Thursday, April 17, 2014

Deadlines and Self-Promotion: How My Publishing Contract Changed My Life



For me, like a lot of authors, my life hasn’t really changed too significantly since Little, Brown offered me a contract just about one year ago. I still write in pajamas and pretty much no one knows who I am (HELLO WORLD!). But a few things I have noticed since the big contract, aside from having much more entertaining fodder for dinner parties, are:

  1. Deadlines. They now exist.
  2. Social media foreverrrrrr

Social media has actually proven (so far) to be the easier, although more time-sucking, aspect of being A Debut Author. Years ago I was that obnoxious twenty-something who had to explain to her corporate boss what “tweeting” and “tumblr” and “teh blogs” were all about, so I always felt pretty comfortable online.

But now that it’s become less about noodling around on the Internet and more about connecting with other online folks / readers, social media has definitely become a sort of pleasant black hole to which I am constantly drawn, because now when I spend two hours looking stuff up on Twitter or fiddling with an image for my Tumblr, it’s not mindless procrastination, it’s WORK.

I’m still trying to find the right balance between nurturing all my little online pets and actually, like, writing (I say, now, writing this blog post instead of working on my manuscript). I’ll let you know how it goes.

The other fun revelation? DEADLINES!!!

Writing used to be like wandering merrily through a field of daisies, where I could nap or bask in the sunshine and take as long as I like. Now it’s still a field of daisies, but instead of wandering merrily, it’s more like running as though there’s an army of zombies after me, and oh yeah, the field is on fire.

I actually work pretty well under pressure and I enjoy budgeting my time, so deadlines are not, like, horrible for me. But it’s still a weird sensation to write something in blood on my calendar and know that the book is not done because I feel like it’s done. It's done because it’s May 1 and I have to email it to my editor.

There’s something ironically creatively freeing about deadlines, knowing that unlike my previous manuscripts, I don’t have the time to sit and noodle forever, so I have to make commitments and trust my gut and just get on with it. Still, it’s something I always took for granted before I was a to-be-published author, having all that free time and no expectations. And don’t get me wrong--expectations are nice, having someone actually waiting for what I’m writing is pretty cool--but it also adds a level of pressure that still surprises me.

So, my publishing contact hasn’t gotten me any Evian-water-baths or gold-plated-iPads, just good ole fashioned distraction and pressure. And that’s the other thing I’ve learned: the more you become an author, professionally, the more non-writing responsibilities you get and the less time you have to actually, y’know, write. Signing my contract was like throwing the switch on the carnival ride that is publishing, and while I’m still figuring out all those roller coaster ups and downs, so far I’m having a lot of fun.

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