8 Things That Surprised Me About the Launch Publicity Process

Dear Blurbers,
I've devoted months now to the study of book publicity, its highs and lows. The entire purpose of this endeavor was to demystify the process, to let it become less frightening. And mostly that's worked. But I'm happy to report that there are still a few things about the launch process that came as a complete shock. They are:
  1. I'm so tired of me. My book is getting amazing blog coverage, with Q&As, interviews, reviews, giveaways and recipes! Yet every one of those requires me to write a Q&A, guest post, recipe, or at least a witty aside. By now I've written about what my family eats for dinner, why I try to limit sugar, which luxury item I'd most like to have with me on a nuclear submarine, how I felt the day I was dumped by my first fiction agent and why there's so much friction between working moms and stay-at-home moms. It's hard to make a cup of coffee without trying to think of how it might possibly be configured into a guest post. I'm so flattered by the opportunity, yet so tired of talking about myself.
  2. After Julia's Child received good trade reviews, freelance publicists solicited me. And that even an audio book narrator dropped me a line, hoping I'd keep her in mind if the book went to audio. 
  3. Even with glowing trade reviews and a history of living there, I got shut out of doing a bookstore event in New York City. Bookstores all over New England said "yes please!" But New York said "fuggetaboutit." A publicist gently explained to me just how few bookstores are really left in New York. "They only want celebrities. And I don't mean celebrity authors. Actual celebrities." 
  4. The number of people who show up at your bookstore events shall be inversely related to the number of hours you drove to get there.
  5. Every email I've written this month seems to consist of me either A) asking someone to do something on my behalf or B) thanking someone for doing something on my behalf. Next month I plan to not ask anyone for anything, even a cut of meat at the butcher's counter.
  6. I didn't know how easy it would be to make progress on another novel. I thought this month would be disastrous for adding words to a new WIP, but it's not. Working on a new story has been such an escape from the daily grind of pushing Julia's Child out into the world. All I want to do is hole up with the new book, with its fresh themes and issues.
  7. I'm afraid not to follow you. So many of my new twitter followers @Julias__Child are lovely book bloggers who are currently reviewing me, that it's hard to keep track. So I'm following everybody who does not reference sexual favors in his/her twitter bio. I nearly followed--and I'm not even kidding--a twitter account devoted to the promotion of grapeseed oil. 
  8. I feel like a spammer. I never wanted to be one of those people whose twitter feed and facebook stream were filled with reviews and giveaways of her own book. Here's the problem: book publicity is an exchange of services. Up and coming book bloggers need authors to help them spread the word. So it feels rude not to RT reviews / giveaways / Q&As that these sites produce. Seriously, what's the solution here?


  1. I hope it went (and continues to go) great! Congratulations!

  2. Just linked to this on my Twitter! Great post, I understand point one - how narcissistic!

  3. Great post!!!! And congrats on the book!!!!

  4. I love that working on your WIP is an escape from all the marketing. Yes, our social media has caused us to carve out hours a day to reciprocate those who tweet, bleep, or facebook us. Great observation on the inverse ratio of distance traveled to # of attendees. Funny. Isn't that the truth! Congrats on all of this, btw, and thanks for posting.

  5. OMG, and your post is on Women's Fiction Writers tomorrow!!!

    My favorite is #4. Or, I mean, my least favorite. I hope you'll get to Chicago!

  6. Thank you everyone! I almost didn't post this, because I wanted to avoid any hint of complaint. It's a blessing to be published at all, and I've never minded the idea that authors should be deeply involved with their book publicity.
    I wrote the post because I was surprised, even after all my preparation, how much unease I still have about the process. I want to be able to treat this part like a job, not a personal mission. But it's just so difficult to uphold that outlook.
    But I shall soldier on. Once more into the breach!

  7. Sarah, as someone who just recently had the teensiest, tiniest "break" as a writer, I feel like a spammer, too. I have had to hit up every friend, acquaintance, relative, and cousin's friend's fiance's ex-boyfriend in order to stir up enough support to ensure my continued career as a writer. But you know what? If any of those people asked me to visit their blog, comment on their post, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    And so would you. People support each other, and sometimes you are on the asking end of that and sometimes you are on the giving end of that. If your book does well, you will be able to give so much more and do so much more for those people who might ask in the future.

    It all comes out even in the end.

    1. So true! There are a lot of other bloggers & authors I'd really like to help, now.

  8. You seem like you're doing great despite all the challenges -- I hope it continues to go great for you! #6 is funny but totally makes sense. Perhaps it'll be a great writing period for you.

  9. Hey kiddo,
    You're the birthday girl whether you like it or not. Wear that paper hat proudly!


  10. Great post! I'm reading the book!! Something is working! Truly, author of LIE

  11. Oh gosh, guest post fatigue! Trying to come up with things to talk about is all-consuming. Completely sympathize.

  12. This post made me laugh out loud (especially #1). You don't sound like a complainer at all, you just sound honest. I wish I had an answer for you on that last one (feeling like a spammer). To tell you the truth, I don't mind when offers from book sites show up in my feed. I unfollow when people retweet fast food ads.

  13. I'm also getting swept up into the promotion party as my debut novel publication date nears, and every day feels terribly incomplete. I never feel as though I am doing enough promotion, enough networking, enough thank yous. I would LOVE to escape into some new work but at the same time I want this baby to be well-clothed when it bundles out there, and strong enough to totter across the street.

    Thank you for paving the way and I hope Julia's Child enjoys great success.