Recently I read a comment by my friend and fellow author, Candace Calvert, that the impending release of a new book is something like the birth of a baby. I've asked Candace to expand on that aspect of the writing life. So, here's Candace:
In the weeks preceding a book release, I sometimes joke that I’m practicing my Lamaze breathing, likening the process to a birth. I’ll say something like, “. . . at least I don’t get stretch marks.” These giddy-anxious quips—via Twitter and Facebook in today’s world—tend to get a chuckle from readers, and a knowing nod from fellow authors. Because “having a book” does indeed require labor.
Whether it’s a first book or fiftieth, it’s an experience that is at once unique, emotional, and nerve wracking. And, in those last weeks before release, very much like becoming a parent. For male and female authors, alike. Because:
It’s been a long haul from your “twinkle in the eye” idea stage, to typing THE END. Appropriately, my book deadlines span a 9-month period.
Your book is given a release date, much like a baby’s due date. It appears online in countless places.
Regardless, readers (and family) will forever ask, “Is that book ever going to be released?” Personally, I consider this impatience encouraging. And I’m grateful no one has yet to pat my stomach when they ask.
You must prepare for the book release. Website updates, blog rolls, ARC (Advanced Review Copies) sent to early readers, newsletter announcement, launch party prep . . .
Life doesn’t come to a screeching halt because you’re “expecting.” A book is in production for many months (multiple edits, cover art, sales and marketing plans) and the author must move on to the next project. The deadline for my next book (2015) is the very same date as the official release date for this current book. Authors of a book series may be juggling several books at once, draft stage, edit stage, and release promotion stage—much like being expectant while caring for toddlers!
Your book might release earlier or later than expected. Though books are assigned time “slots” by a publisher, stuff happens. Release dates may be delayed or moved up. Though I’ve never experienced a delay, I can now predict that some online book sites will “scoop” the release date by as much as two weeks. When Critical Care, my first medical novel, began shipping via Amazon weeks early, I panicked. I was suddenly the mother to a “preemie”—crib wasn’t ready, onesies weren’t pre-laundered, house was wreck, and . . . To this day, I still smile at the reaction of my wonderful (and wise) Tyndale House marketing specialist, Babette:
“Relax, deep breath, Candace. We have everything in place. And . . . congratulations!”
Your story is out there, for all to see. And review. This where giddy-pride meets angst. Fortunately, newborns aren’t subject to star reviews from Amazon: “Cute Face but So Boring.” Even as an author’s skin thickens, there are many instances in which reader connection brings true blessing—and reminds us of why we answered this crazy and wonderful calling.
And, lastly, there are stretch marks. With each completed manuscript, a writer learns and grows creatively in the process. Perhaps we risk digging deeper emotionally with our characters; choose an “edgier” subject matter; maybe explore a very different genre. Writers (and readers) can attest to the fact that early work is often quite different when compared to later work. We streeeeetch.
As I write this, my newest medical drama, Life Support, is popping up as “In Stock” via online sites in the US and abroad, arriving on bookstore shelves, and making its way into the hands of readers. And into my own hands as well. I’m happy, I’m anxious, and the thrill never gets old. My new baby. Deep breath. Give it a little smack on the back cover . . . Welcome to the world!
Important Announcement: Candace has very graciously offered a signed copy of Life Support to a randomly chosen commenter about this blog. So comment away, but don't forget to include your email address so we can contact the winner. (Use this format, to foil web crawlers: Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com). Note: The contest is now closed. Feel free to comment, but they will not be included in the random selection process. Check this blog on Friday, March 7, for the name of the winner. Thanks everyone. RLM
Fellow authors: How have you “stretched” with your newest work?
Readers: Do you ever re-read a series book while waiting for a favorite author’s newest story to be “born”?