It’s been two-and-a-half months since I launched my debut novel, Pennies from Burger Heaven. There’s so many lessons I want to share with you, mistakes that I made for you to avoid and cool successes I want you to have, too. I’m still trying to process all that, so today I want to focus on the behind-the-scenes emotions.
Publication brings an onslaught of Fears: Will anyone buy my book? Why isn’t anyone leaving reviews? Do they hate it? If I had to select one word to describe publication, it would be:
I mean that in the best and worst ways possible. It’s like a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I’ll spare you the drama of my full neuroses and focus on four experiences – three potential pitfalls and one blessing from publication:
OMG. I’ve thought so much about my free eBooklet I wrote called, Writing Naked. It covers lessons I’ve learned in my 20 years with the craft and how exposed I feel when I first put my words out into the world, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. That rawness amplified a million times with my 317-page book for sale on Amazon and sitting on the shelves of local book stores.
Believe me, I know it’s AWESOME that strangers are even bothering to read my novel, but I felt vulnerable, nevertheless. I’ve grown more comfortable and confident with each passing week, but it freaked me out in the beginning.
I laugh when I think back to the days when I just worried about goofing off too long on social media or reading too many writing blog posts, etc. Now, people want to stop me in the grocery store to discuss my novel, invite me to speak at their book clubs, or email me their thoughts about Pennies. It’s AWESOME! I’ve worked for 20 years for this and love it.
However, the older I get, the more I realize I truly am an introvert. As much as I cherish being available readers, it’s also creatively draining and I need energy more than ever as I try to write Burger Heaven #2. I’m still trying to find balance here, but it’s a great problem to have.
This has been the biggest blessing. I’ve made my dreams come true. I published a novel with a beginning, middle and end that’s resonating with people in ways I hadn’t expect. One woman said my book changed her life.
At the time of this post, I have 65 Amazon reviews. I sold 74 books in two hours at my first book signing. My local newspaper reviewed my Pennies and called it, “A dark tale … a story to be read, savored and then read again.” These all make my struggles worth the effort. It wasn’t fast or easy, but by Gawd, I did it!
As grateful as I am that people are loving my book, I now feel pressure to recreate the magic with my next novel. I even outlined Pennies to study my methodology and have reread old passages and think … how the hell did I do that? It’s like someone else wrote that story and I’m just this loser writer.
I know this is good ol’ fashion Fear and that it’s part of the process. I’ve earned an unofficial PhD on the subject, but my brain understanding that fact and my heart releasing the Fear are two different processes. I’m trying to be kinder to myself because that’s what I would advise y’all, but do as I say, not as I do …
There you have it. My rollercoaster ride of experiences with my first book launch. It hope it enlightens, prepares or at least entertains you.
If you’ve launched a book before, what other experiences have you had? If you’re working towards your first launch, what are you most afraid of?
Please leave a comment. Let’s talk.
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Do you have an audiobook coming?
Thanks for asking, Darlene. Yes, there is an audiobook coming for Pennies, but that’s been another time-consuming task. Finding the right narrator for Pennies. We just found her, but she’s tied up with other projects, so I don’t think the audio version will be reading until summer. I’m having to remind myself baby steps…
Alan Findly (@AlanFindly)
Can’t wait for the next Copper adventure!
Me, too, Alan! I know part of the story…I just wish I could figure out the rest. I’m trying to have faith that it’ll come to me. I’ve outlined and written the first 50 pages. I’m just struggling with the other 330! Ha. It’ll come to me the same way Pennies did…one word at a time!
I’m hoping to get to Pennies this weekend, I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I will be purchasing it in audiobook form when that comes out, as well, I enjoy listening to books in my travels for work. I’ll be leaving you a review on goodreads & Amazon as soon as I complete it. Thank you for all your hard work.
Fantastic, Tonya. I appreciate you taking a chance of Pennies and welcome to this community. Very cool folks here.
Heya Marcy, hm… other experiences I’ve had… Well I could say a lot of things at this point. I could go into me facing my fears and anxieties with conseling. I could talk about publishing my first guest blog post. I could express the emotions of competing in a writing contest hosted by Joe Bunting last August. Similarly I could go over all the emotions that effect me when I did NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. But the biggest one for me right now is learning how to deal with my anxiety and still do what I love. Hopefully I can learn the skills I need to be able to do this. So happy for you Marcy :). You rock!
I’m so proud of you, Miriam, for listening to your body and taking your anxiety issues seriously. One the biggest gifts you have is your sensitivity. It’s what makes you Miriam. I’m rooting for you to find the answers you need, so you can pursue the writing that you love so…without traumatizing yourself.
You rock, too, sister! m3
Yeah… I just wish that It could be sooner rather then a later thing… the waiting is taunting me. I wish it was a quick “ok do this and this and this then you’ll be fine” but its something that’s going to take time and may not even go away completely. Hope I can get back to it soon.
Oh, man, Miriam! You and me both on “challenges” wrapping up sooner, rather than later. Patience is not one of my virtues, so I have to remember to stop fighting the pain…that doesn’t make it go away. I have to lean into it and see what it has to teach me.
In fact, I think that’s what I need to do with my panic over not knowing the full plot of Burger Heaven #2. Thrashing about isn’t helping, so I need to just lean into my confusion.
Maybe you should try it with your anxiety, too?
I don’t know Marcy. There’s just so many unknowns right now and I just don’t know. I don’t like not understanding something. We’ll see what happens though I will think about that. Take care of yourself.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Marcy. And congratulations and best wishes on your desire to move onward with your next novel. I wish you well with it. Pennies From Heaven was a joy to read.
In my case, the initial response to “From Thine Own Well” was exciting and encouraging, but as time, and life, moved on I became disillusioned and haven’t followed up with the next book. Many of my readers have encouraged me to do so as they found the message exhilarating and current. However, I simply haven’t had the impetus. That said, my experience is that not continuing to move forward has been detrimental to my personal well-being, in terms of writing.
Thus, I again encourage you to press on. Thanks again for all your sharing and encouragement.
Thanks, Norm. I’m so grateful you read Pennies, and LOVE your review. You’re the best.
I wish I could wave a magic wand over you to take away your disillusionment. That kind of pain affects every part of your life. I am pressing on with book #2, and hope you’ll identify your hurt, so that you may move on, too. You have readers who want you to…I’ll hope you’ll do it for them, AND for yourself.
Congratulations for your book. I have read a few pages of it only. That’s because It’s difficult for me to read on the computer. A great idea that one audiobook, especially for a non-native speaker like me.
Again congratulations, Marcy
I know how much you struggle with your eye sight, so please stop reading my book. It’s not worth hurting yourself. I think waiting for the audiobook is a wonderful idea, and am thankful for your friendship. Thank you so much!
Perhaps it is not really a question of sight that I couldn’t read your book. I feel there’s something else, something like the fear that it’s too deep, too emotional. You know I speak two languages fluently plus this little bit of English. I master, of course my mother tongue and French but didn’t take the decision to write. I took this decision when I first met the English literature of the 19th century such Oliver Twist of Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre of Charlotte Brontê and others. I am sure you are working on the same themes. I started writing that way then moved slowly towars Humoristic novels.
Human pain is so hard to bear, to read about and write.
Do you share this point of view Marcy?
Marcy Mason McKay
I agree, Madani, human pain is so hard to bear. I could hardly watch movies like “Schindler’s List” or “Twelve Years a Slave.” My book is a dark story, and I can’t deny that, but I also feel like Copper Daniels is a character full of hope, and she’s also funny.
However, I say trust your instincts. If my story seemed too dark in the beginning…don’t read it. It’s going to only grow more painful until the resolution. My feelings won’t be hurt at all. We all must do what’s right for us.
Hope you’re still writing though….
I gotta say, I did read your book in one sitting the first time. Dinner unmade, forgot to feed the dogs. Good thing the hubby was here to feed them. Lots of guilt over that! Read it again later in the week, and I have to say, I am going to read it again because there are nuances I just know I haven’t gotten so far. Mark of a great book, to me. 😀
YOU MADE MY DAY, Sarah! That’s the best compliment you can give an author. THANNNNNK YOUUUUU! 🙂
Marcy, you really did it!! It’s all so amazing and I am truly in awe.
That is a strange phenomenon isn’t it … reading something you wrote and feeling like you couldn’t possibly write that well again. So many times I’ve done that, like it couldn’t have been me that wrote that!
The thing is, it really was you who wrote it. You are the one with that strong voice. You are the one who created that extraordinary world. You, my friend. You did it and I have complete and utter faith that you will do it again.
Thanks, T.O. You bring up excellent. It’s both shocking + amazing when we read something we wrote that seems “too good to be true.” It’s nice to feel like me again, and I’m just trying to relax into all the unanswered questions with starting a new novel.
I appreciate your happiness for me.
Marcy…don’t worry about recreating the magic. It’s in you already. Just tell Copper’s story and you’ll do great. No book is perfect. Ask any long time writer and they’ll tell you just that.
Looking forward to Pennies #2…just relax and let it come to you. 🙂
Marcy Mason McKay
Thank you, Anita. For reading Pennies, for loving Copper Daniels as much as me + your wonderful words of wisdom. I sooo needed to hear what you said. I just need to calm the hell down, and let the story come to me. It’s not easy or fast, but it’s authentic and that’s what I want.
Thanks for being you!
Thanks for your refreshing honesty Marcy,
Every piece we write contains a small part of our souls and it can be painful baring them to strangers, but that’s why we write. You have shared your thoughts with hundreds of others. Copper Daniels is not a character any of us are going to forget, ever. The piece of your soul you put into Copper will live on in all of us. You have achieved what all writers try to achieve; you have made a difference.
Introversion is just something we have to design our lives around. I find it’s about taking control, rather than just being at everyone’s beck and call whenever THEY expect you to be.
Marcy Mason McKay
What a lovely, lovely compliment, and so very YOU, Philip. Thank you. I really needed to hear your words today.
You’re so right about leaving pieces of our souls on our writing, At least that should be the goal. I appreciate you giving me a much-needed attitude adjustment. I’m feeling much better now! 🙂
Marcy, I can’t wait to finish Pennies. Although I’ve not read much of it yet, what I have struck me in such a way I can still remember it word for word all this time later. If that doesn’t tell you that you ROCK and your words resonate, then I’m not sure what will 😉
I love ya honey and look forward to catching up soon.
Marcy Mason McKay
Thanks so much for taking time to tell me so. I spent YEARS on that books, and love it. I’m grateful the majority of readers out there who’ve picked it up are, too.
I’ve read the book, couldn’t paint the picture at first but as I read on it became more clearer, I’ve enjoyed it and like the fact that it has a taxes assence in it. But my question is, what do you think of pseudonym? And does it affect the success of a book?
Marcy Mason McKay
There are pros/cons with pseudonyms. The upside is they provide an air mystery, as well as you give you more freedom because people aren’t associating your writing with “you.” The downside is you cannot use your family, friend and writing community to help leverage your work as you make a name for yourself because they’re not associating your writing with “you.”
Here’s a short/concise post on the subject: http://www.missliterati.com/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-using-a-pen-name. Good luck with your decision!
Thanks, one more… What made you use present in lieu of past tense to write this novel?
Marcy Mason McKay
GREAT QUESTION, Horacio! In 2001, Pulitzer-Prize winning author, Michael Cunningham, was the keynote speaker at writers conference. I went to a workshop he led and he said to use present tense…it makes the story more present for the reader.
Honestly, I think it depends on the story. Since my narrator is an eleven-year old homeless girl, and present tense just worked best.
Congratulations, Marcy! My manuscript is now ready for beta readers and honest reviews. Is it worth my effort and perseverance? I will think/believe it is so, then on to publishing. Scary, indeed. I appreciate your honesty. Makes me hopeful.
Marcy Mason McKay
Thanks for your well wishes on Pennies. CONGRATS to you on finishing your manuscript. With your beta readers, remember to ask a select few who: 1) you trust their opinions, 2) they’re true READERS. They know books and can help strengthen your story. (bonus if they know your genre, but that isn’t always a mandatory).
This is an exciting time for you. Enjoy!
Sara Butler Zalesky
Marcy: When you said you felt like someone else wrote your book and you felt like some loser writer, I sat back in my office chair and almost cried. That’s EXACTLY how I feel as I reread my manuscript. Every feeling you brought up resonates with me. At least I know I’m not alone! Thank you! I’ll put your book on my goodreads list once I get through my own self-publish launch, if I haven’t been committed. 🙂
Marcy Mason McKay
Awwww, Sara. I’m so glad this post resonated with you. Sharing our work with others is not for the weak. You CAN DO THIS. If I can do it, anyone can. You’re definitely not alone (without being committed). Email me whenever you need some moral support.
Thanks for reading Pennies. I really appreciate it.