- Brandi Bradley
Mini Hype Man
Last week, Mothers of the Missing Mermaid launched, and it was a strange experience. Fulfilling lifelong dreams often are. While I felt like I had ditched any romanticism about publishing years ago, the little baby writer in me imagined a launch date like Carrie Bradshaw’s in Sex and the City: little pink cakes, fancy dresses, important people telling me how excited they were.
I did my best to recreate this on my own level. We were going to have an intimate home party. I teased possibly doing an Instagram live feed during the party so long-distance guests could chime in. But I kept putting everything off. I was procrastinating my own coming-out party.
On the actual day of the launch, I still needed to buy party supplies and bake a cake. I needed to find sparkling cider. I’m making my list but all I keep doing is going back to my social media feeds, my sales page, and my email to see who was checking in.
I wish I knew how to be cool about it all. I see where writers post on social media that they have a book coming out, and it’s no big deal. It’s business as usual for them. I wrote a thing, someone published it, I guess people like it, on to the next thing! They have millions of followers and fans and are not worried at all that this endeavor was a mistake.
I was not being cool. I was looking at my sales page and feeling incredibly vulnerable. I’d been hyping it up for a while now, and here it was. People could read it.
Hubs tells me, “The hard part is over. Writing the book was the hard part. Everything else is just gravy.” Which would be great advice for a normal person. But I am not a normal person.
So I ran errands. I found tiny bottles of sparkling cider for the party. I stopped off at Sephora and Target. I bought some pants. I kind of treated it like it was my birthday. And on my way to Kroger, I had a fleeting moment where I thought, “I don’t have to throw myself a party and bake a cake when there are many lovely restaurants near me where I could ask them to bring me a slice of cake and not have a home with chocolate cake in it all week.
It might seem like a cop-out. I could have thrown a party and insisted people stop by and celebrate me. I could have guilted all my friends into appearing on a Zoom or IG stream. But I have a hard time with that. One of the reasons I didn’t want to have a wedding was that I did not want anyone to feel obligated to celebrate me. This is my hang-up and I have a lovely therapist who is working with me on it – but the last thing I want is for any of my people to think, “Well, we have to go to this party because Brandi did something again. She’s gotta make everything about her…” And while others might view this person in my head as not worth my time because everyone else wants to celebrate me, I have a near-impossible time believing that’s true. For many years, I worried that Hubs married me because I conned him into it, and he has had buyer's remorse every day since.
I call home and announce the change. Hubs is pleased. He started researching Italian restaurants near us. W. is pleased because he loves Italian food. Behr is disappointed.
“What about the sparkling cider?”
“We’ll still drink it.”
“But when we get home from dinner, everybody’s just going to go to bed. No one is going to want to hang out.”
“We can still hang out.”
“Can we play Uno?”
“We can still hang out.” Behr – like most living, breathing humans – loves to play Uno, but his trash-talk infuriates W. and it often ends in a storm off. I didn’t want that on my launch night. I considered making them watch Romancing the Stone, so I could introduce them to The Joan Wilder.
“You never have to make me watch Romancing the Stone,” Hubs declares. “I love Romancing the Stone.”
Before we left for dinner, once everyone was dressed in their sharpest outfits, I poured up the sparkling cider for them and a glass of sparkling wine for me. I made them gather in the studio. Behr and I had been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and we’d forgotten to turn it off before the toast. Hubs said some nice things. W. said, “To mom!” Behr instantly fell in love with Sparkling Cider, “This is GOOD!”
The restaurant Hubs picked was nice, but we were the most dressed up. Behr ordered ginger ale because he is under the impression that white wine is just ginger ale with alcohol added to it. I think he was disappointed that it didn’t taste like the sparkling cider he downed at the house. When he asked the waiter to please swap his drink to a “real Coke”, the waiter asked, “Is this a birthday y’all are celebrating?”
I had a mouthful of bread. I waved him away, “No, no. No birthday.” I couldn’t say what we were celebrating. Mostly because my mouth was full of hot bread, but also suddenly this thing that I could not shut up about on social media was the one thing I couldn’t say to another live human. I was suddenly shy – a label that no one has ever placed on me ever. Hubs was going to let it go. W. was oblivious in a “I wish I was streaming YouTube right now,” kind of way. Maybe he was streaming in his mind while we talked. Behr on the other hand is looking around at all of us, waiting for someone to say it, waiting for an adult to say it, waiting on me to brag about myself. He pointed at me and said, “SHE WROTE A BOOK! WE’RE CELEBRATING HER BOOK!”
The waiter smiled and congratulated me.
We had our meal and ordered both the tiramisu and a lemon cake. We split them all, judging which one we liked the best. The waiter returned with a plate of mini cannolis. “Because this is a celebration, I brought you these on the house.”
I thanked him and we sampled them. He asked me questions about the book and told me he loved to read. He also told me he was a songwriter and we discussed that for a while.
Before we left, I dug around in my wallet, hoping that I had a business card somewhere. I was going to leave it with the check. But Behr wanted to personally hand the card to the waiter. “LOOK! HE’S RIGHT THERE! GIVE IT! I’LL HAND IT TO HIM. LET ME DO IT!”
I said no and left it with the check as planned.
When we got home, we put on cozies and watched Muppets. Later, Behr asked me if he could take a copy of my book to his teacher.
I’m a little surprised and pleased with all who have celebrated and wanted to promote me. But I don’t think I could ask for a publicist as devoted to promoting me as Behr has been. My little hype man, he’s going to tell people that I have a book no matter how awkward I am about it. And honestly, that’s what I need.
Some might be surprised that I would feel shy when it comes to promoting myself. I rarely exude the energy of a person who doubts themselves, but most of that bravado is a cover. I do need help sometimes. I do need people to promote me. And I do need to allow people to do that.
I had some excellent and surprising promotions from others outside of my home. Someone who got an early copy wrote a positive Amazon review. My sister-in-law posted on her Facebook, “My sister-in-law wrote a book and y’all better buy it!” Behr did take a book to his teacher. And my friend Miss S. purchased multiple copies that she plans to gift people on Mother’s Day.
And while having the book out there feels like crossing a finish line, it’s really just a new beginning. Now is the time for promotion and trying to get it in bookstores and libraries. I want to host workshops and do speaking events. And I want to write the next one – a murder mystery that I’ve been working on for a while now.
Thanks so everyone who now has a copy of this book. It would be incredibly helpful to me if after you read it please write a positive review, share the book with a friend, or send me a blurb that I can use for promotional materials. You can always reach me @brandibradleysboots on Instagram and @bebebradley on Twitter. Or you can always email me.
Read Books. Wear Boots.