By Tracy Clark
I just launched my fifth book, Hide. Yay! It’s a busy time. Stuff’s happening fast and furious. But in a rare quiet moment, I got to wondering. Why book launch? Why not book introduction, or book premiere?
I’ll admit launch is snappier than book introduction, but it also sounds and feels very much like what the word suggests — like my book baby is being shot out of a circus cannon accompanied by a big brass band, rainbow-colored smoke, and glitter confetti. Hurled out into the ether, aiming for the top tier, like a clown cannon ball!
Launch day, launch week, launch month is hectic. There are blogs and podcasts, interviews and events, in-person and virtual. There are things I have to do, people I need to connect with, buzz to build, excitement to hope for. I like my book. I worked hard on it. I think it’s good. I want readers to find it and like it as much as I do. So, I get out there and launch it and talk it up and stand behind it. Readers won’t discover my book if I mosey it out. Nobody will pay attention to a book sashay.
So, book launch.
It sounds chaotic, and it is. It sounds exhausting, and it is. But it’s also delightful and validating, and heartwarming. My writing community showed up for me. There are no words.
My first in-person launch event for Hide was just a few days ago, and I had the best time ever. The wonderful Lori Rader-Day did me a solid and said yes when I asked if she’d partner with me at one of my favorite Indie bookstores here in Chicago, The Book Cellar. (If you’re ever in Chicago, do yourself a favor, check it out.)
Lori was there. I was there. Hide was there, and people showed up. It was a good crowd. We talked about my book. We talked about Lori’s book. Lori was great, as always, and, though, I was nervous and had worked myself up into a near wreck by the time the convo even started, convinced I’d botch the whole thing, I think I did okay. Afterward, I was secure in the knowledge that I had successfully launched my clown cannon ball like a true pro in training.
Here’s a fact. Writers write alone, but they cannot launch alone. A launch takes a village; it takes a writing community. A successful launch hinges on the support and advocacy you receive from others. Your writer friends talk your book up, they read it, they tell other people about it. You do the same for them when their books launch. Reviewers review. Bloggers blog. Both are kind enough to take the time. Readers who know your work and love it, say nice things that make you feel good, and then, if you’re lucky, they do that thing from that old Faberge shampoo commercial — “they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on.” There are also wonderful publicists and editors and agents, who believe in your work as much as you do, who help you brand it and position it and get the word out. I am lucky and forever indebted to these fantastic people.
So, it’s book launch instead of book mosey, because the entire deal is all energy and propulsion and razzmatazz. It’s showbiz, kid. Only the curtain doesn’t come down when the cannon ball leaves the cannon. Oh no, that’s just the beginning. There’s more to come. Cool library visits, more interviews, conferences, panels. There will be airports and hotels and panel prep and wonderful chats in hotel bars with your writer peeps who are going through the same things you are. It’s wonderful and scary and exhilarating and tiring and I don’t think any writer would have it any other way.
I’m living the dream, even though I still worry about everything. I honor my community, hold fast to my excellent team. I’m blessed to have them all. So far launch is going gangbusters.
If you’re a published writer, what was your best launch experience?
If you’re a “pre-published” writer, what do you hope your first book launch will be like?
I guess my best launch was speaking at the library in my hometown (where I spent many, many hours as a child) to a packed room and then having a city councilman give me a key to the city. (It was actually a plaque with a raised key shape on it, not an actual key, but who’s quibbling?)
Tracy – first – congrats on your latest (terrific) release. As for my best launch, it was for my very first political thriller, CHECKMATE, where a few friends gave a book party at the Cosmos Club in DC. One of those friends was Bill Webster, former head of the FBI and CIA. So, when people ever asked if I had to get “clearance” to write about national security threats, I could always say, “Well, if Bill Webster didn’t object, I’m okay.” Thanks for a great post…..Karna Small Bodman
Excellent lexicon deep dive! So true. And congrats. I’ve been peeking at your latest and I know it’s gonna fly.
You captured the complex feelings so well, Tracy. The dread and the excitement, the worry and the moments of jubilation. And it happens with EVERY NEW BOOK. But somehow it becomes easier, the flack falls away, and then the tremendous joy and pride linger…. Our book babies rock! 🙂
I had several great launches — one for my first book, A Rant of Ravens, at the Tattered Cover, and one for DARK WATERS, my first thriller, also at the Tattered Cover. They sold out of copies, and you get a neat bookmark to remember the day. But what jumped into my mind was my worst book launch ever. It was for my second book. The local bookstore had ordered 100 copies, based on the turn out for my first in the series, and I was at the bookstore with my husband and youngest daughter. We waited and waited, and no one came. Finally, my elderly aunt, followed shortly by Don Murphy, the former head boy of my high school class, and his new wife, came in and bought books. I was mortified, and the bookstore owner, who on top of it all had just bought the store, was clearly perplexed. I was still freaking out the next day, when Dale called and told me not to worry. It seems ALL my friends had been out of town or busy, but thankfully they had noted on their calendars to go in and buy my book. By the end of the day, he was asking me to come in and sign more copies. Whew! It’s a roller coaster! That said, your book is going to surpass the others. You are on an upward trajectory. I can’t wait to read it!
My best launch experiences were in person live events at The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ. I would basically throw a party, complete with cake (which I cannot eat because I’m gluten-free, but everyone else enjoyed) balloons, and decorations. I also had contests in which audience members answered trivia questions for swag and other prizes I would bring. The first three books included T-shirts I had printed with the book title and custom artwork on it. So amazing and so much fun and energy!