The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride of a Book Release

For the past couple of months I’ve been on the roller coaster ride known as a “Book Launch” with my second published book, The Doctor’s Lady.

Recently blogging friend Caroline Starr Rose asked me if I’d share my experience with my book release. Caroline’s first book, May B, a middle grade historical novel, releases in January of 2012. She’ll soon jump on the “Book Launch” roller coaster and join the wild ride.

Of course, each author’s experience on the “Book Launch” roller coaster will vary widely. Some of us may throw our hands up in the air, scream with glee, and ride with abandon. Others of us may end up puking our guts out and screaming in frustration.

Here's a break down of what the release experience has been like for me with both of my books. (But remember, this is my experience and yours may look very different!)

Several months before the release:

About three months before launch date, I begin to plot my promotion. I strategically plan events, giveaways, and special posts. I brainstorm on my own as well as with my publisher’s marketing department,  and I begin to narrow down what I’d like to do (i.e. blog tour, book trailer, etc.).

This is usually an easy-going time. The ride is just beginning, and it’s a slow uphill climb. No major stress yet.

One month before the release:

Four weeks before the release date, the ride starts to pick up speed. I get busier as I implement some of the things I’ve been planning. For The Doctor’s Lady, I had a big book trailer kickoff. Then I started doing weekly trivia questions accompanied by book giveaways. I put a countdown widget into my sidebar. And I hoped to generate some excitement about the book.

In the process of getting others excited, of course I begin to get excited! My expectations are high, and I’m hit with the reality that “Wow, I have a book releasing!” and “This is a dream come true!”

Two weeks before the release:

A couple of weeks before release, readers begin to get their hands on the book. Early reviewers and influencers send me tweets or messages that their copies have arrived.

That’s the first stressful dip in the roller coaster. I can’t help worrying what people will think. For The Doctor’s Lady I had an especially migraine-inducing weekend wondering if readers would like the book as well as my first. Worries and doubts attack me. What if I bombed it? What if someone gives me a poor review right away?

One week before the release:

Friends and supporters begin to report back to me their thoughts on the book, and I pass their tests. At least so they say. Of course, I tell myself that none of them are going to be completely honest with me since they don’t want to hurt my feelings with any parts of the story they didn’t like. Nevertheless, I gobble up the praise like it’s rich chocolate.

Once again, I’m climbing back up. And I’m gearing up for more promotional work.

Release day:

Even though some authors say release day is anti-climatic, I really try to make it a special occasion and am still optimistic. This year a fellow blogger Jaime Wright held the big kick-off for release day and the start of my blog tour. And then the following day I had a party post celebrating the release.

I was nervous that people wouldn't care as much about my second book's release, hoped people would join the parties, and was relieved and grateful when the parties didn't flop!

One week after release day:

It’s at this time, that most authors are beginning to get a true picture of how their book is being received by readers. Often we're checking our Amazon reviews and rankings, and we’ll be able to get an overall pattern of whether readers are enjoying it or not. This can be a letdown if readers don’t like the book as well as we’d hoped. Maybe we get some less-than-stellar reviews. Maybe there's a lot less attention or fanfare than we expected. Maybe we even face silence, almost as if no one really cares.

Fortunately for me, it’s been a positive time. I usually begin to get emails, tweets, and facebook comments from genre readers letting me know they’ve liked my book. Whew! (Thank you everyone!)

Two weeks to one month after the release:

The hard work of promoting begins to take its toll. I’ve found that it’s difficult to keep up with all of the communication and administrative details that go in to the promotion (i.e. sending out giveaway books, updating my website, finishing interviews, etc.).

Even though it’s a busy and stressful time, the weeks following my book’s release have continued to be a time of connecting with readers who enjoy my books which is one of my favorite parts about the process.

Several months after the release:

One of the hardest things is not knowing how well your book is selling. Sure I can ask my publisher for statistics. But those early numbers are never completely accurate (due to returns). So for several months after the release, no one really knows for certain how well the book is going to sell.

When I finally did ask my publisher how sales were going on my first book, I was a bit disappointed that it hadn’t hit the million mark. Okay, so not really. But I did have my expectations too high. And while my book sold well for a debut author, I realized I still have room to grow.

So that’s been my roller coaster experience!

What about you? For published authors, what about your “Book Launch” ride was different from mine? And for pre-published, what are you least looking forward to about the book launch roller coaster?

Make sure you check out these blog tour stops. Book GIVEAWAYS galore!

Monday 9/26: I'm guest posting on Preslaysa Williams blog: 8 Tips for Organizing Writing Time.

Monday 9/26: If you'd like to know how I'd respond to finding a purple polka-dotted monster in my kitchen one morning, then head over to the Book Loft!

Tuesday 9/27: I'm visiting with Dawn Alexander on her blog.

Tuesday 9/27: I'll be chatting with Cyndi Tefft on her blog and sharing where I'd buy land if I could!

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  1. Seriously? Returns? I'd never even imagine that as an issue. I mean, I figured there might be a handful, but is there really a substantial amount of people—enough to consider the numbers in one's statistics—who buy a novel and then return it?? Just curious.

    I am pre-published, so to answer your question, fear of failure would be top on the list. And the busyness involved. It sounds like a LOT to keep up with. :O


    p.s. I've recently finished The Doctor's Lady (and The Preacher's Bride) and loved them both!

  2. Hi Barb!

    Thanks for reading both of my books! I'm really happy that you enjoyed both of them! Whew! :-)

    And by "returns" I'm not referring to individual buyers. I'm referring to the process of stores returning books. After several months or so, stores can (and do!) return books that have not sold. That means if a store buys 100 of your books and only 25 sell, they can return the other 75. So initial author sales may look high, but once stores return books they haven't sold, the numbers can drop quite a bit. Hope that clarifies what I meant!

  3. Very informative...yes, totally clarifies (and shows my naivete about the publishing "biz!") ;-) But that's why I'm here: to read & learn!

  4. I'm saving this post for advice for next year.

    I'm both excited and terrified about my launch. I'm still quite a bit away from it, but I'm watching for promotion ideas that might suit my book and what I can achieve living in Ireland while my publisher is in America. I think what I'm looking forward to least is watching the days count down and wondering if I've left it too late to arrange certain things like a decent launch party.

  5. Ah, yes. The roller coaster ride. I'm right in the thick of it and as much as I thought I was prepared, I wasn't. Just like riding a roller coaster you've never ridden before, you can't know what if really feels like until you ride even though you are looking at the ups and down of the track before you get on. It's scary and thrilling, terrifying and fun all at the same time.

  6. I would be afraid of my family and friends expectations when I say "My book is going to be published". People automatically think of writers like JK Rowling and her fairytale success. That's too big of a glass slipper to wish for. I would have to define what a successful book would be for me.

  7. I'm constantly learning from you!

    Thoroughly enjoyed visiting and laughing w/ you.
    ~ Wendy

  8. I'm loving Doctor's Lady. Life kept me from gobbling it up the moment I got it, but I like it even better than the first one, because the geographical movement adds interest to the plot.

    I refuse to do anything but look forward to absolutely everything about the process of publishing. I just hope one day it actually happens.

  9. Thanks for sharing this, Jody. It's a dream, one I hope to experience someday. :-)

    I thought The Doctor's lady was every bit as good as The Preacher's Bride! :-)

  10. It's pretty close to how I'm feeling. It ebbs and flows.

    Right now I'm at the point where my first sets of readers are reading and the reviews are starting to trickle in. There was a crazy amount of pre-prep and now I'm poised to send out books for two giveaways. I also completed a quiz for the book on GoodReads, and am getting a little early feedback.

    None of it is easy-- it's a lot of work, but I have to say, I'm enjoying every bit of it! People have been very supportive and seem to be getting caught up in the spirit/humor of the book, so at this point, I really couldn't ask for more.

    Taking it one day at a time,

  11. Hi Jody--HUGE CONGRATS on your newest book contract with Bethany House (read about it on Jill's blog). That's so awesome. You must be thrilled.

  12. Fascinating to read this process, Jody. I'll be returning here whenever that elusive release day happens for me. :)

  13. Hi everyone!! I'm appreciating getting the perspective of some of you today on how your roller coaster rides are going!

    And thank you for the warm congrats on my new contract, Patrice! I'm very excited! :-)

  14. I am pre-published. I think what scares me most is the possibility of negative feedback on Amazon and Goodreads.

    I also hear book launch is difficult because most authors are in the middle of working on another book while also trying to juggle the many demands of launching one. That doesn't scare me, but it's not a juggling act I particularly look forward to performing. :)

    And thank you for such an honest post. I love to learn about publishing. :)

  15. Hi Rachel!
    You're so right about being in the middle of other projects during a book launch. I'm currently editing another book and also have a WIP that I'm trying to get back to! So I'm doing a lot of juggling during this busy time! Thanks for the input! And I wish you all the best! :-)

  16. Oh, Jody. Thank you so much for this! I've spent the last month typing up labels and setting up postcards for prairie museums. It's easy to get focused on the task at hand and not see the big picture. Thank you for this glimpse into your personal experience.

    Those few weeks/months after the release, is it hard to step back from the huge promotional push?

  17. The stress can certainly take you down a notch especially when you think of the weight of it all but so long as you're rolling through plans it works. :-) The thing is, you never really step off the ride, you just have fewer twists and turns down the line.

    The ride will always be exciting and well worth it regardless.. ;-)

  18. Agree, PW, in the end the ride is well worth it! :-) At least it has been for me!

  19. Caroline asked: Those few weeks/months after the release, is it hard to step back from the huge promotional push?

    My thoughts: I think we need to try to keep the initial promotion going for a couple of months. That's when we'll to see our biggest sales. So we don't want to drop the ball too early. It's difficult to keep the momentum going, but having the blog tour this time has helped me a bit.

    But then after a couple of months, the hype sort of naturally dies down and it becomes easier to let promotion take more of a backseat.

  20. Thank you for this glimpse into your author world. This is better than reality TV. :)

  21. Good insight into the process. Thanks.

  22. My rollercoaster feels like it's been rolling since I signed the contract, but now it's really heading for the first peak. I do my first public reading (at a convention) this Saturday, and my first convention panel later in the month - and my book's not even out until next April!

    As for what I'm dreading most? Probably, juggling finishing and handing in Book Two in this series whilst I'm also trying to promote Book One...

  23. We are all so grateful that you share this experience with us Jody. And I think The Doctor's Lady is even better than The Preacher's Bride because it straddles a journey not just one place. The fabulous thing is that you can tell you wrote the book the voice is so similar. That is so awesome. Wishing you sell a tonne of books x

  24. A roller coaster is a good analogy. My novel Love in Mid Air came out last year and while I'd say the experience was 80% positive, there were definitely some rough moments. I'd said I'd give myself six months to focus on helping the first book find its readership and then start on book two. I'd been invited to come to an artist colony in Wyoming at about the six month mark and it seemed a good place to make the break - to turn away from one project and start pouring my energy into another.
    I drove to Wyoming from my home in North Carolina which took....quite a while. It was an extended solo road trip in which I visited a few friends along the way, stopped and did some hokey-fun tourist things like see Mt. Rushmore. I got to the colony about three in the afternoon and was shown to my lovely little studio that looked out over an enormous field dotted with deer. I walked out on the deck, sat down on a chair and began to sob.
    I cried for hours. I'm not normally weepy but I couldn't seem to stop, nor could I say exactly why I was crying. But I guess my point is that the roller coaster of having a book come out is more draining and stressful than any of us admit and it builds up within you, even if the experience has a lot of positives along the way.
    Next time I'll know to practice EXTREME self care around this time - plenty of sleep, recreation, massages, some conversations that are actually about something other than "How is your book doing?" Because now I know how much it can take out of me.

  25. Hi Kim, Thank you for sharing your experience. It's really good to hear what other authors have gone through. I think you bring up a great point about needing to practice more self-care during the emotional roller coaster of the release. I'm learning that slowly but surely. It's easy to get swept up in all that needs to be done and then neglect taking care of your self. Thanks again for your input!

  26. Kim, thanks for this honest look into your experience. A part of me wonders if after fourteen years waiting for this day I'll be disappointed when fireworks don't go off around the world. Realistically, I'm trying to remind myself that not much will look different after THE DAY -- that it's more a season than a moment -- and that it's natural to feel a mix of emotions, too.

    I've got a copy of Love in Mid-Air waiting on my shelf!

  27. This is all very helpful as I am approaching my own book launch!


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