Yes, I am remiss in getting these detail of the book launch party posted in a timely manner. But there’s a good reason for that. A very good reason. The launch, pre and post, have been a cause for much self-reflection on my part. Which means that this is a very very long post. I didn’t have time to make it shorter.
Here’s the thing. The party was all about me. That’s a hard thing for an INFP, for an EXTREME INFP, and one that generally has issues with low self-esteem. In the weeks building up to it all, Hayley, my wonderfully energetic publicist, kept saying, “Are you getting excited about it? It’s going to be so much fun.” and I would say “sure” and hang up the phone and begin to worry that maybe I wouldn’t get excited and maybe it wouldn’t be fun and maybe the whole thing would be a flop and the only people who would come would be my devoted husband and in-laws and then my publisher would see that spending all this money on me and the book and the ARCs and everything was this big mistake because obviously I was not going to be able to pull off this competent writer thing. I think I did have one melt-down on the phone with Hayley when we were trying to decide what type of a launch to have and I was all for hanging it on some other community fund-raising event because people might come out to support a non-profit but I simply couldn’t imagine them coming to see me.
Reasons for me thinking that?
#1- I live in San Jose. Population, a million people give or take. Local news is not interested in a writer like me because I have no name (yet?) so coverage in the local paper (except for the online calendar which I don’t think anyone reads) is nada.#2 – I live in San Jose but I grew up in Concord which is about an hour away. But the thing is, I’m not in touch with anyone I grew up with so it was really a moot point. I don’t have a large circle of friends to draw from. My critique group is online and spread out coast-to-coast. I work with a bunch of mostly male engineers who indulge me my writing for children but, you know… So mostly thinking about the guest list was depressing. I felt like a social failure.
#3 – I may work in San Jose but I’m not active in anything. When I my kids were young and I lived out in Oakley we had baseball and soccer and gymnastics and 4H and horse shows and karate and PTO and so many events with so many people that the guest list would have been HUGE. I have only done 2 school visits since moving back to California so I didn’t even have those contacts to draw upon. (I hadn’t been doing visits because until fall of 2005 – the PB in print was spiritual and not appropriate for most schools.) The fact that I wasn’t active in my town was brought home to me when working on a recent grant application and community contributions counting for a large percentage of the “grade.” After reading that, I doubt I’ll finish the application.
So if you are an extreme INFP like me, perhaps you can understand my difficulty with the idea of the event. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be excited about it. But it really seemed like an uphill battle. Then I got a case of the gotta wannas. The gotta wannas are what you get when you want something badly enough to work your rear off to make it work even when the odds seem stacked against you. Publishing is a gotta wanna. This event turned out to be another. Thing is, I started off wanting it to be a hit for everyone else who wanted it to be a hit for me. I didn’t want to let down Nicole, my editor and publisher and a real rock to me or the energetic marketing team of Laura and Hayley who continually work like crazy to make me feel like a superstar or my husband EG who puts up with so much so I can write or my in-laws who are the best support system I could ever hope to have or Karen, my former agent who drove all the way up San Luis Obispo to be there or my current agent Jodi who finds time for me in the midst of the 1001 other things she has to do for people who are way more well known than I can ever imagine being and so on and so on and so on.
Leading up to the party I had a lot of time to think about two very important things. What to wear and what to read. The week before the event (I am good at leaving things to the last minute) I raced into Nordstroms and informed the salesgirl that I wasn’t leaving until I had one great outfit. It took close to 3 hours but we managed to find one. Another hour in the shoe department (alas, no red boots in sight ala thatgirlygirl but I did find some fabulous red shoes with the requisite pointy toe.) Deciding what to read took longer and right up until the moment I opened the book and started to read I was still changing my mind about that. It was helpful to have gone to Patty McCormick’s reading a few weeks before and see how she skipped through the book but still gave a nice representation of the story. I had many Post-it notes on pages of one book and then worried about losing the book before the reading. Things I also worried about: wondering where I would keep my purse while I was speaking, whether to pull all my hair away from my face (my mother’s voice in my head) or let it just hang down in front like usual, when to refreshen my lipstick so it would last the longest, when to go to the bathroom for the last time before things started, if I would mispronounce the word marmoset in the last poem I planned to read and what the chances were that I would either tip over on my 1″ heel or spill water down the front of my new and expensive clothes. Actually the chances were high on both of those things but luckily, neither happened.
The day of the event I went to work like any other day. My publicist called mid-day to go over a few things and said, “You’re at work?” My former agent called me from the road and said, “You’re at work?” I had lunch in the cafeteria with my friend MM and he said, “Aren’t you excited? I’m excited. Come on, get excited.” About then I started to worry that I WOULDN’T get excited and that I would mess the whole thing up. But about 2pm the adrenalin kicked in and I was like “OMIGOSH” it’s almost time for the party!
I went home early to be sure that I had plenty of time to get ready but of course I had several mini panic moments that almost made me late, the last of which was punching holes in the straps of my new shoes so they didn’t slip off my feet while I was walking. I could trip just fine without any help, thank you very much. I got to the store in plenty of time and lo and behold there was a parking place right in front of the store. This was a good thing except for the fact that it required parallel parking. Here’s hoping that none of the guests were in those cars I blocked while making a 10 point turn parallel parking exhibition.
The gracious Sandy (store events coordinator) was there to greet me with the words, “Oh you’re so early” which immediately made me feel like I had done something wrong until I remembered that I had told my former agent I’d be there early so we could chat. I went to the bathroom and pulled my hair back with combs, took them out then put them back in again. Put on more lip gloss and went out to wait for the food to arrive while they set up the tables and chairs.
Right about HERE is where the picture of the poster advertising my party and the book in the glass case outside of Books Inc would go had I remembered to take a picture. Use your imagination. Got it? It was better than that. And HERE is where the picture of the huge display of Hugging the Rock would go had I remembered to take a picture of it. They also had a few copies of Oliver’s Must-do List and Can I Pray With My Eyes Open? on display as well. Sigh. Next time perhaps I will remember.
Karen, (former agent) was the first to arrive with her dog Zoe. Zoe had a stroke a few weeks ago but pulled out of it and the store let her come in and stay for the event. (Books Inc, at least in Mountain View, is a very dog friendly store) In case it seems weird for my former agent to be there you should know that Karen was the person who first showed Hugging the Rock to Nicole at Tricycle. There’s another whole long story about what happened after that and how Karen stopped agenting and I got the wonderful Jodi as my new agent but I won’t go into all that here.
All at once it seemed like people showing up right and left.
Food arrived and had to be arranged. Husband arrived and my first question to him was did I need more lip gloss. He said no. I asked if my lips were sparkly shiny and he said yes. But even so I went back to the bathroom and put on more lip gloss. (I know what you’re thinking. Stop laughing please.) He took the camera and promised to shoot lots of pictures. I don’t think we had time to chat again until we were both home.
I lost track of who came in when but each time the door opened and I saw a familiar face it was like being at a wedding and realizing that everyone was there to see you (or me, as the case might be.) People from my work showed up. Hugs ensued. People my husband worked with walked in. More hugs. People I used to work with but who had been laid off arrived and everyone was catching up with everyone else. Some old friends from SCBWI were there and some new faces for me, new writers just starting out joined in the fun. Walter the Giant and Jack from my acting class and I am sure I am forgetting people and I apologize. My in-laws arrived bringing friends with them. Nicole, my publisher and her husband and her father and step mom were there. Summer, another Tricycle editor and Laura and Hayley in marketing and publicity arrived and even Dr. Melody, the surgeon who set my broken finger, managed to stay for most of the event before being called to the ER. Around 60 people were there all told. People I work with made a lot of comments about how fabulous I looked which leads me to believe I should consider dressing a bit better for my day job.
People were nibbling on food and mingling and I was trying to make sure that some people met one another but it was tough. Then suddenly it seemed like everyone was seated and it was time to get started.
Sandy did a wonderful job of introducing me. She went to my website and learned all about me and shared quite a bit during the intro. She read the book (yes, sometimes people introduce you that haven’t read your book.) She managed to get several plugs for people to go check out my website. And then she handed me the microphone.
I was ready. I had the book. I had the pages marked. But wait, I still had my glasses on.
This meant I could see the people in the audience great but I wasn’t sure if I could read. If I had had more experience with microphones (this was my first time with one) I might have had the presence of mind to stop and put it on the stand and adjust it low but instead, I just took it from Sandy and started to talk, thanking people for coming and then going right into the first poem. Luckily I guess I had read that one enough that I could manage it slightly blurry but as soon as I came to the end I took off my glasses. This of course meant that I could read just fine but the people in the audience were a bit blurry. This might have been a good thing after all. I could see the outline of the Tricycle Press people standing in the back of the room. (Did I mention that there were so many people there that it was standing room only?)
Laura (marketing manager) kept gesturing to me to practically eat the microphone. The only hiccup in everything was that the mic had a short and it kept cutting in and out. Since I had no idea what to do I just kept moving the microphone around but didn’t pause in my speaking. Later I had many people tell me that I handle the mic problems like a pro but really I think I was on auto pilot and wanted to finish the speaking part. I’m grateful for whatever instincts carried me through. I did not cry during the reading but I was afraid I might at either THE ROCK or MADISON. The last poem I read was THE TRUTH ABOUT FATHERS and I did not mispronounce marmoset. Whew! When I was done there was much clapping from the audience and much relief from me that I survived. Tricycle gave away a couple of copies of the book in a drawing and I sat down to sign them. When I looked up there was this tremendous line of people with more books for me to sign. I was, to say the least, a bit blown away.
The bookstore sold a lot of books and was very happy. My publisher and the rest of the Tricycle family kept telling me how proud they were of me. People came to give me more hugs, a few gifts, some flowers, and say goodbye. Then it was time for the part of the night I had been looking forward to most of all. Giving gifts to a few special people. I knew I could do flowers or chocolate but I really wanted something that would have staying power. The Tricycle Press crew is a new family for me and they have set the bar for my ideal publisher/editor/writer relationship.
So I had something special made for them. Rocks. Carved rocks. . There’s some writing on the back of each one too. It was great fun to hand them out and see their reaction. Michael at Let’s Rock did a fabulous job on them. They are even more spectacular in person.
I kept all my emotions under control until late in the evening when I was trying to tell the Tricycle team how much they meant to me and Laura said to me, “You get back what you give.” and I about lost it. In the several days post launch as I have been reliving it I find I am growing more, not less, emotional about it all. I think I finally have to let go of the image of the person I thought I was, the person I didn’t like so I couldn’t imagine anyone else liking either. I have to let go of the guilt of not being some imagined “perfect person” and realize that people like and accept me as I am right now. And if they all think I am a person of value then maybe I better start to believe in it too.
So that was my night of feeling like a super star. I wish you all could have been there to celebrate with me.
Oh, that sounds wonderful. I’m so glad it was such a great experience for you.
Thanks! It was a lot of fun.
Thanks for sharing, Susan.
I’m glad you had such an INCREDIBLE experience!!
It was weird how hard it was to write it all out because then it was more real which means that I really do need to rethink my thoughts about me.
I’m so glad it went perfectly. I wish I could have been there, but I knew that the people at the store would be great.
(And all Books Inc.s are dog friendly, of course!)
Cool to know that all Books Inc stores are dog friendly. Dogs and books just go together.
Great story, Susan, and congratulations! Thanks for sharing this.
Thanks for reading along with me.
It sounds so wonderful! I am happy for you!
Neat story, Susan. Thanks for sharing it.
You’re welcome. Thanks for reading.
WOW! What a wonderful post and launch party! I’m so happy for you! Wish I could have been there! YAY YOU!!
Thanks, Debbi. Next time maybe we’ll put a webcam up. Hmm…next time means I need to sell another book which means I need to write another book. Back to work for me.
I feel like I was there! Great post! So heartfelt and honest. I am so happy for you and while your book was on my “to read” list, I swear this just pushed it to the front and I’m going to buy it today! LOVE THE ROCKS you had made. WOW! Congratulations!
Thanks so much for the support. It was an amazing experience to be in a room full of so much love. I look forward to hearing what you think of the book.
HOORAY, SUSAN!!! You’re a rock star! I’m so very happy for you.
I’m an INFP, too. No wonder I like you! 🙂
Like minds and souls, no wonder.
It was so much fun.
Thanks for sharing this story. Sounds like a wonderful experience (except for all the pre-event angst, which I can so totally relate to)!
I keep telling myself that I need all those emotions for the writing but sometimes it’s just plain hard to live with them.
Awww, Susan…thanks for sharing. What a heartfelt wonderful post! (Shhh…I teared up in a couple places.)
Thanks for reading along with me. I am still alternating between jumping for joy and then crying for no apparent reason.
What a great night!
What a great night! You looked beautiful! The rocks are really cool! They look even better than they did in the first picture you showed us. I especially like the smaller, “BE A ROCK.”
Thanks for sharing the night with us. You *do* need to think of yourself in terms of the new you! You are fabulous, and your friendship means so much to me!
Re: What a great night!
Thanks Kim. Changing the way one looks at oneself isn’t easy but I guess that’s a journey I need to take.
I appreciate your friendship too.
Wow, what a great night! I wanna have one just like this next time. Last book I did a library event, and it was fun, but I want a party. Oh, and I forgot to take pics of my event too. I think I have two.
You look like you did great! No worries. And the rocks look awesome.
I’m glad now that I did it this way though the stress leading up to it all was tough. I’m supposed to have more pics coming from my former agent who wasn’t as emotionally involved and took a bunch of other photos. My husband, bless his heart, took about 50 pictures, all of me speaking.
That sounds like an amazing night Susan! I just love Hugging the Rock – I wish I could have heard you read from it.
Your Tricycle team sounds like they’ve become a “rock” for you!
Thanks Tamra! I MEANT to take my recorder but it might not have given a clear reading. I do plan to do some audio of some poems for my site and the Tricycle site.
And yes, the Tricycle team are all real rocks to me.
INFPs represent! (Except we would never yell something like that in public. 😉
I’m so glad it went well, and I really loved reading your account and reflections about it all. The best thing is, it’s only the beginning for you. Congratulations!
LOL – no, we would not yell like that in public. I watch people do things like that and wonder what it must be like to have that kind of an extroverted personality.
Thanks for the kind wishes.
*sniff, sniff* Sounds lovely. I’m so happy for you.
Thanks, Kristy. Wish you could have been there.
Awww! This is a touching post and I’m so glad it was a great event.
Thanks for the pics, I love to see them. My, my, you really have gorgeous hair.
You’re very welcome. More pictures coming next week. Loving husband took tons of me and not many of anything else.
And thanks on the hair. It was nice to “let it down” literally since so much of the time I have it up in a clip. It gets caught in lots of things. If I ever lose the excess weight I plan to cut it up to my shoulders but the likelihood of that happening is probably slim to none.
I’m so happy the night went well for you. The rocks were a fantastic idea! Congratulations and warmest wishes for many more successful launch parties!
Thank you. The rocks were so much fun. I couldn’t wait to see them open them.
I’m an INFP, too! (Although there is a dose of E in my I because I’m a ham in my element, but I’m not sure how I would do with this kind of event.)
Thanks for sharing this story, I really enjoyed reading it! Sounds like a fabulous night.
I can bring out traces of E if I am in a small group of say, oh 2 people. 🙂
Thanks for reading along.
Congratulations on such a wonderful party! (And i know just what you mean about being an INFP.)
I’m so glad you shared – I love the pictures and all the nitty gritty details. It was a success! YOU are a success! I wish I could have been there, too. At least I have your book, which I’m reading and hope to finish soon so I can post all kinds of wonderful things about it. 🙂
I always like to read the nitty gritty details about these sorts of things myself. I wish you could have been there too!
I look forward to hearing what you think of Hugging the Rock. This book needs lots of champions to help everyone get to know about it. It’s not like a big name author with 50,000 copies in a first printing that will be in every store almost automatically. So the more people that spread the word, the more it helps.
So that was my night of feeling like a super star. I wish you all could have been there to celebrate with me.
We were, because you told this tale.
I’m sitting here with my eyes streaming.
What a wonderful, wonderful night.
Thanks so much for sharing in my joy.
Susan! What a fabulous launch! I always have to remind myself to actually ENJOY my launch. Just be in the moment for a little bit and enjoy that it’s all about ME and of course my book. Once in a while we’re allowed to do this. Not too much, though, or people think you arrogant. Hey, I want arrogant.
That’s the key thing I struggled with, to just be in the moment. But I think I did better at it this time. It really was an amazing night. Yes, once in a while we are allowed.
Congratulations Susan, wonderful, wonderful!!!
Yeah! Thanks for sharing about wonderful launch! I was looking forward to hearing about it! What a great way to send your book out to the world!
Thanks. It WAS a great send off!
Very cool. Thanks so much for sharing. And yes, believe.
Easy to write the word believe but harder for me to do. I’m going to try though.
One day at a time. 🙂
Wow! Congratulations. It sounds like a beautiful night.
It was, thank you.
You sound SO much like me! I’m glad it was a great night…
oh – so you understand all the internal roller coasters, eh? It was a lot of fun and worth the emotional storm.
I am so glad you had a lovely evening. Hold tight to this post on the low days, to remind yourself how many people came out for you, even when you were sure it would only be the folks who “had to.”
You’re so right. The entire event was an emotional turning point to me and I need to be strong enough to listen to it.
Most excellent!! SO glad to hear everything went well– you and your book deserve it!!
This is great Susan
Simply great! 🙂
This is one of the most beautiful, funny, and poignant posts I have ever read.
Thank you. It took me a long time to write it so I’m glad to hear it was worth it.
Hooray! Congratulations on a great event! And I love the rocks!
Thanks! And the rocks were tres cool! Loved seeing the recipient’s reactions.
Congrats! Sounds like quite a success.
Hi to Zoe. Healing vibes to the pretty pup.
The rocks are perfect.
It was a success all the way around. And Zoe was a charmer, as always.
What a great night for you. Congratulations!
Thanks for the post. It was fun to read about it.
Thank you. I appreciate you reading along.
What a fantastic experience for you. And your book is lovely.
Thank you so much.
I had to laugh at the glasses episode. I can relate, completely. So happy for you.
Yes…it is more funny in retrospect. I really was worried that if I stopped reading I wouldn’t be able to start again.
What a wonderful experience you had, I’m very happy for you!
Congratulations! I can totally relate to the introvert thing. I do not like doing events like that, and in fact, I don’t even do book release events, like many author/illustrators do. Too much focus on me. I don’t even do birthday parties (for me), the wife’s been warned no surprises. Looks like a wonderful event, I’m happy it went over so well!
Thanks, Don. I’m trying to get better at the focus on me but it isn’t easy.
Sounds like you couldn’t have asked for a better book party….congrats!
78 comments! Look how many people love you. Wish we could have been there. It sounds fabulous. I’m so impressed with your stones too. What a wonderful reminder of this event. What could of been better….well, if Lee Bennett Hopkins were there perhaps. You did fantastic. You looked marvelous. Your book will sell wonderfully. Best to you. And when you get down, what a wonderful night to recall. Congrats.
Congratulations, Susan. Your launch party must have been wonderful. And there were so many people!!! WOW.
And I love love love the carved rocks!
You Made It!
The pictures look great. You look great. It sounds like it turned out to be a very successful evening. Best of all, you got through it gracefully. Congratulations, Susan. I’m sure the next event will be just as rewarding.
P. S. Love the rocks. What a great gift 😉
nice turn out
Congratulations! It looks like you have a strong team. 🙂
It’s amazing how much work goes into planning something like your event. I’ve only done a few small events so far. I have a book tour coming up in two weeks. My first!
Thanks for Sharing
I’m planning a launch party for my book, “Busted: Cyberstyle” in the near future. I was looking for some ideas and up popped your site.
I would definitely deem your party a success. I’m speaking into existence that mine will be as fun and successful as yours:)
Keep up the good work and continue to do what you were born to do… create! Guess what? I, too share a birthday with Earnest Hemingway and Robin Williams. Happy Birthday to us!