I recently went to Deborah Underwood‘s launch party for THE LOUD BOOK, which was great fun. Deborah’s funny and warm and awesome, as you’d expect an EMLA client to be, and I also got to hang out with writer pal and SCBWI organizer Keely Parrack, who recently booked me for my first-ever SCBWI speaking engagement on May 28! Woohoo! I bring that up not just to shamelessly plug the event, but also to use it as an example of an increasingly frequent thing: activities I get to plan on doing in, you know, real life.
I know what you’re thinking – “Mike, you’re such a grizzled veteran of the publishing world! You have such VAST experience, oh bearded one!” First of all, I have no beard – I’m not into the scraggly goatee thing, which is all I’m capable of growing. Second, the grotesque sense of arrogance and entitlement I project is born of insecurity, not experience. The whole “fantasizing about all the cool stuff I get to do when I have a book deal” thing is, shockingly, a thing of the past! I can actually PLAN that stuff now!
It’s nice to have some stuff on the docket that’s closer to pure, giggly fun than the editorial process. Don’t get me wrong, the process of writing and editing the book is far and away the most meaningful part of this adventure – it’s what it’s all about, you know – but I’m not one to discount the value of the goofy and fun parts, because you need a counterpoint to the stuff that’s demanding and labor-intensive and rigorous. All work and no play makes Mike a crabby and unpleasant guy to be stuck in a room with. I know I’m not the only one who’s spent time composing my acknowledgments page, daydreaming about my launch party, and thinking about what kind of snappy-but-related-to-my-book tagline to use when signing autographs for the teeming masses of 7 or 8 people who show up at my promotional events. (Have you seen this article from The Onion, by the way?)
So there I was at Deborah’s launch party, forcing her to sign 122 copies of THE LOUD BOOK for assorted children (and one QUIET BOOK for me), chowing down on cake, looking around the confines of the Berkeley bookstore Mrs. Dalloway’s, and I had one of those moments that’s really not profound enough to be described as an epiphany but is still pretty cool. The following thought leaped into my head, flailing and gibbering:
Dude, I think I wanna have MY launch party here!
It was cool because it was the first time I’d been to a real launch party since signing my contract with Arthur A. Levine Books, which meant it was the first time I’d been in that situation knowing that I’ll definitely have a launch party for my book. Good stuff, you know? And then I had a fun moment that clinched the reality of it for me. The children’s buyer (a very pleasant woman whose name I’ve regrettably forgotten already but who was an excellent host) passed by to deliver a piece of cake to my wife, who was carrying our gargantuan infant son (seriously, the kid’s a moose). During the ensuing chat the buyer asked if I had some connection to the author.
“We’re represented by the same literary agency!” I said, trying not to sound like a chest-pounding nincompoop and probably failing. We went on to discuss my upcoming book (too far in the future for that buyer to keep in mind, I’m sure, but she was very gracious about it all), and she expressed her enthusiasm for hosting my launch party when the time arrived, and oh, it was great. It was great, and fun, and unexpected, and REAL. I’d had conversations like that before, at other bookstores, but those were all about “I want” and “I hope” and even “I wish,” but this one was all about “I WILL. I definitely and unequivocally WILL have a launch party.”
I also WILL write an acknowledgments page! And I WILL come up with an autograph strategy! And I WILL do more SCBWI events, especially for my very dear friends in Kansas, who feel betrayed that my first speaking engagement is in California! And I WILL play the ukelele at my launch party! Well, okay, I MIGHT play the uke – I’m out of practice, sad to say. Maybe I’ll finally get the damage to my Larrivee fixed and play a little guitar instead? I’m a crappy instrumentalist, but ehh, people are gonna be there for my writing, so they won’t care…
Fun times! I seem to have recovered from my post-revision state of terror, which is good because really, that was just irritating. I’m looking forward to the next round in the same kind of complex, buzzy, adrenalized, fight-or-flight state of mind I had after I received my editorial letter. But I’m glad I have these more lighthearted things to look forward to as well. There’s value in the lighthearted stuff! Throwing a launch party for your debut novel? Gold, babies. More precious than gold.
13 responses to “So now there’s stuff I used to daydream about that I can actually PLAN”
I am beyond happy for you Mike!
I absolutely cannot wait for your book to be published.
Wishing you all the fortune in the world, Mike!
Aw, thanks Tyson, I appreciate that! 🙂
I’ve been daydreaming about the launch party, too, Mike, but more than that I’ve been taking notes. I am always amazed by the creative themes that authors come up with to tie into their books at their parties. Ingrid Law, in her party for SCUMBLE, had all kinds of magical things from her books, like bits of song trapped in Mason jars that would play when you unscrewed them a little (Still trying to figure out how she did that) which is something that appeared in her book. Laura Reseau’s release for THE INDIGO NOTEBOOK, which is set in France, had French pastries and accordion music (ooh la la!) And Jennifer Neilsen had the most amazing cake that looked just like her book ELLIOT AND THE GOBLIN WAR.
Now I’m just trying to figure out how to tie you on a Yukelele in to the theme of my book so I can have you play at my party!
Hey Jeannie, ah, see, that’s a great idea! I saw the pictures of Jen’s ELLIOT cake on Facebook, they were very cool. It’s really gratifying and fun to see authors expressing other facets of their creativity like that. I’ll have to ponder what elements from my book could work in a similar way – it’d be particularly fun to work in a giant robot somehow…
You know, the ole band hasn’t played together since 2006 (which is when that photo was taken). We’re all fatter and uglier and older, but I might be able to rope them into doing one more gig. 🙂
I’m glad you’ve gotten over your revision terror and are on to planning a party. I’ll be totally sad that I can’t make it to your launch, but I want to see pictures. Or video if your band gets back together. My response on launches will be up tomorrow, and it makes me laugh because you’re so positive and I’ve found a way to make even a party stressful. Ha!
THERE WILL BE PICTURES. And maybe video, if I can pull it together. And I’m sure I have some high-stress launch-party-planning moments in my future, so I’m looking forward to reading your post about it!
Oh, Mike! I felt just the way you did when I attended the Book People signing in Austin this weekend. As J. Anderson Coats and I watched the EMLA authors sign their books, we fantasized about future signings where our books will be on the table, too (AND MIKE JUNG WILL BE AT THE RETREAT!). No pressure. 😉
I only wish we lived on the same coast so I could attend your launch party! I’ll be toasting you from 3,000 miles away. 🙂
Hey Natalie, yes, I would very much like to be part of an agency signing with you, J. and the other EMU’s Debuts (and all the Gangos). I wish you could attend my launch party too, whenever it ends up being!
So great to have you at the launch, and thanks for the nice words! I have a uke too, and play very badly, so if you want a way to clear out the store after the event, just let me know.
Ooh, do I see a launch party duet in Mike’s future? The Jung Underwood Ukelele Project (JUUP for short). This has real potential!
Jeanne, it’s true that there’s nothing quite like a couple of bad ukelele players jamming together!
Your launch party was both fun and instructive, Deborah! And we bad ukelele players have to stick together…
I will definitely be there. And I have a really nice Uke for you to borrow. Someone might as well play it.