Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Girls’ Guide to a Book Launch

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!

24 comments:

  1. Love this post, Jess!! Everything you write is so warm and funny. Wishing you tons of success with the latest. That cover is gorgeous!!

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  2. Thanks for this post, Jess. So funny because just yesterday I started to have butterflies in my stomach worrying about my book launch in...July. Yep. Eight whole months away! I'd better pull it together or I'll be a wreck by March. Your post helped me see that these feelings are natural, but not to take myself too seriously.

    PS: I have been known to act like your dog, playing the 'you're going to like me because I'm fabulous, dammit!' game. Of course, she has a definite edge because she is adorable. ;-)

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  3. Great post, Jess. Wishing you another successful book and all the best. Congratulations!

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  4. Why do dogs DO that? They must have a sixth sense about who hates dogs so they try their hardest to change that person's mind.

    Congrats on your book launch. I would love to have you at our book club but we don't serve wine so I'm not sure if you would be interested...

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  5. Thanks Lori and Brenda! Reese, good luck with your own upcoming book launch! I always wonder if I'm just being neurotic, but I think every writer goes through this to some degree. :)

    LOL! Kelly, of COURSE I'd be interested! Wine-schmine! Good people is the only essential ingredient. :)

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  6. Happy pub day! Love the bit about the body paint. You're very funny and I'm sure your book's great. Off to tweet about it

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  7. Love YOU, Love your books! LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

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  8. I'd like to be a nervous wreck over my upcoming launch in a few weeks but I'M SICK AND TIRED OF IT. I've spent so much time worrying that it's A. Funny and B. Really Funny that all the rest has escaped what few brain cells I have left. And commas!Dear God the commas are going to get me long before Gloria Estefan and her music do.

    After I launch, feel free to contact me at a rehab near you.

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  9. Just finished All The Lonely People and enjoyed it so much! Reading it over Thanksgiving was particularly resonant. All that family; all that food; all the dysfunctionality. And my husband is thrilled to have his Kindle back.

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  10. I loved Driving Sideways and Cannot wait to read All The Lonely People!

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  11. You are hilarious, Jess. I FEEL your pain. I felt it on the launch of my debut novel and know it will happen in three months when my second book comes out, like you, after 4 years! YOU ARE a rock star! Thank goodness for book clubs. I'm super excited to read ATLP. Just stay away from Amazon...watching those numbers is Author Torture.

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  12. Super cool and true! Congrats on going indie. The book looks fun and TIMELY.

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  13. Jess,
    Congrats again on the launch of your new book -- it's in my ever-mushrooming TBR pile, but I'm looking forward to reading it!! And I know just what you mean about the wonderfulness of book clubs...I love them, too ;). Throwing confetti in the air in celebration for you!

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  14. Love the cover, love the post, Jess!! I'm sure i'll LOVE the book! Many congrats and sales on ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE, which, I think, describes all writers at any given moment! I am off to share your happy release days news, and taking a few notes as I inch along in the "book 2" line!!

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  15. Gaily is a perfectly good word. All the best with your release!!

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  16. Thanks for the comments, everyone!! You guys are the best. :)

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  17. "Happy Pub Day to you, Happy Pub Day to you..." (sung to the tune of the Happy Birthday song, and it sounds so much better in writing than it would coming out of my mouth).

    Body painting my book cover...now that's one awesome idea...for someone not built like me...but, perhaps, we could hire that one out?

    Looking forward to the read after I grade the thirty pounds of essays lingering in my teacher bag. It'll make for a fabulous Christmas pleasure after exam week.

    Congrats, and I hope your launch goes at warp speed.

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  18. Ha! You crack me up. See, this is why I love Twitter, I find all sorts lovely little tidbits! I'm absolutely terrified of book launch day, but soooo excited too! Thanks for your advice and humor!! And best of luck!

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  19. Big congrats to you! Love this post. And yes, like everyone is saying here, you made me laugh here :)

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  20. Best of luck with the book sales and reviews! I enjoyed the interview and the book sounds great!

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