Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Confessions of a Worrywort

by Stephanie Black

A couple of months back when I first got a look at the cover of my new book, I printed out the cover image and took it to an Enrichment activity to show to a friend. Which reminds me--you know how they have those “good news” minutes in Relief Society where sisters share good news with each other at the beginning of the meeting? Do you suppose it would be okay for an author to share her good news for the week? Picture it:

Relief Society President: “Does anyone have any good news they would like to share?”

Sister A: “I’m going to be a grandma! My daughter-in-law is due in July!”

President: “Congratulations! Anyone else?”

Sister B: “My son just got his mission call! He’s going to Guatemala!”

Pres: “Wonderful! You must be so proud of him. Does anyone else have anything to share?”

Sister C: “I just made a huge breakthrough in my novel. I realized the book is too flat because it doesn’t have enough sources of tension and I need to give Jane some sinister motives of her own and a secondary evil plot to complement the main one. One murder just wasn’t enough for this book, but now that Jane is planning to do away with Sally, it’s all coming together. I’m SO excited!”

President: “Um . . . great.”

Anyway, I showed my book cover to my friend and we were talking about it. She made a comment along the lines of how I must be impatient for the book’s release, and I realized that, strangely enough, I wasn’t particularly impatient.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very excited for the book to come out. I’d be acutely disappointed if the release date was delayed for six months or a year. But when my friend made that comment, I wasn’t at the point where I wanted to fast-forward. I was in a relatively worry-free zone. A honeymoon period. The book had been accepted and the publication process was in full swing, which means I was free of the biggest, most stressful worry of all--will my manuscript be accepted? But the book hadn’t been released yet, which means I hadn’t moved into the second phase of worrying—sales numbers, reviews, and so on.

As soon as the book hits the shelves, I’ll start worrying and obsessively checking for data to let me know how the book is doing. Are people talking about it? Do they like it? Are the reviews good? With my first book, I would check the Deseret Book website fanatically. There was a place where I could see how many copies of my book each store had in stock. I actually had a spreadsheet where I would note the changes in store inventories—look, I sold two books in Idaho Falls! Oh no—those six books in Cedar City aren’t moving. You could drive yourself crazy that way. And then there's the googling--I’ll be searching the Web, eagerly (and anxiously) checking to see if anyone has mentioned the book on his/her blog or if a reviewer has taken note of it. I even like to look at library catalogs on occasion—hey, look, someone checked out my book!

Yep, we writers can always find something to worry about. But we wouldn’t trade those worries for the world.

My new website is up, by the way. Drop by and let me know what you think.


At 2/06/2008 1:16 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Snazzy new website! Seeing the dark background made me start singing "I see a website and I want to paint it black." But "Fool Me Twice" sounds fascinating. The cover looks suitably intriguing, too, almost downright sinister; stairs always make me think of people falling down them, or the classic mystery novel "The Thirty-Nine Steps." I can't wait for the contest to be announced so I can try and win a free copy. And even if I don't win, I'm still looking forward to acquiring a copy and reading it.

At 2/06/2008 1:40 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

I know what you mean about RS. We have the good news/bad news too and when my first book came out, I announced it, and I have to say it felt a little weird, like I was selling it at church or something. I've always felt weird about that fine line. I have to confess I check the library websites to see if my book was checked out too. How do you check to see which stores have your book? That's cool. One more thing to obsess over.

At 2/06/2008 2:21 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm with you on that whole DB thing -- I pretty much lived on their website when my first book came out. My second one didn't get carried, so I stopped being so obsessive (at least on that one point)

At 2/06/2008 3:08 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Was taken? (not seeing it) Just curious.

Was the black background chosen for your name, or for ambiance? Either way, works for me!

Are you going to be coming to Utah to do book signings? =)

At 2/06/2008 3:36 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Stephanie, it never gets better. There's something about publishing a book that brings out the mother hen in all of us as we want our 'baby' to be loved and accepted and we thrive on kind words about our offspring. Someone once told me that being slightly neurotic, nurturing a bit of ego, and suffering from a serious case of worryitis goes with the territory if you expect to be a writer. I can tell you, you've little need to worry; you're a superb writer, but it won't do any good, so just go ahead and join the rest of us worriers. You've a right to consider yourself an official member of the club with full worrying rights. Excellent blog by the way.

At 2/06/2008 3:51 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Melanie, I'll be sending you a book even if you don't win one (Thanks for your help on that Germany question. And don't forget to check the acknowledgments for your name).

Marcia, I don't know if you can still check store inventory on DB's website. There used to be a place you could click to get a list of the stores and the number of books in each, but if it's still there, I don't know where it is. I'm actually hoping it isn't still there--that would give me one less thing to obsess over!

Jon, yes, .com was taken. As far as book signings, I'll probably be coming out to Utah in May for BYU Women's Conference, so I'll do some signings then. I'll post details as soon as I know them. As far as the black background, my husband chose it (he was the first one to work on the website)so I'm not sure if it was the name factor or the creepy factor motivating him. But I liked it, so I kept it.

Jennie, thank you so much for your kind words and for the official welcome to the worriers club!

At 2/07/2008 11:07 AM, Blogger Janette Rallison said...

Hmmm. We don't have those good news minutes in Relief Society anymore. I wonder why?

Anyway don't worry about all of that other stuff. Soon enough you'll be such a seasoned author that you'll just be cynical about it all. (Reviewers? Bah! What do they know?)

At 2/07/2008 8:05 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

You just gave me several new ways to worry and obsess . . .

At 2/08/2008 3:16 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Hey, I just gave this blog an award over on mine. Who wants to come get it?


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