The Countdown

While working through all the “best practices” and advice for a successful book launch, one of the recommendations is to post a countdown. As I think about countdowns, I realize the very act of creating a countdown has layers of emotional significance. (I have to thank my AI intern for some of these ideas.)

Anticipation: Undoubtedly, this is the most indicative of how I am feeling about my new book coming out. As each day draws me closer, I can feel my insides start to murmur. It’s not a full rolling boil yet, but a kind of trembling of the waters. Most people might recognize this feeling of anticipation for a personal event in their lives, like a wedding, the birth of a child, a graduation, or a big vacation. But I can attest, a new book coming out is very much like the wait for a new baby, both in planning and in wondering how it will “come out.” God forbid someone calls my baby ugly.

Anxiety: Generally, no matter how much anticipation and excitement an event might carry with it, there will also be anxiety and stress. It is, after all, a deadline, and most deadlines include lists of things that must be accomplished before the fateful day. Like any event, I must ensure that the venue is confirmed and the set-up is planned, the food and drink is decided upon and how it will be ordered and prepared, the musician and entertainment is in place, the agenda for the day is created, the volunteers are identified and given tasks and training, the invitations are distributed, and the publicity is planned and executed. And worst of all, there is that niggling fear that no one will attend. I had a birthday party as a child like that: worst feeling ever!

Celebrations: Some countdowns are more global and shared by the population at large, like a holiday. At my house, I have at least one (if not three) Advent calendars to countdown to Christmas. I still have the same calendar I used with my sons (now in their early thirties) which is a series of tiny books that tell the Christmas story. Now it’s my grandson’s turn. In any case, a celebration countdown implies there will be a party at the end. Sometimes, however, the countdown ends with a letdown. For this reason, I confess, I tend to go to sleep before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Of course, a book launch is my personal celebration: I’m the one who is ready to pop a cork while my guests get to watch. LOL

Milestones: Certainly, countdowns are the norm for milestones. In preparation for my first retirement (I’m actually working again and get to have a second retirement in a couple of years), I created a child’s paper chain, one loop for every month. I started my countdown with fifty-two loops. As my chain got shorter and shorter, the excitement built. But there was also a kind of nostalgia. I knew I would miss my colleagues and the personal sense of fulfillment I had while serving others in the library. Some might think the launch of a third book would be a letdown, but honestly, it’s not so. With each book, I have learned many lessons and handled the process differently. It’s an end and a beginning at the same time.

Closure: For some, the countdown is actually a coming to the end of something significant, maybe a sorrowful relationship or the closing of a business. It could even be a countdown with an unclear end, such as a life-threatening illness. That is not how I view this countdown at all, although, I can say that I look forward to the preparations coming to an end; yes, I will be grateful.

As of this writing, I am thirty days out. And I am inviting you to be a witness to the official birth of Children in the City of Czars: A Novel. And just so you know, the sister/sequel to this book, Swan out of Water: A Lebedev Orphan Novel, has been started in earnest and yep, a completely new countdown has begun.