Monday, March 23, 2015

What, me worry? Pre-launch jitters

HALLIE EPHRON: So my book comes out tomorrow and my stomach is doing flip flops and I can't sleep I am so anxious. I tell myself: Hey, there are people who will love it and people who won't. It's all about personal taste. And besides that, getting reviewed at all is a gift.

But still I read reviews with my eyes squinched, half-closed so I can shut it down if there's a snarky (and probably valid, sadly) remark about me or my lovely characters or my clever plot. You'd think with this being my 9th novel I'd have gotten over it.

And because misery loves company, I was telling Jacqueline Winspear (whose 11th Maisie Dobbs mystery, "A Dangerous Place," debuted last week; USA Today ran a glowing review), how nervous I was, expecting her to be all lah-dee-dah and tell me that yes, it does get better.

But no. She said she dreads these before-launch days as much if not more than me. I found this oddly reassuring.

So, dear Reds, does pre-launch give you the jitters? Or is it just an exciting version of "anything can happen days?" And while we're at it, what's your cure for nausea and insomnia?

LUCY BURDETTE: First of all, we can't wait for pub day so everyone can read this great book!

I kind of like the pre-launch days because anything is possible. To me the more stressful time is launch week itself--waiting for those reviews to hit and watching the silly numbers--which truly don't mean much because we don't have access to the whole picture.

But I can't imagine that any writer has a thick enough skin so that they aren't nervous...wouldn't that mean you hadn't put everything you had into it?

RHYS BOWEN: Having had a book out three weeks ago and having returned home from an exhausting three days in Southern Cal last night I'm still in full launch jitters mode. Really manic, swinging between elation and despair.

I saw who had a new book out on the same day and resigned myselt to not making the New York Times list with this book. Then I found that the Huffington Post had done a feature on the seven most suspenseful new books and I was one of them!

So ups and downs. Knowing I shouldn't read reviews, especially Amazon, but doing it anyway. The thrill of seeing my new book on the shelf in one store and the agony of defeat when a Barnes and Noble has never heard of it.

I'm trying to learn never to expect too much and being pleasantly surprised by the good things. But I haven't learned it yet. Probably never will.

So Hallie, enjoy every moment.
Tell yourself that you are luckier than several zillion writers who are dying to have a book published or who have self-published it but nobody will ever know about it. You're in the top tier, the tip of the pyramid. It will be a brilliant success!

HALLIE: As a wise woman once said... well, what you just said, Rhys. And congratulations on the Huff Post call out! Wow!!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hallie, I'm excited about your book launch for you!! And I have no doubt that reviewers AND readers will love it. It's a great book.

That said, however, I sympathize with you. I try not to look at numbers (although for the first few days it's impossible not to...) I wish I had never heard of Amazon ranking. I dread reviews, even though over the course of sixteen books the good have certainly outnumbered the bad.

Still, there's always a first time, and THIS one could be the book that is a total flop, right? I try (and mostly succeed) not to read any reviews on Amazon. And I tell myself repeatedly that all I can do is write the best book I can, and then go on to the next one.

Cure for nausea and insomnia?  Read a good book:-)

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Oh, I was a mess at first — a total mess. But with each book, more things seemed to happen, both good and bad in so-called real life.

For my last book launch for THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT,  I was in the hospital with Miss Edna — and, honestly, I really didn't care about reviews or really anything much at all besides her and my family. My book tour that summer was plagued with worries I'd have to fly home at a moment's notice for an emergency or worse.

Which all sounds pretty depressing — except that it give great perspective on the vicissitudes of this business. And I'm grateful for that.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Here's what I think.  The only thing worse than prelaunch--is NO pre-launch. Right? AmIright?

So--easier said than done, I know--count your blessings, this is wonderful, your book is wonderful, this is it it IT, and the hard part is over (sort of, except the air travel and smiling)(but that can be wonderful), you've written it, it has a gorgeous cover and a gorgeous inside and everyone is going to clamor for it.

My cure for insomnia and nausea is, well, nothing. I'd say shopping, but you don't do that and it doesn't work anyway, or wine, but that way lies madness and you can't drink during the day.


Really--how about simply TRY to be happy. Your stomach is hurting and you can't sleep because you are EXCITED! Yay.

(And you can do the same for me in October.)​

HALLIE: I AM happy, because while I'm posting this I get a link to a review of my book in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It's a rave, and ends with:  
"So hooray for Hollywood, hooray for homicide, and hooray for Hallie Ephron, who begins with a seed of truth and grows it into a bumper crop of crime and cynicism."

That helps. In fact, it's probably the best antidote for this version of anxiety.

What do you do to keep quiet butterflies in your stomach and lull yourself into tranquility. I'm listening!


  1. I suppose everyone has things that makes them nervous and give them butterflies; unfortunately, I have no idea how to dispel that. Does it help to know there are lots of us who can't wait to read your book and we already know that it is great?

  2. Hooray for Hallie, indeed. I was lucky enough to read a galley and it is WONDERFUL. So excited for you!

  3. Thanks Susan!

    Joan, my daughter recommends meditation. I love the idea... in principle. But it's hard and you have to really slow down to do it. Any meditators out there?

  4. Ohmmmm. It helps, when I remember to do it!

    Ginger tea for the tummy wimbles, Hallie. It saves my life, on so many levels, and I carry some with me wherever I go.

    So looking forward to this book, and I am wishing you a jillion rave reviews, my dear.

  5. Somehow I don't think what I do will help, but it definitely avoids stress. Since I am unlikely to make any bestseller list no matter what I do (mid list author and proud of it) I don't do anything when a new book launches. In fact, I rarely do signings or solo talks at all and haven't for years. I mostly stay here in rural Maine and write more books. #51 (Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe, Severn House) came out at the beginning of this month. On the other hand, last year at Malice Domestic, I had a panic attack followed by insomnia every single night. I don't usually have any trouble doing workshops, panels, or interviews, so I figure this just confirms that I should go back to staying out of the limelight. That probably isn't a solution most writers are willing to embrace, especially when I add that I don't do most social media either. Can you say dinosaur?

  6. Kathy, you were a big cheese at Malice last year--being nervous makes sense! And 51 books, wow! whatever you're doing works for you.

  7. ps I finally read Hallie's short story prequel last night--it's fabulous. So if you haven't read the book yet, and haven't read the story, go and download it ASAP.

    You'll be glad to have that extra insight going in!

  8. So excited for you, Hallie! And completely bummed that I can't make the party tomorrow night, but since I'll only be a few hours out of surgery, that ain't happening.

    I think exercise is a great antidote to almost anything stressful. A brisk walk in the cold sunshine. Or two!

    Congratulations on that great review, too. And a big virtual hug.

  9. Hallie, you have my very best wishes! As I ponder over this whole topic of how people receive a new book -- the truth is - simple - but very hard to accept - by both writers and the friends who love them: reading a book is SOOOOO subjective. So much depends on where the reader is in his/her life at that moment of opening Page one... we respond differently at different times to a book. As much as we want to love the new book of a writer we really care for and admire - circumstances in our personal/professional lives dictate how we are going to respond from the gut as well as the brain. I'm thinking of an author I care about deeply and sincerely - but the books simply make my eyes glaze over and I would not want that author to know for anything! There is a magic spark between the page and the reader - like falling in love - and so it will always be. I wish we could all be serene about a new work - and know we did our best with it - and it does not matter is someone loves or dislikes my creative child... But, there is no simple answer. It is more important to love the writer as person than the written piece. Thelma Straw in Manhattan, who also tries to wear a thick skin

  10. Night Night Sleep Tight is a fantastic book Hallie. You have nothing to worry about.

    I know that won't help, because regardless of what we do, we all fear that we are going to be outted as fraud at some point.

    Remembering that EVERYONE feels that way is what gets us through each day.

    That said, I ope to have my review up on the blog soon. I'm running a bit behind due to some unexpected medical issues for my Mom, but she is finally back home again and recovering nicely. Getting old sucks!

  11. Karen ... Ginger tea? I like ginger tea. Good thing it's not chamomile or mint. Feh. Will try.

    And THANKS! Good wishes are a terrific antidote.

  12. Kathy Lynn Emerson: I love your books! Wow, really, you do nothing? That would push me right over the edge. I need to flail, even when I know I'm flailing at least I'm doing *something*...

  13. Lucy, Edith, thanks! AND Edit I'll be Lucy is with you on the calming powers of exercise. Stretching and yoga esp.

  14. I'm really looking forward to this, Hallie. Congrats on the reviews.

    My cure for nerves? Acknowledge them, but don't let them overtake you. Trying to say, "Oh, I shouldn't be nervous. I'm not nervous" never works. At least not for me. Embrace the nerves and move on anyway, that's my trick.

  15. Thelma: so wise. Really.

    Kristopher: Thanks for the kinds words, and sending good wishes that your mom stays on the mend.

  16. Mary: EMBRACE THE NERVES! I want that bumper sticker.

  17. Hooray for Hallie! I read the short story prequel and now I really can't wait. I just know the reviews are going to be over the moon, and deservedly so.

  18. Congratulations on the new book, Hallie! I saw that fabulous review from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and thought, this book sounds so intriguing! Gotta get it!

    And I have to agree with Rhys when she said about book-release time: "Really manic, swinging between elation and despair." Wow, is that exactly how it always feels! :) (But hopefully mostly elation!!)

    Kristopher - hugs to you and your mom!

    And happy, happy release, Hallie!!

  19. I highlighted your book as one I'm excited about reading soon on March 4th on my blog. Got some very positive comments and several saying they were already looking forward to it. And I'm so looking forward to it as my next read. Or maybe the one after that. LOL

    And try some yoga breathing or, as it seems pretty much the same, Lamaze breathing. We all remember that, right? Do you know, they don't really teach that so much anymore? Just a little tidbit. :-)

  20. Ditto on the ginger tea for a nervous stomach/nausea. And for meditating--try a walking meditation--exercise for body as the mind lets go. As Mary suggested, the trick is not to try and not think about your nerves. Whatever thoughts come your way, give them a gentle nudge away--as if you are sending them off on a little wave of water or pouf of air. And keep walking and absorbing the sights and sounds and smells around you.

    And I think you have to have that nervous tension--whenever you create something--and you know you have your craft down--it's that spark that you hope for--the spark that ignites between the reader and the written page. Here's to many more positive reviews, Hallie--all well-deserved--and many more books from the flow of your creative mind!

    And Kristopher--yes, getting old can really suck at times like this with your mom.

  21. Ignoring the question and just want to say that putting your writing out in public must make you feel incredibly vulnerable. Of course. May all the comments be happy ones, may all the sales be brisk, and may you truly believe the reality that you are heading to where you wish (to be).

  22. Hallie, I know you'll be nervous no matter how many times you hear today that your launch day tomorrow will be a great success because you are launching an amazing book. But, you are giving the reading world a great mystery with that special insider's view into the Hollywood of your childhood. Readers are going to love it!

    I promise to add to Kristopher's promotion of it (which is nicely featured on his blog today with the jacket description for books coming out this week) by posting my review of it on my blog, too. Oh, and please post a picture on here or on FB of you wearing the pink pearls for the launch.

  23. Hallie, what a fantastic review!! Memorize it as part of your meditation:-) Everyone will love this book.

    Kristopher, sending good thoughts to you and your mom. Glad she's doing better.

  24. Congratulations, Hallie - I've had your book on pre-order for a while and can't wait to read it!

    I really like this comment from Kathy Lyn: "mid list author and proud of it" I remember when I worked in a bookstore back in the early '90s, that was a goal to aspire to. The craziness of the Internet and chaotically changing publishing industry has changed all that. Of course, who wouldn't want to be a bestseller, but there is something satisfying about the thought of a long, reliable midlist career :)

  25. Kaye, Elizabeth: THANKS!

    Kay: great advice... only Lamaze didn't do me that much good for me way back then

    FChurch: Walking and pouffing

  26. Denise Ann - very perceptive. I think that's exactly why it took me so long to get up the courage to put my work out there.

  27. Hey Hallie,

    I have no tricks or tips about those darned butterflies. Maybe Spock didn't get 'em, but all of us with accessible emotions do.

    It doesn't help, I'm sure, when your friends and fans tell you that you're a wonderful writer and the new book will be a smash. So I won't waste my breath, but it's all true.

    I'm really looking forward to Night, Night and expect by next week bunches of others will be saying what the Richmond book reviewer said - don't miss this book!

    Good luck getting through the next few days and ride the wave as best you can.

    BTW: I totally get the concept of not being able to slow down enough to meditate. Totally.

  28. Congratulations, Hallie! I say embrace the nerves. Let them remind you that you're doing something brave and wonderful, something not everyone can do. And certainly not everyone can do it as well as you can. Enjoy!

  29. Congrats, Hallie! I'm looking forward to reading this one (as I do all your books).

    If it's the middle of the night and I can sleep because of nerves, the only thing that helps is turning on the light and reading.

  30. Thanks, Brenda, Tammy!

    You're right, Lisa, that's what I should do. Because at 10 at night if I try to read I conk out fast.

  31. Lucy, Hallie and Kim--thank you. And Hallie, right back at you. I'm set to download the new one onto my iPad first thing tomorrow morning and start reading with lunch (prime reading time). Looks like my husband will be reading right along with me. He just finished There Was an Old Woman and loved it.


  32. Okay, that was dumb. Hit the publish butto too soon. Aargh!


  33. I think fear is proof you are doing something courageous and challenging yourself. Living on that edge and testing yourself is what makes it all fun. I'm so happy for you. Congratulations!

  34. Thanks, Suzanne! We'll all be rooting for you when your next book comes out and you're cool as a cucumber...

  35. Hallie, I received a copy of your book today and will be starting on it tonight. Looks like I won't get much sleep.

  36. You are all my writing heroes. What would I do without your brilliant books and blogs? You are my bests!

  37. Hallie, your book is just as fabulous as you are--loved every word! But I know what you're going through all too well, since I'm right on your heels with my own book.

    Hank said it best here: what a wonderful problem to have, worrying about launching a new novel, when you think of the various alternatives...Congratulations! It will be a smashing success, I'm sure.

  38. You want the launch to go well so of course some jitters are expected.