How to Cope with Book Launch Anxiety

As an extreme introvert with an anxiety disorder, I can simultaneously be looking forward to something and wanting to crawl in a hole and hide until it’s over. Such is my state of mind over my upcoming book launch event on Saturday. I am so excited to celebrate with everyone, but terrified of being the center of attention.

Author Kerry Gans has Book Launch AnxietyMy anxiety level has already swung upward, with several almost-panic attacks barely avoided this week. My protective avoidance behaviors have been strong as well, with fatigue wanting me to sleep all day to still the anxious thoughts swirling in my brain. After 2 hours of errands (many related to the launch) today, I gave in and slept for an hour and a half. Not the most productive use of my time, perhaps, but sometimes it is necessary to indulge the anxiety in order to knock it back down to a manageable level.

And what of the big day? How am I going to handle Saturday? There are two approaches I could take: keeping busy or keeping quiet. Both options work, but there are tradeoffs with each.

If I keep busy, I have less time to think myself into an anxiety attack. I have less time to dwell on the anxiety, and so it tends not to grow as large. The tradeoff is that by keeping busy I use up a great deal of my social energy, leaving very little by the time I actually get to the book launch event, and that might make the launch less enjoyable as fatigue catches up with me.

If I keep quiet, I use little of my social energy, but I have a much greater chance of curling up into a sobbing ball before launch time and being a wreck the entire time I am there. Too much time to think, to feel, can be very dangerous for me. What if I get sick? What if my car breaks down? What if no one comes? What if I have a heart attack in front of everyone? What if the store catches fire? (You see what I have to deal with in my head?)

So which have I chosen for Saturday? As it turns out, I am busy by default. My daughter has to be at my parents’ house by 9:15, so I’ll be up and out early. I have scheduled a tax accountant meeting for 11 am (my accountant lives near my folks), and at 1 pm I need to head up to Doylestown for a Craftwriting workshop with Kathryn Craft. Then I will buzz out of there at 4 and hop over to the Doylestown Bookshop for the launch event at 5.

Busy it is, then. I think that’s the better option for me, because when my anxiety level is very high, busy is more effective than quiet. Quiet will be reserved for Sunday, when I will get to sleep late and relax—and enjoy remembering what I know will be a fun and successful book launch the night before.

I hope to see many of you at the launch on Saturday. And if you see my face turn bright red, that’s just my anxiety trying to crash the party. Ignore it—I plan to!

How do you cope with out-sized anxiety?


  1. Kerry, I hope it helps you to know you will have friends there who care about you and are supportive. I am so happy for your public debut as a published author, but recognize your anxiety. If I can help, let me know.

    • Kerry Gans says

      Thanks, Ann! Nothing to do but plunge in at this point. 🙂 Knowing my tribe will be there is a great comfort to me.

  2. As a fellow introvert, I completely understand your feelings. It sounds like you’ve got a good plan. I also do not like to be the center of attention and would also feel anxious in your shoes. But when we create things, we also want to share them at some point and so being the center of attention is inevitable.. Sometimes it helps me to remember that all the people who come to an event to stand by you are really doing just that. People will understand the nerves. You’ve made something in your book and within the writing community by supporting others along the way. People want to share that with you now and help you in the way you’ve helped them.

    • Kerry Gans says

      Thanks, Kate! I was telling myself this very thing today–that the people there are my friends and fellow authors, and they are there to support me. It does make me feel better!

  3. Cheering you on, oh talented writer! I know anxiety is real and I love how you are transparent about it. Helps us to be ‘real’ ourselves! Wish I could make the launch but have plans with my husband already. Sending prayers of peace, though! I’m thrilled for you1

    • Kerry Gans says

      Thanks, Lisa! I found a long time ago that trying to “hide” the anxiety just made it worse, so now I try to be open about it. And I find that it helps fight the stigma people with all sorts of mental illnesses face every day if we talk about problems like this openly. So sorry you can’t make the launch, but I know you’ll be there in spirit.


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