What I’ve Learned from Book Birthdays…Celebrate!

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A few years ago, Anne Lamott wrote a funny essay about book releases. In it, she describes looking forward to her Release Day with the anticipation most of us have for a birthday or New Years Eve. Another author friend had a book coming out on the same day, and they talked endlessly about how the actual day would feel. On her big Pub Date, Anne Lamott wakes up so hopeful for what this glorious day will bring. She gets dressed up and waits by the phone. She’s so excited, she can’t eat. She’s waiting for the fantastic news that her book has sold one billion copies. This is the BIG DAY, after all. This is the day when everyone can finally read her work and understand what she was doing all those hours she skipped lunches to stay home and write.

Only, of course, the calls never come, the book doesn’t sell one billion copies, and everyone has forgotten about all the hours she woke up before the sun to finish her book. That afternoon, her author friend calls her and they both start laughing. Because they realize how ridiculous it is to have such high expectations for a day that turned out to be nothing.

This seems to be the way every book release goes. It feels like it should be such a monumental day, but it’s not actually. To point–publishers release books  on Tuesdays because these are the MOST MUNDANE day of the week. Seriously. The whole publishing industry agrees that books should be released into the world on anonymous, boring days like Tuesdays. Maybe it’s so people will pay attention to the book. Or maybe it’s because pub dates can feel kind of mundane.

I think this is because there are so many small steps in a book’s release, it’s hard to pin down which milestone is worth celebrating.  The day you type The End in your manuscript? The day you send it to your editor? The day you see your cover for the first time? The moment your rip open the box of your author copies? Or…the book’s actual birthday, the one when you release your thoughts into the world? They’re all little celebrations, but doesn’t a book deserve one day when you can properly celebrate it with the whole fancy-dinner-yummy-cupcakes day?

Here’s what I’ve learned…Pub Date is that day. All the other little steps are fun, and certainly important, but the actual finish line is Release Day. And here’s the more nuanced lesson I’ve learned about Pub Date. Family Trees and Olive Branches is my tenth book, and I’ve had Pub Dates that went down like one that Anne Lamott describes in her essay. But I’ve learned over the years, that every book needs its day. And that day should be it’s Release Day.

After all, so many considerations go into what day Release Day should be: what month would resonate most with readers? What other books will be released on that same Tuesday? How does this Release Date fit in with the editor’s timeline? What day makes the most sense for the Marketing Department? What season corresponds the best with this particular book (Case in point:  God Loves Moms was out around Mother’s Day;  Last Summer at Eden was in time for summer; and Family Trees & Olive Branches just in time for Thanksgiving. Love Rules was also supposed to be around Mothers Day, but we ran into some issues.)

But here’s the deal…friends and family want to celebrate what’s important to you. They often just don’t know. I want to celebrate my friends’ promotions, or the lost four pounds, the clean closets, and the potty-trained toddlers. I want to hear about the baby that finally slept through the night and the teenager who finally unloaded the dishwasher. Bring it on. Let’s celebrate.  Let’s eat cupcakes and get dressed up for lunch. God is doing little miracles all the time. He loves celebrations. We love celebrations.

So, I’ve finally started doing exactly this. I started by telling my family that Family Trees & Olive Branches would be out on Tuesday, November 7, and that would be a really big day for me. Mike took the day off so we could celebrate. That’s the first time in TWENTY years.  I took my friends to lunch and made dinner reservations. My cupcake-snob friend brought over Houston’s finest treats. And the kids told their classes that IT WAS A VERY EXCITING DAY in our house and we went out for a fun dinner that night.

Because that’s what I learned. A book release may be on a Tuesday, the most mundane day of the year. But this is the birth of a small miracle from God. A book–whether it’s your tenth, your hundredth, or your first–represents so much solitude and hard work and faith and research and growth and hope.

What more can you do for that… but celebrate?

 

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