TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR BOOK LAUNCHING (AKA, Ms. Manner for Writers)
In twenty-two days, St. Martin’s Press will release my novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, the story of sisters who witness their father murder their mother and struggle with the aftermath for the next thirty years.
Panic best defines my countdown to publication state-of-being. How will I bear bad reviews? Or no reviews? What if no one comes to my book launch party? What if there’s a blizzard that night? What if the food runs out?
What if I behave badly? I’m dependent on books for knowledge. Though there are many on my shelf offering advice on writing, selling, promotion, grammar, and even the giving and taking of criticism, I’ve yet to find one providing the Miss Manners guide to launching a book (and this may be especially neccessary for the self-absorbed monsters screaming me, me, me, in my head.)
Where is the rulebook?
I was raised without formal religion (except bagels and lox) but I know that one turns to God for wisdom. Thus, needing rules, what better template to use for forging my own path than the Ten Commandments?
These are my Writer’s Launch Commandments, humbly based on the policies carried by Moses and braised with that which I’ve witnessed (the good, bad, and clumsy) in others and myself:
1. You shall have no other gods before . . .
Remember thy agent: she who brought you into this world: She who rescued you from the sucking sound of mud, dragging you by the strength of her strong and motherly arms, and introduced you to your editor and publishing house. Consider her wisdom first and always in your decisions.
2. Beware blasphemous words . . .
Remember the flood of clients thy publicist is juggling. Swallow thy rage at not showing up in the New York Times Book Review. Who art thou to think of thyself as so important? Thy publicist must spread her love wide. Suck it up and stand in line as the grateful child thou must be.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain . . .
Never speak ill of thy publisher or editor, for it shows naught but crass ingratitude and will forever boomerang back. If thou spreadst or writest evil on the Internet, thou are too stupid to deserve a second chance.
4. And on the seventh day, rest . . .
Take a break occasionally, or thine arm will turn to stone and thou shall spend all advance given by thy publisher on thine masseuse and ibuprofen.
5. Honor your father and your mother . . .
Drink not of thine own Kool Aid. Thine husbands, wives, children, and siblings have lives. Amazingly, they consider their lives as important as thine own life, and are, in fact, the stars of their own show. Treat NOT your family as your coterie. Do not expect them to read every word you write, unless you plan to admire every database they build, every car they fix, and every throat culture for which they swab.
6. You shall not murder . . .
Thou shalt not kill thy friendships by expecting that thy launch is the equal of their baby’s birth, or by forgetting their upcoming nuptials because of time spent Googling thyself, or trying make-up techniques for thy next author photo.
7. You shall not commit adultery . . .
Thou must not imagine lying in the consciousness of another writer’s agent, editor, publicist, or marketer, no matter how grandiose the descriptions used by fellow-authors in describing efforts made on their behalf; one must dance with the one that brought you at all times.
8. You shall not steal . . .
Upon reading a brilliant tweet, retweet. Do not take that URL and claim as thine own!
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. . .
Speak well of thy writer-friends. They are your writer sisters and brothers. Bringing thy friend down will not bring thee up.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's . . .
Thou shalt not compare the Amazon and Barnes & Nobles rankings of thy sisters and brothers with thyself, for in that lie only madness.