On book releases, launch parties, and gratitude

It’s been officially one week since my book was released! It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, from stress to panic to gratitude and pure disbelief that this is really happening. Book release day I felt like a caged humming bird, the nervousness just beating against my chest. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t gotten that knock on the door first thing that morning, flowers from my agent.  Because her words of congratulations were not only for me but for Naila’s story being out in the world.

And I remembered the wise Meg Medina’s words who told me to remember why I wrote this story and to focus on that. That this book isn’t about me but it’s about Naila and about sharing her story with the world. And just like that, the nerves eased. I checked in on twitter and saw an outpouring of supportive tweets that poured in throughout the day. Seriously if you’re a writer twitter is the best place to get support. I can’t believe it, but somehow, Written in the Stars, even trended. And well, if you know me, I love me my twitter, so this was exciting indeed!

I got my first manicure and pedicure in two years book birthday morning and while it felt weird to do something so decadent for myself I channeled the wise words from Parks and Rec:

Afterwards, one of my dear friends took me out to lunch to celebrate and then, K surprised me with a half-day from work to take us to the park and hang out, and then get a bite to eat at our favorite Persian spot.  It was a nice day. It was a beautiful day. It was perfect.

This past Saturday was my launch party. I knew my parents and brother were flying in and I knew that it was a celebration of a milestone in my life, of a dream come true, but I was nervous. Being the center of attention isn’t easy for me and this was pretty much the definition of that.

Photo credit: Sakib Qureshi!

I stepped into the Little Shop of Stories and I felt slightly disoriented. Because this is where I came nearly every day when I lived just a few blocks down the road.

This is where I lived when I rewrote my manuscript from third person to first person. And this is the bookshop I would sit in while my eldest played the trains and we browsed board books and I dreamed of being able to see my book on it’s shelves.

And then, lo and behold…

We set up food [oh my, way too much food] and stared at the cake, and slowly people began coming.

I hugged friends I see regularly, and friends I hadn’t seen in years. I met friends I knew only through twitter and social media. I made friends with people I did not know before that day. Law school friends, old colleagues…. it was indescribable. And so it was time to give a talk, one I didn’t realize until earlier that day that I would need to give, and I felt the wave of nerves overcome me again as I made my way to the microphone. But then, after Kimberly, the amazing bookseller gave me the kindest introduction I’ve ever received, and I took the microphone and looked around, I saw my family, I saw my friends, I saw smiles, and I saw love. And then I realized that all of these people took time out of busy lives to be here. Some of my friends I hadn’t seen in years but this moment meant enough for them to reconnect. There are a million ways to spend a Saturday night but they decided to brave the horrendous Decatur parking to come by and support my book and to support me. And just like that, talking to this amazing group of people felt less nerve-wracking, somehow the nerves  passed.

picture credit: Kimberly

 I finished my talk. I took questions. I signed books.

photo courtesy of Stephanie

It was incredible.

It’s funny because I debated so long about having a launch party. Given that I’m on the introvert end of the spectrum it made me nervous, but a launch party helps the book getting published feel real. And it helps you celebrate with people who know just how long you dreamed of the moment. One of the book sellers marveled at how happy everyone was for this monumental moment in my life. Just thinking about it makes me verklempt. It was touching and beautiful and a memory I will treasure for a lifetime.

And now, one week out, as people e-mail and share their responses to the book it finally feels real. My book is no longer a figment of my imagination, it’s no longer a work-in-progress. A submission. A manuscript. It is no longer a bound manuscript or an advance review copy. It is a book. It is a novel. And now, it is out there in the world.

I feel a million different things. But the clearest emotion is gratitude. So thankful Naila’s story is out there in the world, so thankful she entrusted me to share it.

7 thoughts on “On book releases, launch parties, and gratitude”

  1. Ok so sorry if this comment goes twice! So happy you did the launch! I totally understand the introvert dilemma :). Inshallah hoping for your next book launch I will get to come because after reading your story I know there'll be more beautiful stories from you!!!

    (Also loved the pic of waleed sitting next to you while you were signing books!)


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