After two years of blogging my way through memoir writing, here's a final recap of how the months leading up to launch day went, how the book is doing so far, and the answer to "What's next?"
For two years now, I have occasionally blogged about writing my book. As I peck away at the keyboard to write a final "Writing my first memoir" post, I smile because this keyboard tells a story better than I can in many ways.
Let's just say we've spent a lot of time together and it's a good thing I excelled in seventh grade typing class and know which keys go with each letter. Also, I'm thinking the letters a, s, e, r, t, o, l, m and n are the ones most commonly found in the English language.
The Book-Writing Journey
If you keep up with my blog, you know I have posted occasional updates as my memoir has come together. Here's an overview of the journey, which I began tracking in September 2018:
- Part 1 (Getting serious, having my first "writer's retreat" and finishing part 1)
- Part 2 (Life got busy but seven months later, I finished part 2)
- Part 3 (Finishing part 3, emotional floodgates, book proposal, initial feedback and facing insecurity)
- Part 4 (Writing more and signing with Redemption Press!)
- Part 5 (Choosing a launch date, line editing and cover design)
- Part 6 (Copy editing and initial reviews)
- Part 7 (Revealing the cover, typesetting and pre-orders)
Guess what... we made it. WOW! If you're just now joining to read the story of how I wrote the story, welcome!
From Posts to the Press
There's a lot that has happened since my last post in April, namely, THE BOOK IS NOW RELEASED! I think this is pretty typical of an author's experience: The wheels start turning and the publishing process gets all your time and energy.
I won't belabor you with the nitty-gritty details but if you're a hopeful author who is curious about the steps involved, here's a quick glance at what happened between Part 7 and today:
- I proofed the book a few more times and got a "dummy copy" from the press to review.
- In the proofing process, I decided to shuffle the chapters and make it a 3-part book again.
- The printer sent a proof of the cover for Will and I to review and approve. (This is because we did an offset print run.)
- Author marketing began for pre-sales. I got photos taken, updated my website, Will designed social media graphics and I shot a couple of book trailer videos. Also, since I'm in PR and passionate about publicity, I published a press release about the book, wrote a publicity plan and sent out a few emails.
- A freight shipping truck arrived one day in early August with boxes of author copies. Luckily my dad was here to help me roll them into my basement! My grandpa also happened to be at my house and bought the first copy.
- I sent out a handful of books to magazines and reporters who I'm hoping will read Blush and share it to widen the audience.
- Blush went on a Celebrate Lit tour where it received many 5-star reviews!
- I did a Goodreads giveaway and almost 1,500 people have added it to their "to-read lists."
- A virtual soft launch book party helped me thank those who've been part of the story (more on that below).
- The Living Stone store in downtown Lee's Summit stocked Blush!
- On September 15, 2020 the book "officially" launched!
Book Soft Launch Party
Earlier this year I had one goal in mind when it came to launching the book: Thank those who were part of the story by hosting a dinner party. So many times we wait until someone has passed away to celebrate their life. I recognized that launching a memoir about surviving cancer provided a unique opportunity to experience this type of celebration alive.
This year COVID-19 altered everyone's plans and Blush didn't go unaffected. Although I chose to transition the dinner event into a virtual Zoom meeting, we still had a big party and it turned out to be an incredible night.
Over 100 people who've had an intimate role in this story—from those who knew me from birth to those who've recently come into my life and prayed for the book—came together. We designed the backyard with Blush colors and decor, and several special touches made the night truly special.
Was it purposeful that the party was planned on 8.28, in light of Romans 8:28 saying God works all things for good? Absolutely.
To be honest, Launch Day didn't exactly go how I'd envisioned it because once Amazon got the shipment of books, they began fulfilling pre-orders right away. I wrote about this in a post called, "Writing a book is like having a baby." Most pregnant women I've known have preferred going into labor a little early verses several weeks past due. I felt the same way about the book, I was glad it was getting shipped out earlier versus later.
An accidental early release ended up being a good thing.
Not only did my dedicated readers dive in sooner than everyone else, but the actor Chadwick Boseman's death (Black Panther) made young adult colon cancer a very hot topic right as Blush was launching. Immediately following the soft launch party, my brother sent a text with news about his passing.
A few days later I was on the local news telling my story about surviving the disease and encouraging others to get screened. The news team made sure to tell viewers about the book!
The timing was uncanny but providential. Once the official launch day rolled around, it continued to be a day of celebrating and exhaling! Mikey B made sure of it, and he let all the neighbors know. I woke up to Yard Love signs, donuts, coffee, wine and lots of love. And, a local store began carrying the book.
Book Sales & Reviews
I'm getting asked a lot, "How's the book going?" Here are a few good signs:
- More than 500 copies sold in the first 4 weeks of launching.
- It was a #1 New Release for Colorectal Cancer and Teen Health on Amazon for several weeks in August & September.
- I have secured 12 media placements so far.
While the numbers are amazing and I am SO grateful people are buying and reading the book, here are a few messages I've received that have made Blush really feel like a success:
- "My daughter was talking all morning about wanting to write a book and how books are made."
- "Oh my goodness!! I just finished your book and I loved it so so very much. I can't wait for my granddaughter to read it, going to send it to my daughter. Cannot stress enough the amazing storytelling along with honest, real truth about your struggles. Thank you for being brave and writing this!"
- "Your writing style was great. As you know, I have strong opinions about good writing, and your writing sucked me in and kept me on the couch. My dog loved this afternoon, she usually doesn’t get 4+ hours on the couch with me."
- "My daughter loves to read Blush before bed each night and comes into my room and tells me what she read. Sometimes she comes in and talks about how sweet you and Mike are, last night it was about how cancer was a good thing, when you looked in the mirror. Thank you for writing a book that my daughter loves to read and comes to talk to me about. ... She is NOT a reader but she loves your book."
- "My student found Blush and started reading it. He read on his break. He asked to finish his work early to read—he's gripped. He's a 15-year-old boy and he loves your book so far."
My heart swells up anytime someone texts me that they've finished the book and plan to share it, but I especially get all warm and fuzzy when I see tween and teen girls diving in.
My "First" Memoir?
Two years ago when I started writing these book updates, the "Writing my first memoir" title seemed fitting. Of course it was my first memoir, meaning the first of many. But now that I am an author with a 1-month old book, I'm asking myself, "What was I thinking?"
The birthing analogy continues to hold up. Just like many new, sleep-deprived moms who cannot fathom having more children after a baby is born, I cannot imagine writing another book, much less a memoir, right now. However, I'm also aware that as time goes on, things change. Rest and restored energy arrive. New inspiration hits and suddenly that familiar tug comes pulling at the heart again.
So, what's next? Are there more books coming from me in the future? Only God knows. I'm open to it and plan to keep writing, speaking and letting God use my story to provide inspiration and encouragement.
Until I know what comes next, you will find me reading, baking and getting get caught up on some much-needed sleep.
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