Publishing a Book: 3 Very Different Experiences

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My three books are very similar to the reader. Blacklisted from the PTA, Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? and Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life are all light, fun, quick reads. The experience of publishing each of them was very different.

Here are the 3 very different experiences I faced when I published each of my books.

The first book is thrilling. It's your baby, your supreme accomplishment... your dream and your delusion.

It lulls you into all the wonder of celebrity. You see yourself on the Today Show, laughing with Hoda and Kathie Lee about that endearing anecdote on page 42.

You fantasize the cash flow from book sales will soon cover not only the new housekeeper, but also the new house. Not right away, but eventually.

Publishing your first book is the most thrilling thing that has ever happened to you. (Unless you are a mother, and then you're supposed to say it was giving birth.) So you spend an inordinate amount of time focused on the idea of being an author versus the act of writing. Turns out writing actual words is super important, if you hope to produce the elusive second book.

Somehow you manage to pull yourself away from your intoxicating affair with your first book and get busy writing the second. You will believe the second book will be better than the first. How could it not be? You have thousands more hours of writing experience. So you hustle. You get that second title out lickety split. After all, Amazon has algorithms and your tentative celebrity status has a shelf life.

You launch the second book into the world expecting the same reception as the first. Actually, you expect an even more enthusiastic reception because this book is better than the first. But this time you have to reach beyond all those friends and family who supported your first launch.

Your inner circle is now used to your new author status. They think it's no big deal that you have produced a second book. That is, after all, what authors do. In the span of 18 months, your adoring public has gone from fawning to yawning. One more Facebook posts could put them over the edge. So you have to rely on strangers--readers who have never met you--to spread the word.

It's not like your sophomore effort is a failure... it sells more in 6 months than the average book sells in its lifetime. Its LIFETIME. Number two continues to be a steady seller, inspiring smirks and smiles around the world. But relatively speaking, it's only about half as successful as your first book.

Do you know who is incredibly unimpressed by half as successful? Agents. Talk show bookers. Publishers, who drink their coffee in Manhattan. Those sorts of people.

Still, you cling to your ambitions. While working a full time job, you flesh out a project you'd been playing with. You write, edit, polish, and learn new skills to produce your... wait for it-- BEST work yet.

Third time’s the charm, right?

This time is different. This time, you're not delusional. This time-- it's business.

Even though you don't have nearly the time you'd like to promote the book and reach new readers, you make better choices about how to spend the time you do have. After all, this is your third time out. You didn't get here without learning what is going to move the needle and what's going to be a waste of time. You hustle and hope, and remember that you do not actually run the world.

And then, the most delightful thing happens. Your third book has the most successful online launch in your four year history as an Author with a capital "A." Just for a minute, it's not business anymore. It's pure bliss. This time, you know exactly where you're going with all this. You've got strategy. You've got an end game. With all that figured out, you get to enjoy the ride. 

This art and commerce gig can be tricky. Sometimes you're focused on the art, other times the commerce.

What I've learned from the third book is that focusing on the commerce forces you to refine the art, to make decisions about how you're going to serve the audience, and more than anything else-- to ask for what you want. No one's going to give it to you. That's business.

Ready to pursue publishing? I can help.