Heart of Literary Darkness: Case Study of an Author 13 Days Before the Release of a Novel

ABSTRACT: While the DSM-V does not recognize the condition of Undifferentiated Authorial Pre-release Anxiety (not to be confused with Authorial Prepublication Neurosis), this is a well-known if unofficial diagnosis in the field of Bibliopsychology. Our research presents a detailed portrait of an author in the days before the publication of his next novel, in the hope that our observations and insights might point the way to future research. While there is at present no proven treatment for UAPA, our data finds some hope for cognitive therapy, traditional reinforcement, and clinical doses of mint chocolate chip ice cream.[1. Based on early experiments, we advise against the use of a placebo, as this tended to result in heightened states of violence and aggression in the subject.]

SUBJECT: Jim C. Hines is the author of seven novels and approximately 40 short stories. His 8th novel Libriomancer [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] will be published on August 7 of this year. (See figure 1, right.) This marks the launch of his third series, and will be his first hardcover with DAW Books. At the time this article was written, the book had received generally positive blurbs and reviews. Hines is 38 years old and married. He is employed with the State of Michigan. His medical file lists a diagnosis for type 1 diabetes in October of 1998, and he recently began treatment for depression. According to one family interview, he is “a goofball.”

INITIAL OBSERVATIONS: In the past 30 days, subject has displayed an increasingly obsessive tendency toward Google searches and visits to sites such as Goodreads and Amazon.com. Below is a graph of the subject’s visits to Amazon.com to check his sales ranking over the past nine weeks (figure 2).

A statistical analysis of this trend suggests that the subject will soon devote all available time and energy to clicking the refresh button. In week 12, he will reach the singularity, merging his brain with Amazon’s database and algorithms. We predict increasingly negative outcomes in social interaction, employment, and hygiene.[2. An intervention was attempted in week 8, at which point the subject threatened to ‘dump a nest of fire-spiders in our drawers’ if we didn’t restore his Internet access. Further interventions are negatively indicated at this time.]

The subject has also shown signs of neglect toward email and even his blog. The majority of his time and energy seem to be devoted to interviews and guest posts. On the surface, this behavior appears consistent with the need to promote his work and generate a false sense of control, but we believe he may also be sublimating his anxiety into these projects. In layman’s terms, he appears to be “freaking the hell out.”

TREATMENT OPTIONS: It would have been unethical to ignore the subject’s clearly worsening condition. Several treatments were attempted, without success.[3. EBear Treatment was not possible due to the unavailability of a Giant Ridiculous Dog.]

  1. The Scalzi Protocol – Subject was fed approximately three pounds of bacon (cooked) each day. We found no visible improvement in mood. Subject began to record more erratic blood sugar readings, and was found taping bacon to his children. Protocol was cut short after four days.
  2. Kowal Therapy – Subject proved resistant to puppet-led counseling.
  3. The Grant-McGuire Treatment – Guided meditation was attempted with the standard protocol and script. Subject became distraught during the zombie velociraptor sequence.
  4. The Wheaton Cure – The lead researcher informed the subject that he was being a dick. Subject promptly punched the lead researcher in the fiddly bits.

CONCLUSIONS: While Undifferentiated Authorial Pre-release Anxiety is believed to be incurable, nearly all subjects recover within 2 to 12 weeks after the publication of their book. We believe there may be a neurochemical element to this recovery, and will be taking samples of the subject’s brain fluid during and after the release of Libriomancer, in the hope that these neurochemicals can be synthesized and artificially stimulated. For the time being, however, we recommend the standard precautionary steps as documented by the Gilbert & Wollheim 1998 study: preordering massive doses of the book in order to mitigate the worst symptoms of the disease.