When putting out a novel there are two phases. The first I’ll liken to the initial blush of romance. The thing hits the stores; there are launch parties and readings; your friends kick start the sales; media people show up and write pieces about you, some of which are even complimentary in tone. You learn to smile on cue, which, for a writer, is as natural as an armchair trying to swim. You write guest blogs and you answer Proust Questionnaires and you talk on the CBC. You tweet and Facebook, all in an effort to turn yourself into a brand synonymous with good-book writing. Along the way, the reviews start appearing. Though you promised yourself you wouldn’t read them you do anyway.
All told, there’s about a month to six weeks in which something new happens every day, and for the most part it’s an exciting period. But then it dwindles. You still get invitations to appear, and far-flung newspaper reviews still arrive via your publicist’s e-mail account -- but there’s no denying that the attention commensurate with a launch has started to fade. This is the stressful part, and to understand why you have to imagine the psyche of the writer, sitting alone in his or her office, neurotically controlling everything about the world they are creating. Once the book gets published, there’s still a sense of control, however illusory: you get to say what you want in interviews, you post and retweet only the stellar reviews, you select the best bits to read in public. But then, one day, it hits you: your book is out there, all on its own. I imagine the feeling is a little like when parents send their children off to university. They can tell themselves they haven’t lost their babies, though of course they have.
So. Stomach upset, restlessness, the constant checking of e-mail. To distract myself, I’ve taken on a couple of magazine assignments and started bucking for a screenwriting gig, though it’s also true I’m finding it difficult to muster the energy. In other words, I’m refusing to let go. Even what I’m doing right now – typing this Good Reads blog – is probably a way for me to extend the birth phase of Dr. Brinkley’s Tower. Or maybe – and this is what I’m choosing to tell myself – it’s my way of announcing that I have to get back to work. The reality is that it could be both: the mind has a funny way of working in two contradictory directions at once. Whatever the reason, I’m writing this blog anyway, fortified by the knowledge that there’s still autumn, when all of the author festivals start.
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Published on March 28, 2012 11:43 • 200 views • Tags: book-launch, dr-brinkley-s-tower, novels
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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Logan Hey Robert,

I sympathize completely. It's five weeks to publication for me, and review copies are out. I am utterly failing at ignoring what's going on and focusing on the next book. It's driving me a bit spare, to be honest.


message 2: by Julie (new)

Julie Oakes Hi Robert, I read the latest (on rereading) and this blog and realised why blogs work. They're connections to universality brought down to specific pertinent points. I, first novel under my belt, have been unsure where and what to do with this post publishing waft. I am writing another novel but it doesn't mean it will replace the sense of dis-ease the launch of the first brought about. I follow the directions from my publisher, do what I am supposed to - I think - and then turn instead of thinking to the great outdoors. Praise be to spring!

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