Monday, July 8, 2013

Countdown to book release!

For a first-time author, the days and weeks leading up to a book release are filled with nail-biting tension, queasy stomachs, and barely-restrained impatience. If you can't picture it, imagine sitting in the ER waiting to be seen.

Yeah, THAT feeling.

Like the person in the waiting room, the first-time author has to keep in mind that he or she is NOT the only person in that waiting room... there are others who have been waiting longer or who might have more serious conditions (even if not readily detected.)  They have to wait their turn.  The author's first book might be the most important thing in their life at that moment, but the publisher has anywhere from a dozen to a couple hundred books in the queue. 

Believe me, it's hard to believe after months and perhaps years of working on a manuscript to discover that all your hard work is merely another small fish in a very large pond... and some of the other fish may be quite a bit bigger.  It's easy to get discouraged when you try to contact your publisher and they don't get back to you within fifteen minutes (all two dozen other authors who hit the "Send" button at the same time you did feel the same way.)  It seems like things are never going to happen. A publication date that is three months off may as well be three years off... the calendar seems stuck in last week and no matter how many times you check your e-mail you still find no response from the publisher.  I'm sure the publisher would love, just once, to check his or her e-mail and find "No new messages"; it might give him or her a chance to catch up (or at least, go to the bathroom!)

Then things start to happen... suddenly, you're getting messages regarding text block, cover image, ordering guidelines, event postings to the publisher's website.  You check your publisher's website and there you are and there is the title of your book and suddenly that "Coming (fill in date) from (publishing house name)!" takes on real meaning.  And the real panic begins... not unlike that of a parent whose 5-year-old is about to make their debut recital performance.

Did Hemingway feel this way?

Maybe that's why he spent so much time HERE....

What am I doing?  What was I thinking?  I'm not ready for this! What if it bombs? What if no one likes it? What if it's really not that good?  Maybe it needs more work... maybe I can still catch it before it gets printed... maybe it will be easier to just change my name and become an accountant...

That's about where I am now.

This is when the calm, soothing voice of reason jumps in (He goes by the name of Paul.  I've been married to him for 25 years.  He's seen this before, many times.)  That's the voice that says that my publisher wouldn't have invested the time and effort if she didn't think the book was good enough to publish.  That I worked for too long and too hard to bail now.  That I can't please everyone all the time and people are free to like or dislike what they please and it's no reflection on my talent or personality if the book doesn't make the NY Times best-seller list (or the Ruidoso News, but they don't have a best-seller list... to my knowledge.)

And that, at the end of the day, what matters is that, after 20-plus years of writing, revising, editing, submitting, being rejected, and trying again... that my novel is going to be published.

THAT is a really good feeling!

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