So What's It Like To Have Your Book Released? (Plus: An Online FLEX Read-Along!)

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

The “book birthday” is a lot like an extended drug trip.
“I’m used to bad reviews,” I shrugged.  “I’ve had like forty short stories published! I’ve read lots of criticism on ’em.  I’ll be fine.”
Then my first book review was three stars, and I flipped out all evening.
See, there’s a big difference between a short story dropping and a novel from a traditional publisher landing.  (It’s almost certainly different for self-published people.)  A short story is a tiny thing; you get the acceptance, you make the OMGYAY announcement, a couple of people link to you, the magazine publishes, and Lois Tilton tells you you suck.
A novel is like a rumbling freight train.  There are hundreds of book bloggers discussing whether they’re going to read you.  Hundreds of websites announcing your book is inbound.  Goodreads has this nice little page reserved for you, and it fills up.  People you don’t even know are expressing firm opinions about you.
Short story PR feels personal. Novels feel like God is looking down at you and She is expecting damned good things.
And the thing I foolishly hadn’t considered is that a novel is all you.  If people don’t like my story in Asimov’s? Meh. It’s sandwiched between six other stories, and surely they’ll like one of them.  I’m not gonna take out Sheila Williams’ editorial career in one fell swoop.
This novel?  That’s my name.  People bought it entirely based on what I produced.  If they don’t like it, all that dislike falls on me, and it affects my career, and so about two weeks into the process I was huddled under the covers meeping and asking Gini my God why did I do this.
Fortunately, I got some early reviews that told me that some people got what I was trying to do.  Which let me breathe.  I never expected Flex to be a massive hit, but I did hope that some segment of people would love it for what it is.  It’s not trying to be great literature, but it’s got a piece of my soul in it and I hoped that soul-fragment resonated with at least somebody.  Which, even if this thing tanks utterly now, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Still, having your first book is a lot like having your first kid.  You pay way too much attention to every flutter.  You check on it way more often than you should.  (Please don’t ask Google how many times I’ve looked up “Flex Ferrett Steinmetz.”  Their servers are embarrassed on my behalf.)  It seems huge, swelling to fill your world, and like a newborn really it’s one of thousands out there – you just hope it’s something special.
Just get to your release date, I said.  If you can make it to 3/3/15, you’ll be okay.
And there again, I was marvelously stupid.  3/3/15 was the release date.  That was when all the PR I’d scheduled would peak, but…
3/3/15 was merely when most of the largest PR-fireworks would go off.
That was the start of when people would read the book.
So last night was a happy flurry of texts and Tweets from people saying, “I’m halfway through!” “I’m 23% in!” “I loved the intro!”  And that was good, but I realized that the book birthday was merely a start and now I get to watch it grow.  More reviews will come in.  The attention will be more diffuse – thankfully – but I’ll be getting reactions for months afterwards, and that’ll be cool.  As it is, the reaction from folks who read my blog has largely been of the “ZOMG” variety, so I’m pretty sure at least you people reading this blog here will like it.
And speaking of reading it…
If you haven’t yet, I found out today that Dirge Magazine is holding a FLEX read-along@IAmKatyLees will be reading Flex and chronicling her reactions on Twitter, and then post weekly reactions on Dirge.  And if you haven’t bought a copy yet, they’re even holding a giveaway!  So if you’re making your way through Flex, you can do so in good company.

2 Comments

  1. Dan Bressler
    Mar 5, 2015

    Hey. I just dropped by to say I’d started reading Flex, and whaddaya know, here’s a relevant blog post.
    So. I finally had a chance to start reading tonight, and got through ch. 1. It’s late, I really need to go to bed, and it took a serious act of will to put the book down. I’ll do a real review on Amazon when I’m done, but so far I’m all “Oh yeah, I’ma like this one.”

  2. nikki @bookpunks
    Mar 5, 2015

    So here is where the problem of what those damn stars on Goodreads ratings actually mean come in. For me, three is what I give a book that I think is good. Four is for a book that I think is really good. Five is for a book that blew my brain into small chunks that I am still having trouble cleaning up. So three? Is actually pretty awesome, and it is what most books on there get from me. It makes me sad to think of all the authors that might upset. But hell, that is why I like to make fun of numbered rating systems anyway.

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