I used to present a workshop entitled “When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers” that was all about the many things that can wrong on the way to your publishing dream. For example: one writer friend came up with a wonderful idea about kids who used an old shack as a club house, then discover that their club house is really a time portal that allows them to travel back and forth through time. It was a great idea, and she started working on it feverishly. A few months into her writing, the “Magic Treehouse” series came out. Tough to sell your idea when someone else is already making money on it.
Another true story of a serious bump in the publishing road: a writer I know personally had put hundreds of hours into researching, writing, and revising a nonfiction book for an educational publisher. Just as the last revisions were about to be submitted, the editor called to announce that the publisher was being bought out, and the series that this book belonged to was being discontinued.
And here’s another: After working on a novel for nearly a year, a writer found an agent. The agent sent a glowing letter about how marvelous the book was, and that the agent knew exactly which editor would be interested. Months went by with no word, then more months went by. Finally the author called and ased the agent what the status of her book was. The agent replied that it looked like a sale and they should get the contract soon. The the author later found out that the editor had passed away. A new editor was hired. The the bad news: the agent sent a letter saying that not only did the new editor not want the manuscript, but the agent, too, has had a change of heart and would no longer be representing the work.
The sad truth is, there are dozens – perhaps hundreds – of stories just like this (I have many of them written down for my presentation). I tell people all the time: Finishing the book is the easy part. Getting it accepted for publication and seeing it in a finished form is the hard part. Long ago I adopted the phrase, “It ain’t a book til it’s a book.” The fact is that until you can hold it in your hand (or now a days, download it to your iPad), it isn’t a book. So many things can go wrong along the way to that final piece that it’s best not to get too excited.
But then there is a point where getting excited is not only justifiable, it’s almost impossible to avoid. At some point, you can’t stop the ball from rolling, and like a big cartoon snowball, gathering momentum, the inevitable happens – the book becomes real and the excitement becomes almost unstoppable.
I’m there! It’s just over a week to the release of “Beautiful Monster” and I can no longer contain my enthusiasm! But if the truth be told, this one was twice as hard to get excited for as any of my other books. First, it’s a very different book for me, and I have spent a great deal of time worrying about what people who know me will think when they read it. Second, this book generates a lot of mixed emotions for me for reasons I’m not going to bother explaining at the moment. Just take my word – it’s a tough one for me. Third, I haven’t had a lot of support for this book from one very important person, and that has kept me from wanting to celebrate.
But all of this changed in the last few days. A wise person asked me, “Why would you let anyone control your happiness – or any other emotion for that matter?” It was a valid question, and one which I spent several days contemplating. After much meditation and thought, I arrived at the following conclusions:
First – this book made me stretch as a writer, and as such, I grew as a writer as well. That is definitely worth celebrating. And the people who know me will just have to deal with the fact that I can write horror and other difficult subject matter as well as writing the funny kids’ stuff! Second – for all the challenges I had writing this book, I also gained a great deal. I gained confidence, I gained clarity, and I strengthened a friendship that will matter to me for the rest of my life. These are all things that I find worthy of celebrating. Third – turning over my happiness about something to anyone – regardless of who that person is – is just not emotionally healthy, and I should be tougher and more committed to my dream than to allow that. I earned this celebration, and I deserve to hold my head high about this upcoming release.
With all that in mind, I decided that I would, indeed, allow myself to be happy about this new book and to celebrate in a way that I never have with any other book! I am throwing a book release party at my house and I’ve invited hundreds of people! I hope they don’t all show up at once, cuz my house just ain’t that big! But if they do, that’s fine! We will overflow into the parking lot, maybe take over the neighbor’s place – who knows! I have ordered postcards to mail to everyone I can think of. The theme of the party – in keeping with the story of course – is serial killers! There will be a drawing for an autographed copy of the book and for a free download of a digital copy.
My moment of triumph came when I calmly told the person whose support I wanted that I was going to celebrate whether or not this person supported me. I invited the person to join in, and I explained that if this person chose not to celebrate with me, that was fine – I was going to do it anyway. The response was not what I expected. “I think that’s a great idea, and I’m proud of you for going forward.”
Yeah, it was a jaw-drop moment!
So if you live nearby, or you can get here with reasonable expense (I have airmats if you need a place to stay!) consider yourself invited! It is going to be joyous, creepy, exciting, and a great deal of fun! I hope to see you there!