Moving on after the announcement

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Writers, I think, are often at a loss about what they should do next after they announce the release of a new book. Obviously, we do what we can to promote it; that can keep an author very busy. But that’s not the kind of moving on I’m talking about here. Quite simply, whether it’s blogs or friends, we become tongue-tied after the initial “Hey, my book got published today,” and all the WOW and CONGRATS and WHERE CAN I BUY IT and HOW SOON WILL HOLLYWOOD CALL comments have run their course.

Friends are ready to move on, and I don’t blame them. They don’t want the book to come up in every conversation any more than they want to rehash the same movie every time they meet for dinner or a drink. Unless the friend is exceptionally close, the book discussion pretty much runs its course after the first time it comes up. Yet, from the writer’s point of view, the book is a continuing presence, much more like having a baby or getting married than a topic to be squeezed in while waiting for the waitress to refill the coffee cups.

The book has not only been a large part of the author’s life prior to publication, it remains part of his life forever. It’s not just the job of promoting it that consumes time and energy; nor is it handling the reviews, good and bad, or figuring out whether to set up a book signing three states away, or gearing up to write a sequel. The writing of the book has changed the author: and for better or worse, he will always be dealing with who he has become and whether he’s happy with that. Don’t even suggest that he ought to take a bill to get over it.

There are times when I wish the art and craft of writing weren’t viewed by the general public as a weird process done by weird people. “Yeah, I already heard about your new book,” we hear when we bring it up again. I want to reply, “well, I already heard about your sales job, but that hasn’t stopped you from telling me about your boss and your co-workers and your trips and the breakroom chatter for the last 15 years.”

I think about saying that, but I don’t, because writing–in the eyes of others–is just too different to fit well into dangling conversations on the carpool ride home or while waiting for the movie to begin. I know my writing caMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Garden if Heaven,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Firereer will never get equal time with selling cars or driving trucks because non-writers just don’t know how to give it.

But I think it’s only fair to remind people once and a while: like a new wife and a new baby, the book is part of my life now. Get used to it.

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Garden of Heaven,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”

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8 responses

  1. Thanks for the perspective Malcolm. I don’t have any friends/family in the real world who are authors – but if I did I think I would be more accepting of ongoing discussions about the book process. As long as it isn’t the same topic over and over why would it? I’d be curious how your sales are going, what methods you are using, who your buying market has become, etc. etc. It is your job and your passion – why wouldn’t I show interest?

    • Thanks, Bumbles. Actually, some friends==many who comments on these posts–actually are really nice about it. Others seem embarrassed because they haven’t read the books. I don’t feel embarrassed for not going to their hair salons or maternity shops, but somehow that doesn’t make it easier for them to move on.

  2. Non-writers are always telling me I should go out and talk about my books, probably because they are hoping I won’t talk about the books with them any more! I know there are authors who do go up to strangers and talk about their books, but for the most part, when I do, I get a glazed look as if they are wondering why I’m bothering them with such trivialities.

    It’s an odd dichotomy: if you’re unknown, the only way to get known is to talk about your books, but people are only interested in talking to and about authors who are already known.

    • Yes, part of the problem comes from the fact that author’s name recognition–on a book buzz level–is a major factor in book buying habits. So, people around town don’t have the books and don’t consider their friend to be a real writer Like Nora Roberts and Pat Conroy.

  3. It has been several years now that I have been reading your thoughts, Malcolm and I find them so interesting. I can only imagine how much a writer puts into a major work and can understand how it becomes a part of him.

    • We’ve been talking back and forth on blogs for so long ow, Montucky, that we enjoy each other’s posts and actually go looking for them rathering than chancing by. I’m glad you stop by here so often, just as I’m glad to see your Montana pictures ready and waiting when I go to Montana Outdoors.

  4. When a new or aspiring writer asks me for advice, one of the first things I always tell them is surround yourself with other writers – whether in person or with on online group. Writers understand how much really goes into the writing process and how personal an experience it becomes. I can no more ignore my stories than think about my own basic needs. Our stories become a part of us – it is us.

    It’s true – many non-writers will bore quickly when we talk of our books and yet they will regale us with stories of their work day constantly. LOL, I love to wear a T-shirt that a friend gifted me with (another writer btw) “Be careful, you might wind up in my novel” – it does give people pause.

    Thanks for putting in words so much of what we writers go through, and yes, despite these gripes we continue to write because we love it and it is something we NEED to do.

    • That is good advice, Chelle; I appreciate the tee-shirt! It’s odd, thoutgh, that with other writers, I often say nothing because the one thing that messes me up is talking about the mechanics of writing. It’s as though it forces me to look at the nitty gritty of something that I do inutively and with no regard to rules or tedchniques what so ever. I do enjoy talking about the marketing side and the philsophy behind our work and our journeys.