How to support an author during launch: A guide for family, friends, and fans

Regardless of whether an author is a bright debut or a seasoned veteran, the experience of finally sending one’s book into the world brings with it weeks (if not months) of excitement, anxiety, and hard work. My third novel, Jade City, will be published this month, and in the frenetic run-up to launch, I’ve been thinking about how much authors depend on our families, friends, and fans during this time — in more ways than you know! Here are some of the ways you can support an author during book launch season.

Go to the launch event if you can. You may be thinking, with trepidation, “Well, if I go, I'll have to buy the book." You don’t have to buy the book! The launch party is a celebration, not a sale. I have a lot of writer friends; my budget won’t allow me to buy all their books. As authors, we're grateful for every sale, but we don't want people to not come to the book launch out of concern that they’ll be expected to spend money. We want to enjoy the accomplishment of publication — and your enthusiastic, supportive presence at events will be remembered and appreciated.

In lieu of buying the book, you can request it from your local library (very helpful to us!), or put it on your holiday or birthday wish list, or — I can’t overstate the importance of this — spread the word to other potential readers. Maybe this book isn’t your thing. That’s fine; we all have different tastes. I don’t expect my book will appeal to all my friends, and I have friends who write books I’m not personally interested in reading. But I try to recommend those books to people I think might enjoy them; you’ll be doing an author a huge favor if you do the same.

At signings, spell your name. Even if it's Jane (and not Jayne, Jain, or Jaine). We'll be so amped-up we’ll barely be able to spell our own names. A quick, unscientific poll on my part confirmed that a great many authors share a phobia of being unable to remember someone’s name at an event and/or spelling a name wrong inside a book. Please alleviate this fear for us.

On a related note, be understanding if we don’t get to talk to each of you for long (or even very coherently) at a signing. We want to! But there's a lot of people and we're a bit frazzled.

For close friends and family: be patient with us during this time. There isn't a single sane author alive who doesn't have an emotional support system in place, so if you're one of those people, bless you. At times, writing and publishing can be a difficult, lonely, and frustrating journey; when it comes to a book launch, an author’s emotions can swing wildly between elation and fear, soaring hope and crushing pessimism. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to our inevitable anxieties or offer a word of reassurance. You might not see much of us during this time, but don't worry — the fuss will die down soon and we'll be front of the computer...

In fact, the fuss dies down so remarkably quickly that it’s easy to get post-book-launch blues. One can spend years writing a book, enjoy a week or two of excitement around release date, and end up with a sense of, “So…that’s it?” A new book gets the spotlight for a short while, but the following week, dozens of other new books will hit the shelves.

Remember that authors and their books need support months and years after release. If you read the book, please leave a review online; it helps other readers discover the book and decide whether to read it. Feel free to express your opinions, but don’t tag the author with your criticisms. Even if you didn’t like the book, remember that it’s a part of someone’s soul, someone's sweat and tears. If you loved the book, by all means, let us know. We like fan mail. We really like it. Every once in a while, an email pops up at the right moment to prevent us from chucking a computer out a window. Long after the book is launched, we never tire of discovering that our words moved someone.

Oh, and we have no control or insight into whether the book is made into a movie. Honest.