Pardon me. I know I should be above this. I’m a multi-published novelist, after all. You’d think I’d be past the pre-book-launch jitters, past the butterflies in the stomach worries that no one will show, beyond the sheer joy of that first big event in a book’s entry into the world.
Well, sorry, folks . . . I’m not.
Last Saturday, Jan. 26, will survive in my memory until it’s wiped out by dementia or death.
I knew the Borders store where I planned to have the launch was going to go the extra mile to make it special; there were going to be the gift-card drawings, the book giveaways, the grand prize. But I had no idea just how much farther the store had decided to go. Still, I spent sleepless nights worrying that only a handful of friends might show up. After all, this is book #3, not the first. I’m no longer a "novelty,’ no longer fresh in the way that J.T. is this year.
On top of that, the publicist at UNM Press had her baby earlier this month. In years past, she’d worked tirelessly to make sure the media was absolutely on top of my launches. The woman who is filling her shoes is very good, but doesn’t have the same super buy-in. And then there was the super-long, super-ambivalent review in the local paper. Most of my readers thought it was just fine. I sure didn’t.
So, I approached the signing with some trepidation. Would Borders be disappointed? Would their–and my — pr work be for naught?
I arrived at the store, carrying a tub of Atomic Fireball candies (WARNING: these things are HOT!), thirty minutes before show time. The first thing I saw when I approached the information desk was
Yeah. Pretty cool, huh?
Then I was whisked back into an office — away from hubbub — to sample this
Yes, that’s right. The Borders had invented a drink, "The Socorro Blast," for the event. It was a mocha delight with — as you can see — a huge pile of canned whipped cream, drizzled chocolate AND "red hots." It tasted great.
I chatted with the store’s GM for a few minutes while the Sales Manager went out to finalize arrangements. She came back and said, "Pari, it’s packed out there. And, I’ve got to tell you . . . the energy is just wonderful. It’s so positive, joyful."
I felt my shoulders relax a little. This wasn’t going to be a disappointment for the store or for me. Thank goodness.
Then it was time to be escorted out. When we entered the rotunda area, the audience burst into applause. There were people there from every single aspect of my life — from family-friends who knew my mom before I was born to supporters from the Do Jang, from my children’s former teachers to fans who’d driven more than an hour to get to ABQ — and the love in that room almost made me cry. (I love this picture of a small part of the group because everyone is smiling. Imagine 25 solid minutes of that kind of warmth.)
I told the audience that book launches, and signings where the authors speak, are special. They’re like live concerts. What’s said is unique, once-in-a-lifetime. For that reason, I decided to tell them WHY I wrote this particular book, why I focused on intolerance and used humor to make some of my points, how I hoped the book would have a good and strong life.
The long line after the event, the wonderful sales, the hugs and joyous wishes — all are kind of a blur right now. But I’m happy. I think my newest book has had a beautiful entry into the world.
And, you know what? In spite of those uncomfortable nights, in spite of the anxiety, I pray I never lose the excitement and wonder of it all . . .
So, everyone . . . Tell me about your favorite, most moving book event.
Tomorrow is the paperback launch of Patry Francis’s THE LIAR’S DIARY. Francis has a particularly aggressive form of cancer and won’t be able to do the kind of promotion I mention in today’s blog. Please, buy her book. Tell your friends. Let’s support ALL the writers we can — whether they’re able to have public appearances or not.