If you're an aspiring writer, don't read this post

Seriously. Just go along with your life and pretend you didn’t see this.

Still here? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m in the throes of preparing for my first-ever book launch. Just last week, I had to approve final edits of the manuscript. That alone was worthy of one session with a therapist because this is it. This book, that has been in flux for years, is now finished.

And there are no take backs on this one.

The fact that it’s more or less approved, is a feat worthy of celebration. (Though it’s not printed yet, so I suppose I could still make an adjustment or two… and there are always second editions. Did I mention I have issues with commitment?)

Except…

There’s this next stage in the publication process called launching and marketing your book. And as I’m working through a phenomenal online class all about this stage, there’s one tidbit of information that I didn’t expect.

Writing your book is about half the work. Launching and promoting your book is the other half.

Say what?

 See this guy? He’s telling me everything I need to do. And it’s a lot.

See this guy? He’s telling me everything I need to do. And it’s a lot.

I’ve always dreamed of being a published author. I didn’t always let myself admit that dream - it’s not terribly practical and there’s a lot left up to chance (will you find an agent? will that agent find a publisher?). But anyway, I expected all of the writing-type work. The early mornings with my steaming mug of hot chocolate, fingers flying along the keyboard. The pulling of hair and moping around the house as I figured out what the story really was. The revisions and edits and reworks and chopping of chapters. The final edits, looking for those last few slip-ups that are so hard to see.

But I didn’t expect this whole other half of work.

Maybe a tiny part of me did, but not to this extent. Figuring out my “brand.” (Too bad the Nike swoop is taken, that was a good one.) Creating a website. Optimizing said website so people can find me in the internet netherland. Prepping for interviews - in which you have to talk the whole time about yourself. Egads! Setting up an author page on Amazon, creating a launch calendar, and figuring out how to email newsletters… the list goes on and on and on.

 Search engine optimization. If only it were this easy.

Search engine optimization. If only it were this easy.

I’m grateful to have a fantastic resource that’s helping me figure out this process. But it’s still work. A lot of it.

So to encourage myself, I’m creating this list of reminders:

1) This is part of the business of publishing a book. It’s a job and guess what - all jobs have aspects you don’t particularly love. So get over it. And do the work.

2) It’s okay to put some writing work to the side for right now. You can’t do everything, and it makes sense to choose this other work for the time being. But it won’t always be this way. You’ll get some of this figured out, and be back to that (mostly) happy place of writing.

3) The amount of things you could do is overwhelming. You won’t be able to do it all.

Take heart knowing that whatever little bits you do, it will have a positive impact and make a difference.

4) This is a learning process. And you LOVE learning. So embrace it. Pretend you’re back in college. Give yourself homework assignments and a nice big sticker chart that shows your progress. (No, I didn’t use sticker charts in college, but if I had, I probably would’ve been happier.) And make rewards for hitting milestones: a latte and crumble bar at that coffeeshop downtown; a night at the movies; a day off.

5) It will get easier. When you publish your next book, the writing will be just as hard - but this will be all setup. Yay! (And ignore the sinking feeling that there’s likely lots of work that will continue. Your future self will take care of it.)

6) Remember why you’re doing it.

Yes, you love to write, and it’s so neat to have written a book. But this isn’t about you. It’s about your readers. That high school girl who’s kind of smart and feels a bit awkward about the fact that she likes coding. Who wonders if there’s actually a guy out there for her. Who’s figuring out what she’s all about. Because all of this work is about getting this book into readers’ hands. Where it actually lives and breathes, becomes a part of their minds and hearts.

So. If you’re a writer who hopes to publish a book one day, maybe it isn’t terrible if you read all the way to the end of the post. I’m feeling a bit better about the whole thing myself. Might just be time to give myself a sticker and put on an episode of Gilmore Girls.

 This is where I want to be. Thinking about the next book. Not marketing this one.

This is where I want to be. Thinking about the next book. Not marketing this one.