Susanne Dunlap

Of launch days and being a writer

In Random thoughts, The writing industry, The writing life, Writing Craft on March 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm

It never gets old, but it’s always a letdown.

Today my second young adult historical novel, Anastasia’s Secret, releases in paperback and e-book. Granted, it’s been out in hardcover for a year now, but these new formats should extend the reach, being both more affordable and more convenient for readers. And my publisher is pretty strict about release days: books aren’t actually shipped from online sellers until they say.

So it should be a big deal. Yet one of my writer friends quoted another of them as saying that release days are “dull thuds.”

I think before I was published, I had the image that choirs of angels would accompany my books to the shelves of bookstores on the day they were released. For my adult novels, I at least had appearances scheduled around the time of the release, and even if only a few people came, it felt special to have my book featured in the window of a bookstore, with a poster of the cover furnished by the publisher.

But the YA world is different, so I’ve discovered. Bookstore appearances are nonexistent, unless you’re a really big name–especially in new York, where I’m living now. My readers are too young to drive, generally, and so they have to persuade a parent to bring them. This only adds to the “dull thud” experience of release day.

What’s hard is keeping sight of the accomplishment, of making sure I don’t subside into actually feeling sorry for myself when in fact I should daily remind myself that I have done something beyond the comprehension of many people, I have not only written numerous books (hard enough in itself) but had five of them published by major new York publishers (soon to be six).

Life is crazy sometimes. Why is it so difficult simply to live in the moment, enjoy the day? Why are we always striving, always trying to do and be more? I guess it’s human nature, part of a survival instinct so fundamental as to be ineffable. I’ve read in some places that our children no longer have those instincts, that we’re becoming a nation of complacent non-achievers because the next generation has reacted against their hyper-achieving, anxious parents, who spent all their time telling their kids how special they are, no matter what. I don’t see it with my daughters, of whom I’m incredibly proud, and who have strivings of their own. Maybe that’s another tendency to guard against: the tendency to generalize because it makes a good sound bite.

In any case, it’s release day, and I’m enjoying it. Even if no one else in the world (aside from my family, Facebook friends and anyone who reads this blog) has any idea. The time is mine. The day is mine.

  1. It is amazing to see the similarity in emotion of successful writers and those who are just emerging. This modest confession lacks the arrogance the public feels exists in the minds of authors. Look: they have as much doubt in their creative pieces as anyone else.

  2. Sums it up exactly.Enjoy the day.I think most of us in the creative arts, not just us writers, have the same fears, hopes and doubts. Some are just better at hiding them than others.

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