Life before the launch of a book is many things: nerve-wracking, exciting, frenzied, paranoid, fun. You wait for your book to fall into the hands of your readers, your friends, and maybe even some people who you would rather not hand your heart and soul to. You want to simultaneously promote the heck out of it because you’re proud, and also buy up the entire stock on Amazon so no one can write a bad review about it.
Around May, I become obsessed with the show Younger. If you haven’t watched it—DO SO NOW. It’s about a 40-year-old woman named Liza who pretends to be 26 to land a job in publishing after her daughter goes to college. She gets a job at a publishing house called Empirical, and becomes part of a team that publishes both renowned and debut authors alike. Sometimes the books are well received. Sometimes there are train wrecks. I would watch this show every night with my husband on Hulu and feel my heart start beating quickly. My throat would get tight. My thoughts would start to race. Because my book baby was about to be born into a world where critics are swimming like hungry sharks waiting for a baby seal. I was terrified.
Then came the day when I was suddenly all right with everything. I went on a two-week cross-country trip with my husband, gained a ton of perspective, and came back with only a week left until my book came out. I was reinvigorated and just plain happy. I was proud of myself. I was at peace with my book (note: authors and editors are rarely ever at peace with the final version of a book).
The day my book came out, I heard from so many friends and family members on social media and by text. There was an overwhelming amount of love coming my way, and I knew that even if I got some mixed reviews, I would be okay. I’d done a good thing, and my real friends and family would stick by me no matter what.
My launch event was two weeks later. It was everything I could have ever wanted. I wore a yellow dress with bicycles and flowers on it, which just felt so me. My aunt made a ton of lemon cupcakes. There was cheese and there were crackers. There was a pile of bookmark swag, a pile of books to sell. And then, one by one, people I loved started filling in the room. My 95-year-old great aunt. My writing group. My best friends since middle school. Not one, but three of my high school English teachers. It felt like a true celebration of my book.
I was introduced by my mentor, former professor, and friend—Mick Cochrane. You might know him as the author of the books Fitz and The Girl Who Threw Butterflies. He’s amazing, and has shaped my life as a writer since I first met him as a timid freshman who just wanted to be a writer. Listening to his introductory remarks about me as a person and a writer is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
Now, I don’t like being on stage, but fueled with the warm fuzzy feelings of the people in the room and the introduction, I got up on that stage and did the thing. I thanked everyone, because books are not made by authors alone. I explained what the heck a verse novel is. And then I read a few sections of my book. Afterwards, I signed books and ate cupcakes.
It was the perfect night.
But getting back to the title of this blog...what happens after the launch? There’s such a lead-up to that day. You never feel more authorly than those moments in the spotlight when you are the one signing the books and you are the one reading on the stage. And you are asked to do interviews. And people want a picture with you and your book. And people say that their pre-order copy has arrived and they can’t wait to read it.
It’s overwhelming, and I guess because of that...after the launch, I kind of retreated a bit.
Normally, when I finish a novel, I jump into a new one. However, none of my other novels were ever published, and so I didn’t also have to deal with promoting a book and having it break into the world. With all that excitement, I couldn’t sit down and focus. I couldn’t write just one thing.
So what does life after launch look like? What have I been up to? I’ve been running and meditating and doing yoga most mornings. I’ve been fixing up my old house and training my crazy rescue dog. I’ve been writing some freelance books for extra money. I’ve been working on a young adult verse novel, a middle grade verse novel, and a prose novel. I’ve been getting into audio books, and making visits to the library. I've been going on long hikes and working on mindfulness.
I’m not done, as an author. I want to see another book through its creation and breakout into the world. But I’m working on my own timeline. And sometimes that means taking the time to sit back, take in the sights, and enjoy the ride.