From time to time, you come across authors talking about how their books are their babies. I’ve been thinking about the release of The Mermaid’s Madness [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], and decided to see how well the analogy holds up.
Part 1: Creation. It took me one year to finish the manuscript that would become The Mermaid’s Madness, and that’s without my editor’s revision requests. It took me mumble minutes to finish … er … well, to finish my part in the creation of what would become my child. (On the other hand, at least my wife didn’t ask for revisions!)
Part 2: Prepublication. It takes roughly nine months for a human baby to develop and be born. It took about ten months for finished copies of Mermaid to start showing up in bookstores. In both case, you have some beautiful milestones along the way. The first ultrasound and the first glimpse of your cover art. Preparing the baby’s room, and redesigning the web site to make room for the new book. The baby analogy holds up better here.
Part 3: Release. Labor is not a fun experience. We were back and forth to the hospital several times. The doctors tried and failed to induce labor. In the end, both of my children were born via C-section, basically cutting my wife open and tugging the kids out. This is not a gentle process, folks. It was like trying to remove a basketball from a too-tight package. The books, on the other hand? My publisher shipped ’em to me in a Fed Ex. box.
Part 4: The Real World. Very few people will tell you your newborn baby looks like a cross between a bulldog and a California Raisin. People have no such reluctance when it comes to reviewing your new book. The real baby is snuggled, fed, burped, bathed, and rocked to sleep. Your books will receive no such love. Some will be forgotten in the back room. Others will linger on the shelves, along with tens of thousands of others. Those lucky enough to find a home will have their spines cracked, and after a brief relationship, will end up squeezed onto a bookshelf and left there for months or years to come.
Part 5: Letting Go. Your baby will likely be with you for at least 18 years. Your book? You’ll be lucky if it’s still on the bookstore shelves to celebrate its first birthday. Within a month, many of those books will be setting out on their new career: stripping. Front covers are wantonly ripped away in an orgy of shelf reorganization, and soon you’ll find these prematurely aged paperbacks discarded in back alley dumpsters.
Part 6: The Next Child. I’ll be honest, I rarely think about Mermaid these days. I’m lavishing all of my love and affection on Snow Queen. This will be my seventh book. I hope to pop out at least thirty over the course of my career. Forget octomom, I wanna be tridecadad! Children, on the other hand? I love both of my children dearly, but I don’t know whether I could handle a third.
In conclusion, myth busted. A book is not a baby. Tune in next week when I talk about how dingos ate my book.