Now that some time has gone by since Romance Is My Day Job came out, I made a list of what I learned. Since age nineteen, I’d always wanted to publish a book, many books. Was it all that I’d thought it would be? Yes and no. The best parts were the process of writing/editing, holding the hardcover in my hands and seeing my loved ones at my B&N reading. The hardest part was wrestling with change, my ego, and the voices in my head. Luckily, I had so much help throughout the process, to the extent that my book publishing experience was a happy one and I dealt with exceptional professionals who carried me the whole way there and beyond. But for next time, and I think there will be a next time, I will know better the following*:
- Not everyone is obsessing about your book. You start to feel stupid for bringing it up in every conversation. But it’s all you can think about. Make an effort to understand that other issues need your full attention.
- Just because your dream came true, your problems won’t magically disappear. In some ways, you develop even bigger or new problems.
- Great milestones reveal who your real friends are. They are happy for you and show it. People you’d least suspect might shock you with their unflagging support. It puts relationships into perspective.
- You spend money on crap because you think you have a little more, until you realize the massive check you have to write to the IRS. If you write a book, your taxes are seriously screwed forever. But it’s not about the money. It shouldn’t be. No big deal if you can’t have daily trips to Anthropologie. Maybe one a week.
- The people who contact you out of the blue will surprise you–and even lift you very high. Some stick around and become real friends. This is such a joy.
- Getting reader mail is a blast! You want readers to smile and feel good. It’s one of the main reasons you wrote the book. Making these connections brings more happiness into the world.
- You will be canceled on, postponed, ignored, forgotten, with hopes raised and deflated. Others will follow through. All of this happens even without a book.
- Those who treat you like garbage will still treat you like garbage even though you’ve written a book. Conversely, your champions will cheer you on from beginning to end. Remember to champion your champions, too.
- Your loved ones might see you as this sparkling human for a day or two until they realize that you’re the same lazy butt playing Candy Crush on the couch. And this is awesome because, to paraphrase Popeye, you are who you are.
- The voice in your head that says everyone hates you gets a little louder when you put yourself out there.
- But you shut it down faster because you wrote a book. Who cares what people think?
- Did I mention the paranoia? With a memoir, airing your dirty laundry, you continue to watch your back everywhere you go. By the way, this is author self-absorption since your rational mind understands you’re a speck in the cosmos and did not write The Satanic Verses.
- You have to deal with reviews and they all love, feel meh, or hate different parts of your book. There’s nothing you can do and if it doesn’t benefit your future writing, why not just read the glowing reviews? You can decipher those from the publicist’s emails (bless her) and file away the rest. Respect free speech, the effort made by critics, and that life is dull without opposition. But there are enough bad reviews in your head.
- You have wasted days tracking sales, thinking of ways to increase sales. You react with either manic strategizing or total paralysis. Everyone has a product these days, so you feel silly adding to the heap. Next time, don’t look at numbers for a few months and just go, go, go, publicize even if you’re sick of yourself.
- Plan indulgent events for the two months after the book’s release. There will be a crash.
- The weight of that second book looms, you have several ideas but no Frankie Avalon to tell you what to do. After working so hard on one book, you might feel depleted, which means the short moment in the sun is gone. No manager is whispering in your ear. There’s the reality that writers need to develop their own ideas. What a concept! Start a new project ASAP.
- Enjoy the wild ride and whatever gifts it brings. Not everyone can write a book. With hard work and creativity, you can do it again. You really should.
In the meantime, go back to your normal life, which is a pretty charmed one since you like what you do, writing is fun, and, best of all, you get to look at this sweet mug every day.
*Here’s another list by author Matt Haig, with some similar points.