It strikes me that the day a book launches is a lot like an election day. When the stores open, you get this feeling of relief. All the pre-work is done. All the toil of the campaign—the effort of getting the product together–is finished. You’ve stuffed the production line. The book is on all the sites, and man does it look good. It looks brilliant.
Yes, all the meat grindery stuff is done, and there’s that thrill of having created something fun and valuable and something that is truly yours—something no one else could have done, because even if they tried, they are not you. It would be different.
So, for a few minutes you look at what you’ve done and you feel totally brilliant. Totally full of hope. In many ways, this is the best moment of all. The world is full of hope for this book. It’s destiny is on the horizon.
That entire day is spent waiting for the turnout, which comes in fits and drabs. Numbers come in for a bit and you raise your hands up and think things are fantastic. Then there’s dry stage, and you think “is that all there is?” You worry that all the work you did in advance is out the window. Then the lines queue up again. Yes! The people are coming!
This is when you realize that there just isn’t any way to really predict this kind of future—that all your early polling (beta reading) is completely useless for any kind of real projection. All your exit polls are suspect.
The analogy fades on Day 2, though.
Yes, you’re waiting for reviews (which is maybe a form of the networks calling the race, eh?), but mostly you realize that a book’s success or failure is a long haul, and pretty much no matter how successful the previous day might have been, you’re still no different from before—you still look at the numbers, and you still wonder what will happen to it tomorrow, and the following day, and the following day.
Then you turn to your next manuscript and you realize that, no, the work isn’t done.
Publication is, in the end, not an election.
The work is never done.
Nor is the fun.
The next book has a destiny, too, after all. And it’s time to start making it happen.
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