The “work” side of writing
I’ve always looked at the act of writing words for a living as being two-sided. The first side is the actual creation of something: getting those thoughts down, polishing the prose until it’s right (or as right as you can make it). That’s being a writer.
The second side of the job comes after all this is done. You find and deal with a publisher (with or without an agent), you’re interviewed (hopefully a lot!), and you go out and do book signings and readings. In the past few years blogging, tweeting and maintaining a website have also become part of the your job description. That’s being an author.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that the first part of the job is enjoyable. The second part is work.
I’m currently smack dab in the middle of the second part, because my eighth novel, The Fallen One, was released this past week. The launch was on Wednesday at Toronto’s fabled Arts and Letters Club in their Great Hall. For me, it was an extremely nerve-wracking evening and I’d be a liar if I told you there weren’t times getting ready for it where I asked myself why the heck I was putting myself through this. Fortunately, my little soirée was a huge success, all the books were sold, and I think everyone who attended had a good time. I even did, too.
To my mind book launches are important. Cynically, it’s a chance to sell a lot of books at one time, to make a splash, maybe even catch a bit of the media spotlight. The Fallen One’s launch managed to do all those things – well, all except the last part: the media obstinately stayed away. (Sigh...)
Considering how much time and effort go into producing a novel, a launch should be a celebration of the birth of your literary baby. Doesn’t that deserve a party, the best party you can manage?
Having a lot of author friends, I’ve attended a lot of book launches. Usually, they’re pretty lame events, truth be told. You ask fellow authors, family and friends to come to a bookstore or a bar or possibly a library. Some cheese is consumed, washed down by a glass or two of wine or beer. A speech from the publisher is made. The writer speaks briefly, possibly reads. Books are sold (sometimes not very many, truth be told) and then signed. Everyone goes home. A few launches I’ve attended have been over in an hour.
That’s sort of pathetic, isn’t it? Here you’ve spent many months creating this work, spent many more waiting for the publisher to spring into action. If you didn’t have a publisher at the start, you might have spent years looking for one. Then you’ve been through the editing process, approval of covers, talking with the promotion department, texting, tweeting, blogging and facebooking, all in an attempt to get the word out about your literary masterpiece. It is exhausting and generally not much fun.
So to all of you, celebrate the birth of a book. If you’re the author, give that thing a huge send off. You deserve a bit party for all you’ve been through. If you’re a publisher, even though you may publish one hundred books a year, make each launch something special. You deserve it – and your author certainly deserves it. And if you’re a reader, attend that launch, support that writer (probably also a friend) and enjoy the event.
After all, even though thousands of books come out every year, the “first evening” of a new book is a special thing.
Rick Blechta is a Toronto writer and musician whose novels have been critically acclaimed because of the depth of their characters and absorbing plots. All feature music of some sort. His current novel, The Fallen One, has opera as its background and features a globe-trotting soprano who has a critical problem: the husband she thought had tragically died in a house fire might not be dead. He might not even be who she thought he was. It is available now in bookstores and online from Chapters/Indigo, and will be available shortly from Amazon and all other electronic outlets on October first. For more information, please visit: www.rickblechta.com