Monday, August 17, 2015

Bringing Baby (or Your Novel) Home

Yep, this is what I looked like when I realized I wasn't
 ready for the launch of my novel--except that I'm not an
adorable little boy (my grandson), nor am I eighteen months old,
and seldom do I hide behind a loveseat to cry.
Although that's not a bad idea, come to think of it.

I've waited a long time for my novel, Misstep, to be published. A very, very long time. And now it has, thanks to my agent, Terry Burns, who placed it with Write Integrity Press. My joy, however, was tempered by the reality that I wasn't, no way, no how, ready for it.

Oh, I thought I was. I had both a regular and an author Facebook page, Twitter and Goodreads and accounts, an Amazon author page, three blogs, some hazy (read: crummy) ideas for marketing once it was time to do so, a website, an email list of friends, family, and supporters ready to contact when the time came, a supportive agent and the other authors he represents who are like a second family to me, and of course, my publisher, Tracy Ruckman, and the other authors she's published (who are like a ... what? third family, I guess)--all ready to spring into action when the time came. Yep, I'd done all the right things. So why wasn't I ready?

Because some things cannot be prepared for adequately: Bringing a child home from the hospital and marketing your first novel are two of them.

Yes, it's hard to go beyond what I'd already done when you don't yet have a release date or a cover. Those things take time and can't be rushed. But I still thought I had things well in hand until the day came when I did have a release date and a beautiful cover and I found ... gasp! ... nothing in my hand.

Despite all the preparations I made when my first child was about to be born, I was woefully unprepared when the day came to bring him home. Yes, I had lots of diapers and powder and bottles and onesies and his room was decorated and his crib was made up with cute crib sheets. But all that occurred without the presence of the person for whom I prepared it. In the same way, all I did prior to my book's launch date was done before the book was in hand. Some things can't be done completely without the other. These are two examples from my life. I imagine you have plenty from your own lives. You can't holler "Full steam ahead" until you have a boiler of hot water ready to make some steam.

My boiler full of hot water was Misstep in person. I needed to have my book before I could market it. I needed something to show for it, to back up my claims that it was indeed "coming soon." And when it did come, all heck broke loose. Everything I'd done beforehand suddenly had something (Misstep) to show off, to market, to do. Within days, I was scheduled for an appearance on Atlanta Live, WATC Channel 57, made arrangements for a radio interview (both compliments of my hard-working publisher, Tracy Ruckman), dozens of mentions on Twitter and Facebook, lots of likes and shares and comments, favorites, retweets, and follows. The fact is, I was readier than I knew.

It all came together and what I'd done beforehand suddenly had great purpose. Even though I didn't have the book (yet), I knew I would soon. Nothing I did ahead of time went to waste. In fact, just the opposite was true. While it seemed incomplete and a little silly of me to prepare for something I hadn't yet seen, it was done in good faith that Misstep would indeed come to fruition. Just like my little boy several years ago.

So go ahead, make all those arrangements. Prepare for something you can't yet see. Be bold, be faithful, be optimistic, and above all, be ready! Because when it's time to bring your "baby" home, it's time to bring your baby home.

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