An editor at The Flaneur recently asked me to write an article on being a new author. Wow. The parameters are huge.
Should I write about what it feels like to finally have the book in the world? How could I write about that? 10 years in the making, 5 professional edits, still finding things I wish I had said better, and I am not, finally, at peace – though perhaps this is a flaw in my character.
Should I write about the marketing process? Now, after so many years of being a big fish in a small pond, I find myself swimming upstream against a strong current and competing with the likes of Zombies and Vampires for a small sliver of market share.
Should I write about the moments, waking softly from a night of turbulent dreams, when I think about the one young woman whose life I might change? Or, conversely, should I write about the waking nightmares, where my book vanishes into obscurity before anyone ever reads it in its entirety?
What is it like to be a newly published author? It is sheer hell. I track every hit, ponder deeply every sale, shout my name and my book into the vast void of internet and social media while I pray — and contemplate consecrating dead animals — in the hope that someone I do not know will read this book and like it.
Truthfully, my new book, Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life, is the most honest I have ever been with the world. I am expecting to get flayed. I am expecting those intellectual enough to understand the references I make and the thread I follow, to destroy me for feeling. I am expecting those who live by emotion to flay me for being too intellectual. I am terrified that this time, as opposed to the dozens of solo art shows where my blood and guts are visible for all to see, I will get eaten.
There is no joy in being a new author. I imagine there is joy in being a seasoned author, as there must be joy (I remember it vaguely) in aspiring to be an author. Being a new author means doing everything a serious artist loathes – marketing, smiling kindly and trying to hide the spark in your eyes when someone says they are reading your work. It means begging for the reviews, posting listings and info on sites you have never heard of and are, occasionally, ashamed to be listed on, and it means hours every day checking stats, social media, and review possibilities while always remaining gracious. New authors should be Southern women, not artists. I am not sure artists have the stomach for it.
Still, I do it all. I smile. I wait. I submit. And through it, I pray. Here is my mantra: Thank you for your gifts. My hands are yours. Let the book reach one woman searching for herself. Let it reach one artist who wants to go further than technique. Help me have the patience. Help me have the grace. Let this book succeed.