This week’s THIS LITERARY LIFE essay, author Dawn Downey offers a funny–and angst-filled–look at how even the most carefully planned book launch can go wrong.
“How To Plan a Book Launch”
by Dawn Downey
Relax. You’ve written a book. You’ve ordered your first shipment.
Give in to spontaneity. Schedule three launch parties in three different cities. Bask in the good vibrations of your wonderful friends who volunteered event space, email lists, and creative prowess. They enjoy promotion. With friends like this, allow yourself to feel enthusiastic about marketing.
At 3:00 a.m. two weeks before Party #1, awake in a panic. Ask yourself if you actually ordered books from the printer. Stub your toe on the nightstand while feeling around for your glasses, trying not to disturb your husband. Suppress your desire to wake him up, even though you should not have to suffer alone. Click around the printer’s website. Locate the order. Find no definitive proof the order went through, but no indication there’s a problem. Go back to bed.
Postpone Party #1, because you have no books.
Having relieved the pressure of a potential disaster at Party #1, feel a renewed enthusiasm for marketing. Create a Facebook event for Party #2. What fun! Post, share, like, comment, message, invite.
Examine the printer’s website again. The eight-point font hieroglyphics reveal 1) they’ve charged your credit card for 100 books, and 2) the order reads “pending” instead of “shipped.” Decide that “pending” means the books are on a UPS truck heading toward your house.
Friday, write a blog post extolling the joyous time to be experienced by all who are lucky enough to attend Parties #2 and #3.
Saturday, postpone Party #2, because you have no books.
Sunday, decide it’s time to call the printer’s customer service line. Do you remember how telephones always remind you of your mother calling to tell you that your sister’s acting out again, and it’s your fault? Well, don’t think about that. Convince yourself you’re a businesswoman.
Monday, phone customer service. Offer up a prayer of gratitude when your call goes immediately to a recording, because you know they’re going to call you stupid. After a man says, “Good morning. Can I help you?” talk slowly so he cannot hear your voice shaking. Hold your breath while he researches your order. When he says, “I’ll put a rush on this, it was not your fault,” stifle the urge to respond no, really, it was my fault. Thank the nice man. Resolve to stop picking on yourself.
Arrange a book order from an alternate printer. Express delivery in plenty of time for Party #3. Right? Right?
Having relieved the pressure of potential disasters at Parties #1 and #2, feel a renewed enthusiasm for marketing. Take a nap.
Dawn Downey is the author of From Dawn to Daylight: Essays.
Read the latest news about the book launch that can’t get off the ground at http://dawndowney.com/