It is easy to forget that our internal state is often projected outward, whether we want it to be or not.
I launched my first book the weekend before last. As a young publisher, I’m ecstatic at the success of the event, but the lead up was stressful. I’m the director of marketing and publicity at Buffalo Heritage Press, and we launched our latest children’s title, Buffalo From A to Z, Come Take a Tour With Me, at the Goo Goo Doll’s show at Shea’s Perfoming Art’s Center in Buffalo, New York. The concerts were celebrating the Goo Goo Dolls’ 20th anniversary of the Dizzy Up the Girl album.
Why launch a children’s book at a rock concert? Well, Buffalo From A to Z is special. (Aren’t all of your books special when you’re in publishing?) The main character, Bob Uffalo, is a spunky little tour guide who takes kids on a tour around Buffalo, showing them the hotspots from A to Z. But it wouldn’t be a Buffalo book if it didn’t have the Goo Goo Dolls on the “G” page—betcha didn’t know they were from Buffalo!
Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac signed the “G” page, and we sold the autographed copies at a premium and donated the money to Robby’s foundation Music is Art, which is dedicated to enriching the community by giving access to music and exploring and reshaping music’s cultural, social and educational impact on the community through programs and events.
Buffalo From A to Z, Come Take a Tour With Me was a nail biter up until the day of the soft launch, but it didn’t end there. After getting through last-minute edits and finally deciding back cover art (yes, that far behind schedule), we shipped this book off to the printer. But when would we get it back? With three shows scheduled for the 19, 20 and 21 of October, we uploaded files to the printer on the 5. Yikes! I could feel the stress coming through my skin—quite literally.
Nevertheless, our printer promised a partial delivery on October 18. It actually came on the 19. I rushed the books to the green room for the Goo Goo Dolls to sign, but it turns out there was no rush. They weren’t there yet. After marking the “G” page in every book to make it easy for the guys to sign, I helped their production manager Dan set up the books in the dressing room with markers.
While I loved hanging out in the green room, listening to the band’s sound check, and chatting with a lovely security man named Bill, soon it was 6 p.m., and I still hadn’t gotten my books back from the band. With doors opening in an hour, all I could do was tap my foot, take a deep breath and hope no one was wondering what the giant red blotch above my eyebrow was. There is no way to explain that a children’s book launch is giving you acne.
I heard “4 minutes to lobby!” from a walkie talkie on a passing security guard’s belt loop. Excuse me? Where are my books?! Then I saw Robby walking by and I ran after him, yelling to ask if he’d signed the books yet. It came out more as a yell at him, but he said, in a sing-songy way “Yes! I did that!” sounding almost surprised that he’d done something someone asked of him. I shouted a thank you into the stairwell he disappeared into. So now I just needed to find out if Johnny had signed them yet and then get them to our table.
Finally, after lobby had opened, I got the books (well, most of them anyway) and rushed back to through the lobby, working through throngs of people with my arms weighed down with boxes of books like a salmon going upstream before hibernation season. When I got the text from Dan that the rest of the books (and a large foam-board cutout of Bob Uffalo with Johnny and Robby) had been signed, I ran to pick up those and battled my way back in, which proved harder with a giant cutout
Out of breath, I introduced Goo Goo Dolls fans to Bob Uffalo for three nights in a row. (I got to watch hometown heroes perform each night, which was a pretty rad treat.)
On Monday morning, after recounting the anxiety-ridden days leading up to the soft launch and the stresses in between, my mom asked if I was sure this was really what I wanted to do with my career because I was so stressed.
I just laughed.
Now that my skin has cleared up, we’re planning the hard launch to publicly unveil Buffalo From A to Z and present Music is Art with the check from the autographed books we sold at the soft launch.
I think my skin can handle this one—though if I keep stress-eating dark chocolate M&Ms, there’s going to be a bigger problem.