Monday, June 15, 2015

Postpartum: Surviving The First Month After Book Release


As many of you may know, I’m a mom of five. Each pregnancy, delivery, and first 3 months had their own set of rewards and challenges, but nothing quite compared to the first time.

Whoa.

I’d waited almost 9 months. Gone through at least 3 baby books on ‘what to expect’, took the birthing classes, learned to live without sleep because of my smashed bladder, worked through the aches, pains, twinges, stings, and accidents as a results of sneezes. I prepared a baby ‘corner’ (we didn’t have room for a nursery), bought tiny clothes, loads of diapers, and the cutest diaper bag I could afford.

I dreamed of the moment I’d hold my sweet bundle.

I. WAS. READY

NOT!!

Reading all the books, taking the classes, talking to the right people, setting up the room, - all of those certainly gave me tools and skills that came in handy once my beautiful bundle arrived, but nothing could TRULY prepare me for the physical, emotional, and mental gymnastics of having a newborn.

Indescribable joy, overwhelming and immediate love, complete and utter exhaustion, emotional uncertainty (over and over again), physical strain, heart-swelling tenderness, powerful gratitude, mental fogginess, mama guilt (over and over again)…the list goes on.

Well, it isn’t at the same MASSIVE level as having my own child, but some of the same expectations and results apply to the ‘birth’ and release months of my debut novel, The Thorn Bearer.

Let me remind you, I’d been taking the scenic route toward publication for ELEVEN years!! Plenty of time to read A LOT of writing books, attend classes, talk to the pros, push through to the end of several manuscripts, overcome a myriad of rejections, and dealt with the frustrations of writer’s block, weak characters, saggy middle plotlines, and overwriting.

I’d dreamed of this moment for years. Waiting….

I. WAS. READY.

NOT.

It’s a mixed bag of emotions…and lots of unexpected pressures.

Was there excitement? Gratitude? An overwhelming feeling of holding a dream in your hands?

Oh yes!

But there was also a great deal of other emotions too. The time crunch of marketing, the high pressure of speed writing the next novel, the continual ‘need’ to promote the book, and the insecurity of being able to write another book worth reading.

Those may sound like small, insignificant things, but they add up to physical, emotional, and mental demands for which I wasn’t quite prepared.

Now, my debut has only been ‘out’ for a little over a month so marketing is still a high priority, AND I have a deadline for the next novel on July 30th.  Fitting it all in to a very busy ‘day’ schedule seems a little daunting, so my writing takes place at night. (Not quite at an every 2 hour feeding schedule, but some mornings it feels like it ;-)

So far – what have I learned:

1.       Use what you know: The info in all those baby books came back to help me in crucial moments. The study in writing and the patience developed on the front end of publishing helps give perspective on the back end of publishing

2.       Balance is key. I’m trying to learn how to balance my new responsibilities in with my old ones, but there is a balance. Knowing my priorities helps me set this.

3.       Ask for help. Learn how to delegate what you can. When I was a nursing mother, there were some things my husband just couldn’t do…aka NURSE the baby, but there were things he COULD do.

4.       Take naps. (Um…I never got that opportunity with a newborn, but I KNOW it’s beneficial). When you can find time to rest or take a ‘brain break’ – take it!

5.       Keep dreaming. Sometimes it can be hard to see past the fog or the stress, but underneath it all is still the wonder and beauty of the dream. The sweetness of a newborn or the wonder of a book release, both were given as gifts from God. Dreams God cultivated in our hearts. In the middle of the struggles, late-nights, insecurities, it’s important to remember the dream.

6.       Don’t sweat the small stuff. A messy house and spit-up stained clothes are small in the middle of a newborn house. Right now, as I track through my WIP, I can skim over the edits and go back to them later. I can give the kids chicken nuggets for a few days and it won’t kill them. I can leave dirty laundry for a while.

7.     Keep the Calling in Mind. Most moms planned on being moms. They dreamed about it, looked forward to it, maybe even planned for it. Inside of them, there was a special calling of motherhood, one that can be easily forgotten in the middle of the night when you've been up with a colicky baby for 2 hours. But it's there. Behind the bleary eyes and spit-up stained blouse. The heartbeat of a woman with a 'calling'.
Writing is the same way. In the middle of the mess of figuring out how to manage all the new demands on your schedule and brain, we can sometimes lose sight of the special calling of "Writer". It's still there, and remembering God's gifted us with the unique ability to make stories helps encourage our hearts, fuel our strength, and give us the ability to take another step forward.

As I said, I’m still trying to figure it out, but I’d love your thoughts. Those of you who’ve been through this, what tips would you give?

Any questions or additions to this list?
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Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction whenever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids with special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015. You can connect with Pepper on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com, Facebook-  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham or Twitter at https://twitter.com/pepperbasham

A Penned in Time website at http://pennedintime.wordpress.com


10 comments:

Sue Coletta said...

My first release is scheduled for November 11th. This post scares me a little, as I have no idea what to expect. I thought I was ready until I got word from the publisher that they want to squeeze my title into their fall releases. Now, it feels way too fast. So much to do before then. Problem is, trying to figure it all out when I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to figure out. I'm sure it will work out; I have been preparing for this years, but still, it's terrifying, and wonderful, and all-consuming, and thrilling, and... Thanks for the tips!

Ashley Clark said...

LOVE this! You're doing great, Pep! Hang in there!

Pepper Basham said...

Sue,
Sorry to ramp of the worry for you in this post, just trying to 'be real'.
I think that if you have the opportunity to write full-time, the stress is still going to be there, but maybe at a little more manageable level.
I work a day-job, so (until that changes) it's been a dizzying ride of trying to sort out how to manage all the marketing, editing one book, writing another book...kind of life.
And there is the constant word 'marketing' nipping at your heels.
But in the middle of it all, God does bring the right people with the right words of encouragement to help you. He also provides a strength you didn't realize you had (and I'm praying for writing speed :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Ashley,
Thanks friend.
Ditto! :-)

Carla Laureano said...

The best advice I got about book releases was from publicist-extraordinaire, Jeane Wynn. She told me that book publicity is a marathon, not a sprint...and she's right! I just released my fourth book, and things go much more smoothly now that I recognize I don't have to do everything in the first few weeks. It takes months for a title to gain momentum...so no worries if you can't fit it all in right away! Two years after my debut novel, I'm STILL getting publicity inquiries for it.

Congrats on your debut, Pepper, and good luck on that deadline! <3

Meghan Gorecki said...

This is SPOT ON. So helpful to read as I look back at my indie-published debut novel's fairly week release a year ago, and as I look and dream of the future of future books, either indie-published or traditionally. Definitely book marking this for future reference. ;)
Congrats on your debut novel too, by the way!

Pepper Basham said...

Carla!
THANK YOU for giving that perspective! It really helps with 'calming' my nerves :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Meghan, congrats on YOUR book! It's definitely a roller coaster but I'm so thankful for the opportunity

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Great post. I've often likened getting a book into the world to giving birth. I didn't realize how MUCH it was like that until my most recent release. I was shooting through about 3 new series ideas (in one week), playing video games off the hook, and I had no clue why my mind was spinning 100 different directions. I talked to a dear friend who knew me better than I know myself and she mentioned she knew this would happen right after release...it's happened 3 times before with previous releases! I realized it's almost like post-partum blues! You've put so much time and effort into this massive labor and now...your mind scrambles to know what you must do next. Anyway. Sorry for being long-winded but congrats on the release, Pepper! I hear ya!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn said...

Pepper - someone should teach a class on this! ;-) These are great tips. I'm 2 weeks past my release and I'm definitely having some "baby blues." I'm experiencing major exhaustion (I slept 9 1/2 hours last night), doubt (can I possibly write another book that people will like?), elation (people like this one!), joy (I wrote a book and it was published!) and an overall sense of being completely overwhelmed. I'm reminding myself of what a good friend told me when I was expecting my 3rd child. She said to give yourself at least 1 month for each child to get back to "normal." So for the 3rd, she said I shouldn't expect things to level out for at least 3 months. I'm taking that same approach with my writing. I'm trying to give myself some extra grace this month and reminding myself that "survival mode" won't last forever. It won't? Right? ;-)