Sunday, 31 July 2022

The book launch rollercoaster


My second children's novel - The Mermaid Call - came out earlier this month. And blimey, was I nervous. Dreams of failure stalked my sleep, panic rose as proofs flew out to be reviewed, jitters increased over plans for an actual live event. A real rollercoaster of emotion - despite the occasion being joyous!

It was such a different experience from my debut children's book, The House on the Edge, last year, which was released into the world just after another lockdown, when shops and schools were still unable to hold public events. This time there was no excuse not to push myself out there along with those review proofs. And, while my comfort zone leans towards contented solitude, I'm very glad I did. Despite my pre-launch nerves, I've ended up truly enjoying a month of celebrating, some wonderful feedback and kind reviews and the greatest pleasure of all: bookshop and school visits.

Launch event jitters

On publication day, I held a launch at the ever brilliant Mr B's Emporium bookshop in Bath. A school night, so it was mainly local friends and writers. And despite my growing catalogue of what ifs (what if no one comes, what if I forget my speech, what if no one likes the book, what if I burn the cakes...), it turned into an event to remember. Joyous and tearful and a celebration of all stories (not just mine!). It wasn't only about launching my book into the world, it served as a brilliant reminder of how lucky I am to be surrounded by such compassionate, kind, fun people in my life. 

Nail-biting wait for reviews

A glass of launch fizz aside, there is one part that never gets any easier: waiting nervously for the first reviews to come in. Reviews from teachers and educationalists, other writers and book bloggers. And while I often read them with eyes half-closed, I appreciate them so much - the time they take, the wonderful words and insights, the feeling of reassurance that you haven't written a disaster after all. (And no, you should never check Goodreads - but I don't think I'll ever be disciplined enough to resist a scroll!)

Bookshop visits

Yet, without a doubt, one of the best things about a new book being released is taking the opportunity to tour a few bookshops to sign copies. I also did a couple of activity sessions too - finally meeting some readers in bookshops! I also did a lot of observing and appreciating how fantastic booksellers are at what they do - how they engage, include and make their child customers and their families feel like they're being heard, appreciated and considered. Selling stories really is more than a trade, it's a magical service that promotes connections and empathy and enjoyment - and I was honoured to get glimpses of all of that on my mini bookshop tour.

A new school workshop

Last but not at all least: school visits. I get really excited about inventing new workshops to hopefully engage and spark the imaginations of students. The one to accompany The Mermaid Call focuses on making your own monster or mermaid legend and quest story. I launched it a couple of weeks ago at a school and nothing beats finding out what works well, and maybe also what doesn't, than interacting directly with your child readers. Plus - at the end of the day - connecting with readers ... it's what it's all about.

So, a huge, marvellous, mermaid THANK YOU to everyone who celebrated with me via events or reviews or signings or activity sessions. I intend to be swimming out more over the coming months and trying to remember to enjoy the rollercoaster, wherever it might take me next! 

Alex Cotter’s middle-grade novel THE MERMAID CALL was published on 7 July 2022 with Nosy Crow. She has also written THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE. Find her at or on Twitter: @AlexFCotter


Sue Purkiss said...

Hope the book does really well!

Alex Cotter said...

Thanks Sue!! x