Debunking Some Popular Release Day Myths

Today’s post suffered a minor “delay of game” due to travel (and my brother’s birthday) but I’m finally in front of the computer and ready to debunk some popular release day myths.

Myth #1: By the end of release day, I will be a NYT-Bestsellling author. 

The reality: Not most of us.

Many, if not most, debut authors approach release day with the anticipation that accompanies overinflated expectations. Expectations, and dreams, aren’t bad, and it’s perfectly fine to dream of hitting the New York Times Bestseller list (or any other dream you can imagine). However, it’s also important to keep your expectations anchored to make your release day the mental success it should be.

A few authors hit bestseller lists on release day. Most don’t. The important thing is to focus on the successes you have achieved.

Myth #2: Release Day Will Change My Life Forever.

The Reality: Actually, it will, though not necessarily the way you imagine.

Authors who think release day will change them from “nobody much” to “A-list celebrity known and adored by the world at large,” are heading for disappointment. It generally takes several books, and several years, to establish a publishing career. Even a successful debut takes time. Word of mouth can’t spread overnight.

Release day does change an author, however. Your book is out in the world, in the hands of readers. Your dream really has come true. Focus on that, and you’ll be able to appreciate the success that a book release itself represents.

Myth #3: By the end of release day, I will earn out my advance!

The Reality: Probably not (except in very rare cases).

Reality corollary: Unless your book sells enough to warrant a second edition/second printing, you won’t actually know how many books you sold the week of release.

Self-published authors do have this information, of course, and some small presses give sales information more quickly than large traditional houses do. However, if you’re published by a mid-sized or larger traditional house, expect to wait months to know your actual sales numbers. This comes as a shock to many first-time authors, and it’s good to have the right expectation before release day comes.

Myth #4: Release Day Will be One of the Best Days of My Life

The Reality: Actually, this one can be true – if you’re prepared.

Authors who approach release with unrealistic expectations about sales, fame, or “life changing overnight” are often disappointed. However, Authors who focus on enjoying the day, and the dream come true, often enjoy release day thoroughly.

By the time release day comes, managing your book release is less about “how can I make it sell” and more about living in the moment. Your dream has come true–and if this isn’t your first release, your dream has come true again. Take the time to stop and smell the pages. Enjoy the release. The rest of the publishing world will still be there when the day is over, and you can go back to working hard (and worrying harder) tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I hope you’ll join me next Wednesday, when we visit an important–if somewhat unpleasant–phase of the publishing journey: the author’s postpartum blues.

Have questions about this or other publishing law and business topics? Have you got a release day story to share? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.