I like to think of myself as a reasonably well balanced person. I’ve got a master’s degree in counseling, which should mean something, right? I practice mindfulness. I do yoga. I journal – not as much as would be good for me, but enough to keep my psychological components in reasonable order.
At a bare minimum, when I’m in a hurry, or busy, I remember to breathe.
But here I am, with another book launch coming up, and a Meltdown Event is threatening. I already had one, but it was relatively small and I weathered it okay with help from my writer friends. I would prefer not to have another.
In fact, I would love to be able to shrug my shoulders and say, “What will be, will be. The book is out of my hands and I’m shifting my focus to other things. Worrying and fretting won’t change anything.”
I could still say that. But saying it isn’t going to stop me from fretting and angsting. A part of me persists in believing that if I put enough emotional energy into the launch it will help make the book a success. You know, that psychic ability all writers have to will readers into buying their books.
Now, I know for a fact I am not the only one who comes down with a case of Release Meltdown every time a book comes out. I think, on some level, it’s inevitable and even healthy. We put time, energy, and a big chunk of ourselves into every book we write. We fret because we care, and caring is important.
There are some things we can do to help keep us from an emotional shipwreck, though, and I figured I’d share my list with you.
- Have a To Do List for the launch, and complete it. That way, you are actively doing something to help your book. Once it’s out there, you’ll know that you did everything you could, and can hopefully make some peace with that.
- Make time for yoga, breathing, meditation, journaling, exercise or whatever helps you manage your emotional state. Yes, pre-launch is busy and launch can be crazy but you’ll actually get more done in a more effective manner if you can keep your anxiety to a low background buzz. High anxiety levels shut off the pre-frontal cortex and shift you into survival thinking mode, which is not a good place to be unless something is actually chasing you.
- Be writing another book. This might be the most important survival tip. If you’re writing another book, you’ll be a little less invested in the one that is launching. You’ll be creating something new and wonderful. If your release book is tanking, you can tell yourself that this new book will be better.
- Avoid looking at Goodreads and Amazon reviews, and skip checking those Amazon rankings. I know from experience that staring at Author Central and willing that little graph to rise only raises blood pressure and anxiety. (This is hard. I’ve been checking the rankings ever since Dead Before Dying was up for pre-order. Yesterday I swore off them and am going to try to keep to that.) As for reviews – bad ones are depressing and infuriating, good ones make me scared I can never live up to expectations. It’s best to avoid the suckers as much as possible.
- Tap into your writer friends. Family and friends may or may not be supportive. They’ll never be able to really understand how it feels to have your book out there being scrutinized by strangers. Your writer friends will get it. They can commiserate, instill hope, and talk you down out of the trees. One of mine even sent me chocolate penguins for luck.
- When it comes, have your meltdown offline. If none of this works and you do have a meltdown, don’t do it on social media, or your blog, or anywhere online. No matter how stupid or horrible or moronic or evil some reviewer might be, avoid the impulse to tell them so. No drunk tweeting or Face Booking. No self pity in public. Keep your image professional and drown your sorrows in private.
And that’s my entire hoard of tricks. We’ll see how well it works out. If you catch me online in any state of outrage or self pity, please smack me upside the head with a wet fish and tell me to step away from the interwebs. I promise to do the same for you.
Kerry is the queen of the misfit story. She writes fantasy that has its teeth sunk into reality, mystery that delves into the paranormal, and women’s fiction that embraces the dark and twisty realms of humanity.