Hello, Envy, Old (Insidious) Friend

The possibility occurred to me this morning: “Oh God, maybe no one will read Bittersweet.

It isn’t that this thought hasn’t occurred to me before. It’s floated through my brainpan ever since I signed the contract a year ago- but I’ve always been able to dismiss it because I’ve been too amazed at how lucky I am to get to do this again to be distracted by doubt. “Self,” I’ve said (to myself), “this is just too great to ruin by worry.”

And it’s worked. Until today.

The funny thing about this kind of anxiety is that it didn’t just spring from the blue, and it didn’t come in its obvious form, waving its arms and shouting, “Hey, let’s worry together!”

It came in the familiar green package of envy.

Specifically, it came in logging on to Twitter far too early in the day, clicking on a link to Instagram, and seeing these:

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.04.53 AM

What are these? you ask, you who are not envy-deranged. These are gorgeous postcards made to promote Emma Straub’s novel, The Vacationers, which I have not read but I have heard wonderful things about, about a dysfunctional family on vacation in Mallorca. Her book comes out May 29th, the same month Bittersweet does, Bittersweet, which is also (incidentally) about a dysfunctional family on vacation on Lake Champlain (which ain’t no Mallorca, folks).

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.15.50 AMOh those postcards! They were so beautiful! There were so many of them! They were posted on Instagram, where I don’t even have an account! And Straub has 16,000 followers on Twitter, a number so big that it is denoted as “16K” (I have 745). Straub is so well loved and well reviewed! And oh look, here on Facebook, Riverhead is giving away a galley with a bunch of warm stuff and they’re calling it “Emma Straub’s Winter Survival Kit” and running a giveaway and Oh my God why didn’t I think of that? Look at how many people have already commented on the Winter Survival Kit!!! All those people are going to LOVE her book! They are going to buy her book, and they’ll only have enough money for one summer book and only enough love in their hearts for one summer book, and it’s going to be her book, not MY book, and don’t even get me started on reviewers…

In other words, I panicked.

Now that I’ve had some PG Tips (cause I don’t drink coffee), I’m feeling a little calmer. And I’m laughing at myself. At my assumptions. At how fruitless envy is. I’m laughing envy out the door.

The truth is, in my non-envy-deranged state, I’m THRILLED for Emma Straub. I’m thrilled for anyone who is publishing a book these days; I believe we are a tribe that must have each other’s backs. And though I’ve never met her in person, I hope that having summer beachy books coming out the same month means we’ll have the chance to get to know each other this year, to help talk up each other’s books, to discover the similarities and differences between her beachy book and mine. To become friends to each other’s work.

Envy makes me so small, and worried, and mean. I don’t like being that person. If the possibilities that Bittersweet has brought have taught me anything, it’s that I prefer to have my arms wide open, to smile, to celebrate, to encourage, to rejoice.

Yeah, it’s a little cheesy. But it’s better than thinking: “Oh God, maybe no one will read Bittersweet,” or, for that matter, any of our books.

So: if you want to read a book I’ve heard fantastic things about, please consider preordering The Vacationers, by Emma Straub. I hear it’s going to be fantastic.

2 Thoughts.

  1. Oh, I so know what you mean! My book is scheduled for October and I’ve been running into another author whose book is coming out in the fall. Running into them virtually that is, through Twitter and FB. And they are already generating a lot of buzz because they are being published by one of the big 5 whereas I’m with a tiny press where the publicity lies pretty much on my shoulders. So I’m totally happy for me because I don’t really care if I’m with the Big 5 or not and it is my first book; I’m also jealous of them because of the hype surrounding their book, but I’m also happy for them. I want to read their book.

    BTW, no one buys just one summer book, do they? So people can totally buy hers AND buy yours. Don’t worry. It’ll be great!

    • Thanks, Andrea. I do think this is a universal feeling, and it’s important to be open and honest about it for that reason! There is ALWAYS going to be someone who seems to have it better off than we do- and as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that almost always has more to do with me than anything else.

      Likewise, no one ever buys just one fall book. That’s not how readers work! They gobble books up- that’s why we’re lucky to do what we do. And btw, I sent you an email today 🙂

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