Most authors will readily admit that launching a book can be an incredibly humbling and disjointed process. The highs! The lows! The second-guessing!
People likely think the hardest part of the book writing process – securing a book contract, actually writing the book, going through editing and copy editing, choosing a cover, gathering endorsements, and debating the copy on the press release and back cover – is behind you. But by the time comes for the book to be launched into the world, it becomes another sort of marathon – one that can be equal parts exhilarating and exhausting.
Last Tuesday, my third book, Social Media Wellness: Helping Teens and Tweens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World, was released after four long years of drafts, revisions, and reflections. I wrote the book to help parents and educators understand the new world of social media socialization, and the book is filled with prescriptive strategies on how to encourage teens to make better choices online and in-real-life.
I am proud of how the book turned out. Which is good, because four years feels like a very long time. And all the crazy life happenings and bizarre side issues steps it took to get this book into the world came flooding back into my consciousness this week, including the time in Boston in August 2015 when I sat down on a stoop and just had a good cry after four or five things seemed to all go wrong at once. [Side note: Everything got a million times better after everything seemed to be falling apart]
But now is not the time to reflect on that, because the book is done and out in the world, and parents and educators have found it to be an incredibly helpful resource. A ninth grader told me last week how everything that I described in Chapter 5 on Academic Wellness and technology in the classroom was what her and her friends were dealing with at school, and she was “super impressed” with how much I understood teen lives, classroom tech issues and social media language. Made my day.
A favorite personal moment in this process was filming the book trailer. The amazing filmmaker and I interviewed local high schools about their own strategies for promoting social media wellness. The teens were brilliant – as teens tend to be when you ask them advice about their own lives. You can watch it here.
“I spend a lot of time watching Netflix,” one high school junior boy told me. “There’s this great show – have you heard of it? It’s called Friends.”
As an author, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of showing up for other people’s book events. I’ve gone to so many author events because I understand the comfort of seeing friendly faces in the audience and the genuine gratitude that comes from the fact that someone took time out of their schedule to attend.
Another lesson is to celebrate the PR surprises, because you never know how or when a book might get attention. Shortly after the release of my first book in early 2010, I was a bit bewildered and had no idea if anyone was ever going to hear about my book. I was about to board a plane when I received a message from an AP reporter in my Facebook messages (note: this was before Facebook Messenger), and did a thirty-minute interview about helping disorganized and distracted boys from the boarding area. She ended up writing a piece that was in hundreds of news outlets. Or the time a fellow writer tweeted a question around executive functioning resources, and I suggested my book. We’ve since met in real life, and she recommended my new book to a reporter this summer, which resulted in this piece in the Washington Post.
This week’s lovely and unexpected surprise came at the end of the week, when a kind and generous writer and editor I know through my work gave my book a shout out on her widely-read newsletter. I was reading the newsletter, scrolling down, and jumped a little when I saw my book’s cover highlighted. It really was the highlight of an incredibly long and wonderful week, and a good reminder that those sorts of surprises can make such a difference.
Over this coming school year, I am slated to visit twenty cities to talk about Social Media Wellness, and am excited to visit some amazing public, private, independent and charter schools across America (www.anahomayoun.com/events).
Have a friend with a book coming out soon? Here are the three ways you can be supportive:
1. Buy the book. If someone spent months and years on a project and you have the means to support it in a small (or big) way, take a moment and do so. If you have no use for their book, perhaps a friend or relative does.
2. Review the book. If you receive a friend’s book and fall in love with it, take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads or wherever else reviews are posted.
So many people buy books based on reviews – and honestly, seeing so many parents write reviews and share about how my first book, That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week, helped them with their disorganized and distracted boys motivated me to cross the finish line with this seemingly never-ending book.
3. Show up and share. If a friend has a book event near you, just go. Don’t say you’re interested and come up a last minute excuse. It is usually just an hour of your time and will likely mean the world to your friend. Tweet, share, email, …do whatever you do… Think of it as positive karma points going out into the world, and in the end, positive book karma is good for everyone.