On Wishing I Could Control My Memoir’s Pub Date


Crystal and Amy both nailed it with their posts about the experience of time leading up to book publication. Like Crystal, when my book drops it will be exactly a decade since I began writing. Like Amy, I’m often confused about all the conflicting advice as to what I am to be doing in these months leading up to the on-sale date (though my jokes about the tension aren’t nearly as funny).

I’ve spent a significant portion of the last decade worrying about the timing of this memoir. Early on I was anxious to complete it before too many years had passed since the 2003 scandal at the Air Force Academy (a significant event in my story). Thankfully I realized I was better off honing my writing skills and focusing on fully healing – and not proceeding prematurely.

Then in 2012, the documentary the Invisible War debuted and led to the issue of military sexual assault making headlines once again, and once again, I worried I had missed a wave of attention given to the topic. I wanted my story to be timely so that it would have the most widespread audience. Friends reminded me that the issues the military face are so complex, unfortunately my message would remain on point for years to come.

Still, I worried. Each phase of this process takes months: finding an agent, preparing with your agent to go on submission to editors, actually going on submission, working with your new editor, and then the months leading up to publication when you are working with your publicist. As Amy pointed out, this time is valuable and it isn’t just because the publishing industry moves slowly; it’s because important things happen behind the scenes to make sure that your book-baby has its best start in the world (spoiler: see Jenni’s post tomorrow).

Still, I worry. Sure, my friends were right – the dynamic of military sexual assault has not been solved and won’t be in the next two months, but the flip side to that realization is that it means my book and books like it are needed. It seems like every week the media’s dialogue about sexual violence yo-yo’s: one week, the Rolling Stones publishes an account which is debunked; another week, a presidential candidate brags about sexually assaulting women. I wonder what the national landscape will look like when Caged Eyes is born. I wonder – and worry – about how it will fit into the larger conversation about sexual violence, a conversation which, I hope, leads to real change.

What I’ve come to accept (…sort of) is that the timing of Caged Eyes is what it was always meant to be. Just like I found the agent, editor, and publishing house which would best support Caged Eyes, the timing will work out as it was meant to, too. This is just one more aspect of book publishing process which is outside of the author’s control, and thankfully now I’ve had lots of practice allaying my fears with faith.

Author: Lynn K Hall

Lynn Hall is a memoirist, activist in the movement to end sexual violence, ultra-runner, and crazy cat lady. Her memoir, CAGED EYES: AN AIR FORCE CADET’S STORY OF RAPE AND RESILIENCE, was published by Beacon Press in February 2017. Her writing has previously appeared in the New York Times, The LA Times, Hippocampus Magazine, The Sexual Assault Report, The Manifest-Station, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and elsewhere. In the summers, Lynn copes with publication anxiety by spending too many days in the Colorado mountains, and in the winters, with pans of brownies. She lives in Boulder with her partner and their 23 cats. Just kidding…she only has five.