Release Day Buzz … and Release-Day Fear

Today’s publishing law and business installment looks at both sides of the release-day coin: the instant high and the valley that sometimes follows.

On release day, your book goes “into the wild” and onto bookstore shelves (virtual ones, for ebooks, and physical ones for printed tomes).

Most authors approach release day with a strange combination of excitement and terror. (Enhanced for debut authors, but seasoned authors feel it too.) When release day comes, an author often feels as if Christmas, a thousand birthdays and the apocalypse have all arrived at once. This is normal. Expect to freak out before release–everyone does, even though most debut authors don’t expect it.

For many authors, release-day excitement quickly dissolves into a frenzy of ratings-watching and social media checks–which sometimes ends in a spiraling and unexpected let-down. It’s not unlike other major events–the build-up leads to a let-down, even if the event itself went wonderfully. This is compounded by the fact that authors don’t normally receive sales figures that first day (in many cases, not for months), so tracking progress is hard.

Here are some tips for keeping your release day fun and positive, and fighting the post-release letdown:

1. Plan a celebration with friends. Breakfast, lunch, dinner … drinks, if that’s your thing. Do something fun to mark the day. Celebrating with friends will make your release day special, and also take you OFF of the Internet for several hours.

2. Get a friend to watch The Big River so you don’t have to. Many authors spend too much time on release day obsessing over Amazon rankings. Don’t. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, release day sales are important, but they are not the be-all-end-all of your publishing career. Not by a long shot. If you can’t resist checking, give yourself a couple of scheduled times to check–and stick to them. Don’t spend the day refreshing websites like a puppy checking its bowl to see if treats will magically appear.

3. Plan your social media and other release day activities in advance, and stick to the plan. Spend some time on Twitter, on Facebook, and responding to comments on blog interviews, if any post that day. DO NOT spend the day spamming people about your release. Sharing the release is fine, but know when sharing crosses the line.

4. Go to a bookstore and see your book “in the wild.” Hopefully friends will send you photos, too, but nothing beats that moment when walk into a book store and see your book on the shelf.  If you’re releasing in e-book only, this isn’t an option, but hopefully your friends will send you photos of your book on their e-readers. That’s fun, too.

5. Plan to do something NOT book-related. Not related to this book, anyway. See a movie. Go for a walk. Read a book by someone else–or work on your own next manuscript. Distract yourself from the book for a while.

Regardless of the manner in which you spend your release day, worry and fear will probably creep in as the day progresses. Writers worry about many things–but try not to spend time worrying about the release. Distract yourself with friends and fun. Remember that it takes your readers time to read the book–you may not have a lot of reviews and comments on release day. They will come!

If you’re approaching your own debut release, I recommend finding a published author to talk with about the experience. Many of us are glad to share our experiences, and hearing how someone else went through it helps prepare you for your own. Remember, however: not all authors are equally willing to talk about personal matters. Approach a friend, rather than someone you don’t know.

Ultimately, the take-away about release day is: enjoy it, and if you worry, remember that nerves are natural (but don’t let them ruin the day). Authors (and publishers) work long and hard to bring a book into the world–and when the day comes, the release itself is a success. Many books never make it to release. Keep that in mind as you celebrate–you and your book have beaten those odds.

Have you got suggestions (or stories) about release day? I’d love to hear them in the comments!