It’s been 2.5 years since I published my book and only now have I begun the process of processing—my thoughts, feelings, and emotions around this experience.
The main reason is because I had a baby.
She came peacefully into this world a couple months before I released my book, and unfortunately, that peace was short-lived. The unrelenting duties to clean, clothe, feed, and console my baby took over and left little room for anything else.
My daughter is enrolled in a toddler program now, so I am happy to report I have my life back (well, sort of). At the very least, I have managed to carve out a little time and space to explore my feelings post publishing—the good, the bad, and everything in between.
Fun facts before I begin:
>> It took me six years to write my book.
>> Four out of those six years, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
*(If you are struggling with your writing, please read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Her book helped me write “shitty first drafts” and work through my perfectionism, which one can imagine will undoubtedly get in the way of any lengthy project.)
>> Assuming my record keeping is correct, 3,365 hours were spent pulling my hair and pouring over countless drafts. In fact, ¾ of my entire first manuscript was scrapped.
After publishing my book, I somehow managed to put my best face forward at my book launch party despite another sleepless night with the baby, my friend hosted a book club for me, and I got my books into some bookstores, and of course, I sold copies.
Perhaps you’re nearing the end of your own manuscript and are wondering what it might be like after you cross the finish line.
Below are some personal insights I’d like to share:
Your book is something you will always be proud of.
As we go through life, many of us pause and take stock of how far we’ve come. We bask in the pride of our accomplishments, recoil in regret of our failures, and we worry and fantasize about what is yet to come.
Writing a book, irrespective of its success, is something you will be proud of. Your book is something that you will always have in your back pocket, like, “Yeah, I did that.” How could it not? Having gone through the treacherous journey of stringing together enough legible words to craft a story or write a memoir must stand for something. At the very least, it will prove you’ve got character, which leads me to my next point.
You will develop some great qualities.
Discipline, perseverance, and courage just to name a few. Writing presents us with the opportunity to invite qualities we wish to develop in ourselves, and it provides the necessary framework to cultivate these qualities at length.
You will touch people’s hearts.
Writing is a noble pursuit and people respect it. Your mom will be proud of you. In my case, my father was extremely touched. I mean I wrote a book called Monk’s Daughter and dedicated it to him after all. Can one get any touchier than that? Whatever it is you are writing about, even if it’s something dark and disturbing, you will be sure to touch the hearts of your loved ones and earn the respect of your peers.
All this being said, writing can be a royal pain. What’s more, the aftermath of publishing is not as glamorous as you had maybe once envisioned, which leads me to “the bad.”
The odds of getting published are stacked against our favor.
Unless you are well-known and respected in your field, you are celebrity, or you have a proven fan base that can convert to sales, you’re out of luck. The odds are stacked against us, and by us, I mean unknown first-time authors.
A first-time author must have a complete manuscript in hand and submit a stellar book proposal to be considered for publishing. Even then, there’s no guarantee your book will even be looked at. Typically, unsolicited manuscripts are not considered unless you have an agent or are connected in some way.
If you do manage to find a good agent, it can take months for them to consider your work and send it to out to publishers. Once your manuscript has been submitted, get ready to wait some more. If your manuscript is accepted, congrats! You’ve won the lottery…then get back to work. Expect many rounds of revisions with your publisher.
Books are a hard sell.
Everyone thinks they’re going to write the next New York Times Bestseller; few people actually reach the fame and success they fantasize about when they set out to write a book.
While these dreams typically fade into the background as the reality and grunt work of writing a book set in, once the book is published, it’s easy to slip back into these fantasies. Unfortunately, books are a hard sell (even with a publisher and distribution). Moreover, each copy you do sell doesn’t add much to your bank account.
You may feel like you wasted your time.
Because you have yet to become rich and famous, you may be left feeling like you have wasted your time. Writing is not a breeze. Anyone who pretends like it is is lying to you. Just as a runner trains every day for a marathon, a writer writes every day until her prose gets a little less awkward and her thoughts become clearer.
I have foregone many mornings to meet my friends for brunch, go on a hike, or dip in the ocean to instead sit at home and write a paragraph. Yes, one measly paragraph. Dedicating oneself to developing any craft is like that. Producing anything of substance requires careful thought and deliberation. Writing requires sh*tty first drafts, many eyes, and continuous revisions.
If your intentions are solely outward and you don’t love the process, then you should forego writing a book altogether. Writing is something you do out of love, not for the fame and fortune—although that would be nice too.
Everything in Between:
As with most things in life, there is a gray area—where things are neither “good” or “bad” but rather somewhere in between. The aftermath of writing a book will leave you perpetually navigating the “somewhere in between.” You will be empowered by the experience, but also feel vulnerable and insecure.
The courage you have found to go after your dreams will trigger huge waves of emotions in people. You will receive acknowledgement and admiration, but it may be marked with an underlying current of resentment and envy. Your book will bridge connection and intimacy with others, but the exchange may feel unequal and uneasy—especially if you have chosen to write about your personal life story. Writing is a bit like walking down the street naked. You must be willing to bear it all and have no regrets.
I hope my insights have helped shed light on what one may experience after publishing. Only you can decide if writing a book is right for you.