When Words Are Born on Book Birthdays


Used with the permission of Harris Synergy Press

December means birthday month in my family. My brother’s is three days before Christmas, my father’s is three days after Christmas, and my late grandmother’s was December 13 (and nothing horrible ever happened to her when it happened to land on a Friday).  This also requires members of our family to do a precarious etiquette dance every year. To cosset my brother via capitalism love, we had to make sure he didn’t feel cheated just because he was born in the “Christmas Week Window.”

We experimented—double presents, huge parties with close friends when he was younger, buying him the same amount of presents but splitting them, making one present more expensive than the other…the list went on. We still haven’t quite figured out how to do it right but finally settled on the tradition of family birthday dinners and a present.

Thankfully, my brother has grown up unscathed and we breathe a collective sigh of relief each year when he graciously accepts his gifts sans the entitled attitude so often found in the Children of Capitalism.

Seeing as December has already received the birthday month crown, I must have been out of my mind when I decided that I wanted to include squeeze in one more birthday—my first book birthday.

I was a proud parent when my literary baby finally went out into the world last Monday. He weighed a lovely 5.5 x 8.5 inches and his firm spine was shiny and smooth when I held him. He was dressed sharply in a bright colored cover, and contained the ink blood, sweat, and yes, tears, of a frantic mother who wanted to do the best she could for him. The save the dates and press releases had been sent, the book trailer announcement prepared, and everyone was waiting for this little guy to make an appearance.

The aftershock is still hitting me—I’ve published a book through my own imprint. People have asked after my emotions and autographs and I’m still unsure about the first part. Tired, relieved, sleep deprived, hopeful, and proud could all describe the first question. The second question made me scramble to perfect an appropriate John Hancock and wonder if there were any taboos of book signings.

Fortunately and unfortunately, the work doesn’t end there. My Gerber-like book marketing plan for the next couple of years should help him to grow into a healthy, adolescent. At least until his other siblings get here, then I have to worry about (and welcome) sibling rivalry.

As I’ve reflected on this, it is amazing to look at how far I’ve come since I was fifteen jotting down scribbles in my room and how far I still need to go. I am now a brand and the book is a part of that brand. Book marketing is a tricky business because you have to completely separate yourself from your writing persona. For the past three months, I’ve been in full marketing mode. I’ve made sure my branding images are corresponding with my message, networked, and scoured the Internet for tips and tricks of book marketing. For the most part, I’m ready with a multi-year plan to make sure I’m not a one-hit-wonder.

But as I prepare to start on the sequel to The Golden Ashfruit today, I brush all that to the back of my mind and sit down to a place of quiet peace.

I remember the way a pen feels in my hand, the way black ink makes waves on white open spaces, and the sharp and clean smell of paper. I remember where words come from and how they pour onto paper like rain just when I need relief.

I remember myself. And know deep down why I am a writer.

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