Hand Wringing Before a Release (and an Excerpt from Dark Light of Day)

Publishing takes courage and confidence
Publishing a novel is like riding an amusement park ride. It requires bravery and a willingness to subject yourself to a terrifying and exhilarating experience.

Publishing a novel requires an odd combination of arrogance and humility. In another life, I was a lawyer. And years ago, I used to teach legal writing. Like most forms of writing, it’s got its own rules. The forms and structures are, obviously, different from those used in creative writing. And yet… there is one piece of advice I used to give students that transcends type.  To be a good writer you must have an odd combination of arrogance and humility.

A certain amount of hand wringing before a release is natural (I suppose, this is my first book release… I can at least vouch for the hand wringing part, whether it’s natural or not, others will have to say). I try to tell myself it doesn’t matter what people think, I wrote the book for myself. (And that was true until I sold it, and then the process wasn’t just about me anymore). I think, in the beginning, writers have to write only for themselves.  But, later, if we don’t listen to our audience’s reactions, why are we publishing in the first place? And yet allowing yourself to become overly cowed, cornered, or creatively stifled by a critical review can’t be allowed to happen either. To some degree, you put your work out there to be judged — and then, that’s that. Walk away. Start another. What will be, will be. You’ve done your best. Some work will do well, some won’t. Not every book is for every reader.

Hopefully, I will learn something from this whole process. My biggest wish as a writer is to write something entertaining. But I don’t deny that there are a few themes that I find myself drifting to again and again. (Among them are femininity, insanity, justice, truth versus illusion, be careful what you wish for, you don’t have to be magical to matter, and knowledge that you’d rather not have learned — although I don’t explore every one of them in my first book!) So I walk a tightrope between wanting to improve my skills as an entertainer (which requires near obsessive attention to an audience’s reaction) and wanting to continue to explore my favorite themes in ways that interest me (which requires ignoring all reactions but my own).

To publish a book, to put it out there for consumption by the masses, takes… what? Confidence? Courage? Craziness? Let’s face it, writers, it takes a little bit of hubris. You’ve got to have the nerve to take that leap. To put yourself out there, come what may. And then you’ve got to have the humility to listen to the audience. Are they clapping? Shouting? Laughing? Whistling? Are they, heaven forbid, heckling? Or leaving? Or do they want to shake your hand? Clap you on the back? Send you back up?

Publishing is thrilling, exhilarating, and nerve wracking
Carnival rides… the perfect metaphor for publishing and life!

For fun, I’ll remind you of two lines from two very different songs:

There’s the line from the Counting Crows “Mr. Jones” where the singer boldly states his desire to see himself on TV. It’s hilarious because it’s so unabashedly egotistical.

And then there’s the line from the Dixie Chicks “Heartbreak Town” that talks about taking a number, standing in line, and watching to see how high you’re going to fly on the ride to success. The title should be a tip-off as to how optimistic the song is about people’s chances. The band tells us that the ride to success is full of heartbreak. Well, maybe. But I’ll always be the kid who gets back in line.

If someone said you could ride the ride again, wouldn’t you? 😀

Publishing is not for the meek

DARK LIGHT OF DAY EXCERPT

Failing is not an option…

“I’ve been watching you, wondering, waiting to see where you’d end up. After all, there are other demon law schools,” Seknecus said, making a moue of distaste that made it clear exactly what he thought of them, “But I was happy to see that you chose St. Lucifer’s.”

Technically my mother chose St. Lucifer’s… But there seemed no reason to interrupt just to clarify that bit of misinformation. Seknecus wandered around the room, picking through papers, flipping open and quickly shutting the front covers of various leather-bound books, never meeting my eye. I had no doubt, however, that his attention was fully focused on me.

“So, you see, seeing your name on my List wasn’t exactly a surprise, although it was included much later than I would have liked.”

He did look at me then, with a frown of disapproval. I did my best to look expressionless because none seemed appropriate. It wouldn’t do to look amused, bored or, Luck forbid, rebellious. Seknecus stared at me with narrowed eyes and then went back to wandering.

“You’ve got some catching up to do,” he said, addressing a copy of Sin and Sanction: Codification & Caselaw. “It doesn’t matter why or what excuses you’ve got for yourself. You will be held to the same standards as everyone else, regardless of whose daughter you are. And you’ve missed a lot of class already.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off with a wave.

“Manipulation class,” he clarified. “You’re going to have to work ten times as hard as everyone else just to pass. Quintus Rochester doesn’t go easy on students and he’s likely to see your absence during the early part of the semester as a challenge. You know, failing is not an option. Not if you want to live.”

“Death is certain, life is not,” I blurted out without thinking.

Dark Light of Day is available for pre-order here and here. Thanks for your support!

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

16 thoughts on “Hand Wringing Before a Release (and an Excerpt from Dark Light of Day)

  1. Jill, my advice to you is to enjoy every minute of your debut release, even the distracting things that keep you from writing the next one. Enjoy the first review (great or not — one of my first reviews called my book “an underdeveloped, lackluster romance” and that was from Publishers Weekly! But it also praised my love scenes…And Booklist called it “simply superb”), the first sighting in a bookstore, the first signing, the first guest blog–whatever! All will be special. Don’t put too much emphasis on bad reviews. Somebody is always going to dislike what you do (as did PW for me) but celebrate the first time a fan writes to you saying she loved the book.

    These moments will never come again. So, my advice is to forget any of the negatives and just enjoy every moment of the ride!

    Diane

    1. Great advice from someone who’s had a lot of experience with releases! Although I’ve ‘fessed up here to my minor case of nerves, I’m also celebrating. Achieving any big goal is exciting. My guess is that publishing for the first time will be both gratifying and humbling. But if we don’t push ourselves in life to do things we’ve never done before, we can’t continue to grow and learn… and live!

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Diane. I love so many different things about writing, but one of the nicest things is the support I’ve received from fellow writers. Have a great weekend!

  2. Ditto from me Jill–enjoy the ride! It’s got a lot of ups and downs. I obsessed over Goodreads reviews (don’t), whether people would show up for book signings (other than roping in family and friends you have no control over it), whether I’d disappoint my editor, my agent, my mailman (ditto the control thing). Sit back, realize what you’ve accomplished….and then dig into the next one! Oh….CONGRATULATIONS!

    1. Hi Suzanne, it means a lot to me that you stopped by to wish me congrats. Thank you! I always welcome advice from those who have boldly gone before me. Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. I’m looking forward to your release! If you’re pleased with the book, then I think you can already consider yourself a success. Other people had to fall in love with it for it to get this far, so readers will too–not all of them, maybe, but even Harry Potter and the Hunger Games have their share of poor reviews, and those are fabulous books by anyone’s measure. Enjoy the ride!

    1. Excellent advice, Amy! (That if the writer is pleased with her book, then she should consider it a success). I’m a constant tinkerer, so I’m sure — even after a million passes — I could find something to change, but, yep, I’d say I’m satisfied, excited about promoting it, and moving on to other books in the series.

      Thanks so much for the comment. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  4. Between my second and third books, I went into a tail spin. Could not write for several months, could not stop fretting and checking Amazon stats, could not stop obsessing about the upcoming books. I knew, “This isn’t me,” but the first book had done really well (PW Book of the Year, hit some lists, nice reviews). Book two, still nice reviews…. but half the sales. Then book three got an early crappy review from a big site, I got shaky, and neither my editor nor my agent had anything to say except, “Keep writing.”
    That wasn’t bad advice, but it didn’t solve the problem.
    It’s normal to be wobbly from time to time, and what you’re doing–checking in with other writers–is the smartest thing you can do. You will soon figure out who your posse is if you haven’t already. Avoid whatever and whoever drags on the writing and writing confidence. Email me ANY TIME at graceburrowes@Yahoo.com and I will poor baby, atta girl, and otherwise support your journey. Writing is hard, being published is hard, but having writing buddies is the best.

    1. Hi Grace, thank you very much for this thoughtful response and offer of support. I realize every writer’s journey is different, but hearing other people’s stories makes me realize authors are just like every other successful entrepreneur. The thing that separates the dreamers from the doers is the “keep on keeping on” part (well, that and the posse that has our backs!). 😀 Here’s to hoping our creative fonts always stay full!

      Hope the rest of your weekend is terrific!

    1. A thrill ride is right! We recently went to Dollywood and rode their newest coaster, the Wild Eagle (America’s first wing coaster :-)). I was slightly nervous, especially eyeing up the high tech looking harness and foam-covered steel bars that press you into your seat before you “take off.” But, as you can imagine, the ride was amazing and I soon forgot about anything but the ride itself. If anyone is in the Pigeon Forge area anytime soon and loves coasters, that’s a must-ride.

      Thanks so much for all of your encouragement, tech knowledge, and enthusiasm. Have a great week, Brinda!

  5. Jill – I’ve had my eye on your book for months. I’m so excited for its release!! I don’t have a book out, but man, the advice you’ve received is now in my “to be done” pile for when I’m in your position! Enjoy the process, freak out among friends, and keep writing honestly. Cheers!!!

    1. Hi Keely– I love this comment. It’s so heartfelt. “Write honestly” is great advice. I’m truly grateful for everyone’s responses. Thanks so much for stopping by. Best wishes for a wonderful week!

    1. Having the support of friends who have known me forever (with ‘forever’ being loosely defined as a *few* years, give or take ;-)) is an incredible feeling. I hope my girls are lucky enough to find the kind of gal pals I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life. Friends are better than food. They are sustenance for the soul! Thank you, Di.

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