There is one thing about publishing that I’ve never been able to come to terms with: the vulnerability of releasing your book.
Releasing a book is like taking a scalpel to my sternum, slicing through my chest, and saying, “Here total stranger, for $3.99 you can have a glimpse into my heart.” Because, inevitably, every author writes pieces of their soul into their work, and if it’s good writing, you can never get away from that.
So let’s talk about the emotional difficulties of releasing that book baby into the world.
The Emotional Reality of Vulnerability
This didn’t become quite real for me until a friend said to me in an innocent, random conversation, “I think we all picture you as Bianca when we read.”
My heart stopped. Not that it was real news, of course. Anyone who has read this blog knows I’m a snarky mess, just like B. All the same, I responded with, “Really? Because that was never the point. I never wanted someone to read the book and see me in it.”
In fact, I tried very hard to take myself out of Bianca in the beginning drafts, but my beta readers called me on it. She was “too perfect” and “boring.”
Duh. Of course she’s perfect. If she has flaws then the world will see me in it, and everyone will know I
have a serious Dr Pepper 10 addiction am not perfect although I expect myself to be.
For some reason, that vulnerability came through extra strong with the release of Antebellum Awakening.
I don’t like to need other people.
But you can’t release a book on your own. You just can’t, and you shouldn’t try. Networking works for a reason: we all need each other. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to rely on others to help my purposes be successful. My inherent skeptic always asks why should they care? Not to mention the phrase of no one will ever care as much about your book as you do.
Like the itchy wool sweater Grandma gives you at Christmas, accepting help from others is uncomfortable for me. While it’s incredibly appreciated, it also makes me incredibly vulnerable.
As you can tell, I don’t like to be vulnerable.
Like a lot of you, I gave up a different career I love (pediatric RN), asked Husband to take full-time care of us financially, and threw my 9-5 into a computer at home. This has to work and it has to (at least a little) work right now.
Before you start throwing comments like ‘give it time’ and ‘success isn’t overnight’ let me reassure you: I get it. I even agree. But while that rolling stone is gaining speed, I can’t tell my cover designer, “Hey, I’ll pay you in two years when I’m actually making money and not just pouring it all into the next book.”
Although Husband is completely supportive, the bill collectors are not. I was incredibly aware that I needed this book to make money. Even just a little. If not to prove to him that this isn’t just some venture, to prove to myself that all my preparation wasn’t in vain, and that I have what it takes.
With all those thoughts on my mind, I entered release day overwhelmed, already exhausted, and needing an emotional massage.
I ran a Bookbub ad for my first book, Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, the day before the release of Antebellum Awakening with the hope to drive up preorder sales. It worked. Preorders doubled, and both books began to climb the charts. MMSFG hit #1 in Kindle Fantasy for about 4-6 hours, then hovered at #4 for most of the next day.
I went to bed at 0130, ecstatic with that success. An early morning at 0530, and the release day festivities began. Most of my time was spent keeping up with giveaway entries, supporting the bloggers that hosted me, advertising on IG, Twitter, FB, Pinterest, and more, while also maintaining my sanity. It was difficult to NOT check my sales rank or numbers every 30 minutes. I had to force myself to workout, fold the laundry, and run a few (quick) errands.
I was jubilant over MMSFG’s success, but worried about AA. Why had only 30 people purchased so far? Did that include preorders? Should I have published on B&N instead of doing KDP Select?
My brother in law and sister sent me these flowers that brought tears to my eyes. For awhile, I stopped worrying. Seriously, everything would be fine.
But then my fears started to fester again when my #4 rank slipped to #7. The tidal wave was over, as I knew it would be eventually, but I was still happy about being on the first page. To spare you every gory detail of my whiplash state of mind, it’s fair to say that my emotions hopped around like a bunny on smoldering lava.
By the time 6:30 rolled around, I had a little over 1 L of Dr Pepper 10 running around my veins, more FB notifications than I could keep up with, and couldn’t stop yawning. Husband and I sat down at Salsa Brava for a celebratory dinner.
“The worst is over,” Husband said. “You did it!”
I looked up at him, blinked, and literally fell into mental pieces.
I didn’t cry or anything like that. But I did stare at the top of the table. It took me ten minutes to order because I had to keep re-reading everything on the menu. As a rule I always order water at restaurants, but I drank two glasses of DDP just to keep myself awake enough to eat. Husband asked if I was okay, and I just said, “No. I think I’m just done.”
Stick a fork in me.
The Unvarnished Truth From Yours Truly
Part of the mental snow fall of my brain resulted from Husband’s correct observation: the worst was over. I’d had more success than I planned, my thoughts weren’t racing with oh no! I forgot to answer those interview questions. Did I send Candace the post? Is the banner for the caramels ready? and I didn’t have to worry anymore about whether I’d make the money back or not. (For those of you wondering: yes. I did make the money back.)
I write this to tell you that it’s my experience only. There’s really no point to this post except to help you understand that releasing a book is so much more than marketing and cover design. For emotion-driven creatives like myself, it’s self-contained emotional war.
I’ve always lived my life on an intensity level that makes many other people roll their eyes. When I go hard, I go really hard, and that’s just what happened with this book release. My success was great, but over 6 weeks of preparation, and the roller coaster ride of highs and lows, came before it.
Now I’m already neck-deep in my next book, Mildred’s Resistance, catching up on Big Bang Theory, and eating WAY too many caramels.
How do you cope with highs and lows of a book release?