Release Day: The Second Quarto

...Or rather, day-after-release day, since yesterday was a little crazy.

I've been hyping up the Second Quarto for months now: I am still very much in the honeymoon phase. It's beautiful and amazing and an absolute work of art, it's going to win awards and make me millions, and five months from now I won't be able to read it without going into months of existential angst. So I won't bore you guys again with that roller coaster.

Instead I'm gonna talk about the actual process of releasing something. Or at least, the process I undergo while releasing a Quarto, which probably differs from the ideal in a couple key ways.

The Launch Process:

Step One: Set yourself a release date.  Ideally, you do this after you've finished the book, but I have kind of a crazy schedule that's entirely prioritized by due dates. If I don't set myself a deadline right away, it just doesn't get done. Spend the next few months setting up interviews, appearances, and advertisements set around that one specific date so you can't back out. 

Step Two: Finish it. Write the installments, send them to beta readers, edit furiously, proofread furiously, read the entire thing out loud to yourself (paying particular attention to getting the voices right) to force yourself to actually look at every single word. Send to people to check for errors. While other people are checking, purchase the rights for your main image and get some promo materials together.

Step Three: Format. Do this at a friend's house so they can laugh at you as you flap your hands around trying to figure out which side of the page the text falls on. Harass said friend's cats whenever you get bored with formatting. Realize you haven't made your cover yet, so get that together and bug everyone for opinions between three-pixel font shifts.

Step Four: Realize you're behind schedule because you got sick three weeks ago, and you now have to work around those appearances and interviews to finish up the final touches. 

Step Five: Release the book. This process takes approximately forever, since something obscure always goes wrong and it takes a while to fix.

Step Six: Realize that despite arduous editing, putting the book under multiple fresh eyes, and reading it aloud to yourself, a single typo has made it into the freshly-released paperback. Have a momentary heart attack, then decide it's not as bad as the last time this happened, because at least this time it's not an unclosed parenthesis.

Step Seven: Take the rest of launch day to feel like a friggin' princess as everyone sends you congratulations and shares your stuff around with tons of accolades. One of these friends calls a launch day a "Book Birthday" and that's pretty accurate. It just feels nice, especially after all that hard work.

Step Eight: Intend to write a blog post. Spend a full day sleeping and catching up on emails instead. Tell yourself that next time you'll have more done in advance so you don't wind up averaging four hours' sleep a night for two weeks. Don't kid yourself. You said that last time.

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And that, my friends, is how it goes when you launch a book as a very new, very broke, self-published author. It's beautiful and I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. It's also exhausting.

Here's to the next one.

Alex Penland