On warming up to the launch of my book on the artist Sam Francis

By Gabrielle Selz

I’m less than five months out from my book launch, and it still feels unreal to me. The manuscript is finished, but the material thingness of it doesn’t yet exist. It is out of my reach, gone off to the printer, but I still haven’t held a hard copy in my hands. Galleys have been sent to trade reviews and long lead magazines. There are stirrings of interest that feel exciting and nerve-racking.

Because my book is a biography of an artist, the actual “launch” will occur in conjunction with shows of the artist’s paintings at galleries in Los Angeles and New York. I’ll give a talk, and I’ve begun to think about what I’ll say. Writing a book is a solitary process (except when workshopping with my North24th tribe), but launching a book into the public realm is social. People want to know how you found your subject and what compelled you to tell the story. Many of my writer friends talk of their book birthdays. They describe launching a book as an actual birth. For me, the labor is done—and I do miss the labor. The book was fully born when I finished the last sentence. The launching feels like a wedding. It’s a celebration where I emerge from the private sphere and stand up and let the public know: this is what I chose, this is what I stand beside, and this is how our story came to be.


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