Dagnabbit, my book launch has been delayed.
That’s right, my eagerly-awaited bestselling blockbuster novel, Ways of Leaving, originally scheduled for release on October 15, 2013, has been postponed until March of 2014—not, my publisher assures me (and reassures me), due to popular demand.
Even when everything goes according to schedule, the stress during the days and weeks surrounding an event this significant can take an emotional toll and cause excessive perspiration in and around the area of one’s undercarriage. The original plan was to spend September, October and November blogging and promoting, possibly doing readings and begging strangers to buy my book. Now, if I don’t find a way to redirect that energy, I’m sure to pop a vein in my forehead.
But it’s worse than that.
If you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ve probably had the experience of immediately noticing all the other people who’ve just purchased the same model. Suddenly your car is everywhere you turn, in every color and configuration imaginable, and there are other cars, competing models that suddenly look more attractive than they ever did before.
Similarly, when, after years of thankless staring into space and binge-snacking, your novel is complete and ready for publication (with a beautiful cover and glowing blurbs), you notice all the other great books that are being released. There are books by actual friends, Facebook friends, acquaintances, favorite authors and, of course, total strangers. There are novels that touch on similar themes, novels with identical fonts, novels with titles that contain one or more actual words that your title contains. It’s as though you went shopping for that new car, picked it out and ordered it, but the dealer suddenly decided not to let you have it. All those other people are out there in their shiny new cars and you’re sitting on the side of the road with your thumb out, though I doubt that would be nearly as painful as watching my publication date flutter by while a library-full of new books appears on my screen and, in several cases, my nightstand. Now, rather than being a part of this drunken celebration, I have to sit and watch while my publication date fades in the rearview mirror of a car I don’t have. Or something.
Here is a very abbreviated sampling of books by people I know or know of that were released or announced within a month of my scheduled release:
Matt Bell’s In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods
Aimee Bender’s The Color Master
Pamela Erens’ The Virgins
Amy Greene’s Long Man
Porochista Khakpour’s The Last Illusion
Mary Miller’s The Last Days of California
Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure
Susan Tepper’s The Merrill Diaries
Elissa Wald’s The Secret Lives of Married Women
Of course there were dozens, probably hundreds more. And many are already garnering rave reviews from all the right people in all the right venues. I’m truly delighted at their success, but … well … I’m just a little envious. And I’m more than a little disappointed in myself for feeling this way.
But wait! Isn’t it just possible that their success will actually harm me? What if the people who bought all these other books have now spent all their money? What if there were too many new books and people are sick of reading, or at least sick of hearing about books? What if these reviewers decide, after all the enthusiasm and praise, that in order to secure their critical credibility they need to give at least one incredibly negative review, the kind that leads to bouts of incontinence and terminal self-doubt? What if they deplete their capacity to praise or simply run out of good things to say? What if my novel really does suck? Gads!
Of course I believe Ways of Leaving is a good book, a book that deserves praise and an enthusiastic audience. I believe it will do well. In fact I’m certain of it. Well, almost certain. The good news is that if I turn out to be mistaken about this, another victim of self-delusion, I won’t know it for several months!