a comment below, or "Like" her Facebook page by December 1st to win one of three signed copies!