The One Thing I Hope to Do Differently for the Next Book

I thought this post would be much harder to write because, like Lori, I don’t quite feel like quite enough time has passed between now and my launch to effectively look back and reflect.

Stop pacing, stop fretting, stop worrying, stop sweating. Some of the best things happen when you just let goBut then I realized we don’t always have to let a lot of time pass before reflecting. We can look around and see where we are now and take a moment to assess what we’d like to change going forward.

Where I am now: I’ve had an amazing launch. The kind that’s exceeded my expectations in most ways and forced me to check my expectations in others. So amazing, in fact, that now that life is slowly settling into a new sense of normal, I look around and think, what the hell was I so worried about?

Because worry I did. So much. Even in moments of pure bliss and gratitude, there was always a little part of me that had no idea what to expect next. And that was both exciting and terrifying.

Here’s the thing you might not know about me. I hate stress. (I know, we all do.) But picture me in grade school: I was the twelve-year-old who divided her science fair project into daily tasks weeks before the due date—Tuesday: hypothesis. Wednesday: buy board and start experiment. Thursday: pinpoint control and variable—because I didn’t want to end up doing everything at the last minute, stressed and worried over how it’d turn out. I did this and have done this with every major deadline I’ve ever dealt with. It usually works. It keeps me on task. It keeps everything under control.

But when you’re publishing, launching, and promoting a book, there is so much that’s beyond your control. Whether or not you’ll land an agent or publishing deal in the first place. After that, whether your editor will like your edits or how much your publisher will market that book once it’s out. And after that, who will review it and how they’ll review it and where you’ll host your launch and how many people will attend. The ultimate thing beyond your control: whether or not people will buy your book. Whether or not they’ll love it.

Did the fact that none of these things are beyond my control stop me from worrying? I’m embarrassed to say they did not. And looking back (and forward) I realize the worry did nothing to affect the outcomes. While it’s true that a bit of stress can be healthy, pushing us to be proactive and persistent and pursue opportunities that a more relaxed version of us wouldn’t, there really must be a better balance.

Worry some. Embrace the unknown. And then, after you’ve done what you can, let it go.


Author: Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is the author of the novel CHASING THE SUN (Lake Union/New Harvest, June 2014), about a frail marriage tested to the extreme by the wife's kidnapping in Lima, Peru. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Texas. Visit her online at

8 Replies to “The One Thing I Hope to Do Differently for the Next Book”

  1. Great post, Natalia! It’s true: so much of publishing is about learning to let go! As a control freak, I definitely found that to be a challenge with my debut. Here’s hoping I learned my lesson and can do a better job with book 2 :).

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