Lady in Waiting


“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx

Writers, especially debut writers, universally agree that the pacing of the publishing world is glacial. There have been many times I’ve thought the day would never come that my book would hit the shelves. Like I’ve actually worried I might die of old age first. But now that I’m down to the final weeks before the release of SMALL ADMISSIONS, I not only understand why the process takes so long, I’m actually appreciating the time it takes. I get it now: It takes a village and the entire surrounding suburban sprawl to publish a book. And while many people are busy getting my book shelf-ready and generating buzz so that it sells, there are lots of things I need to be doing as well.

If you’re a writer and you’re finding that the long publishing timeline is tough to take, that’s completely understandable. So now I’ll share, based on everything I’ve experienced and read and heard, my recommendations to myself to survive the endless waiting period:

For starters, don’t just sit there, for God’s sake. Write your second book. But — no pressure — make sure it’s way better than your first book in order to show your growth as a writer. Furthermore, write scores of brilliant personal essays, advice columns, and short conceptual humor pieces to get your name “out there.” Submit them to The New Yorker. As soon as they get rejected, submit them everywhere else. Finally, post them on your website.

Update your website with pictures of your cat.

Take a bubble bath and read several good books. Tweet about them.

Check Goodreads; who is “Mostyn Gamitarir” and why is he “currently reading” your ChickLit book? And how did he get your book in Greenland? Your book isn’t even out yet.

Vow never to check Goodreads again.

Check your Amazon ranking. Did you know that numbers could go that high? No, you didn’t.

Vow never to check Amazon again.

Check Twitter. Ask yourself: How come no one has liked your books-in-the-bubble-bath tweet?

Vow not to waste any more precious time on social media. Except for all the time you need to spend marketing your book on social media. Then definitely go on social media. But otherwise, stay off social media. But don’t disappear; you need to be very visible right now, building your platform, connecting with potential readers! So stay on it. While completely staying off it.

Plan your launch party. What will you wear, and how many pounds do you need to lose to wear it? (A: 10)

Start an exercise program. You’ve been so cerebral lately, what with all the writing. Consider getting up off your ass and walking somewhere, like to that new gelato place that just opened a block away.

Consider writing a monthly newsletter to discuss all the excitement in your life. Since there is no excitement, make something up. Or just write about the books you read in the bathtub and how you plan to start watching The Crown. But keep the words of my teenage son in mind, as I always do: “Seriously, mom, nobody gives a shit.”

Think of the close friends you accidentally left off your acknowledgments page. Manage your self-loathing.

Watch The Crown and lose yourself in some monarchy drama. Start right now, it’s awesome. (After several hours of viewing, notice that you’re thinking to yourself in a perfect, upper-class British accent. Imagine you are the queen as you apologize to the friend you forgot to name in your acknowledgments; she accepts the apology, of course.)

Watch paint dry. Watch water boil. Which is slower? Neither, that was a trick question. Your book coming out is slower.


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Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

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