it’s a pretty common analogy, a book being a baby. first an idea is conceived, takes hold, and grows. the gestation period can be anything from weeks to years, depending how fast you write. eventually you type “the end” and boom, your book baby’s born. you find an agent, then a publisher. your baby grows through revisions and edits, squalling and screaming the whole time. okay, so you were warned parenthood wouldn’t be easy, but no one said it was supposed to be this tough.
when the idea of a full night’s sleep is no longer a pipe dream and the sour tang of spit-up has ceased to be your parfum de jour, it’s time for baby to start navigating the ins and outs of the social scene–aka play dates. book wise, after the last round of copy edits has been turned in, after you’ve seen your finalized cover and decided it kicks serious ass, after you’re sure you’ve remembered everyone you’re supposed to remember for your acknowledgement page, it’s time for marketing to start kicking in. jumping into social media to promote your book is the equivalent of getting your kid ready for the first day of school–unless you’re homeschooling or leaving him to be raised by wolves in the wilderness, it’s pretty much a given.
it’s every parent’s fear. that your baby will not only not be popular, but that they’ll be bullied. for an author, the two extremes are hitting the best seller’s list or sinking like a stone. for both, falling somewhere in the middle is, of course, what usually happens (which is more than okay).
but how to ensure even that? it’s a fine line.
as parents, we’ll worry whether or not we chose the right preschool, if we should have used more flashcards at home, if we should have replaced spongebob episodes with a continuous feed of carefully selected, highly educational shows from the discovery channel. we’ll worry that we’ve been dressing jr from the wrong store in the wrong mall in the wrong part of town, leaving jr to get the snot kicked out of him before recess hits. we’ll worry that jr still hasn’t figured out how to make friends without having to resort to bribery with candy or toys.
if you’re an author, you’ll wonder if your blog posts are dull. if they’re too short, too long, too wordy. if you’re posting at the wrong time and therefore not taking advantage of peak traffic times. if your facebook friends are starting to hate seeing you on their feed. if your twitter babble has started to veer towards me me look at meeee! territory, without even the slightest ounce of wit to make up for it. you’ll wonder if you’ve managed to make lots of people want to read your book (or, conversely, if you’ve only managed to make people actively decide to not read your book, which is a whole other crapfest altogether).
in the end, your baby has to go to school. your book has to hit the shelves. and no matter how harsh it might seem, you have to let go. all you can do is trust you did your best, promise him you’ve got his back, and hope your book baby is finally ready to face the world.