It’s easy to see why authors compare launching their books to birthing a baby.
The gestation period between signing my contract and publishing my memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters was precisely nine months. The sleepless nights as I tossed and turned before the book’s release were as constant as they were during both of my pregnancies. The never ending resource glut my book required mirrored the parasitic one of my developing fetuses so many years before. And my attachment to this growing creature was real, my sense of identity inextricably wrapped around both its outward appearance and its guts. I wanted my book baby to be well regarded in the world.
My editor, author Brooke Warner, discourages the comparison. In Green Light Your Book, she wrote, “The problem with seeing the book-as-baby orientation to your project is that too often it gets in the way of your doing what you need to do, which is trying to be more objective so you can do the hard work of promoting and selling it.”
I wish her book had come out sooner in my own publication process. It could have spared me some strife. Because thinking of Pieces of Me as my baby meant that one of my sister’s rejection of it cut like a knife. It meant that a wonderful Kirkus review I received a month before its birth had me considering pre-schools for the gifted. It meant there was no end to the rollercoaster of emotions I was feeling, no way for me to find a modicum of objectivity as I was propelled back and forth, ecstasy to desperation in a nanosecond as the little world around me weighed in on my book.
It wasn’t until I got a business license and started monitoring my expenditures that I saw my book as a product. I’d thrown down some serious cash to set up my business as a writer on publicists and editors and hired help for my author website. When I estimated my year’s expenses for tax purposes, it hit me; I’d actually spent my daughter’s inheritance. If I get struck by lightning or squashed in a hit and run, my kids will get nothing afterward but extra copies of my memoir. With that realization, it was time to get serious and recoup my investment.
There are many advantages to realizing that Pieces of Me is a product. Book sales have become data. The reviews of it have become feedback. The associated podcast or television interviews have become resource sharing rather than self-promotion. And I’ve become producer and director of my own business that promotes the product, my memoir.
Lizbeth Meredith is a writer based in Alaska with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in psychology. She has worked as a domestic violence advocate and a child abuse investigator, and works with at-risk teens as a juvenile probation supervisor since 2000. Her memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters, was a silver medalist in the 2017 IPPY Awards. Lizbeth also published When Push Comes to Shove: How to Help When Someone You Love is Being Abused and is a contributor to A Girl’s Guide to Travelling Alone by Gemma Thompson. She can be reached at lameredith.com or on Facebook and Twitter.