The other day, my son was telling me about the butterflies in his tummy. “Sometimes I get them when something bad is going to happen. But I also get them when I’m going to a party or a friend is coming over. It’s like a good/bad feeling.”
Tell me about it. “Butterflies in my tummy” is a great way to describe all aspects of the publishing process. The beginning, when you first start thinking and working on a book, the “can I do this?” butterflies. Then, when you’re writing the book, the “is this any good?” butterflies. Followed by the “will anyone buy this?” butterflies. And then the “oh no, someone bought this” butterflies. And the “I have to revise it again? and again? and again?” butterflies. Followed by the “I’m not allowed revise it any more?” butterflies. And then the “I have to do everything I can to promote this book but I have no idea how” butterflies. Not to mention “what if nobody reads this?” which is just another subspecies of “what if everyone reads this?” butterflies. And so it goes.
You know what makes those butterflies calm down? Having a buddy. Simple as that. Someone who knows you’ve got the butterflies and is able to squeeze your hand and say, “yeah, but isn’t this cool?! You’re thinking about/ writing/ revising/ publishing/ promoting your book! YOU WROTE A BOOK!”
So far, I’ve had some really good buddies. People who believed in this book when I first started scheming it, who believed it in even when it looked like it might not make it out into the world, who advocated for it and bought it and sold foreign rights, who have read it and offered thoughts, who are helping me revise (which is almost done!), who are already helping me get the word out, so that other people can read it.
Who are some of these people?
Well, Dan, for starters. I feel so lucky to have him along on this journey. During our last meeting, I balked, “I can’t believe how fun all this promotion feels,” and he laughed. “Because you have a buddy,” he said.
My beta readers. I have a number of close friends (who, in their own lives, are writers and readers) who have taken time out of their busy lives to read this book at critical stages, and then offered their generous thoughts, all in the interest of making my book better. True friends.
My editor. Just yesterday, I was feeling discouraged about this latest revision—but then I got an e-mail from her, simply saying she was thinking of me and couldn’t wait to read the next draft. That she’d been getting excited thinking about that book she was going to get to read again, and then she realized it was my book.
And you! Already, in this space, you’ve made me feel encouraged and empowered. You’ve made me realize that what I’m saying about this process is valuable and valued. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts as we continue on together.
In whatever butterfly stage you’re in, find your buddy. Spouse, friend, listserv, agent, editor—whomever they are, they will help you accomplish the impossible. They will urge you on, and share their knowledge, and shout your name from the rooftops. I feel so lucky.