Since my book launch I’ve been asked the question ‘How does it feel to have a book published?’ at least four thousand and seventy nine times. And I must admit, my answer is different every time I’m asked, not only because I find it hard to give a short answer, but also because something new pops up every single day. With that being said, here are a few things I’ve learned since December 12, 2018.
- Launch Day is not Launch (as in ‘like a Rocket’) Day. It’s the first time you set your book baby in a little sailboat and send it out into the big ocean entitled ‘Publishing.’ Just like the ocean, the Publishing World (Known as PW hereafter) is fickle. There will be days when the breeze isn’t blowing and the boat doesn’t move- then, out of nowhere, a gust of wind comes along and you zoom along on your journey. Don’t judge one day as better than the next. Just go with it. Things are happening beneath the surface that you know nothing about and ripples sometimes take a long time to reach the shore.
- Take breaks from promotions and events. This is hard for me because I feel like people will forget about my SUPER COLOSSAL LIFE-ALTERING STORY if I stop. But my book is out there in the PW if I’m promoting it or not. And when you’re not staring at something so hard your eyes bug out of your head, you tend to gain perspective. So as much as it terrifies you, be sure to step away at times. It helps you see the big picture. P.S. One of the best forms of promotion is a little thing called ‘Word-of-Mouth.’ It’s surprising how many people have heard of my novel through a friend of a friend of a friend of the person I talked to at the Post Office. So never fear- a good story gains momentum all on its own.
- The people who become your biggest fans may surprise you. I’ve had people SO excited to read my book, come to my signings, yada yada yada… who haven’t done a darn thing. And I (sorta) hold no grudges. I get it… life gets in the way. But here’s the really coolpart. I’ve had people I didn’t expect, people I didn’t even know, come out of the woodwork and support me in ways I never imagined. So don’t assume the people who can’t stop tooting your horn are going to join the band. Stay open, and try not to be offended if people say they are going to do something and DON’T EVER DO IT. It doesn’t speak of you or your talent or your story, it speaks only of what it going on with them at the present moment.
- See above when it comes to reviews. I always politely ask for one when people contact me to tell me they loved (or liked) my book. So far, not one person has turned me down. And still… they DON’T DO IT! Crazy, right? Especially when it takes about 26 seconds (unless you want to go all- out). Don’t be surprised by the number of people who forget, and I blame our fast-paced society for some of it. So many things are whizzing by in the peripheral of daily life that a little thing like a book review tends to get lost in the shuffle. Just pick the people you can politely remind without seeming like a nutcase- and politely remind them.
- Publication isn’t the end of your writing journey- it’s the beginning. Continue to enter contests, continue to send stuff out to publications you admire, scout for agents, join pitch slams, sign more contracts, join writing clubs, attend book signings, be organic and authentic and whatever you do- NEVER STOP GROWING! I think writers are so excited when they finally get a bite in the PW that they think… ‘whew, I can relax now. It’s all downhill from here.’ And in a way, it is. But on the other hand (and there is always another hand), the Craft doesn’t take a breather because you signed a contract, and neither does the fast pace of the PW- so be open to opportunities even while you bask in the glow of seeing your ‘BookBaby’ born.
- Keep a tight hold on what matters most. For me, that’s family. I love how my husband and four children ground me, how they ask me about the book but then go on talking about district basketball games or semi-formals. ‘Evening in the Yellow Wood’ is not (and should not be) the center of their universe. Which is REALLY GOOD. We’re already obsessed with our darlings enough as it is, and the last thing we need is a bunch of Superfans living under the same roof! So relish the fourth grader who just wants you to pack their school lunch five minutes before you have to leave for work, And then pack the school lunch.
- Be prepared for haters. As weird as this sounds, there are people out there in the PW and beyond who will not like you simply because you did something they didn’t have the courage to do themselves. Amazon and Goodreads give them a public forum to, at times, attack your work. Let’s get something straight- I am NOT talking about constructive criticism in any way, shape or form. I spent four years at WMU and had my fair share of people rip my work to shreds (in a nice way, of course). If a reviewer gives me a 1 star review but seems to know their Ps and Qs, more power to them. What I’m talking about is the reviewer who criticizes a plot point that was never in the book to begin with , or complaining about spelling and/or grammatical errors when their own review is chock full of them. My best advice is to let the bad reviews/comments flow off your back like water off a duck (to quote my Grandpa Taylor). Hard to do… yes- but you just look petty if you argue back. (on a side note…I did argue back when a woman at my book signing wanted me to change my MC because she was ‘too shallow.’ I looked at her and said, “The book is published now. She’s kind of a ‘done deal.” Other people laughed, and I must admit- that shut her up!)
In conclusion (yes, sometimes I still feel like these blog posts are high school essay papers) I’m sure this crazy journey will take me down some side roads I didn’t expect, but, all in all, having a book published has been a roller coaster ride that I, as an artist, wasn’t prepared for. I hope this post helps other writers know they aren’t alone when they feel some (or all) of the things described above. Don’t sweat it. I am here to personally welcome you to the PW Support Group.
P.S. I have a sneaking suspicion there are days even NYT Bestsellers would agree they belong in the chair right beside us.