Superstition

So I have this nice, established blog here, and I haven’t written about the fact that my book sold.

Wow, look at those words: My book sold.

I was not expecting this to happen quickly, but it did. This is due entirely to my agent, who a) was both cheerleader and slave driver, and made sure the book was in good shape for submission; and b) knew who might like it. I find myself in the position of not having any idea how to sufficiently thank someone for what they’ve done for me. I understand that’s her job; but my goodness, she does it awfully well.

There are two things going on for me now: one, I’m working on the sequel, and writing to a fairly firm schedule. This is new to me. When I was revising for my agent, I had rough dates to work toward, but they were all self-imposed. I didn’t hit all of them, but I don’t think I was off by more than a few weeks for any of them. While there may be some wiggle room in the dates I have now, there is probably less – and they are more important to me, because if I hit them I get more time to revise.

I broke down the work I had left and set interim milestones, and so far I’ve met them. I’m a bit ahead, actually (don’t tell anyone). There is still a lot to do, but it’s possible that this forced organization really is allowing me to work more efficiently. I hesitate to say this, because I am fundamentally a terribly superstitious person. If I’m optimistic about the dates, I will hit some plot-destroying black hole in what I’m writing, and I’ll have to scrap the whole thing and start over.

Which brings us to the second thing that’s going on for me: I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen, and that is freaking me out.

One of the things I recognized when I was in Querying Hell was that being pessimistic didn’t make rejection any easier. The proper lesson to take from that is to be an optimist: it’s much less stressful, and the disappointment is no worse. But that’s a lifetime of habit that isn’t going to change just because I apply logic to it. The upshot of this is that I’m realizing that self-promotion is going to be rough. Someone bought this book. Someone thinks it’s good enough that it might earn them some money. Therefore…maybe the book is good.

Insert huge paragraph of qualifiers here. Because it is bad luck, you see, to say out loud that the book might be good. I mean, I’m rather fond of it. Parts of it I enjoy reading myself. And there is no such thing as an objectively good book: some of the books I love are books other people have hated. (I ranted about this fairly recently.) I really hope that lots of people like my book. It seems safer to have that hope than to say maybe the book is good.

There have to be ways to promote without actually saying something like that.

I can write about what the book is about: Mystery! Intrigue! Spaceships! I can write about writing the sequel, and what it’s like to learn about new characters as I keep channeling old ones. I can write about research, and inspiration, and why I made some of the choices I made. And it’s not about being conceited or pretentious. I know I can string words together. I know I’m not too bad at it. I know I can write entertaining stuff. But saying straight out maybe the book is good feels like calling for the thunderbolts.

When I would look in on my daughter when she was an infant, I wouldn’t leave her room at 13 minutes past the hour. As a kid, I never stepped on sidewalk cracks. Even now, my bedtime routine is identical every single night: the same things in the same order. (Okay, that’s maybe obsessive-compulsive rather than superstitious, but still.) My rational mind knows all of these things are silly. But my irrational mind has this little whisper: Just in case.

So I won’t say maybe the book is good. I will only say that holy toledo, strangers liked it. They liked it enough to buy the right to publish it. This suggests they, at least, think some people will like the book. And you know? I like the book. It was fun to write. (Torturous to revise, but so incredibly worth the effort.) The sequel is fun to write. These people chatting in my head are pretty good company.

I suppose there are a few things I know will happen: the book will get published. I will finish the sequel. (I’m pretty close at this point – and then, of course, there will be revisions.) And there will be lots of bits and pieces of this whole project for which I will be completely unprepared, and which will freak me out.

And I’ll get through them, because I am surrounded by tremendous people.

I decided, back in early 2013, that I would give myself six months to find an agent, and if I couldn’t, I’d self-publish. Contingency plans, as always. I am not really sure what I expected: this, and not this. Hope, but no assumptions. Which is probably not a bad way to proceed at this point, either.

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