“I am SOOOO jealous,” she typed back.
Behind the confessional curtain of social media, we could whisper that ugly truth. We even conceded we’d been jealous of each other from time to time. Once I began opening up to more of my writer friends, many revealed mild annoyances, burning secret resentments, and even crippling envy. Still, everyone stressed they were extremely happy, thrilled, and overjoyed (substitute other convincing superlatives) for the success of other authors.
One of the most insidious sources of this madness has to be the list, which is lauded as the holy grail of success by enough writers for it to be stressful. Well, all the lists. This time of year, almost every publication from O, The Oprah Magazine to The New York Times and PopSugar releases its list of the most anticipated books for the new year. The timing couldn’t be worse because those lists come on the heels of year-end wraps of the best books from the previous year. Every time a new list emerges, a collective, congratulatory whoop rises in my author communities and I believe it’s genuine. Still, amid all the fanfare, I know authors scan those lists, starry-eyed, looking for their own names.
Lists are not an immediate consideration for me right now. I’m in the early stages of the publication process completing a second round of structural edits for my novel, which doesn’t release until early 2021. But anticipatory angst is real, if a bit irrational, and I sometimes envy authors who make lists I’m not even eligible for, wondering if my own trajectory will be on par with theirs.
One winter afternoon I spent hours poring over a website called Edelweiss (totally unrelated to The Sound of Music), where you can request advance reader copies of books and browse publishers’ catalogs. It’s still early so my book doesn’t appear in the database yet. Still, Edelweiss offers a preview of what’s happening for other authors. I try to manage my expectations.
Be cool. Just be cool.
Still, I couldn’t help but notice the publicity and marketing plans for the most buzzed about authors, which include branded influencer packages, national author tours, New York media lunches, and pre-pub cocktail parties. Some authors whose publishers are committing few if any resources to boost their books often look at those plans with envy. For me, there’s this bubble of hope, cautious optimism coursing through my veins, as I imagine all that hoopla for my novel someday. [Read more…]