Publication is a country I’m traveling to right now with Perceval’s Secret. I sent the manuscript, book cover and completed production checklist to the e-formatting company yesterday. Next week, I’ll begin work on book launch marketing. Work and fear, fear and work have dominated my last few weeks. Suddenly, I feel liberated. I have successfully completed all the pre-production work and now it’s someone else’s job. So, of course, my thoughts have turned to making meaning out of my experience and I’m once again asking: what does publication mean?
I’ve written about this question three times before, in August 2009, May 2011, and September 2011. “For me, publication is a beginning: the beginning of the public life of the novel.” (8/09) I also described publication as “one step on the long stairway to writing heaven” in that 2009 post. In May 2011, I wrote this: “I discovered that publication means a writer has the necessary skill level to craft clear, imaginative stories that offer a different perspective on the human condition, the writer’s own unique perspective. So, publication can be a validation of a writer’s craft as well as validation of a writer’s passion.” And this: “Perhaps, publication is a graduation. The writer has learned through the writing and rewriting process and is ready to go on to the next level which is really the next story or novel or screenplay. The next challenge and lesson.” In September 2011: “Publication, then, is sharing the story but also a piece of myself with it. Publication is about reaching out to people who I hope will want to read what I’ve written and making connections with them through the characters’ stories.” I went on in that post to explain that my writing is not autobiographical, that stories are more than the sum of a writer’s experiences.
I agree with everything I’ve written before. Reading it again has been somewhat comforting. Standing on the threshold of publication now, I think the one that comes closest to how I’m feeling is the May 2011 post. To add to it, however, I’d go back to the August 2009 post — yes, it is the beginning of the public life of the novel but also the public life for me, as a writer. I’m a total introvert. I prefer anonymity. I approach this change in my life from private to public with wariness. I want, truly want, Perceval’s Secret to have a very public life, to entertain readers, introduce them to the characters I love, give them something to think about. But….
One section on the production checklist the e-formatting company asked me to complete asked for my bio. They “strongly urged” authors to also include a color photo of themselves. This request stopped me and my thinking in their tracks. While I know that author promotion these days depends heavily on a “platform” the author has established, and the author’s (hopefully) pleasing physical appearance, I want none of it. Call me old fashioned, but I believe the promotion needs to focus on the novel and the writing, not the author. I understand completely now J. K. Rowling’s decision to write adult fiction under a pen name and not tell the general public until her ploy was discovered. She wanted to publish focused on her writing and the story, not her name and fame. I agree with that. I suspect that if I were working with a traditional print publisher, I might not be able to refuse the author photo on the book jacket.
So, I suspect that publication is going to change my life in some way. I will work to insure that the change is a positive one, and one that will help my writing, and me as a writer. Publication now means change for me. The first change is that Perceval’s Secret will be done and published. The second is that my professional writing life, both creative writing and my blogging, will be more public than it’s ever been before.
Well, it’ll also be time to begin work on the next draft of Perceval’s Shadow….