So there you are, at long last. The writing, the revision (and revision, and revision and revision…) are over; the proofreading, too, and the cover design. The files are uploaded, and in due course your book has winked live at Amazon, for all the world to buy.
Or, well, not.
It’s not too bad with a first book. Sure, you knew objectively that the odds were long, but you also knew that some books go viral, and hope springs eternal. If you just master the mysteries of social media, surely your book will be the exception rather than hew to the rule.
And so you list your book not only at GoodReads, but at a half dozen wanne-be imitator sites as well. Twitter becomes a twice daily ritual of puzzlement and non-results, and only true friendship prevents your circle from unfriending you at Facebook in the face of your unremitting onslaught of (first) upbeat notices of how Now! your Book! is Available! (followed by) insecure announcements that Josie and Her Friends is now on sale for only 99 cents, and (eventually) avoidance of any mention of the book at all. Otherwise, your friends will see that it’s Amazon rank has sunk to 2,475, 342.
But you’re a writer, damn it. Writing is what you do. Well, after work, anyway, when you’re not putting the kids to bed, or shopping, or doing something else. So you cowboy up, put your promotional tools away, and get back to writing. Will this time be different? That’s a thought best left unthunk.
So here you are, months or years later, again. The writing, the revision (and revision, and revision and revision…) are over; the proofreading, too, and the cover design. The files are uploaded, and in due course your book has winked live at Amazon, for all the world to buy. Or, well, you know.
But something’s different this time. You already know how much your Amazon rank changes with one sale. You’ve even discovered free tools to show you on a single page how many days (or weeks, or months) its been since you sold a single copy not just in the U.S., but in the U.K., Canada – even India, just to rub it in.
This time, you also already know about all of the things you can theoretically do to promote your book, and also how little they’re likely to move the needle.
So there you sit, alone at your desk. Your newest creation lies nearby, screaming and crying for the attention it deserves.
Suddenly it descends upon you, like a dark, claustrophobic, all enveloping, paralyzing cloud.
You’ve become a victim of Post Printum Depression, self-inflicted.
Of course, you’re not the only victim. Your spouse, after suffering through all of the angst and emotional swings of those many months of pre-printum gestation, must now travel this new road with you as well. Efforts to cheer you up are more likely to be punished than appreciated, because, after all, You Just Don’t Understand, do you?
Actually, you don’t. Spouses that become concerned enough may start buying books on the sly to boost their spouse’s Amazon rank. A truly desperate companion may imperil the family budget, becoming a covert pusher to the sales addiction of the love of their life. Not to mention wondering what to do with all of those unneeded extra copies of Josie and her Friends (Part II), the Saga Continues.
Other sympathetic significant others may try to help by embarking on their own promotional journeys of social medic self-discovery, assaulting their Facebook friends and mounting Twitter monkeys on their own backs. They won’t succeed, either, but at least they’ll Start to Know How it Feels, on the promotional front, anyway.
Eventually, the author will successfully transit the five phases of grief, and blessed acceptance will set in. The marriage or relationship (if it has survived) will stabilize once again. Things will, thank goodness, get back to normal.
Except for one little hitch. The concept of “normal” now includes the process of…writing another book.
Not because this time it will be different. We’re not lunatics, after all, thinking that if we repeat the same action over and over again, eventually it will come out different. It’s because we’re Writers!
PS: This week I self-published my second thriller, focusing on the hacking of a presidential election. It’s called The Lafayette Campaign, and can be found here. Not that you’re actually going to buy it of course. But still.