Babies and Books
It’s a common metaphor within publishing to compare babies and books. I believe it’s tied to the creative process. In the creation of a baby, there is something magical which happens with the creation of a new life to nurture and grow.
In recent months, Publishers Weekly has started a back page column called Soapbox. It’s turned into one of my favorite, must-read areas in the publication. Recently Jenny Minton wrote a column called The Book Mothers and made some interesting comparisons. She is a former book editor and was talking with Katrina Kenison, who was formerly with Houghton Mifflin. She wrote, “While motherhood was all new to me, the publishing process was at least familiar. Editors turned writers—myself included—are at an advantage because we’ve seen the publishing process up close. Talking to Katrina helped clarify for me how it is easier to be a writer if you’ve worked in the business because, as she says, ‘We know what the steps are. We don’t look at it as a mountain that you can never climb. We have seen a three-page proposal turn into a book.’ By signing up my book at Knopf on the basis of just a few chapters, Jordan Pavlin made the task less daunting for me. While writing the book, I didn't think about anyone but her reading it; I wrote a long, long letter to Jordan.”
“Although my publishing experience—and Jordan's motherly guidance—helped me write the book, there were still many things I had to learn as an author. For 10 years I worked in various editorial departments (which are now all owned by Bertelsmann), but until the publication of my book, I was naive as to how involved an author needs to be in her promotional campaign. By the time I turned in my manuscript, I was tired of it and insecure about whether I had done the best job I possibly could. I still am. But somewhere between bound galleys and finished books, I realized that sitting around worrying about readers' responses was not constructive; if I didn’t get behind my book, no one else would.”
Many authors want to go with a traditional publisher so they can turn over all the promotion and marketing responsibilities to the publisher. The publisher cares deeply about the success of your book in the marketplace—but their attention is divided with other books to promote. You have the passion and the nurturing skills for your book. It was another reminder of the necessity for your active involvement in the process. It’s a balancing act. The marketing process can consume your writing life but only if you let it. At the same time, it can’t be ignored.