So So I am ONE WEEK away from publication (ahhhhhhhh!!!!!), and it's been an interesting contrast compared to the first time around. I was mulling this over this weekend, and at the risk of sounding a wee bit crude, your first time being published is a bit like your first time doing something else, ahem, if you know what I mean. It's exhilarating and nauseating and a little painful and and you're not sure what the hell you're doing and you want to call everyone you know and tell them about it. The second time? Well, you hope you're a smarter and a little better all-around. Know what I mean?
So, here's where I am. I am trying my very, very best to be fairly zen about the whole experience. Which, of course, I can't be, but I can be a little more zen than last time, though, really, that's not hard since I was a frenetic tornado the last time around. What you learn through your first experience is that so much of a book's success is out of your control. It's hard to understand this before you've been published. It's hard to recognize that even if you've written an amazing book or written a book that you think really should connect with audiences or written a book that your mom thinks should land you on Oprah, what really affects a book's success often has very little to do with what you've written.
Okay, wait, I'll take that back. Don't throw tomatoes. What I mean is that, of course, it helps if you write a universally-appealing, well-prosed, well-praised book. Of course. But plenty of mid-list authors have done just that - just ask them or look at their reviews - but that doesn't mean that they sold all that well. (This is a depressing fact. Consider how many books are in Barnes and Noble, and then consider how many of them you've actually heard of. The rest of them are considered mid-list: they sold decently, though not great, and no one's career took off because of them.) This is the stomach-churning reality that a second-time author understands. You can promote the hell out of your book, and it might not matter. You can tap-dance naked across the country, and it might not matter. You can send out emails and get small bites of press and beg everyone you know to tell everyone they know to buy the book, and it might not matter.
On the other hand, it might. But, again, this is what a second-time around author understands. It's not that I don't hope for all of the success in the world; of course I do. But I also understand that what matters now is left up to my publisher - saturating stores with the book, buying good co-op space, pushing the book into notable reviewers' hands - and the press - if a big-name magazine or paper runs a review, it will change the trajectory of both my career and the book. I don't have a whole lot to do with any of the above things.
So now, I'll try to breathe. I'll try not to check my Amazon numbers or wonder why my BN.com number shot sky-high this past weekend or search the web for reviews. I don't know if I'll really be able to be as zen as I'd like to be, but I also know that last time, all of my obsessing didn't do anything other than drive me bananas. We'll see how well I do...I'll keep you posted. :)
First time authors - how did you deal with your book's launch? Second-time (or more) authors - what did you do differently?