Post-Release, Book-Baby Blues

The traditionally-published writer’s journey starts in a whirl of excitement that often feels like Alice stepping through the looking glass into Wonderland.

First, an agent offers representation, and the author wonders if the world will ever be the same. Then, a publisher makes an offer, and the beloved manuscript sets off on its journey to become a “real, live book.”

The excitement waxes and wanes as release day approaches, and the release itself often passes in a whirl of blog appearances, signings, and good wishes from family and friends.

But then, a few days (or, in some cases, weeks) later, the excitement dies down and the author’s book is no longer the cute new pup in the window. At that point, most authors (especially debut authors) experience something very close to postpartum depression – the book-baby blues.

Common symptoms include:

1. Wondering if your book is a failure–if you are a failure–because you didn’t make the bestseller lists the week of release.

2. Thinking you are a failure because you didn’t STAY on the bestseller lists, or high in the Amazon rankings, longer than you did.

3. Feelings of sadness, inadequacy, or loneliness – often brought on by the lull that follows the whirlwind of activity around release.

4. Fear – specifically, the fear that your book will stop selling, that you’ll never get another book deal, and that your career is over before it began.

All of these feelings, and more, are NORMAL for authors in the post-release phase – and most of us try our best to hide that we feel them. The post-release blues aren’t exactly a secret, but nobody wants to admit feeling down in the aftermath of a dream come true.

The good news is, these feelings are normal and they will pass. The better news is, there are things you can do to help them pass more quickly. Here are a few:

– Find an author friend to confide in. It’s best if you can find someone else who is published (either traditionally or self-published, it doesn’t matter) so that you’re talking with someone who’s been where you are and experienced what you’re feeling.

– When scheduling blog tours and appearances, plan a few for the three or four weeks post-release, so you still have promotional work to do through the first part of the post-release blues.

– Allow yourself to feel sad – but not to wallow – and then move on. Understand that these feelings are normal, allow yourself to feel them, and then pick yourself up and find something nice to enjoy.

– Help a friend promote his or her new release. It’s true that your book won’t be the darling new puppy in the window forever – but you can mitigate your sorrow by sharing someone else’s joy. Find another author getting ready to release a book and help promote  it. Offer to interview the author on your blog, or read the book and write a review. The easiest way to get over the end of YOUR party is to find another party to attend.

And last, but most important of all:

– Write your next book. Writers write. (Authors auth?) It’s what we do. The best way to escape the troubles of the real world is to pour yourself into the worlds of your own creation. You may not “feel” like writing, but that doesn’t matter – fix it in editing. The very best therapy for the “post-release book-baby blues” is writing another book.

I hope you’ll join me next week, when our Publishing 101 series attacks a very sensitive topic: bad reviews.

In the meantime, have you got any tips or tricks for escaping the post-release book-baby blues? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Post-Release, Book-Baby Blues

  • March 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

    One of our library patrons just read and loved your book “Claws of the Cat”. He wanted to inform you that he found one typographical error on p. 275 under W – wakizashi: reads ‘two words’ and should be ‘two swords’. Thank you.

    • March 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Yikes! Thank you Carleen – I really appreciate hearing this. I’ll have the correction made in the next edition. Please thank him for me – both for the typo notice and also because I love hearing that someone enjoyed the book! That makes my day.

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