If I had my druthers, after my first book is published I’d hold it up in front of my family and friends, my name prominently displayed, and say, “See? I did it. Now, shoo. Go on about your business.”
Then I’d tuck the book away, out of their sight, so they wouldn’t be tempted to actually read it. I mean, I want them all to know I haven’t just been diddling around all these years, that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, but, really, there’s no reason to bog them down with details.
So, why (you may be asking yourself) do I feel this way?
(Notice how I very thoughtfully chose a brunette bikini model so nobody would think that’s me. No matter how understandable *cough* a mistake like that might be.)
See, it’s all about the exposure. As has been noted many times before, writing a book, even when it’s fiction, bares you. Leaves you open to a certain kind of speculative scrutiny.
(By the way, let me just say in advance that I’ve never been kidnapped by modern-day Vikings. In case you read my book one day, and find yourself speculating…)
People who don’t know you (or, at least, don’t know you well) have an easier time separating the writer from the work, I think. The work can stand on its own merits for them—they aren’t busy looking for hidden meanings in every passage.
Friends and family, now—it’s way too easy for friends and family to make assumptions about how your subject matter must reflect a deep (and possibly disturbed) part of your nature, and they may come away shocked (shocked, I tell you!) at what they think they’ve unearthed from your subconscious.
I’ve mostly come to terms with it. Really. Sure, some of my family members may be a bit…um, taken aback, shall we say?…at certain parts of In a Fix, but they’ll get over it. They’re grownups, and if bawdy humor isn’t to their taste, they can put the book down. And, you know, pretend they’re not related to me. (“Linda Grimes? Oh, heavens no! That’s not our Linda Grimes! Such a common name, isn’t it?”)
There is one thing that still makes me a teensy bit nervous,though. What will my writer friends think of my book? I’ve met, and come to respect, a whole lot of very good writers on my journey to publication. If/when they read it…eek! Palpitations, here we come!
And speaking of writers, there’s another group that makes quake when I think about them: the all-important Blurbers.
You know about blurbs, right? The quotes from well-known authors that appear on books in order to help sell them? The idea being, if a popular author recommends a book, then all their readers will want to read it, too. Which is a great idea, and I have to say it works for me. If a writer I enjoy has something good to say about a book by a newbie author, I’ll totally give it a try. Because I figure authors with a good rep aren’t going to risk that rep by recommending a crappy book.
Yup, and there’s the rub. Say you’re said newbie author. What if the authors you and your editor have convinced to read your book don’t like it enough to say anything good about it? What if the best they can come up with is “Hoo-boy, that’s a book, all right. It has chapters and everything!”
I used to have daymares (not nearly as much fun as daydreams) about just that. In these waking bad dreams, the wonderful authors my editor would ask for quotes would decide they couldn’t allow their names to appear in conjunction with mine, because it would be detrimental to their own careers. So my publisher would then be forced to go with other quote options (btw, none of them as good as the one Deb Molly came up with at the end of her post here).
Examples of my daymare quotes:
“Please buy this book so I can retire someday!” ~Linda’s husband.
“I don’t understand how this could happen…she was such a sweet child.” ~Linda’s mother.
“So that’s what she’s been doing in the house all this time!” ~Linda’s neighbor.
“It sure beats a root canal!” ~Linda’s dentist.
“Wow! And she always seemed like such a prude. Who knew?” ~Linda’s high school boyfriend.
“Meow, pffft-pffft-hissss…!” ~Linda’s part-time cat.
“At least she didn’t split any infinitives.” ~Linda’s high school English teacher.
(And, honestly? I can’t even swear I didn’t split an infinitive or two.)
Tell me, do you ever have daymares, writing-related or otherwise? Please share them with me. If it helps, think of it as therapy.
P.S. Recent indicators suggest I won’t be doomed to live out my daymares in real life. Whew! Now, if only I can come up with a way to keep the more, um, proper members of my family from reading my books, I’m golden. Suggestions welcome.