Six ways that publishing a novel is like having a baby

  1. It seemed like a good idea at the time

That little spark, a little bit of fun that leads to months and months of hard work, only momentarily forgetting what’s going on inside you. For me and my novel, the gestation was over ten years. Like birthing a blue whale.

  1. You never know what you’ll get.

As much as we may think we’re in control, sometimes it’s still a matter of good or bad fortune. Babies are born early or sick, despite having stellar DNA and eating organic strawberries. Stuff happens. And as much as you love your idea for this novel, there are limits to your skill. Just recognizing a good story doesn’t mean you can write one. Or like me, you didn’t realize that the paperback would be available as soon as you sent it to Kindle Direct, not on the date you’d chosen way off in the future so you’d have time to develop your marketing plan. I guess we can call it a “soft release.”

  1. There are a plethora of coaches, but very few experts.

Strangers pat your tummy and offer advice. Even if they’ve never been pregnant or written anything longer than a thank-you note. You learn who to trust and who to ignore.

  1. You hope for the best.

You take your vitamins, you eat right, exercise. You paint and decorate the nursery. You submit your novel to critique partners and beta readers. You listen politely and try to not lose hope or the vision that you had at the outset. You rewrite, edit, and proof-read. You send it through spell-check and Grammarly. And you hope you haven’t sucked every bit of voice and heart out of the thing. You polish and polish and polish.

  1. You wait.

You wait to hold that baby in your arms. You wait for beta readers and agents to get back to you. You wait for files to upload, for cover designers and formatters to do their thing. You wait for the launch date that you picked. And if you’re lucky enough to get a traditional publication contract, you might wait a year or more to see it on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. You wait for reviews to come in.

  1. You track milestones.

First words. First steps. First sales. First reviews. Try in vain not to compare your child, your book to others out there.

So here I sit, distracting myself while waiting, watching, hoping my child doesn’t do something embarrassing. Send chocolate. Or better yet, help a girl out and buy the book.

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