I’m four months out from publication of my second novel, The Wise Women, coming from Harper Collins, April 5, 2022, which means that I find myself lying awake at night wondering how it will fare in the world. I’m at the point in the run-up to publication where things are getting real, and it’s time to leave the safe confines of my writing world. I catch myself checking Goodreads for reviews, responding to bookstagrammers who tag me on Instagram (thank you to all the book lovers!), and hoping that not only do I make the “what-to-read lists,” but I get chosen as somebody’s bookclub pick too!
I’ve known that this time is coming for months now, yet, I feel caught off guard. How do I not have all of my personal essays written to help promote the book? (I’ve been working and writing a new project and am not a robot, that’s why!) Why have I not spent the year developing a podcast or even just created a viral TikTok video? (Because I’ll humiliate myself!) But the real reason is that even though I’ve been here before, it’s still hard to leave the safe solitude that is my writing life and put myself back out there. This from the woman who has done over 50 commercials and was once the face of Tim Hortons launch into the U.S. —Gina Bagel, anyone?
It’s a lot easier to sell something for someone else. As a brand storyteller, I’ve named and crafted copy for hundreds of clients. As an actor, I disappeared into characters that made people laugh—but that’s me in those pages of The Wise Women, all 352 of them, to be exact. And if someone doesn’t like it, it hurts, even though it shouldn’t. And yes, the book is fiction, and no, my husband isn’t a deluded man-child, but I’m still in there. I’m the mother, Wendy Wise, trying to help but not always succeeding. I’m her daughter Clementine, juggling marriage and work and mothering and wanting what’s best for her son. Somedays, I’m also Clementine’s sister Barb, running my own business and being everyone’s rock, even though I’m about to blow a gasket. I’m there, and I’m not, all my passions and obsessions fictionalized to the point where it’s someone else’s story. And I’m happy to do all the interviews and podcasts and public appearances anyone wants me to do, that part is enjoyable—because I get to talk about the book, and the work, and because well, I’ve been invited, which means I’m on the guest list! I don’t feel like a party crasher like I do when I’m out there waving my hands in a sea of brilliant authors, to say…Hey, over here, please buy my book!
But selling books is a necessary part of the process. If your book doesn’t sell, you might not get to publish another one. And I want to publish another one. Okay, I want to publish at least ten more. So, it’s that time. Time for me to leave the cozy confines of my writing life and hit the road, time to do all I can to get the word out, time to earn my keep so I can have the privilege of doing this all over again.