September 25 is the magical date—the day that Gina in the Floating World will officially be born. The book will not be late or early—that I can count on. However, gestation is over now, and true labor has begun. With the arrival of the Advance Review Copy (ARC), the waters have broken, and contractions have started. Yes, there is pain, even as I look forward to my novel’s eventual birth.
People say to me, “You must be so excited!” And I am. Sort of. The support I’ve received from friends is so gratifying. But this publication business is different from the act of creating the novel. It’s challenging work--time-consuming and overwhelming at times. My emotions are complicated. To be simply excited, one has to be relaxed. Relaxed, I am not.
In case you are curious about what on earth I have been doing these past months since my book was accepted for publication, here is a brief rundown of my activities:
endless editing and proofreading (I’m still finding errors!)
writing synopses and bios
completely redesigning and updating my writing website
obtaining blurbs/endorsements from published authors (a weighty “ask,” as they are expected to read my book first if they agree to write a blurb)
reviewing and approving cover designs
creating a marketing plan (forcing me to think about numerous questions, such as likely audiences, book genre—not so easy in my case, “sales hook,” arguments/stats for why one’s book will sell)
contacting my favorite bookstore for my actual launch (October 2, Porter Square Books) and setting up my after-party at a local restaurant (Christophers in Cambridge)
deciding on a publicist (interviewing various authors who had used a particular publicist I was considering) and having various exchanges with my chosen publicist
setting up and learning to use various social media platforms, such as an author’s Facebook page
“claiming” my book and setting up author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub
initiating my participation in future book events
inviting friends to join my email list to receive updates and setting up the mailing list
learning how to use MailChimp and creating my first email update
selecting and prepping excerpts from my novel for use by my publicist
educating myself about various aspects of marketing and promotion (endless webinars)
meeting regularly with my “publication buddy” (www.cherylsuchors.com), whose memoir is coming out the same time as my novel—we are supporting each other in this journey and writing an article together
Are you exhausted yet?
Going forward there is still so much to do, and it’s not always clear which of my efforts might be productive. Over the next few months I expect to be---
figuring out “content” for essays and articles—both for external media and my website, where I aintaiin a blog related to the novel.
writing said content, such as this blog post
maintaining a strong presence on my chosen social media (my Facebook author page—Belle Brett Writer, and Instagram, in particular), including writing posts, responding to comments, and commenting on other people’s posts (not just “liking” them)—in the business, this is called “engagement”
locating and contacting other “influencers,” people who review books and make book recommendations
creating a launch date postcard to distribute
doing a final proofread of the ARC
producing my monthly email updates and doing giveaways (subscribe using any of the various buttons on this website, and you will be entered!) and trying to build up my mailing list
asking friends and colleagues from my writing community to share information about my novel, my launch, my website (more “asks,” groveling, pleading)
making art for my accompanying art exhibit (an unrequired task, but a goal I set for myself) and finding a gallery willing to display it
doing interviews or podcasts as opportunities occur prior to the launch
figuring out other places where I might want to do readings and setting these up (most writers don’t opt for the traditional book tour anymore as it is a costly venture)
prepping for my launch (What to wear? What to serve? What to write in books I sign? What swag to give away? What passages to read?)
supporting other writers I know by attending their launches, writing reviews of their books (what goes around, comes around)
keeping track of everything I do, every contact I make.
To be clear, I am not complaining! I chose this life—albeit some of it unexpected—and I am enjoying learning and trying new things. Some of it is even creative, in a different wa, from making up stories. But it’s like having a full-time job that doesn’t pay.
Maybe like human labor, after a glorious launch, surrounded by friends and family, I won’t remember the tedious and painful parts or the fact that I still have to feed and take care of my baby to ensure its success. Maybe I will finally allow myself to feel that unfettered sense of excitement, even if for a moment, about this new book I have brought into the world.