This is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting times in my life. The launch of my first novel is the culmination of years of hard work, not to mention the heartache of rejection and (for some reason even worse) near-misses. Although being able to entirely paper a small room in rejection slips feels a bit like a badge of honour. Like a battle scar.
Not only does my novel’s publication come with a sense of childlike excitement, it admittedly comes with its fair share of stress. In addition to life recently handing me a series of obstacles to overcome — including illness, an accident and extensive home damage from a broken toilet — I have set out to find the perfect book launch venue.
I should know better than to expect perfection in anything. I should have given up that dream when my first kite, rather than soaring to the heavens, got caught in the top of that tree during its maiden voyage. Anything that we expect to be great could potentially get torn to shreds by a tree.
So I researched book launch venues with cautious optimism. I wanted to have my launch at an independent bookstore, rather than at a big retail chain. Indie bookstores promote local authors and bring communities together, and there are far too few of them these days. So I called around to give myself some options. The first place I contacted sounded perfect: an indie that’s not too far from home and has a great local reputation. I went for a visit. Now, the event coordinator warned me that they were doing “some renovations” but I wasn’t quite prepared for the scene of destruction. Wow. Although assured the renovations were scheduled to be completed by Easter (I wanted to hold the event on April 12), I’ve heard enough horror stories about renovations to realize an end date is “flexible”.
Another idea popped into my head. I’d attended a friend’s birthday party at a funky local gallery and loved the atmosphere. It had been a really fun evening. What about that? I called the gallery. The owner quoted a weekend price that made my knees collapse. I told him I wanted it for a Thursday, for a book launch (pulling the “I’m too poor” card) and he gave me a special rate. Even the special rate brought on diminished-bank-account heart palpitations.
An independent bookstore right downtown was having lease issues and couldn’t commit. The feminist indie in a trendy neighbourhood told me they usually didn’t do launches for books like mine, and then didn’t call me back. I felt like I was going through a series of bad relationships. And the launch date was getting closer and closer.
I didn’t want to change the date. It felt right. A couple of weeks after the book’s publication but not too long to have the blush of excitement wear off. Plus there were people coming from out of town who were definitely available on that date.
And that brought me back to my first choice. My first love. I had another talk with the event coordinator and he promised that, if the renovations weren’t absolutely completed on time, they’d make sure to cordon off a space that wouldn’t look like a construction zone. Well, he had me at cordon.
Nothing is ever perfect. There are only degrees of I-can-live-with-it. My launch will go on either way, and it will, I hope, be perfect enough, in its fashion. As long as it’s not battered to death by the Whomping Willow, I’ll be happy.