While my book was technically available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in mid-February, my self-declared official book launch date was March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. This was the day I introduced the book to friends. By then, the book was also available at the two Christian bookstores in Fargo. The following week I introduced it to my coworkers at the Diocese of Fargo Pastoral Center. Over Easter, my sister in Grand Forks helped me distribute books to her friends there. And the following week, I visited the Christian bookstore in Sauk Centre, MN and my parents, who stocked up on some copies to give to more family and friends.
Through these weeks, I was adamant about keeping Candle’s Great Feast off of Facebook (that’s the only social media platform I have the sanity to endure). I wasn’t concerned about reaching people besides family and friends. That way when people I didn’t know started seeing the book, I could rely on having a small audience already to leave reviews on Amazon and include positive comments on my Facebook posts. I could also highlight the bookstores that had the book in stock.
This little incubation period helped me see that I had a solid product to sell. While God had consoled me many times on my journey, I still wondered quite often how the book would be received. Would family and friends buy it because they felt obligated and then never speak of it again? The overprotective book-mom in me wanted to keep it locked away in my little tower so that it could never get hurt. At least with this limited audience, it was unlikely to endure much hardship. And if it did, I could slowly develop a thicker skin to bad reviews.
The more feedback I received, the more convinced I became that God was in the absolute center of this thing. People I hadn’t even considered told me they were touched by it. As an audience, I only ever considered kids (First Communion age and under) and their parents.
My favorite feedback so far is from a dad friend. He said that while he was—yet again—reading the book to his two-year-old, his pre-teen children discussed the symbolism of light and self-sacrifice. While I was writing the book, I did not consider how the 10-13 year-olds would see it. Another note I enjoyed was from one of my aunts after she read the book to her granddaughter. “[The book] is so simple yet it is such a reminder to us older people how much we appreciate the Holy Eucharist.” I wasn’t considering grandparents either.
So if you ask me the common question: “what age is the book for?” I’ll probably give you a complicated answer. Officially, I guess you’d shelf it next to the age 2-6 books. But in my mind it’s for the parent who reads books to their kids. It’s for those about to make their First Communion, who are preparing themselves to receive an indescribable gift. It’s for the teenager on the threshold of adulthood, questioning God’s plan for them. It’s for the godparent reading the book deciding whether or not to give it to their godchild. It’s for young children who I hope never lose sight of Jesus in their lives. It’s for adults who feel God has abandoned them or feel God’s love and mercy isn’t for them. It’s for anyone who needs a little hope and happiness.
Since the book was born in adoration, my greatest hope is that everyone who encounters it will grow closer to Jesus, and especially in their devotion to the Eucharist. I know I have.