When I woke up (always a good thing!) and discovered there were no scribes serenading me at my window and I still had insufficient follicular coverage, it looked as though launch day would indeed be just another day. I tried to maintain my equanimity as I proceeded to do all the things I usually do: take my dog out for her walk, eat breakfast, shower, dress, get to work.
But I found as I sat on the bus heading for downtown that I was . . . well, excited. I mean, it took years of hard work to reach this moment and I wanted to "feel" it as much as possible. Even if it felt like another day, it wasn't, and I wanted to make it special. When I opened my e-mail, I found a happy launch day e-mail from my lovely publicist Lisa at Ballantine, which was very cheering.
After lunch, my partner Erik and I went to peruse a few local bookstores and there it was! It's truly an amazing feeling to walk into a bookstore (we actually went to three) and find your book there. The store personnel were all quite friendly when I approached them and let me autograph the copies. Then my brother called from Boston, where he was staying for a few days, and told me he called the local Borders to reserve a copy of the book. When the staff person said he had one copy and asked under what name my brother wanted it reserved, my brother said, "Gortner; my brother wrote it." The staff person then told him they'd had 10 or 12 copies in stock and had sold all but one out by that morning. "We need to order more," he added. "It's popular."
Suddenly, it felt like a very good day, indeed. It might just have been that one store; it might be a fluke, and hey, it's just 10 or 12 copies - but it's what every writer wants to hear on launch day. That wierd anxiety I'd been carrying with me dissipated. I realized that like everything else in life that is fleeting, I needed to savor this moment. For no matter how well or badly I do as a writer, one thing is for certain:
A day like this never comes again. Like your first love, you only get one first launch day.