Friday, April 29, 2011

The Book Launch

From Brent Ghelfi on Friday.
My fourth novel, THE BURNING LAKE, publishes today. It tells the story of a brave Russian journalist loosely patterned off of Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered after exposing war crimes in Chechnya. It delves into the simmering conflict in Chechnya and the surrounding republics, and it explores our government’s complicity in the spreading problem of nuclear waste disposal. I’m proud of it.
We’re having a launch party tonight to celebrate its release. A book launch is a bittersweet event. On the one hand, it represents the culmination of a year’s work. All the research, all the starts and stops and reversals, all the changes—from minor edits to the big ripple changes that sometimes take days or weeks to make—all that hard work is represented here, in this tight little bundle. Two hundred and eighty-three pages bound, packaged, and priced. Better still, a launch party is, after all, a party. A great place to be with people I haven’t seen in a while (maybe since the last party), catch up, have fun.
On the other hand, it feels anticlimactic. The novel has been finished for over a year. Final changes were made months ago, about the same time the cover art was chosen. Advanced Reader Copies were sent to dozens of reviewers, many of who have (thankfully) reviewed the book favorably. I’m already deep into another novel, one with different characters and settings. All of which leads to the feeling that I’m late for the party. Shouldn’t this have happened way back when I wrote the last line?
I think the best reason for a launch party is that it gives writers a forum to thank all the people who support them. Agents, editors, publishers, publicists, designers—all those who take the book after we’ve written that last line and turn it into something that somebody, somewhere, will read. And the network of family and friends who put up with us all those days and nights we spend squirreled away in front of a computer, or staring off into space, hoping the next sentence will magically appear.
In the end, when the party’s over and there’s time to reflect, there’s a sense of accomplishment. That book is done. It is as good as I could make it at the time. I’m proud of it.

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