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Launch Day

It’s GROWN UP KIND OF PRETTY’s launch day, so of course my mental illness number is so high that my main goal for today is to get all the way through hot yoga with no public weeping. If I can make it to the end, I will lie down, flattened and soaked in my own greases, stinking, trembling on my mat, and Isobel will come around and put cold towels soaked in lavender water on everyone’s eyeballs.

I hereby give myself permission to weep silently and peacefully into my cold towel. If I don’t publicly weep until my cold towel is over my eyes, I am calling today a mental wellness win.
Maybe I should set the bar higher and decide not to publicly weep AFTER, either.

WHY IS LAUNCH DAY SO LARGE AND LOOMY? It’s a weird kind of hopeful hell, though it should be neither, it should be nothing, because on launch day, historically, categorically, provably, inevitably:


It’s not like theatre, where opening night is OPENING NIGHT and your mom is in the audience and you know by the end of act one if it is going well, if people will talk, if your run might get extended. You KNOW.

Launch day is just the day where your book enters the world, and begins the LONG process of trickling out, reader by reader, into the world. Reactions are delayed and diffused.

You spend a couple of years of your life, trying to get this story out, the one that is currently haunting you, to get the CORRECT words down on the paper instead of the stupid damn WRONG ones, the words that make a path that might lead others to the place you see so brightly, so clearly, so beautifully in the confines of your most private brain. And then one day you think, “This is as close as I can get it.” And the book is done.

Then the book goes away from you for a year or more, while you wrestle with whatever story haunts you next, and then BANG! Launch day comes, and with it the sudden dizzying stomach drop of knowing, ITIS OUT THERE, for good or ill, that the people you made up and loved and sheltered are launched and in the world now, that you no longer own them, they are no longer so YOURS in the same way, and you have to let go and hope that they will find good homes in the minds and bookshelves of other people. That you did your job right. That people can follow your path and come to see that place that stood so shiny and truthful in the eye of your mind.

The largest pleasures and pains of being published happen before — when the reviews come in, and THANK GOD this book has had a DELIGHTFUL critical response—reviewers are telling people to READ THIS BOOK. Then the reaction that REALLY counts—the reactions of your actual readers —- happens LATER, and you learn of it in diffused ways, as sales numbers come in and are good or bad, as letters from readers come in, either lovely and heartening or enraged.

On Launch Day, you mostly sit around in your pajamas, trying not to eat starches, trying to wait for a respectably late o’clock in the day before you declare it is cocktail hour. You know. Like any Wednesday.
SO it isn’t about that—it isn’t about the reactions. I think it is about control.

Launch is the day you actually have to let the story go. You know, the one that drove your life like your life was its car for two years. Let it go. There’s a synonym for LAUNCH DAY that I think is a better word, a word that catches what it feels like: Release.

I love this book. I am proud of this book. I think it is funny and hopeful and I bravely went down deep into the salty black mines of my own mental illness and tried to make it also truthful as I used the tale to wrestle with the questions that drive my life. And today, I have to stop all that, and set it down, and walk away, and see who picks it up.

Launch—-no, release—- is the day I have to abandon Mosey and Big and Liza and Roger and Lawrence. Today I will declare that noon is probably five o’clock somewhere, and I will wait, and let go of things, and hope. These people, this story, today I know and feel and accept that they aren’t mine. Not anymore.

They are yours, if you want them.

51 comments to Launch Day

  • Becky

    Okay, I admit to being a little confused about the Launch Day thing, since I ordered and received this book last week. I read it immediately, until late in the night, and can’t bring myself to lend it to my mom yet, because I want to read it again first. It was fantastic! Congratulations on its release into the wild, and thanks for sharing it with us.

  • I have had a countdown on my calendar leading up to this day. When my alarm went off this morning, the first thing I did was check my B&N account to make sure it had shipped, and they moved my shipping date back to the 29th!!! I cannot wait ANY longer (reading the first little bit of the book online was bittersweet – I loved it and then realized I had to wait another month before I could finish the entire book)… so after work, I’m heading out to find a copy in stores. I’ll just give the one that comes in the mail to someone else or something. Have a drink because it IS five’o’clock somewhere, and know that YES YES YES we definitely want them!!!

  • kim

    I downloaded to my Nook at 4 am and love what I’ve read so far!

  • Michelle

    Can’t wait to read it! I can’t even imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to be an author and have to release your book (your baby) out into the world!

  • I ran out and bought it this weekend since I thought it wasn’t out, yet. I went to several independent bookstores (because I figure that I’m buying more and more of my books in ebook format so any hard copies will support local business, heh) and NONE OF THEM HAD IT! Until I went to the one farthest from my house, but still in Raleigh. They had it. OH THEY SO HAD IT. They had it on shelves under “fiction”, they had it in stacks labelled “JOSHILYN JACKSON: COMING WED. FEB. 15th”. They had it on other shelves labelled “NEW FICTION.” And if I worked there, it would already be on the shelf labelled “EMPLOYEE RECOMMENDATIONS”!

    I got it Saturday, and since you are my very favoritest author, I tried to read it slowly. I tried to nibble at it and savor it. You see, I am a devourer of books. I consume them with a ravenous hunger that seems to be insatiable. I tear through books like they are made of pictures with two word phrases. Until I discovered YOU, my most favorite kinds of books were EPIC fantasy because they were LONG and took LONGER to read than other books (plus, I also like dragons, and magic, and elves, and adventure, so…).

    No matter how hard I tried to make it last and last, it didn’t last. I finished it yesterday. IT WAS AWESOME! I’m going to read it again right this very now and I bought the audio so I can listen to your fabulous words read in your fabulous way while I fold laundry or mop the floor. Nonny Frett has been my very favorite of your characters for so long, but I may have a new favorite. Mosey Slocumb. I LOVE her. I love Big and Liza-Little and Roger and Lawrence and Patti. Thank you.

    Thank you for releasing these characters so that I can love them, too. So that I can laugh and cry right along with them. Thank you for putting words together in such magnetic ways.

  • Jill W.

    That was a remarkably sane and erudite post for launch day. I did not detect the work of any rabid brain squirrels at all. I think your mental illness number may be lower than you think.

    I am trying to wait until next week when you are in New Orleans to buy the book, but I don’t know that I will be able to hold out. Can’t wait to read it!

  • elizabeth

    I wonder if it would be easier for you if something DID happen today. Some sort of ceremony that celebrated the release of your baby into the cold, hard world. Or would that just put more pressure on you?

    BTW – can’t wait to read it. If it’s half as good as your previously released babies it will be fabulous. And it is five o’clock somewhere….

  • Tracey

    Currently listening to the Audiobook version of A Grown Up Kind of Pretty. I have to listen in the car…not because I have no where else to listen, but because I want it to last and last and last. I READ Gods in Alabama…but have LISTENED to all the other books because your reading is just fabulous! Your inflection, pace and tone is just perfect and I can see the charachters so much more clearly! Your theater background has served you well! I am really loving the time I am spending with the Slocumb women! I wish I had some of Liza’s spunk…but not too much!

  • I have been sitting on my copy for a week now and now I will flail and read and gasp and flail. YAY HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY GUKOP!!!! 🙂

  • Jennifer in NC

    I want to meet them very soon! I’m trying hold out until the book signing that is now only 3 weeks away!!!

    BTW, the lavender eye towel sounds very nice; I hope it soothes you today.

  • Scottsdale Girl

    Mine just got deliciously whispernet delivered to my KINDLE. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

  • The first thing I did upon getting to work this morning (where there is wifi) was whip out my tablet and go to Kobo to see if your book was there! And it was!! I’ve been reading it in bits and pieces in between what I laughingly refer to as “work” all day, and can’t wait till this evening when I can get home and DEVOUR IT WHOLE.

    Launch day may be boring for writers but it sure is exciting for readers, especially when you’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for a book to come out!!

  • dee

    Oh Joss, This post gave me goosebumps.
    I am going to the store today to buy my copy of GUKOP and my family already knows that it will totally consume me until I finish the last page. They’ve seen it happen with every single one of your other books. I can’t wait to get started.
    Congratulations on the launch of your latest baby.
    Now have a cocktail and enjoy your Wednesday.

  • Aimee

    Yay! Launch/Release day! I cannot wait to read! I ordered my signed copy from the VBS, but I am going to get it on Kindle tonight and start reading.

    I know what you mean about having to let go. It’s the similar thing when you sell or option a screenplay, because immediately other people have IDEAS about it and about the characters and you have to, for your sanity, just let it go. Let it fly. And it will 🙂

    Now enjoy that drink.

  • Kaye

    Sadly I could not take the day so I could be first in line at the bookstore. But, lunchtime is just around the corner and I will buy two copies and I cannot wait for you to sign them next week.
    Happy Book Launch Day!

  • Lulu

    What a wonderfully cogent description of gestating & birthing a book! Thank you, Miss Joshilyn, for sharing your writing with us – via books, blogs, tweets, FB posts, and all of anything else!
    I’m carrying my copy of GUKOP around, all pristine and lovely, savoring the luscious anticipation of reading it. I have a feeling I won’t want to read it in little bites, so am waiting to find a day indulge myself and devour it.

  • Make sure that you declare it 5:00 somewhere AFTER hot yoga, or you may REALLY torque something while attempting Tree Pose. 🙂 I think maybe you should see if Isobel can soak your cold towel in a liquid stronger than lavender water. And I think even a FEW tears while doing yoga is fine. . .it is, after all, about the cleanse, you know.

    Your book is GORGEOUS!!!!! You rock.

  • I do! I want them!
    I have all your books (so far) lined up on my shelf by my bed, and I’ve always felt like I somehow took them away from you. I guess I really did.
    I’m not sorry.

  • Linda J

    For the past month I have been worried because audible.com didn’t have it listed in the coming soon section. Oh how good I have been to save a credit to be able to get it. So my heart jumped when I saw audible have it listed as “Highly-Anticipated Southern Fiction” on the front page. I’m downloading it now and I have tomorrow off to listen to it.

    Thank you Joss for sharing all of your wonderful characters with us. If no one else tells you today, I do so truly appreciate all of your hard work in creating all of your books.

  • Now I wish Borders was still open. I’d go put all the copies on the endcaps… 😉

  • Thank you for giving us AGUKOP and all its inhabitants – we want them, we really do! Now I am waiting patiently for my copy from ABS.

  • Awww. Happy book birthday!

    My kids still live at home, but when I simply imagine them leaving for marriage or other permanent reasons, I get a pingy-pang in my heart. I suspect the feelings are similar to an author on their book’s release day, in which case, “Skoal.”

  • Congratulations, Joshilyn!

    I just finished “Backseat” to get (sorta) caught up before our chat in Asheville.

    No surprises whatsoever: it was spectacular.

    Best of luck with “Grown Up”…we’ll see you in a couple weeks!

  • Amy-Go

    Tulip, I am reading as fast as I can. Thanks for doing it AGAIN!

    and Congratulations. I am so proud of you.

  • Elizabeth J.

    Oh. Launch/Release Day. I forgot b/c my husband pre-ordered from Amazon and I already finished it. In maybe 3 days. If it would make you feel better, I’ll gladly go back to Amazon and write a glowing (amateur) review.
    PS Thank you for thanking us, your BBs, your readers, your staunchest supporters. Now, back to work on the next one, please.

  • This is a lovely, truthful post, Joshilyn. I appreciate it. It is SO HARD to release a book into the world. The silence can be deafening. But that won’t be the case with this book. It is brave and funny and un-putdownable. Readers will pass it on to readers and onward and onward. I wish the book a spectacular journey.

  • You guys are so nice. I DID get through hot yoga without weeping (well, no PRE TOWEL weeping, so WIN) It was a Kira class, not an Isabelle class, my bad.

    ELizabeth J I woudld appreciate that more than I can say—if you really loved the book, I am delighted for you to spread the word in ANY way. I think people do actually read those reviews to help decide whether or not to try an author they do not know.

    HA! HI ANN. DO you guys know Ann? You should read her most recent –A GOOD HARD LOOK — it blew my MIND.

  • As the French say, “Bon courage.” (I typed those words in an “appalling hick Georgia girl accent,” just for you.)

  • Judy in California

    Fret not. This book is SO GOOD that I am now happily launched on my second reading of it, because the second time lets me savor all of the red herrings that I missed, the first time through. It is SO GOOD that all of my friends who have February birthdays (and there are a slew of them) are going to be blessed with copies as their b’day present, which is going to make it one of their BEST birthdays ever. This book is SO GOOD that it makes me giddy and gleeful, and that’s saying a lot, since I have been a major cheerleader of yours since I first read an ad for gods In Alabama (in Publishers Weekly), lo these many years ago. High fives to you on a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful story!

  • susanvl

    It is a big deal! It’s the day you birth a full grown child who shoots out the womb and has to stand and run on her own. Can’t wait to get my copy tomorrow night at Fox Tales and start reading!!!

  • DebR

    “Thanks, Deb!
    A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty: A Novel will be auto-delivered wirelessly to your Kindle via Amazon Whispernet. You can go to your Kindle to start reading.”

    Yay for Launch Day! As much as I love real, live, turn-the-paper-pages-books, I must admit I have become a Kindle addict. I looooove being able to get it now instead of waiting for the big brown truck to bring a box. 🙂

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    I am with Becky as to being confused since I received my copy last week and also made a foray into my indie bookstore to prop up copies of AGUKOP so that beautiful cover would be seen from afar by all of the winter saddened people here in West Michigan and they would be drawn to the COLOR and then be delighted by the story.
    Happy, happy launch day!!

  • Lora in Florida

    Ok so I have to tell you this…I went into my local B&n to get your book, and it was with the new releases but ON THE BOTTOM SHELF. Bottom shelf??? Do these people not know what was released today??? The new Joshilyn Jackson book! It does not BELONG on the bottom shelf! It belongs where EVERYONE can see it!!

    So what did your loyal fan do? That’s right; I moved them to the eye-level shelf! Very circumspectly (sp???), so that the book police would not come over and promptly move it back the second after they carted me away and I was thrown in book jail.

    First I scoped out a spot that had only one book in it. I picked up one of AGKOP, and this other book, and read the insides of both. Then I put AGKOP back on the higher shelf, and held on to the other book. I repeated this three times, slowly moving all copies of AGKOP to eye level, while putting rearranging the other books. So it looked like I just couldn’t remember…I know, I know, I put WAY too much thought into this. Have me committed.

    Am re-reading gods in Alabama to “get in the Mood” for the AGKOP…

  • Vivian Fleming

    I would be reading your new book on my Kindle except….be still my heart…I’m going to buy it at Square Books in Oxford, MS, on Monday and see/hear you! Yay, me!

  • Well, it may feel like a somewhat anticlimactic day to you in terms of nothing happening where YOU are, but I have to say that I did a big shout of happiness when my pre-ordered AGUKOP landed in my Kindle inbox this morning! Can’t wait to read it!

  • I don’t have time to wait for the autographed copy that I ordered to arrive. I just bought the Kindle version, too, and I’m telling everyone I know who reads about it, as always.

  • Julie in Colorado (was Austin)

    I just downloaded my audible copy and I’m so excited to listen to you spin your tale in your own voice! I “read” all your books by audio, and I really enjoy your narration! Your characters truly seem to come to life when voiced by you! Thanks for sharing your precious baby with all of us! And CONGRATULATIONS on Release Day!

  • Jill Sturgeon

    I loved the book – couldn’t put it down – avoided laundary, papers to grade, my family – almost skipped church! The characters are so compelling – loved Mosey and Big!
    Thanks for sharing your talents with us hungry readers!

  • Jill Sturgeon

    oops – I meant laundry – I should have just said “the wash.”

  • Brigitte

    Even if it’s not noon, you’ve always got mimosas and bloody marys!

    And I cannot even imagine getting enraged – maybe just sad when I reach the end and it’s all (sob!) done.

  • kimberlyHdM


    You were marvelous and witty and funny and ON last night for the book launch in Decatur. (Like you always are, oh mighty queen of self-deprecation) So kudos to you and your hot yoga for keeping with crazed brain squirrels at bay. I’m diving into my signed (squee) copy of GUKOP as soon as I get home from work today.

  • Chris

    Launch day is special and I can’t wait to read the book I just ordered to help your NYC readership numbers.

  • […] twice now this week! Hi, Els!) sent me the link to Joshilyn Jackson’s blog post, “Launch Day“. I have a feeling I’m going to want to read that again on July […]

  • Keene

    Finished it 2 days ago, and am still wandering around the house waiting for ‘the next chapter’ to leap out at me. Loved, loved, loved it. My only complaint is that it went by way the heck too fast. If you are going to keep writing such great books, could you please make them 847 pages long so they last longer than a day? Pretty please? Amazing book Joshilyn.

  • Shanley

    Thank you, I’m looking forward to having your book people visit.

  • Linda J

    WOW!! I just finished the audio of AGUKOP, Absolutely amazing. I’m not sure I have words enough to describe it. Love it Love it Love it. Another masterpiece. I so truly fell in love with Mosey that I was willing to step in and protect her if Roger didn’t. The whole clan will be safe and loved here, I pinky swears promise.

  • Linda J

    I just left a review on audible.com. THANK YOU for sharing them with us.

  • Love love love this book! And big fan girl geek that I am, I wrote a review of it on my blog. 🙂


  • Ms. Joshilyn –

    Got my signed copy at Foxtales last night and was so sad I didn’t make it for the reading, but I had abandoned chilluns’ at Boy Scouts earlier and they kinda expect you to return for them at some point. It was above and beyond of you to come within 2 miles of my home…perhaps the next booksigning could be on my back porch? The only thing forcing me to read slowly is the fact that my itty-bitty booklight has beamed its last ray of light, so I won’t be able to stay up all night. Unless I slip sunglasses on my husband while he sleeps. Or hold my iphone in one hand and the book in the other. Or find a flashlight with really good batteries….

  • Peggy

    Got my copy in the mail yesterday and read it yesterday, Loved it . Thanks for the good read .

  • Asa

    I don’t read the blog that often or comment, but I just wanted to say that I just finnished AGUKOP and it was so so good. Just magical. Thanks so much for making my weekend wonderful 🙂