by Sophie Perinot
Any woman who’s had a baby will tell you pregnancy is one month too long. Book pregnancy is no different. A month before your debut release (a milestone I marked last week) the suspense is killing you and your mood swings have close family members cowering in corners.
"You must be so excited!" People keeping saying that. Nice people. Well-meaning people. And YES I am excited. Nobody wants this book baby more than I do. It was harder to conceive than all three of my human children combined. But there are several other, less positive, emotions kicking around inside me as well. And I am ready to own up to them.
Fear. What if something goes wrong? What if my book falls on its face and drowns in a puddle of bad-reviews? What if nobody notices it was born at all—my due date arrives and there are no flowers, no congratulations. What if I show up at a Barnes & Noble to sign stock, the book isn’t there and some clueless, teen clerk asks me if I want to put one on order? The painful truth is hundreds of books come out every year (and that’s just counting those produced by the big six). They are all special and precious to their author mommies but many of them will sell less than a thousand copies and live and die unheralded.
Exhaustion. Forgive me if I am not my book’s biggest cheerleader at the moment. My ankles are swollen. My legs ache. I have been preparing for the “blessed event” for months now—starting way back in January 2011. Nobody tells you this when you start writing a novel, but book pregnancy (and I am considering signing your deal the moment of conception) is longer than human-baby pregnancy. In some cases it’s even longer than elephant pregnancy (does this book make me look big?).
There is plenty to do in the early months (edits, copy edits, page reviews, setting up your website, etc). But nothing compares, imho, to the madness of the last month. Lately I’ve been marching around the social media world banging a drum and making sure everyone knows I am book-pregnant and when my big day is. I’ve selected birth announcements in the form of colorful postcards for my friends to send to their friends trumpeting the arrival of The Sister Queens. I’ve emailed my publicist (lovely, lovely publicist) to make certain that the advance review copies are mailed to all the bloggers who will be hosting me on my blog tour. And (in addition to answering interview questions and writing blog posts until I can’t feel my wrists) I have been trying to “work ahead” on real-life tasks, because we all know what it’s like to have a new baby—absolutely nothing gets done around the house. Let’s face it my real kids are still going to want to eat even once the book baby gets here.
These stressors, mental and physical, have left me pretty darn crabby. Woe betides the husband who comes home while I am working away in my office and innocently asks “what’s for dinner?” I am also rather distractible. The ping of an email arriving on my smart phone can stop an event or conversation dead. Confession: I recently excused myself to go to the ladies room while at a restaurant NOT to answer the call of nature but because my publisher forwarded a review of my book. I simply could not imagine sitting through dinner in any sort of responsive manner while the review sat in my inbox unread.
Like a truly pregnant-lady, reminding me how lucky I am and how there are lots of other people who would love to have my problems does not help. I may give you a forced smile and agree but believe me honey, what I really want to do it kick you in the shins.
What gets you through the last month, whether you are book-pregnant or baby-pregnant, is the fact that an end is in sight. This book baby can’t say in here forever. It’s coming out. That IS nothing short of miraculous. And when the big day arrives, for a few blessed hours at least, all the work and the worry will be forgotten—subsumed in the pure joy of holding and caressing my beautiful creation. Then I can start worry about the next set of challenges (is it gaining enough weight/readership? Does it look funny to you?). Ah, the joys of parenthood!