the-philadelphia-storyAnd so, dear readers, you may not have realized time slipping past us ever so quickly so that we have shockingly reached the end of the Guide already!  Yes, here we are at Step 7,000!  Remember that I did tell you in the beginning that I would skip some of the more tedious steps so that you could finish reading this Guide in your natural lifetime and still have enough minutes, maybe hours, left over to hopefully apply at least a smattering of the wisdom found within.

Lest you are worried that I have inadvertently left out something important, rest assured that I have not.  The passed-over steps are too boring and not worthy of a whole chapter in this Guide.  These are the dull things involved in getting your book published, like:

  1. Enduring the months of going back and forth with the web designers to get just the right images or just the right shade of font for your website.
  2. Endlessly fretting over and finally signing off on the cover mechanicals.
  3. Designing and ordering what are called “collateral” materials, like postcards, bookmarks, business cards and posters.
  4. Setting up an Amazon and Goodreads Author page, or any other “page” you can think of.
  5. Receiving the “Q1 to Design” pages back, which sounds scary but is really just the first set of edits.
  6. Enduring countless rounds of editing, since we’re on the subject, which are appropriately then called first pages, second pages, third pages, etc. (it goes on and on forever until you get to the ARCs).
  7. Finally getting the ARCs in hand only to have to read this bloody thing yet again, making it the what? Twelfth?  Thirteenth? Twentieth time you’ve read your own book.

Plus many, many other tiresome, dreary steps.  Who wants to read a whole chapter on any one of those?  No dear readers, I have spared you yet again.

I will point out that, interestingly enough, as the book actually begins to take on a real physical shape, your focus naturally begins to turn from producing it (birthing it, if you will), to promoting it (raising it), which, as with a child, is infinitely harder than creating it.  Raising the child, you suddenly realize with crystal-clear clarity after only the first forty-eight—okay, two— hours following her birth, involves a long, long, long process and requires a decidedly different skill set than simply say, making love.

No, darlings, it’s not enough for you to publish your book—to physically bring it into existence.  You are now required to spend an inordinate number of hours—say, every second that you can wrench from your real-life children (not to mention your spouse)—trying to get your book the attention it deserves, its moment in the spotlight.

Your life will now become a desperate attempt to get reviews and interviews, publish articles, feature on podcasts, star on “must-read” lists, produce trailers, and the pinnacle—set up a plethora of signings and appearances.  It is this last one, once your mind fully comprehends it, which may cause a slow, sinking feeling of dread to descend upon your heart.

Nowhere was it ever mentioned that writing a book required public speaking.  But of course this makes sense, does it not?  It is a detail, however, that you may have conveniently overlooked and one which I kept hidden from you, darlings, as you might not have the fortitude to continue at all.  Had yours truly known this in the beginning, for example, I perhaps would have passed on writing the book altogether and continued to instead pour all my creative efforts into my flower garden or my kids’ birthday party invitations, at the very least.

Ironically, the doubt and perhaps paralysis you may suddenly be feeling is akin to the feelings of regret one usually fights with when your baby is crying endlessly from teething and you have no recourse but to curl up on the floor beside the crib, hoping it will lull her into sleep, (this theory in and of itself being obviously flawed), and covering yourself with the various stuffed animals lying around the room in an attempt to warm yourself, having of course forgotten to drag a blanket with you off of your bed when you were startled awake by the initial high-pitched scream.  Or when you are standing—literally—for hours in a freezing drizzle in March to watch your child’s five seconds of middle-school glory while she runs the 100-meter dash.  If you were somehow able to feel the despair caused by even just one of either of those two situations ahead of time, things might not have proceeded as they had after that candlelight dinner and dancing with your spouse.  What followed seemed like such a good idea at the time . . .

As it was, I was completely unprepared for the public-speaking aspect of the book.  Perhaps I just vaguely envisioned sitting at a table signing books and smiling at people, not having to stand up in front of them to discuss something apparently relevant, like my writing process, my road to publishing, my inspiration for characters, or – this actually happened – “why did you choose the genre of mystery and why do you feel it is an effective genre in which to express yourself?”!  Don’t people know that writers are shy?  That’s why we’re WRITERS!—because it’s easier for us to write than to speak.  But, darlings, that is not the way of the world.

As I mentioned in an earlier step, you must crush the delusion you may be currently laboring under in which you believe that being a writer equates to having your own little undisturbed life of calmly writing books, sending them to a publisher in a manilla envelope and patiently waiting for the royalty checks while you tend your garden and bake cookies.

No, darlings!  As we have discussed many times, writing has become a very social affair.  Remember, you are building a platform and a brand, the focus of which is you.  Embrace this truth for what it is.  Know that, as with a child, you are in it for the long haul.  No one says it better than Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press, who writes that “building a platform is a marathon, not a sprint.”

My best advice to you, my dear, darling readers is to keep writing.  Because, after all, that is what you like best, correct?  You may be too overwhelmed when the baby is first born to engage in the activity that created it in the first place, but like childbirth, the memory of the pain fades fast and sooner or later that old familiar urge returns.  Engaging in it now, however, is different because your eyes are wide open and you know that you will find yourself knee-deep in diapers or endorsement requests should you proceed, but you do it anyway, because you just can’t seem to help yourself.

Best of luck darlings!  It’s been a privilege and a pleasure.  Never fear—I have my eyes on you, and I’ll be there on the sidelines, cheering you on!