On Sunday, July 9, I experienced a sensation enjoyed by surprisingly few people in the world—that of seeing my “third child,” my twenty-year-in-the-process novel, THE CONSORT CONSPIRACY, A Covington Family Mystery, introduced to humanity. Like any mother who tosses her baby into the world’s largest beauty contest, my heart both swelled with pride and shrank in fear simultaneously. What if people thought she was ugly? Or dumb? Or even worse–didn’t care one way or the other?
In keeping with the dark theme of the mystery where Kate Covington unearths the truth behind a two-hundred-year-old murder committed in an ancient cemetery, my special guest speaker, Steve Berry, had just arrived at the special event when a thunderstorm hit and the power went out at the World Golf Village Slammer and Squire Clubhouse in St. Augustine, FL. Of course! Aren’t there always supposed to be thunderstorms surrounding stories in cemeteries? Steve, the best-selling international thriller writer of sixteen novels, reminded me that the day simply complemented the atmosphere surrounding the book’s mystery.
And it did. The launch of my debut novel turned out to be as spectacular as I had always visualized. Surrounded by my darling husband, Michael—who brilliantly acted as emcee for the event, my children and grandchildren—who had helped set up and greet people as they entered, extended family, my Street Team of wonderful ladies, former co-workers and many friends, I learned that my fears had been groundless. More than one hundred twenty people, in fact, surrounded me with love and support—and sales! When we packed up to leave, we had sold or had orders for sixty-seven books, both paperback and hardcover. And countless people told me they had already downloaded it to their kindles. My mother-in-law, in fact, told me she had a greater rush when she downloaded my book than that produced by five martinis. I don’t think she’s ever really experienced a five-martini rush, but I loved the description, regardless.
One of my greatest surprises—and thrills—came when Steve Berry—my favorite author—asked me for a signed copy of my book! It doesn’t get any better than that! Then he spoke to the crowd and told them that the number of completed manuscripts actually published by traditional channels is not less than one percent as we had thought, but in fact is only one thousandth of one percent—a very heady…and humbling…statistic.
I’m traveling north this afternoon for a book signing in the town where I grew up. Yes…that’s right. I’m stacking the deck for these first few signings—allowing family and friends to bolster me with the confidence needed to speak to the people who don’t already know me and love me and have a built-in proclivity to like the book. And the timing is perfect for that. I’ve heard from a member of my extended family that her boss wants a copy of the book. The mother-in-law of one of my Street Team members has already downloaded the book. And one little lady from two neighborhoods away showed up at the launch event simply because she had read about it in the paper.
So I can testify to the importance of having a good team working with you—my wonderful agent, Julie Gwinn, and publisher, TouchPoint Press. I can also testify to the power of advertising, social media, and word of mouth. And…the goodness in the hearts of fellow authors to help each other succeed.