Jan 30

The First 6 Months – a Look-Back on a Self-Published Book Launch

A race to the finish line! Book publication! Launch parties! Six months later and now what?

Straining to cross the finish line during the hectic months of July, August, September and October, I came to realize that I hadn’t finished a race, but instead have begun the next chapter of my journey. It’s a familiar theme.

Behind the Door Marked “Private”: Confessions of a Small Town Bed and Breakfast Owner  is now out there, in people’s hands, being read. It’s on Amazon.com, both as a hard copy and as a digital version. It’s also being ordered from people in Canada and across the USA via Facebook requests and on my web site. I’m getting e-mails from people telling me how much they love it. Very nice.

Yes, the launch party was a great success, and the Lanesboro Arts Center continued with steady sales through the Christmas selling season. The collaborative event with Chef Stephen Larson at his restaurant, QUARTER/quarter wasn’t particularly well-attended, but it was still a success, thanks to the Harmony Arts Board. Every author should get in touch with those small-town Arts Boards to help set up such events; but what about the independent book-sellers? My first bookstore event at The Book Shelf in Winona, about 40 minutes away, was held on a particularly nasty winter night, Minnesota-style. But people showed up. In fact, that particular reading/signing event unearthed a long-lost friend who happens to live in Winona nowadays. She brought her 90-something year old mother who was using a walker, and who had in her possession the very old registration ledger she used when she checked guests into her little hotel some 50 or 60 years ago. Cost of a night’s stay was pretty reasonable: $1.40. But it did not include breakfast. That was extra. Thanks to Chris for hosting the event, and for continuing to sell my books in his great store. Along with most independent booksellers, he takes great pride in selling books that you can hold in your hand, turn the pages and make scribbling notes in the margins if you are so inclined. None of that digital book selling, thank you very much. And I love him for it.

Hand-delivering the official report to the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council secretary, having made the 45-minute drive up to Rochester to make sure it got into her hands by the 30-day deadline, was a huge weight off my shoulders. Receiving the letter from SEMAC stating that they had officially accepted my report with no further questions was amazing. I could hear the final ticking of a timer that had been wound up for a nine-month countdown, with the “DING!” releasing me to sigh in relief. Thank you for the money, SEMAC! Thank you to the Minnesota State Legislature! Thank you to the McKnight Foundation! You’re all tops! To be seen as not only a writer, an author, a story-teller, but also to be supported as an artist – now that’s really something. Really supported. Not just on paper, not just with words, but with actual money. Wow. Lots of thanks are running through my head and my heart.

Speaking of thanks, well, the thanks have been given, with hugs, kisses, thank-you notes, letters, and checks written. Everyone involved has gone back to their other stuff. You know…we all have things to do. Sarah, who had the patience of a saint, is out there doing her photography business. If I need her for something or other, she’s right there, on my shoulder, giving me the answer, pointing the way. My guardian angel. Eric is working the Amazon.com beat. Cathy is ready when I need more books shipped from the printers. Husband Dave tells guests about the book, which sits on the front desk in the foyer, on a nice bookstand. The cleaning ladies dust the front desk and shift the books around so they are highly visible when guests check in and check out, or when friends stop by. Thanks, folks!

As a side note, reviews are really a big deal. I appreciate it so much when people take the time and effort to post one! Getting people during the first month or two, before the official launch, who said they would read my book and post a review on Amazon.com and/or on my website was in many cases an exercise in futility. Even my own kids haven’t done it, and I have four of them, including my step-daughter Jill, plus the three spouses of my kids.  But on the other hand, the most unexpected people have posted reviews, like the owner of a Michigan B&B who identified with some of the tales I shared. I have lots of friends who shoot me e-mails, or who have enthusiastic kudos expressed in person while passing each other on the street, even on Facebook, but I guess it’s my challenge to get them all somehow integrated into the reviews sections that people read when making a decision whether or not to buy a book. That’s one of the tasks for the next six months…

Let the next six moths carry me on. Now that we are closed for three months, and I have a little time to unwind, I am looking forward to doing some pretty serious blogging, and to chatting about B&B ownership! Send me your questions, send me your comments, tell me about your stories. I will listen, commiserate, and probably offer unwanted advice, because that’s in my nature. Sigh.