Birth Control?

I’ve come to believe that babies and contracts for first novels should come with detailed instructions. I feel like a thirteen year-old who got pregnant on purpose. Contrary to our expectations, birthing the little darling wasn’t the hard part.

Conceiving the story is wicked fun. There’s nothing like the wild, reckless, and lusty passion of a first-time encounter with an intriguing story. Infatuation’s siren call compels me. I can’t stay away. Sparks fly as I pound away on my keyboard exploring, discovering, and forging an electric connection with the heart of my digital story.

Sweating and gasping for air, we fight to become one. Frenzied fingers fly as I rush toward completion. Yes! YES! Y E S ! ! The story has been conceived and the first trimester draft completed. Let the joys of parenting begin.

Reality settles in fast. Carrying the idea to full term can be tricky, and may cause symptoms ranging from headaches, severe flatulence, and mild nausea to complete and total insanity. I was an emotional wreck and craved coffee, ice cream, and ginger snaps. Sure, there were moments. Picking out the cover was fun. Working through three rounds of edits — not so much.

I gradually introduced the little darling to the world. First a few close friends and then my writers group saw ultrasounds early drafts. The folks at the publisher were the first strangers to see my precious baby, and they liked him enough to want to give him life. We continued together in our little bubble of love up to the December 17 2012 release date.

Posing for pictures and sending out birth announcements kept me busy. When release day finally arrived, my life was forever changed. From that moment on, I’d never let a day go by without checking my sales stats on four different web sites, searching for new reviews, and shamelessly promoting my pride and joy.

Elation got knocked over by reality. Keeping that sucker alive is a full-time job. Most the time, I’m flying by the seat of my pants. With absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to do, I make it up as I go and hope for the best.

Keeping my mouth shut while a few readers said nasty things about my baby has been the hardest part. Forget challenging their opinions, no matter how off base they might be. I wanted to don a pair of steel-toed boots and kick them in the balls a few times. Say what you want about me, but leave my baby out of it.

Oh wait. When it comes to book reviews, it should really be the other way around. Say what you want about my book, but comments about me are not cool. Capiche? I know people with horses…

As with any parent, I only want the best for my baby. Hanging out with the scum in the lower ranks of Amazon’s bestsellers is not for us. We want to rub shoulders with residents of the New York Times best sellers list. This is America, after all, where anything is possible with enough hard work and effort. Or something cute enough to go viral.

Writing books is the easy part. Now I’m a brand. Keeping my writing career going takes a village. First and foremost, I need a personal assistant. For details, click here. Beyond that, I need a webmaster to continually improve my web site and add all the bells and whistles I want but don’t know how to set up and/or maintain. Wouldn’t hurt to have a marketing director, a business manager, and bookkeeper.

I need a full squad of experts to manage the social networking demands. There are hundreds of web sites, forums, and groups my writer friends tell me I simply MUST join. And of course, signing up isn’t enough. I need to actively post on all of them several times a day to build up my base. Just keeping up with the usernames and passwords is a full-time job for someone.

Every day I miss out on blog hops and other opportunities to get the word out about my books. Then there are contests, give-aways, and book award competitions to enter. I need a promotions director to stay on top of these, coordinating with my webmaster to make sure I do everything I’m supposed to do to participate.

Thinking about all the stuff I’m not doing wears me out — and we haven’t even mentioned writing more books.

The over-achieving perfectionist in me wants to do it all. But the reality is I can only do so much. Until I retire from the day job, I’ll participate in things now and then for the experience, but my focus really needs to be on writing more books.

More books? Being a single parent with one child and another on the way is hard enough. My writer pals tell me it’s like the Great Depression. More babies might be more mouths to feed, but it’s also more hands to do the work.

And I need all the help I can get.