Looking Backwards and Forwards on Book Launch Day
Reflections on birthing a novel
Today, my second novel is published.
Why am I telling you this?
Let’s set aside my desire — my hope — of putting my books into readers’ hands.
I have other reasons for sharing this news.
For starters, I’ve learned that traditional publishing still unfolds, generally speaking, at a nineteenth-century pace. Meaning, it takes 18 to 24 months for your book to evolve from the day you sign a contract to the day it is available in bookstores.
These days, that’s a long time. Anything can happen in a year-and-a-half. Like, say, a world-shaking pandemic. The untimely death of a friend. Accidents. Weddings. Changes of heart: Do I really want to be a novelist?
Or: Enough time to begin another novel or two.
I’m not quite the same person I was when the book being published today originated in my brain. Which makes the actual publication date feel surreal — almost outside of time itself, after all the waiting and changing that’s taken place.
I love this adage: You can never step into the same part of a stream twice.
Getting published feels like that. The world and I were in one place at the beginning of this endeavor, and now, we’re both somewhere else entirely.
And yet: Here’s the book, birthed, or perhaps, baked, like a cake. Either way, it’s done. Fixed in time and space. A physical and digital thing that now takes on a life of its own.
My other reason for sharing this news is to reflect on how different publishing a book feels the second time around. Like a mother having a second child, the experience is less mysterious, less awe-inspiring, and perhaps a tad less riddled with anxiety, compared with the first time around.
I know how this goes now: the big splash on launch day, the effort to keep up a drumbeat of awareness, followed by a stage of fatalistic acceptance: the book must stand on its own, find its readers, and live without me.
The original act of conception, the throes of passion that accompany art-making, are distant memories.
All I can do now is keep writing in the hope that one day, in a future that seems so far off we may all be driving spaceships, another book will join them. And by then, I’m sure I’ll be another person entirely.
If you’re curious…the book out today is a dystopian mystery-thriller, The Potrero Complex, which one reviewer called “frightening and hard to put down.” (If you avoid Amazon, visit Bookshop.org or www.barnesandnoble.com.)
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