By Maria Schneider
I am often asked if releasing a new book after having published so many is still a thrill. Yes, yes it is. It’s a lot like a first date with someone you really like, but don’t yet know well. You’re nervous, excited and very hopeful. While waiting for your date to show up, you decide to eat a tiny bit of fortifying chocolate and accidentally smear a huge smudge on the front of your perfect new shirt. This would be the equivalent of the little things that go wrong during the launch of said book—the internet goes down during the upload of the files, or the cover of your book is suddenly only 80 pixels wide, and you don’t know how it got that way.
You change into a clean shirt, but it doesn’t match your skirt. The top sticks out funny, and you feel totally awkward and ugly, but before you can change, the doorbell rings! You don’t want to look like a high maintenance freak, so you can’t ask him to wait while you try on four more outfits. This is the equivalent of jitters over that one scene…and the word choice on page 57, and did you remember everyone in the acknowledgements?
When you open the door, he is totally apologetic because his hands are greasy. He had a flat tire and had to change it on the way. You’re relieved because now he won’t notice your shirt doesn’t match your skirt! He washes up, and off you go to dinner, which is completely filled with “what to say” and “what not to say.” This is sort of like pre-release/pre-orders where you don’t know whether to say MORE about the book or less. Who do you tell, and is it polite to speak up on such and such forum? Do you release an excerpt, do four thousand giveaways or just keep quiet and hope for the best?
If the dinner date goes well, you spend the half-hour ride home wondering if he will kiss you good night. And you don’t want to be too enthusiastic, but you want to be enthusiastic. And what if HE DOESN’T even try for a kiss good night? Does he hate you? Is he just classy? How classy is classy versus not interested anyway?
Yup, this would be the sales numbers and reviews. Some reviews leave you wondering, “What does THAT mean?” You get some reviews that are thrilling, full of praise and lots of stars. You get some reviews that aren’t so great, and that’s the equivalent of a date gone very, very bad, maybe one where you had the waiter call for a taxi. If sales are bad, it’s not only a horrific date, it’s one where you tried to sneak out the restaurant bathroom window and tore your skirt on the stupid ledge getting down the other side. Then your awful date finds you in the alley, and you end up having to shoot the guy. A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do!
Whether it is the first book or the twentieth, put your best foot forward (unless your socks don’t match—in which case, take them off before anyone notices!) and take a moment to celebrate. Savor the nervousness, savor the accomplishment. Go out to dinner at your favorite restaurant and eat some chocolate mousse pie!
The next step is much like the date that, over time, turned into a thrilling marriage proposal. Any good relationship requires dedication and attention to keep it exciting and fresh. The next book is probably already an outline in your head; bits of fluff and dreams. It’s time to sit down and turn hazy mists into bright and firm images, to put words on the page and begin creating the magic all over again. Organize the lessons learned from the books you have written (whether or not you finished writing them) and also the things you’ve learned from the books you have read. It’s never too early to start that long journey of writing the next book. A career is a series of books, just like that lifelong commitment to the partner of your dreams!