Giving birth to a book is like giving birth to a child. This is a cautionary tale from a writer who gave birth on July fourth to a baby i.e., book, Gone But Not Forgotten (Severn House 2023).
Writing a book is easier for me than finding a way to publish and market it. I love playing make-believe, creating characters, and immersing them in impossible plots in places that readers can’t wait to escape to. That’s the gestation period where the love and nurturing of the parent (author) runs deep and emotions vacillate between ecstasy and agony and everything in between.
Once the book has been scheduled for publication, there is still much to do. Whether traditionally or independently published, writers learn their job is just beginning. Most writers write because they want to share a story with readers. To share, readers must become aware of the book and be persuaded they will love the story. Marketing is how this is accomplished. Blogging (ahem), social media, and personal appearances are necessary tools. Unfortunately, many writers tend to be solitary and find these tasks antithetical.
After the big lead-up to the birth (launch) of a book, writers are allowed a few bows and a deep breath around the pub date. But then they must continue the marketing campaign while they begin or continue writing their next book. There is no rest for the weary after labor and delivery.
How can writers continue the pace without burnout, discouragement, or creative exhaustion? I’ve given much thought to this question and here are the three ways I have found to cope with the postpartum challenges and inevitable letdown after a book launch.
- Recognize and acknowledge what you have accomplished.
Writers struggle, many for years and even decades to write their stories and get them published. Many never realize the dream. If you’ve managed to write a novel, you are amazing. If you got it published, you are incredibly amazing. If you mastered the intricate world of self-publishing, kudos to you. Get out your crown and wand and take a few bows. Brag all you want. You’ve earned the right and deserve to boast all you want.
2. Get writing again!
You may already be deep into a WIP, but often writers are so distracted by the baby they are trying to launch that they don’t drop into their new story. By “dropping in,” I mean they don’t get whisked into the world they are creating. They aren’t possessed by the characters and don’t constantly let themselves ponder what messes they can get into. It isn’t that a writer doesn’t still love the book they have brought into the world any more than a parent doesn’t love a first child. But there’s a new baby waiting for some love. Let go and go in.
3. Get out of your head.
Go for a hike on a long trail without talking. Dig a garden. Cook a new recipe. Buy some fingerpaints (highly recommend). Play with your dog. Lie on a hammock and read.
Although the marketing for any book never really ends, gaining some perspective makes it possible to see the process as organic and natural. You’re always going to want to share your body of work with readers. Because you never stop loving your children, do you?
I’d love to know how other writers deal with post publication issues. Please add suggestions to my list!
C. Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Her latest novel, Gone But Not Forgotten, was published by Severn House in July 2023. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor, and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.