I’ve been in the publishing business a long time, but I’ve never launched my own work. So I asked a friend for some book launch advice. “The problem with book launches is this,” she told me. “It’s a selfish moment. And it has to be.”
It wasn’t really what I wanted to hear. It made me feel dirty. Because immediately I knew it was true. And no one wants to feel like they’re being selfish.
As you know, my book Hedge King in Winter launched this week. If you’ve been waiting for it, you can follow the adventures of Eowain on Wattpad. But after so much effort spent telling you to sign up in advance for the book, it seems silly to spend one more blog post telling you to do it again.
Instead, I’d like to do something different. I’d like to thank all the people who made this, and everything I do, possible.
We all need community
- A family. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive throughout this whole process, cheering me on with each obsessive check of my download stats. And my daughters have been quick to remind me that no matter how busy you are, there’s always time for a giggle.
- A team. I couldn’t have pulled this off on my own. My team, which consists of tireless and terrific promoters, a wonderful illustrator, an amazing cartographer, a top-notch book design pro, a bedazzled publicist, and an incredible business manager, have helped me not lose my mind. Our book launch team members have been early adopters and constant encouragers. And my partners have helped the book reach brand-new audiences.
- An audience. It doesn’t escape me that the books I write, the stuff I create, and how I make a living is all made possible by people like you who have given me the gift of your attention. I try to not take that lightly.
In bringing Hedge King in Winter to reality, I wrote that every story of success is really a story of community, but now I feel like I’ve lived it. The lessons I’ve learned both in writing and launching this book are:
- We all need people to remind us we are not doomed by our greatest failure or defined by our greatest success.
- You can only accomplish so much on your own. A race is no fun if you don’t have anyone to meet you at the finish line.
- In any undertaking, the work you do is only as significant as the people it impacts. And if you’re creating for your own amusement, the enjoyment you get doesn’t come close to the satisfaction of making something and seeing it connect with another human being.
For me, there’s something healthy about remembering that wherever I am in life, I did not get here alone. So today, we celebrate.
To everyone who signed up in advance for the book and made it a success, this is your day. To those who believed in the message and helped it spread, my hat is off to you. And to the amazing people who always encouraged me to write a book, I am forever grateful.
What it all comes down to
So, are book launches selfish? They certainly can be.
Another friend recently launched a book, just a few days before mine. She didn’t see the sales she had hoped for. “I’m depressed and angry about how stupidly it went and I don’t want to talk about it.”
Though I didn’t know what to expect from myself, I’ve seen enough of other people’s book launches to recognize the signs. “What were you expecting?”
She went on to say, “I want to sell 3 billion copies. All the copies! Okay, now I’m just getting ridiculous.”
“This is publishing. Nothing ever goes to plan. This is publishing. Situation Normal: All F****d Up.”
“I’m just mad because it validates all the people who put me down for wanting this, for doing this. That sticks in my craw.”
“I doubt it validates anything. In 20 years in publishing, I’ve never seen a book launch go off flawlessly. It just doesn’t happen.”
My point is this: if anyone expects instant fame, fortune, and riches, you got into the wrong business. I know a publisher that’s been doing this for forty years. They recently made a USD $10 million intellectual property acquisition that went so horribly wrong that they tried to sell the property back to the original owner for half price. Sometimes, “stuff” happens, despite the best efforts and intentions of everyone involved.
But do book launches have to be selfish?
My other friend with the advice pondered that a while. “I think,” she said, “that you have to love the people. Just show them the love.”
Maybe, as simple as it sounds, that’s the answer. How do we catch ourselves in the midst of our own ambition when we’re running too hard or too fast in a certain direction? Just love. Yes, I launched a book this week. And if you follow it, that’s awesome, thank you.
But I want to make one thing clear: none of this would have happened without you. I don’t always know if I’m doing everything right or feel like I’ve got it all figured out. But when I surround myself with people who love me and remember to love them back, things tend to work out.
There is no better cure for selfishness and no better way to live your life — or, for that matter, launch a book — than to share it with others. Thanks for letting me do that.
Of course, I’d love your support with the book launch this week. But I couldn’t pass up a chance to express my gratitude. This week belongs to you as much as it does to me… maybe more.
What do you think? Share in the comments something you started that initially felt selfish but eventually became much bigger than you.
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