Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is there a right way or wrong way?

So, this is how it goes.

We write a book.

But it's more than just writing.
It's pouring
into that book.

And if the stars and planets are aligned JUST RIGHT we might actually sell that book and get it published.

So then, one day, we are happy, like this:

And for awhile, we are busy with revisions and line-edits and cover joy and first-pass pages until one day, it's all done.


But the reality hits. One part is over. And another part is just beginning. The marketing and selling part. And as the date our book will be out in the world gets closer, we start to look more like this:
Many people who haven't been through the process of making a book don't understand this part. Why would you be anything less than happy? You have a book coming out. Your dream is coming true!! But, we worry. We worry about letting our publisher down, looking like a failure to others, bad reviews, no reviews, low sales, and on and on. Not only that, but we look around and see the successful books and we want our book to be LIKE THAT. So, combine worry with envy and you have a bad combination. It's authorly angst at its worst!

This is all normal, I suppose. But I've been thinking lately about how I see authors *respond* to this part of the process.

Some authors deal by talking about their books pretty much non-stop.

Some authors deal by becoming a marketing machine. They add more and more and more things to their plate, spending every spare minute on marketing.

Some authors deal by unplugging and disappearing from the internet completely, wanting to live in the world of Ignorance is Bliss.

Some plunge into a new book, finding solace there.

And still others deal by talking with others in the business who understand and can offer some perspective. Here I'm reminded of Sara Zarr's wisdom, which she shared with Cynthia Leitich Smith in THIS interview. "A book is a wonderful, miraculous thing. But in some sense, it's also just a book." It's often others in the business who can remind us that it's not the end of the world if a book doesn't perform the way we want it to, or hope it will.

I'm sure there are other ways I'm not thinking of at this moment.

I think I deal by understanding that there will be disappointments in this business. And there will also be surprises. We can't control what we get. And I really don't want to live in a state of miserable angst all the time - it's NOT FUN!! So, I do what I can do promotion-wise with somewhat of a plan, try to let the worry go, and I start back at the beginning, with this:

I write a book.

But I'm curious. Do you think there's a right way? Is there a wrong way? Or is it just understanding that everyone's different and everyone simply has to figure out what works for them?


  1. This is a brilliant thought provoking post. I'm not sure I have any answers especially since my book isn't out yet, but I think that Sara Zarr is one wise chick.

  2. As one who is in the middle of it, I love this post. Right after the book comes out people are talking and oohing and aahing over your baby, but attention quickly turns (as it should) to the next person's baby.

    It's so easy to get caught up in the numbers - Goodreads ratings, Amazon rankings and Twitter followers - to rate the worth of the book. It just takes one email from someone who was touched by your book to remember why we do this.

  3. Thanks for the great thought-provoking post. I'm not yet where you are, and still I feel considerable pressure. Good luck with this adventure. In the end, I'm sure the marketing stress will be worth it.

  4. I love technology and I am so, so grateful to the blogosphere for the wonderful community and boost that it gives to writers. But the downside of technology is that the opportunity for navel-gazing is endless and this is maybe not so healthy for (naturally insecure) authors. A book is a book. It's not family or friends or the real tangible things that truly matter.

    Then again, I try to not beat myself up for worrying. This is my job. Who doesn't worry about their job? I've found that the best relief for me, Lisa, is to try focus on a new project and escape into the creative process. Of course, once you finish that, you have something new to fret about.

  5. This is so lovely to read while I'm in the midst of posting about publicity. Thanks for the balanced, honest glimpse.

  6. Every couple of weeks or so, I quit. I tell the stinking internet and publicity wheel where she can stuff it. I slam the door to the study. I take the dog for a five mile walk. That night, T cheat like crazy and climb into bed with other writers' books. A day later, I'm back at it. It's the way of love.

  7. Great post!

    I tend toward being a control freak, so plans and to-do lists make me feel better. :) But those can get overwhelming, too, b/c there's always something more that can be crammed onto the plate. So then I try to remember just to breathe. And jump into the next project. Getting excited about a new WIP helps me be more objective about what happens to the book out in the world. (Maybe b/c I start transferring those hopes & dreams to the new project!)

  8. I love to write, even on the days when it's torture. What I don't love is selling part--and if there's a magic formula for getting your name out there, I wish I knew what it was. (More blogging? More tweeting? YouTube?) Sometimes it feels as if nothing I do publicity-wise can possibly be enough.

    But I agree with Cynjay: one heartfelt email by an actual reader makes it all okay.

  9. When you are down, envision your book being propped up on the "new" shelf in the library, where eager middle school students fight over it. (That's already happened at my library!) Envision your book in backpacks, taken out for study hall, returned, checked out again. Envision it less shiny, crinkled, with pages dog eared. This happens. I see it every day. You don't. I only have one signature on the circulation card-- give me a year or two to fill it up and I will send it to you!