Friday 28 August 2015

Author's Anxiety

The manuscript was finally sent off and 12 days later the boxes of books arrived. What a relief! Seeing the proof of your book online at the printer's website, after years of preparation, is not a comfort. They tell you, make sure it's right, because no matter how wrong it is, no matter how stupid it looks, we are not going to fix it. We are going to print it just the way it is and you are going to take responsibility for it and pay for it whether you like or not. OK?

Actually, they're not that bad. If you do get a margin wrong or you scale an image too big or too small, they will take a look at it and find it and let you know. That still doesn't make it any easier when it comes to pressing the modest little OK button that drops you off the edge of the earth into a burning black hole of a vortex lined with razor blades and molten lava.

Once you click on it your biological chemistry goes berserk. It's like you just drank a cup of high octane anxiety. That's when the sleepless nights of waiting begin. What if my page numbers are too close to the edge? What if my margins are too loose or too tight? What if 1.5 line leading is too much? What if my point size is too large or too small? Then you see the charges. How did it get there? Instead of each copy costing three or four dollars, it's more like $60 each.

Alright, I'm exaggerating, but when it climbs up above 10 or 12 or 14 you wonder if people will pay $20 or $30 because don't forget, you still have all those other expenses like shipping and travel and all the setup fees and extra materials you're going to drag around with you to help promote the book. They all have to get covered too somehow. Otherwise, it's costing you to write a book and sell it at a loss!

It's like the first time your daughter borrows the car on a Friday night and then she's late coming home. I don't actually have a daughter, but that's what it feels like. It dredges up apprehension, fright, terror, hysteria, dismay and distress. You stop thinking logically. You stop thinking. It just turns into raw emotion. Heaven help anyone who asks you for information or advice. You'll probably rip their heads off and scream, "What on Earth is wrong with you?! Can't you see I'm stressed?!"

It affects your work. It affects your every waking hour. You are constantly on edge. You are chained unheard and unadored, confined to an unhappy prospect most wide and various. Such prospects curse me and tell me I am doomed. This, I will never do again.

Then the books arrive. They're OK. They could be improved, but they don't suck. Maybe no one will notice they're not precisely what you had in mind. Maybe they'll think they're OK. Hey! They haven't even read them yet. Oh oh. What if they don't like the stories? We'll get to that.

See you at Fan Expo next week (Sept 3-6, 2015) @cxshakespeare

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