I've been in the book business since 1962, longer than most of you have been alive. As an editor, I have been honored to publish many terrific books -- some of them successful -- and I have enjoyed working with literally hundreds of publishing colleagues. I know the ropes. As part of my job, I became an expert at managing expectations for my authors.
I thought it was working for me, I really did, and I expected no butterflies when Mom Still Likes You Best was scheduled for May 4 publication. My reality test had come and gone when Walking on Eggshells, my first book, was published three years ago. I understood how much work it takes to get a person into a bookstore (or online) to actually pay real money for a book. The effort is immense. That book was a success, but that was three years ago. We live in an altered climate for publishing, I tell myself. It's harder than ever to sell a book.
Now that I'm on the verge of publishing my second book, I don't seem to be doing so well. I have been waking up at 4:00 AM and not falling back asleep; I have been going over and over the things I need to do. Everything is done. So yesterday, I decided that it was time to organize my financial files. Now I have a color-coded file drawer (red for income, green for donations, etc.). That got me through yesterday. Then last night I dreamed that a group of people came with me on a tour of foreign embassies, where I was supposed to speak. We got thirsty and stopped for a drink. I swiped the publicist's orange juice and sipped from the straw -- and I was sick, so I needed to figure out what to do to make it up to her. I did the right thing: I woke up.
My friend Jennifer Gilmore (author of Something Red, who is going through the same thing, only more so) explains that the publishing pros who jump the desk and write books know too much about the biz. She may be right, but I think it's worse. I love doing TV and speaking and giving interviews, but going public ramps up my system. Adrenaline is not good for you, unless there's a lion in hot pursuit. So in the process, I don't sleep, I turn a little OCD, and I wish I had a hobby.
My first mother-in-law lived far away from us. We visited her a couple of times a year, and the visits were stilted. She would say, "I'm so anxious to see you," and she thought she was telling me how much she looked forward to our visit. I always thought she really meant, "The prospect of seeing you all makes me very anxious." Same here. I'm anxious to publish my new book, and I'm having small anxiety attacks as the day approaches.