Monday, September 29, 2008

The Second Time Around

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 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?


Sandra said...

Got your book today, Allison! It's gorgeous and heavy in my hands and I am oh so excited to have a signed copy. Thanks again!
I'm sending you perspective and ooommm's and lots of time with hubby, kids, and dogs to take your mind off of what you cannot control.

Trish Ryan said...

Don't discount the power of a nationwide naked tap dance tour! said...

Hi Allison,

How can I get a signed copy of your book????

Eileen said...

My second book comes in Jan and I'm already doing the second time around freak out which is different (and yet oddly familiar) as compared to freak out one.

Carleen Brice said...

This is all so true...and yet, still so hard to really wrap one's brain around. Even for someone who's been through it. Best of luck on book 2!

abigail said...

Hi Allison!
I love your, ahem, "comparison"! My heart goes out to you during this crazy time. If you're searching for the spirit to perform your national naked tap dance, here's a great book about women who actually walked across the nation. (My Grandma turned me on to it...)

"Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America"

It got them great publicity! :0)

Amber said...

Will the book be available at Sams and Costco? Just wondering so I can tell my book club where to pick it up. My county library already has a waitlist for it! Super cool.