I don’t have children, but I have heard many parents say that having their second kid is an entirely different experience than having their first. Gone is the wild panic (barring any unforeseen complications), the anxiety, the feeling of being generally ill-prepared. No, by the time the second child comes around, they’ve done it all before. It’s old hat. Pop that little bundle o’ joy out and we’ll be on our way.
To the East is sort of like that.
The official launch date is tomorrow, and I’m not feeling the least bit anxious about it, because while I haven’t exactly achieved any financial success or critical acclaim or even general awareness of the existence of my books, I have learned a thing or two from having done this before nine months ago.
- Nothing much will happen. The book will launch, my mom will download it, as will a few friends, and that’s about it. It isn’t going to blow up overnight, and it isn’t going to sell very steadily.
- Promoting it in advance is pointless, because I don’t have a fan base yet. It’s better to just get it out there so it can start slowly gathering dust reviews, and that way when I do start actively promoting and marketing I’ll have something there for people to refer back to.
- Mistakes can be fixed. In To the North, I went through every single line on every single page with a fine-toothed comb. In the end, one person told me they found two typos in the whole book, and I got a little defensive. This time, I did two proofreading passes in two days before submitting it to be published. If I find several later, I can fix them and resubmit the files and there will be no harm done, because see #1.
- I don’t have to worry about whether or not my friends and relatives will actually like it or just tell me they will, because most of them won’t get around to reading it – and that’s perfectly okay. Now, don’t get me wrong. The 15 or so of you who read To the North and/or will read To the East have nothing but my love and appreciation. But you represent about 10% of the people who told me they would read it. I have several friends who bought a copy to show their support (which was very nice) but never cracked the cover. One friend even told me she displays To the North proudly on a little stand on her bookshelf and shows it to everyone that comes by the house, but that she hasn’t read a single word. And you know what? That’s fine by me. Whatever floats her boat.
But again, to those of you who will pick up your copy of To the East tomorrow and actually read it, wet sloppy kisses to you.
The one other thing I learned is that I definitely can’t put that kind of timeline on myself again. I literally finished writing this book last week. I finally got it to a place where I like it, and I think I fixed a lot of the problems it had in earlier drafts, and I hope others like it, too. I think it does what I wanted it to do. But I don’t know that it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written, and that brings me to something else I’ve learned:
Not everything has to be your favorite thing.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to avoid the Sophomore Slump with this book. I really, really like TtN, and I didn’t want to follow it up with something completely awful. And you know what? I like TtE. Not as much. Maybe in a different way. But it’s a different story, and I like it. I had these grand ideas about blowing myself out of the water with my second book. Like, I would be really impressed by my own self and therefore everyone else would be, too.
And because what I was churning out was okay but not brilliant, I got really down on myself partway through the process. I lost a bit of the fun of just writing a damn story. So I had to let go of that notion, that I would somehow rise above and defy all expectations, and when I did that it actually became enjoyable to work on this book again. And in the end, if it isn’t my greatest achievement, who cares? That just leaves me time to peak later on.
So, for the next few days I’ll be making sure the book is up and running, and doing a bit of social media about it. But then it’s time to read a few good books and take a break from writing for a few weeks.