Dan Counsell

Post Launch Depression

Wednesday, 27th August 2014

It’s Thursday evening, I’m feeling nervous, almost sick. I’m pacing around the kitchen staring at my phone like nothing else in the world matters. Everything rests on this, any minute now I’ll know for sure. I’ll find out if we made it.

Apple updates the App Store every Thursday.

I was hoping it would be featured. Apple had requested promotional artwork, but then that’s no guarantee. I guess it won’t happen, I’m never that lucky. I kept telling myself not to get my hopes up, not to get too excited. If it’s not featured, I’m going to feel miserable. Deflated. I shouldn't really, I should just be happy we actually managed to get it shipped.

Thinking about it rationally, why would Apple pick our app out of the thousands that are submitted every week? No, it was silly to get my hopes up. But then you do, you can’t help it. Fingers crossed.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

Still nothing. The Store has usually updated by now. I can’t take it anymore. Probably best to go make dinner and try and forget about it for a bit. I try to cross my toes for good luck.

One last refresh…

Boom! There it is. My heart literally skips a beat. I feel a massive rush of adrenaline, a spike of dopamine, a dizzy kind of high.

Double check, yes, there it is. The app is featured!

The app we’d slaved over for months. Appearing front and centre. The prime spot. The main banner on the App Store. Yes! We’d finally done it. We’d made it.

The app went to number 1 worldwide, but nothing lasts forever. Over the coming days and weeks, it sank down in the charts as newer apps were released and featured. It had a week of riding high in the charts, then the inevitable drop came. It’s crushing to watch your app free-fall out of the charts. It’s as if your mood is directly tied to chart positions.

I always get a post-launch lull, it’s horrible. I call it post-launch depression (PLD). I've not heard it openly talked about before, but it exists. I know it does because I get it after every launch.

Drawing of someone feeling low or depressed

Releasing an app is like a drug, it gets you hooked. You want to feel that high again. The adrenaline you get from shipping a product is addicting. Reading the reviews, seeing where it lands in the charts. Hoping it gets into the top ten, reading about it in the press. Secretly wishing it’s a number 1 hit. I never get tired of it.

Every launch is the same. Check the App Store, read the reviews, refresh twitter, check email, repeat ad nauseam until the early hours of the morning. Try and get some sleep. The positive comments make you feel on top of the world, like you’re unstoppable, a creative genius. Ten positive reviews for every bad one. The bad ones always hurt, they cut deep. Doesn’t matter that there are more good than bad. I try to ignore the trolls and haters but it’s not easy, it feels like a personal attack. But the good reviews, the positive comments, the nice emails, that makes it all worthwhile.

Knowing people love what I’ve poured my heart and soul into is a buzz like nothing else.

I've been building and shipping software for over ten years now. I’ve been exceedingly lucky. Every app I’ve launched since the introduction of the App Store has landed in the top ten, a handful have made it to number 1 and all of them have been featured by Apple on numerous occasions. I’m truly grateful for this. I’ve never taken any of it for granted.

What will I do when my luck runs out. I don’t know. For now, I’m just looking forward to the next release. That next big adrenaline rush.

Oh, and there is one more thing…

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