What’s harder than writing? Publishing it.
Last weekend, I read and judged scholarship essays for the local Mensa group. It’s something I do every year about this time, and this year, I was very much in an editing mode. A week ago yesterday, I finished the revisions on Perceval’s Secret. Since then, I’ve been finishing up the front pages, back pages, choosing the font for the e-book (Libre Baskerville at Google Fonts), and researching metadata. Next step? Contact the e-formatting company.
But I feel frozen in place. My mind veers off that road into a side road that leads anywhere but to publication. What’s happening to me? I’ve not had this issue with the essays I’ve published or my monthly column for Mensagenda. This isn’t exactly writer’s block. I’ve written about writer’s block twice before, here and here. My stomach has clutched into a nauseated knot. I feel like I’m falling and there’s nothing to stop my fall. This is totally emotional, not rational.
Have you ever wanted something so much, and was so important to you, that you couldn’t move? It’s fear.
Fear of failure, probably, more than anything. There’s a lot riding on this publication, e.g. being able to pay my bills. What if the book doesn’t sell? That is a possibility. But I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t interested in reading it after I pitched it. I guess all the years I queried agents and publishers before are catching up to me. They are part of the reason I’m e-publishing the novel now, but there’s that niggling nagging feeling of fear that maybe they were right. Well, they were! Since the last go-around with agents, I’ve done a line edit, worked with an excellent editor, and improved the book in every way.
Small steps. Put one foot in front of the other.
It’s not like I have no support, no cheering section, nobody waiting for it to go on sale so they could buy and read it. It’s just very hard to take the final steps to publication. Would it be easier if I were working with a traditional publisher? Probably not. In a way, it’s better that I’m doing it myself so that I can harass myself about the details instead of someone else. So, how close am I?
I plan to send an e-mail to the e-formatting company today. Maybe, I’ll be sending them the manuscript sometime next week. There will be a proofing step, I’m sure, while they are formatting. After that, I’ll receive the two e-files that I’ll be able to upload to Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Then I’ll be up to my ears in marketing tasks, getting the word out, working with AuthorBuzz, registering the two books at Bowker, updating various web pages for the novel, etc. A lot of work that will keep my mind occupied, at least for a while.
And what about writing? Well, yes, I have writing projects lined up: an essay about an Iraqi war vet I met, a science fiction short story, catching up with the short stories I have posted on Wattpad, and finally the two biggies: Perceval’s Shadow (novel number 2 in the series) and the essay collection on being a successful patient. I definitely have enough work to keep me busy.
But I need money, like everyone else. My bank accounts are bleeding and so far I’ve not found a job, even a part-time job, to replenish them. So, publication of Perceval’s Secret also means income for me, and that’s huge. Far too huge than I want it to be. I’d write whether or not I was paid, but I’m sure my landlord wouldn’t like that nor the electric company, phone company, etc., etc. So, I think this nauseating fear I feel is really about money — will the novel sell so that I can pay off the debt I’ve incurred in order to publish it? Will it earn enough to keep me going for another year or two until I have the second novel ready for publication?
I cannot imagine that these concerns are not the most common concerns in the world for writers. It’s natural that they would come to a head as I’m ending my job as a writer on the first novel. The fear has thrown up a block of ice to freeze me in place. How do I melt?