Book baby blues

With less than a week to go before the release of my first novel, I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on anything at all. One of the children has exams next week, husband has a law exam next Saturday, the dog has to go to the vet for his annual jabs. And all I can think about is Friday.

We planned the celebratory meal for Friday evening, bought the champagne and other goodies. But have I thought about what kind of comfort food I’m going to give my Baccalauréat scholar when he comes in from the ordeal of four hours of Philosophy, or his Italian oral exam when he can speak Italian about as well as I can speak Aramaic? Of course not. Have I considered that with a law exam on Saturday, for which he has had hardly any time to revise, my other half might not really feel like pushing the boat out on Friday evening? Like hell I have. This book lark has turned me from a reasonably exemplary caring mother, into an irritable, navel-gazing recluse.

There has been such a build up to this release, pushed back twice, from February, to May then to June, that I have been living in a sort of unpublished limbo. The book has been finished, with a cover, a blurb and reviews to go with it for months. I’ve been pushing it under everybody’s nose as if it was already a ‘real’ book. So what exactly will change next Friday? If I am perfectly honest about it, probably not much. Even if it sold millions of copies the first day I wouldn’t know about it, so, apart from admiring the pretty picture on Amazon, what will I do?

Friday should be the culmination of years of work. On Friday, the dream is supposed to come true. But will it? Perhaps the snappiness, and the feeling that my gut has been through the wringer is due to fear of failure, that my first novel, so long in the preparation will turn out to be a damp squib. Is this what all on-the-verge-of-being-published writers feel? I have heard publishing a book described as being like having a baby. But with a baby you actually get something to take home with you. Not only is it to take home and keep, but you have the responsibility of nurturing it and turning it into a civilised human being: take your eye off the ball for a moment and terrible things happen. But when a book is published, the author’s input stops, apart from the dreaded promotion, and there must be a sense of anti-climax lurking on the edges of the champagne cork-popping euphoria.

I have a feeling I know the answer, not to how other authors feel on the day their book is released, but to how to get over the book baby blues. Forget about the first five minute wonder, and write another one.

Pasternak trying to write the sequel
Pasternak trying to write the sequel

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

10 thoughts on “Book baby blues”

  1. I felt like I’d crossed the Rubicon when Thumb went live. There’s a sense of ‘Christ, I’m a writer now, I can’t turn back’, especially when you have a series ahead of you. I feel a bit stunned, not in an anti-climactic way, but because I’ve realised that this really is what I want to do, and everything else is irrelevant (well not everything but you know what I mean). In my head I’ve burned a whole load of bridges and probably made a colossal rod for my own back. But it’s an exhilarating feeling. The one thing I will say is that it looks like it will take months, of not years, to get traction. I think I now actually need to stop thinking about the first book and get on with the second, then come back and see how Thumb is doing in 6 months time, instead of checking sales on a daily basis 🙂

    1. I’m sure you’re right about the way to go. Even if promotion, promotion and more promotion is meant to be the small/self published author’s leitmotif, I fully intend to push on with getting more books out rather than plugging away with the one I’ve got. Seeing the book up on Amazon will certainly be a strange feeling. But I am quite honestly dreading it.

  2. I’m not sure promotion promotion promotion is the right way to go – though I’m probably not enough of a self-publicist. Some writers seem to go overboard and constantly hammer on about their books on twitter and FB, the latest reviews, etc.. I’d rather just keeping putting up stuff I think interests people and hope that leads them to the blog and the book, and build up a little audience over time that way. There’s a fine line between promotion and spam, I keep thinking of the story of the guy who put bookmarks advertising his works inside books in Waterstones, and then wondered why they got majorly pissed off (he was effectively sending them to a rival – Amazon). Having a book online is exciting! (though a little bit scary)

  3. Oddly enough, this post crossed an open letter to us all from the publisher reminding us all that promotion is the key to success. If a book doesn’t sell it’s because of lack of promotion. One man’s promotion though is another man’s spam. I think you’re right to emphasise the importance of image. You attract readers to your book through giving them an idea of what you are like: you can write, you have interesting things to say on a wide range of subjects, you have a sense of humour, you don’t take yourself too seriously. They won’t get that information from spam, they might get it from reading your blog.

  4. Nothing turns me off as much as overly promotional writers. I won’t read their books. Period.

    Enjoy your book’s release, Jane. I’ve read it and am telling you: you have a book to be proud of. Bask in the glow. At least two days. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Margaret. One of the things that puts me off Twitter is the constant plugs for books, praise, favourite lines etc. I’m afraid I just don’t pay much attention. When you’ve read the blurb once, you don’t want it rammed down your throat over and over. If it didn’t appeal the first time, by the tenth time it’s raising the blood pressure.

  5. I’m always full of admiration for anyone who writes a book, never mind actually gets it published so a large hamper of congratulations to you. I’m sure the delays have been stressful but the achievement is very real for all that

  6. Sounds like you family has a number of achievements to celebrate. Must be a bit like siblings having birthdays too close to each other and nobody gets that golden attention. It could become a thanksgiving day, acknowledging how you all in many subtle ways supported each other. A toast to you, and best success for your first literary baby.

    1. Thank you, Ashen. Whatever comes of our efforts, the point to remember is that at least we have made them. Hugh, so far has acheived notoriety in being the coollest dude in the family when it comes to exams, husband will be adding a second law diploma to his PhD, and I will have finally hatched that book. I’ll be thinking of all my supportive virtual friends when we finally crack open the champagne. Cheers!

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